POGGIBONSI IS LIVE!!!

Woo hoo!

Can you tell I’m excited???

Oh, yeah!

poggi - anne rochele aben
that’s right. 5 stars

The funniest, sexiest book you will read this year, and you can grab your copy for 99 cents right now. That price is going up SOON so don’t wait.

Poggi

Amazon US click HERE

Amazon UK click HERE

Amazon Canada click HERE

Amazon Australia click HERE

(I’ll post links to other countries soon)

Folks, this is the best book I’ve ever written, and you will LAUGH, CRY, SWOON… it’s amazing.

And there are a few twists you WILL NOT see coming.

Poggi

Get your copy today, then buy one for a friend. You know you’re going to, and I hate to see you spend more than necessary.

 

“Funny, Sexy, Heartbreaking, Hilarious”

In Poggibonsi, Dan Alatorre tells a compelling and hilarious story while giving its serious and heartfelt themes fair treatment. Protagonist Mike Torino is a hard-working family man who is struggling in his marriage, and when temptation looms on a business trip in Italy, he can’t help but indulge. His winding and sometimes bumbling misadventure leads him on a journey that ends only when he discovers what is truly important to him.

Funny, sexy, and at times heartbreaking, Poggibonsi is much more than a riotous romp. It’s an exploration into what makes us human and drives us through life.

– Allison Maruska, The Fourth Descendant and Project Renovatio trilogy

 

“Outrageously funny”

Poggibonsi is disarmingly charming; a laugh-out-loud, bumbling romp through lust and love in central Italy. Alatorre captures the breathtaking romance of the novel’s namesake perfectly, peeling back each layer of story until all that remains is genuine, raw emotion. An outrageously funny, guilty pleasure of a read.

– J. A. Allen, Old Souls

 

“A well-written, imaginative treasure!”

Your “misadventures” were effectively showcased via humor. The sequence at (CAN’T TELL YOU) where Mike (ALSO CAN’T SAY) and the later sequence with (SORRY) was brilliantly inspired! Overall a well-written, imaginative treasure.

Tracy Miller

 

“Many will go back and read it again simply because they enjoy smiling.”

This was fun. You have something very special here. I know that your audience will love it and many will go back and read it again simply because they enjoy smiling. A most entertaining experience.

– Annette Rochelle Aben, GO YOU

 

“Humorous, often laugh-out-loud funny.”

Through pace and humour this story drew me in to find characters I could believe in . . . all characters memorable, even the fleeting ones. As for Sam, absolutely loved her, and Julietta, wow, a truly unforgettable character.

Eric, EDC Writing

 

“Had me laughing out loud”

“Very witty and it definitely had me laughing out loud a few times, especially (SORRY)’s scenes.”

Tristen

 

Summary of “Pogibonsi: an Italian misadventure”

When family man Mike Torino lands a project in Italy, home of naked art, Valentino, and taxi-crashing yoga pants, he brings along his wife, hoping to rekindle their marriage. But romance gets derailed by head colds, constant bickering, and assaults from ankle-breaking cobblestone streets. Their daughter develops a gelato addiction. Mike’s Italian partner has a coronary. And as for amore . . . Mattie tells Mike to handle things himself—and storms back to America.

Mike is trapped. Leaving Italy will blow a promotion; staying might cost him his wife and family.

While reeling from Mattie’s frantic departure, a replacement liaison is assigned—a top-notch, beautiful young Italian woman who is instantly smitten with Mike and determined to reveal the passions of her homeland—whether he wants to see them or not! Normally immune, Mike is tempted—but is headstrong, voluptuous Julietta worth the risk?

 

 

What Do YOU Think?

I’m interested in getting your thoughts about stuff I see and hear, quotes I read, stuff that passes as knowledge – and starting an authorey conversation.

0000 tc iii

I love this for its simplicity. Have fun on your blog or Facebook or Twitter, or don’t do it – but your fans will eventually find you. So do it how you want.

I wish more of you had the confidence to follow your gut, even when you are clueless. I’ve made more mistakes than you probably ever will, and I’m still here. Turns out, nobody reaches through the internet and punches you in the nose when you make a mistake. You’ll be okay.

What are YOUR thoughts on this idea?

3 Cures For “Can’t Finish-itis”

Your humble host.
your humble host

I made a new friend at a book signing the other day, and I heard something I have heard a LOT from people who want to write a book or are writing one they can’t seem to finish.

I hear this all the time, so I thought I should address it.

