Friday, November 25, 2016

Preparing for Interviews

For my book launch and debut weekends I had prepared scripts I out-and-out read aloud. Not exciting at all. But I was sure to get my message across. This was quite important for the Bishop Hill audience of friends and neighbors. I had to let them know the details of how I came up with my characters.
After those two party weekends, I let things slide a bit.

For the first author’s panel I was invited to participate in I had a page or two of notes to work from—not a prepared formal address. I would not want to hear a recording of that session. I heard myself go “um” a lot. I just couldn’t help myself.

I handled my questions well enough. I watched my fellow panelists quote and otherwise use their books to make their points about writing. It was a good lesson to pick up on.

I did better for my second author’s panel. Again I was with two other authors who were both well experienced and considerate. We didn’t have 15 minutes of introduction time to fill for this event—we went right to questions. One author made point after point for strong characters. This dovetailed into what I picked up later at the Children’s Literature Festival listening to Metivier and Prineas make their presentations.

A few weeks later I went to hear Teresa LaBella at the Bettendorf Public Library for the October Read Local. She had a polished Power Point presentation that emphasized the specific things that gave her inspiration for her stories. I had to remember my own moments of inspiration for future reference.

I had this much experience under my belt as I tried to prepare for my WVIK radio interview with Don Wooten and Roald Tweet.

Did I mention that it would be a LIVE recording? No editing.

I pretty much spent the weekend before my Monday interview calming myself as I looked for quotes to read from the book and just thinking about potential questions & answers. I wasn’t sure this mental preparation would work. But it did help to refresh my memory of some of the main points and themes of my novel. I knew I had to skip the dull parts of my previous readings.

Come Monday afternoon I sat at the WVIK employee break room table rehearsing the brief passage I would be reading if asked. Then the time came to walk into the studio and sit close to the microphone as Mr. Wooten adjusted the volume to boost my quiet voice. He twisted a few dials, found a new CD to record on, and said it was time to go.

Wooten and Tweet were off and running. They played the Scribble opening typewriter music that’s so familiar for me. They made all the necessary introductions of a standard show. And then I WAS UP.

From there on out I don’t remember the specifics of what I said. I talked. I talked a lot. I talked about everything that was on my mind and hoped for the best. I hoped I wouldn’t embarrass myself. I recall making them chuckle a couple of times. I’ve always considered a little humor a good thing. Most of all, I tried to be a good guest and answer as fully and completely as I was able to.

Then I left the building having to wait like everyone else to hear my spot when it aired on the scheduled Saturday at noon. However, due to a previous commitment, I missed hearing it that day. Fortunately, WVIK made it available for me and other people to hear in online.

Here is a link to hear it and judge for yourself how well I did:

Friday, November 18, 2016

More on NaNoWriMo

Quote from a fellow Bettendorf Public Library Write-in writer/participant: You have to let yourself write badly.

That goes along with turning off your internal editor.

Well, I’ve had many good days of writing badly and last Wednesday I got my tally is up to 25,000 words. Still short by one day, but so much closer to the needed average than I was before I came to the Write-in.

Big Plus: I’m half way to 50,000 words and I get another nifty little badge for my NaNoWriMo home page.

All those little incentives do help out.

·       I like watching my word count go up.
·       I like the daily count turn green when I reach the target number of 1667 words.
·       I like the upward slope of the bar graph.
·       I’m ecstatic if my completion date is in Nov. instead of Dec.

Wish I had those graphics available all year round. It all helps keep me going.

I’ve read a couple of pep talks all ready. I’ll get the others soon.

I’m busy writing EVERY DAY SO FAR.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Ethan Canin

I’m sorry to say that Ethan Canin was unknown to me even though we might have crossed paths in Iowa City.

My introduction came through his appearance at the Bettendorf Public Library as part of National Novel Writing Month.

He took a series of questions and answered them in often roundabout ways that I believe involved some of his best personal stories.

It took me a bit to realize I should be taking notes. Here is my list:

·       Want a plot? Have your characters misbehave.

·       Endings should be a surprise and inevitable. (The original quote came from Aristotle long before Flannery O’Connor.)

·       Favorite authors: Alice Munro, John Cheever, and Raymond