We’ll call it “Can’t Finish-itis.”

It’s a terrible affliction, but there are cures.

Here’s an example from a blog post of an obviously dismayed author friend, followed by my reply – but first an ad for my writing contest:


Word Weaver logi FINAL trimmed

Hey, I’m having a WRITING CONTEST this month – wanna enter?

  • Get valuable FEEDBACK on your writing

  • Possibly win a share of $400 in PRIZES

  • Be the envy of your friends with MASSIVE BRAGGING RIGHTS

  • Cool e-ribbons you can proudly display if you win

Check it out and enter by clicking HERE.


You really should enter that…

Anyway, back to our story:

…it seems as if I’ve just wasted the last (fill in your number here of the weeks, months or years) of my life writing a story no one will ever be interested in EVER. It should be printed off only to be burned in a barrel and then bombed with a nuclear warhead. I have THREE chapters left to write. THREE. At the end of the summer, in September, I had FIVE.

 This week I sat down to write and . . . nothing happened. I stared at a blinking cursor for six hours. Well, that’s not entirely true. I checked my email. I went to town on Twitter. I cleaned the house and did two loads of laundry. I watched a few cat videos on Facebook.

 AND I deleted two thousand words from my latest draft

This is what we call the being on the ledge.

It’s a later stage of Cant Finish-itis because when you get overwhelmed, getting to the words THE END becomes more and more elusive.

  • suddenly there is a need for constant rewrites

  • a compelling urge to add NEW stuff you’ve now decided is critical to your story

  • work gets busy/busier/insane

  • holidays arrive. (It’s not like we know when Christmas comes. Every year. ON the same date.)

  • summer = kids without school = no free time AT ALL

  • other stuff. You know what you get distracted by.

Occasionally I’ll see a writer out there on the ledge and I’ll talk them back in through a window. Just as often they let me know they’re out on the ledge and I talk them down. But on rare occasions they get out there and start deleting thousands of words and then it’s more a matter of getting them to hit the net when they jump.

Or if they slip.

You don’t strike me as a jumper so we’ll say slip. Yeah, that’s it. The ledge needed cleaning and next thing you know you were out there on it. It happens.

But the fact is, it is hard to finish that first book!

So “Can’t Finish-itis” can happen to any of us. You’re chugging along thinking positive thoughts about yourself and your writing, and then you reread a chapter of your GAM (Great American Novel) it and you’re like whaaat? Or a trusted CP (Critique Partner) starts asking if you wrote you latest submission while under the influence of prescription cough medicine.

Okay, so what do we know, and what do we do about it?

Cos if you think I’m gonna hold your hand, you might have shot me a Facebook message  BEFORE you deleted thousands of words – and managed to write a thousand on your blog lamenting… your inability to write? Do I have that correct?

Well, I love irony as much as the next guy. Heck, maybe more. I even have sympathy for anybody buried under a foot of snow while I contemplate whether I’ll wear a sweatshirt with my shorts as I go buy chlorine for the pool. (I decided yes on the sweatshirt, but only because it was a little windy that morning.)

Okay, sister, time for the tough love.

If you think this is the hard part, you are wrong. This writing stuff? This is the easy part. Even when it’s hard, it’s easy. The hard part – the part we refer to as the abyss – that’s when you press the “publish” button and a few weeks go by and nothing really happens. Or you get three or four bad reviews in a row. Or your sales drop for some unknown reason. Or you have no sales and you suddenly realize it’s been quite a while since you did have some.

We talked about the emotional roller coaster that is authordom, HERE.

You’ll want to crawl under a rock and question your right to exist because nobody anywhere wants to read your story. Or review it. Or recommend it to friends. Or any one of a thousand other ways your shiny new manuscript will bring harm to your delicate little writer psyche.

But there’s good news! I can help you avoid the abyss!

And I could have helped you avoid the freaking ledge! Do you not know how to get ahold of me? Facebook, Twitter, the Contact Me button on the blog, Instagram, Pinterest… You can call. I’m in the book, for pete’s sake. There’s like two guys with my name in the whole United States and I’m not the radical priest in Texas.

Okay, okay, here’s the deal:

  1. You have probably written/are writing a pretty good book. You may still f*ck it up, but more than likely it’s completely readable and interesting. (Amazeballs in Jennyspeak.) How can I say this? You’re here on my site, which means you have a clue and you give a damn, and you know the difference. I don’t say that to everybody – check the array of carcasses in my critique group that got a “better luck next time” card from me. My readers have, almost without exception, been good writers. (I say almost because nobody bats .1000)
  1. If it was easy, everybody would write a book. 80% of US Americans want to and the vast majority don’t.
  1. Of those who attempt to write a book, MOST SUCK. Your book probably does not suck. (See #1)
  1. You have a LOT of people who want to help you in whatever way is needed. Don’t be afraid to ask for that help when you’re blocked. (And I don’t mean constipated, but I’m sure you know somebody to call about that, too. It’s not me. I wanna get on the record about that right now.)
  1. You are beautiful, funny, interesting, and a nice person. And your family loves you. Probably friends, too; I only know you online. But let’s give you that one, too.
  1. You have a LOT of people who want to help you in whatever way is needed. Sometimes that means goofing off with them for an hour on Facebook Messenger until they prod you to get creative and clear the logjam. After all, you managed to put down tens of thousands of words in a mostly cohesive string so far. Odds are a few more thousand are in you. Here’s proof, click HERE.
  1. This was not going to be a list but what the hell, it is now.
  1. As a list, it needed to stop at three or five, but once we sailed past those, ten seemed to be the magic number.
  1. Have a drink. (Like I need to tell you that.) Try writing drunk, like Hemingway said – write drunk, edit sober. It’s worth a shot (get it? Shot?) You may come up with something really interesting. You may not. But at least you’ll be drunk. And cut back on the cat videos. They obviously aren’t helping.
  1. You have a LOT of people who want to help you in whatever way is needed.

Whatever way is needed.

WHAT EVER way is needed.

You have a LOT of people who want to help you in whatever way is needed.

Get it?

Let them.

Okay, so I said three. Here are the three: 

  • Don’t stop writing the story, but don’t rewrite the story. Get it down and get it done and let CP’s have a look. Self analysis is self paralysis. (If you say you don’t have time, consider how much TV you watch and other distractions. Focus! We ALL have 24 hours in a day. The friend who writes makes that time, it’s not a miracle happening over at their house.) Let your CP’s help decide what works and what doesn’t. (You can find out about CPs HERE)
  • Most people wanna write a book and never do. If yours is any good, and I bet it is, stop depriving the word of it. Just finishing the book puts you into an elite class, because everybody wants to write a book and most don’t. You’re almost there. Once done, you are forever a published author, and believe it or not, somebody somewhere may say you wrote their favorite story – but not until you finish the story. Stop depriving them of that. If that phrase sounded good, let it motivate you.
  • You have more than one great story in you. Everything doesn’t have to be in the first book. Finish this one and get on to the second one. (BTW, If somebody discouraged you – even if it was you – it’s time to set that aside and finish. YOU decide this stuff. Do you wanna be an author or not? Finish the book. Then you are one. Doesn’t matter if it was a week ago or ten years ago, if you wanted to write, write. Finish. Be what you wanted to be, not the owner of a spoiled dream.)

Be what you wanted to be, not the owner of a spoiled dream.

 

head shot
Your humble host

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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the amazingly great upcoming sci fi action thriller “The Navigators.” Click HERE to check out his other works.

Author Interview: 21 Questions With Yecheilyah Ysrayl

 

Your humble host.
your humble host

Occasionally on the blog we will talk with one of our author friends, gaining valuable insights into their behind the scene world. Today we meet with Yecheilyah Ysrayl, an extraordinary writer and book blogger, among other things.

 

Join me as we delve deep – or as deep as we can in 21 Questions; not everybody gives up the goods – with Yecheilyah.

.

  1.  DAN: Welcome to the blog! What is the working title of your next book?

YecheilyahThank you, Dan, for having me. The working title for my next book is Renaissance and it’s Book One in The Nora White Story. It releases in 116 days, 15 hours, 30mins and 40 seconds from now. Not that you care.

  1. That’s more precise than my alarm clock! Tell me, how hard was it to hit that “Publish” button the first time and send your book into the world? Looking back, what can you tell new authors about that experience?
yecheilyah 1
author Yecheilyah Ysrayl

It wasn’t hard at all because I didn’t know what the heck I was doing! My first real book was my first collection of poetry and all I cared about was seeing my poems in print. I also wanted to have a compilation of them aside from my notebooks so I thought, “Why not?” So, I uploaded the unedited copy of poems to Lulu with a Lulu ready-made cover and published it, waited for the proof to come in the mail and did a nice little happy dance when it did. I don’t even know if I comprehended the magnitude of what just happened or if I fully understood what Self-Publishing was. As I look back despite how mediocre the work was, it still reached someone. So, what would I tell new authors about this experience? Get out there! Sure, you may start off sucking (I still suck) but there’s no next time without the first time. Go for it, why not?

 

  1. Time and effort = sucking less. We all improve with each story. What kind of kid were you in high school?

The boring kind. I literally did nothing. And if I did something it was only the most boring thing. For instance, I joined the Year Book Team. Who does that? Except it wasn’t really a team considering it was just me and the teacher but team sounds better. I did get out of class a lot, though, that was cool. Got to follow the cool kids around with my camera. Oh, and poetry. I joined a poetry club with some other nerds. I think it was like five of us? No, seven. OK, ten. Definitely ten. I think. Anyway, UMOJA Spoken Word was the name of it. Otherwise, I spent my time reading. Real exciting.

  1. Have you ever broken a bone?

yecheilyah 4Actually, yes. Yes, I did break a bone. I was hit by a car running across the street trying to get ice cream when I was ten and broke my leg. No, I’m not making this up. True story. So, the ice cream truck is singing down the street and I’ve got a dollar (a WHOLE dollar) burning a hole in my pocket. So, I decide I’m just going to run across the street really quick and buy some ice cream. Now, I have a twin sister and she told me not to go but I’m the oldest by 5 minutes. I didn’t have to listen to her. Anyway, ended up getting hit, broke my femur bone got a steel plate put in and 24 surgical staples. I have both the scar and the steel plate right now. The plate will be there for life and I suppose so will the scar.

  1. Can you wash light and dark clothes together? Have you even turned a bunch of stuff pink in the washer?

Of course, you can wash light and dark together! I mean, do people still separate clothes? Like, is that still a thing? I don’t know. But yes, of course.

  1. What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?

yecheilyah 5Wow, there are many. Some of the most prevalent are probably that we are all mediocre in production, know nothing about publishing, and that we spend all our time on social media. That’s alright. Keep underestimating us. We’ll keep making Best Seller’s lists and drink red wine while Hollywood turn our Self-Published books into movies.

  1. What’s something most readers would never guess about you?

Hmmm. Probably that I don’t drive. Yet. Alright, everyone can stop laughing now. But yea, that.

8 .      I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?

You mean other than the 116 days, 15 hours, 30 mins and 40 seconds from now that my next book is coming out? Besides this, I have teamed up with some exciting groups that I hope will help better my understanding of book publishing and expand my ability to be of service to the community and one of them is Rave Reviews Book Club. I decided to go ahead and apply and have recently become a member. I am excited to get started and to learn.

  1. What time of day do you prefer to do your writing?

yecheilyah 6It depends. Is there wine? Because if there’s wine I prefer late nights when the house is sleep. That way I can talk to myself and not have to explain why.  If there is no wine but there’s coffee, I prefer the early mornings for the same reason.

  1. Coffee addict? Name your poison.

I do need to be in AA for coffee. It wouldn’t be AA though huh? More like CA anonymous. Like, it really doesn’t make any sense. When I don’t have French Vanilla Cream I am even starting to make exceptions for drinking “when-you-just-have-some-sugar-and-some-powder-cream-but-it’s-still-nasty-so-it-may-as-well-be-black” coffee. Now you know that’s bad. Black coffee is disgusting.

 11. Tell me about your first kiss. Did it make it into a book?

Wow, Dan. You’re digging deep aren’t ya?

My first kiss was the worst thing ever. It was like letting somebody slob on you. I hate even thinking about it. Yuck.

Next question, please.

 12. What’s the best movie you have ever seen?

Oh, my gosh! OK. My most favorite movie is Lean on Me. Yassss. (“Free Mr. Clark!”) Of course, there are more profound movies than this but this one, in particular, I can watch every day, all day and not think about it. Just have it playing in the background. That is because it combines my two favorite things: Children and education. I love the little ones and anything that promotes something positive for them is close to my heart. It also helps that the movie is based on a true story which adds to my love for History.

 13. Do you have any children?

yecheilyah 2I have two daughters. The world would call them my stepdaughters but I don’t really believe in that. If you are with someone, what is part of them is part of you. So, I have two beautiful daughters and a little grandbaby who is the cutest little baby EVER. I mean seriously, in the whole world. Otherwise, I have no children biologically. We are working on that, though. Stay tuned.

 14. Are you married? How Long? How did you meet? Spill it!

OK, OK, sheesh. I met my husband back in 2007 at school and we were both in the same class. I was there by mistake. I was supposed to be in a different class but it was full so I had to take this one. So, we’re waiting for the professor to come (more like counting down the seconds before we would all just go home. How are you late on the first day?)

and in walks this cutie. I’m talking about, FINE. Ya’ll hear me? He had it going all the way on.

We all thought he was the teacher because of the way he took control. He told us we should put our names on a piece of paper so the teacher can know who was there. Smart AND sexy? Long story short, he became mine. May 16th will mark ten years we’ve been together.

15. What is one thing you always wished you could change about yourself?

I’m the most serious-sensitive person you’ve ever met! If there is one thing I could change it will be not to take things so personally. I tend to be very disciplined but my heart is soft. Don’t hurt my feelings, Dan. It wouldn’t be good.

 16. How many story ideas are in your “good ideas” file? What are some of them?

yecheilyah 7Oh man, you really trying to have your readers here all night huh? Let’s see. I have tons of story ideas that I consider good but there’s a reason they are still in my file folder. First, there is Queen, a Historical Fiction story I started working years ago, set in 1619 about a young woman in Ghana who is getting ready to transition into womanhood. All the women of her village are about to undergo the exciting process of dating and being chosen to be wives, to wear long flowing dresses, bangles, and nose rings. But something happens. Before the sun rises on the next day the village is raided and the young woman is taken captive in what would be known as the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Then there is Carbon, a short story I started writing about a businessman who becomes wealthy off his fragrance enterprise. In short, his selective fragrance becomes the next Victoria’s Secret and the media is having a field day. A successful journalist is charged with interviewing him. She’s not impressed by his fame, at least not until he sweeps her off her feet. She discovers later that there is something weird about this man. After barely surviving his abuse she discovers this man is a clone. A carbon copy of another man. But will the rest of the world believe her?

 17. Which living author or blogger would you buy drinks for?

I would buy drinks for Bloggers and Authors Lisa W. Tetting and Colleen Chesebro because they support everything that I do sincerely.

There are people who will support you but you can also tell their heart is not really in it. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. There’s something about you they just don’t get, maybe they think you’re an amateur or maybe they just don’t get you period.

Not these two. Lisa and Colleen support me for real. Not for fake. I would also buy drinks for Terry McMillian. Her books are the bomb, specifically I am attracted to her character development. I would love some insight on her process.

18. What kind of Chinese food do you order all the time?

I don’t eat Chinese Food. When I did, shrimp fried rice was my thing. I don’t eat shrimp anymore though. Plus, there’s this mental thing I have with Chinese Food. The restaurants are always next to pet hospitals. No offense if you’re Chinese. I’m just not a fan of the food.

19. How did your blog start?

I started my blog in 2014 randomly actually (Do I say “actually” a lot? Smh) I was blogging under another blog name, A House of Poetry, which was a poetry blog filled with nothing but poetry. Wait, I just said that. Anywho, when I came out with the book, Pearls Before Swine, I decided to start a blog under the same name. Over time the name took on a deeper meaning but that was the initial inspiration. Again, it’s all about getting out there. I would have never met you and the other awesome bloggers and authors in the blogosphere. Yes, Dan, I just called you awesome.

20. What’s a good writing secret or time management secret?

Keep your plans and intentions to yourself. There’s too much advice out here, some good and some not so good.

Either way, you will be confused and frustrated if you let everyone know your next move. Writing Secret: Keep both your income and next move to yourself.

21. What is the single most important quality in a novel; what must an author do to win you over?

The single, most important quality in a novel for me is relatable and realistic character development. Characters that act and speak like normal people would and makes decisions in like manner. I am turned off by characters who hate ice cream in Chapter One and in Chapter Two, after one person just convinced them, they love it. That’s not realistic. It will take a real person time to build up to it.

Important Stuff: The links

yecheilyah 1Yecheilyah Ysrayl
Author, Poet, Blogger, Book Reviewer
Literary Korner Publishing

Pearls Before Swine blog. www.thepbsblog.com

Yecheilyah, thank you so much for dropping by and sharing your story! I love learning other authors’ processes.

Gang, check out her books and her blog. There’s a lot there, so follow her. I do!

3 Things To Know But ABSOLUTELY NOT WRITE In Your Story

A brief ad before today’s amazing and insightful blog post.

Word Weaver logi FINAL trimmed

Hey, I’m having a WRITING CONTEST this month – wanna enter?

  • Get valuable FEEDBACK on your writing

  • Possibly win a share of $400 in PRIZES

  • Be the envy of your friends with MASSIVE BRAGGING RIGHTS

  • Cool e-ribbons you can proudly display if you win

Check it out and enter by clicking HERE.


Your humble host.
your humble host

At a Florida Writer’s Association mini conference a few years ago, I walked into a session midway through.

 

I wasn’t late or rude; I was surfing.

That is, spending a few minutes in each session to get a feel for the class itself and the relevance of its topic to my needs.  Not the stuff in the water with waves and the… long oval board thingy.

Maybe the “Dialogue” session looked good but I didn’t need to work on that skill, and the “Outlining” session looked dull but was actually hugely insightful.

How would I know if I didn’t get a sample of each?

And since the sessions were scheduled simultaneously, I could not be in each.

So I popped in and out – which actually is rude – to see what was what.

Surfing, as it were. Or sampling.

By the way, you should definitely go to a FWA conference, if for no other reason than to gain my valuable insights in person. I’ll be presenting at this year’s conference.

FWA pics
along with a few other folks you may know – Jenny and Allison

See?

The benefit of having multiple topics discussed at the same time in different rooms is, if you don’t need one, there’s another one you’ll benefit from.

So I walk into what appeared to be a rather blasé topic – and was immediately enthralled.

In fact, I was in the middle of a text conversation with Allison and I quickly sent a message along the lines of, “I gotta go. This session is brilliant.”

The session leader, a writer for many years who makes his living writing (23 years for a newspaper, has ghostwritten fifteen books and edited more than 200 manuscripts), was delving into interviewing your character.

I had never heard of such a thing.

He grabbed my attention right away because he was asking each attendee things like, “What is your character afraid people will discover about him/her?”

 

Whattttt???

Yeah.

What is their secret?

What would cause them to absolutely want to die if people knew?

I was hooked.

We all have secrets.

Maybe that bounced check to the pizza place in college is yours, but we have have stuff we’re afraid people will find out about us.

Yes, you do.

You have lopsided boobs or you fart in your sleep or you take a lit-tle too long in the shower sometimes. But yes, you have some secrets you do NOT want the world to know.

 

And so does your character.

itas-dan-2That, my friends is brilliant.

It changed my view of writing.

It gave me an amazing plot twist in The Navigators and also in Poggibonsi.

Amazing plots twists.

Amazing, I say.

And so do my readers.

poggi-cover-final
pre-order now for just $0.99 – click HERE

Now, the session leader was not the first to think of interviewing your characters, and despite my constant badgering, he would not reveal the source of the questions he used – but rest assured, he added a few to whatever list he referenced.

But lo these years later, it bugged me to see other people struggling to create interesting characters OR HOW TO HAVE THOSE CHARACTERS REACT in a situation.

This list helps with that.

But

YOU need it, not your reader.

DO NOT make the mistake of laying this all out like the stats on the playmate of the month.

No, no, no, no, no.

NO.

Write it down, but don’t put it in your story. YOU need to know this, your reader does not. (Occasionally you may need to drop a bit of it in here and there, but it’s not an info dump.)

YOU need a reference. This is that. The reader needs consistency. This will help.

And, like outlining (an example of that amazing tool that you won’t use, is HERE), most of you won’t do it – and will find yourselves:

  1. stuck later or
  2. with characters that don’t ring true and don’t connect, but worse than that, ARE DULL.

See, an outline helps you get to The End. That’s tip #1.

Your brilliant idea will certainly launch you. Your inner Shakespeare will drive some drama. But if you don’t know where you want to go, you probably won’t get there.

As in, a terrific ending everyone loves as opposed to a story that you are stuck staring at, wondering why you have writer’s block and can’t finish.

Outlining and having AN ending is how to avoid NOT ending, also known as The Story I Can’t Seem To Finish.

Don’t even start that I can finish my stories crap. Most of you can’t, and lack of outlining is why. Pantsers. Hah! I laugh in your general direction.

Outlining does not stifle your creativity. It directs it.

Case closed.

And of course, the outline doesn’t go into the pages of the story. At least, not directly.

Now, I didn’t start into all this to tell you the benefits of outlining, although if we picked up a second valuable lesson along the way, good for us. Rambling has its benefits.

Interviewing Your Story Characters is a terrific way to open your mind to possibilities.

As you read this list, you’ll roll your eyes at a few, BUT THEN YOU WILL GO, “DAMN, THAT’S A GOOD QUESTION, I LOVE THAT!”

Yes.

Yes you will. That’s Tip #2.

I will accept your thanks later.

See, gang, I pass along what I learn. Some stuff you already know, some you’ll learn here, but as the great Allie Potts said, you can learn this stuff anywhere but you like coming here to learn it because of me. Or something like that. I’m not going to look it up. That’s basically what it was, I’m sure.

So when I have an AHA MOMENT, you get the benefit. It’s like I’m doing your work for you. Which – get off your butt, slacker. You can contribute occasionally.

Here’s a list of questions you should use to interview your characters. Skip the dull ones like “Name” because you probably know that, but read through them until you see stuff that makes your inner writer tingle.

That’s the gold, dude.

Again, answer the questions, but don’t necessarily put it in the story; know if for how your character will act/react/be motivated/be afraid in the story. Interview your characters, and interview yourself about your characters.

Get read for your writing to go to a whole new level.

Questions compiled from me, also from “Interview Your Characters” March 22, 2011 by Crystal Stranaghan, “Novel Writing: 10 Questions You Need to Ask Your Characters” by Brian Klems for Writer’s Digest December 10, 2014, and “30 Questions to Ask Your Main Character” Posted on January 13, 2014 by Carly Watters

And if YOU have a terrific question to ask a character, list it below!

 

BASICS

(You need this info for consistency, so might as well write it down. Don’t want a brown eyed protagonist accidentally being described as green eyed halfway through the story. Yes, I’ve done seen that.)

  • Name:
  • Sex:
  • Age:
  • Eyes:
  • Hair:
  • Body Type:
  • Facial  features:
  • Skin type/tone:
  • Ears:
  • Interesting physical characteristics:

BONUS TIP: I usually create a list/separate file called “Cast of Characters” showing who they are married to or who they are related to. It avoids confusion but it’s also easy reference for me later in the story if I’m on chapter 25 and need to remember somebody’s name from chapter 3 – and it takes about ten seconds each time I add a character.

Look how many there are in Poggibonsi (a story many of you would say had about 3 to 5 characters):

poggi-cover-final
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  1. Mike Torino, the main Character
  2. Mattie, his wife
  3. Sienna their 4 year old daughter
  4. Sam, Mike’s assistant in Atlanta
  5. Alberto Romano, Mike’s Italian liaison
  6. Julietta Verona, Mike’s new assistant in Italy
  7. Dr. Jan, an ex-girlfriend of Mike’s who does his last minute physical instead of his regular doctor
  8. Grady Jackman, Mike’s sex crazed work associate at Creative Capital
  9. Marge “the old woman” Harriman, aka Large Marge and Margie Girl
  10. Henry Harriman, Marge’s deceased husband and co-founder of the firm
  11. Cole Zimmerman, the bad guy who sabotages Mike’s surveys results
  12. Kenny, a young guy who did Mike’s survey work
  13. Joanie, Mattie’s mom, Sienna’s grandma
  14. Tammie, mother of one of Mike’s daughter’s friends
  15. Angela, Tammie’s daughter
  16. Mrs. Norton, Sienna’s teacher
  17. Jeannie Haskins, Mike’s flirty neighbor
  18. Larson and Cardewig, VP’s at the firm where Mike works
  19. Jennifer Smith head of legal department were Mike works
  20. Carmine, the cab driver in Tuscany
  21. Omalley /Almiera – the tavern owner in Tuscany/Poggibonsi
  22. Deidra and Alex, Mattie’s friends who divorced after 20 years of marriage
  23. Mrs. Conley, Mike’s eighty-five year old neighbor
  24. Alberto’s family (wife, 5 boys, 2 girls)
  25. Marcella, Alberto’s wife
  26. Marco age 26
  27. Carlo 24
  28. Gina 21
  29. Peter 18
  30. Paolo is 8
  31. Mrs. Mestacucci, works at the bank
  32. Franco Bellesandro di Marcuzzi, the bank manager
  33. Ponso

There are a few others…

Do you probably need all that? HELL NO! But if you do, it took ten seconds each time, and it’ll save you a TON of time (hours) searching through your MS looking for the preschool teacher’s name when it gets referred to in chapter 25. Trust me. Hours. Write it down.

BACKGROUND

(Important in some stories, not too important in others, but your should know this stuff):

  • Where and when were you born?
  • Where have you lived?
  • Schooling? (KNOW this. It affects how people speak and occasionally how they act. Smart, intelligent people without what they consider enough schooling often feel a bit inferior. THEY SHOULDN’T, but often they do. Others will go to lengths to show how smart they are.)

 

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR CHARACTERS

(This is the good stuff. Ask yourself these question about each character. Also, for some you should ask the character and answer – honestly – as the character.)

  • What is she obsessed with?
  • What is your character afraid people will discover about him/her?

  • Biggest fear?
  • What is the best thing that ever happened to her?  The worst?
  • Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to her?
  • Biggest secret?
  • What is the one word you would use to define her?

  • What do they like to wear?
  • How do they like to socialize?
  • What was their role in their family growing up?
  • What did they find terribly embarrassing as a kid?
  • who does this character respect most in life?

  • What was their first best friend like?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • What annoys them?
  • What makes them laugh?

  • Are they a dog or a cat person?
  • What makes them embarrassed as an adult?
  • Do they drink alcohol? A lot?
  • What do they feel most passionately about?
  • who do they REALLY wanna be with in the story?

  • What trait do they find most admirable in others?
  • Do they want a job that helps people or a job that makes money?
  • what do you notice first about a person of the opposite sex?

  • Are they a leader or a follower?
  • What scares them?

  • What are their long term goals? or what is their dream?
  • What are their bad habits?
  • Who was the love of their life?
  • What are you keeping a secret?
  • What are you lying to yourself about? To others?

  • Is there anyone in your life that you are attracted to?
  • What scares you about this person?
  • when scared/confronted, this person does X (runs, fights, deflects, stabs confronter in the throat)

  • What do you think he/she can do for you that no one else can?
  • What does this person know about you that no one else does?
  • What parts of loving come easy to you ?  Hard?
  • What would cause them to absolutely want to die if people knew?

  • When you walk into a room what do you notice first? Second?
  • How would you change the world?  The things around you? The people around you?
  • How do you learn best?
  • what will you do to achieve your goal in the story? How far are you willing to go? Lying? Stealing? MURDER?

  • If you had one wish, what would it be?
  • What do you like best about yourself?
  • What do you like least about yourself?
  • are your closets organized or unorganized?

  • sorry, that one just kinda slipped in there while I was looking for something.
  • What do you like best about your best friend?
  • who does your character 100% trust implicitly in this story? When the chips are down, you go to X – who is X?

  • What do you like least about your best friend?
  • What do you think other people think of you?
  • What’s your greatest source of joy?

  • What are you especially proud of in your life?
  • If you could change anything about your life what would it be?

 

Tip #3. Okay, so the third tip is this: know this stuff but don’t write it in your story. Not directly. If Ron is afraid of spiders, yes that’s gonna be obvious – eventually – and you’ll need to foreshadow it, but he shouldn’t walk around all day saying, “Gee, Harry, I hope we don’t see any spiders tonight when we start searching for the Chamber of Secrets!” Besides, Ron really is afraid of not achieving and being seen as a failure; he wants to gain respect and standing like his older siblings.

Knowing what he’s really afraid of, the stuff inside, is what motivates him and creates his internal character that we don’t always see but do always feel. And he ended up with Emma Watson’s character in the story, right? Hermione. So there’s that.

His secret. The one he’d (initially) die from embarrassment if anybody knew.

Hers, too.

Your turn. What questions can YOU think of to ask a character in a story? List it below!

 

 

 

Story Stuff: H Is For Humor

Pick up some great insights and writing tips as Allison goes through storytelling A-Z this month. H is for Humor – we all need more of that.

The Grinch meme still makes me laugh out loud.

Check it out!

Allison Maruska

Today’s topic is one in the series I’ve been simultaneously anticipating and dreading. Because it’s easy to execute yet hard to describe. Today is all about humor (or humour, depending on where you are in the world).

HThis blog started as a humor blog a year before I wrote anything in a novel. Click on the Funny link in the tag cloud and scroll waaaaay down to see some of those older humor posts.

So since I like writing funny blog posts, you’d think I’d frequently inject my novels with funnies – but I mostly don’t. I drop funny lines in here and there when I think they work – as in this suspenseful story could use a moment of levity. But my books wouldn’t hang out in the humor section.

Fortunately, one of my writing partners does write books that hang out there, so I’m stealing borrowing a…

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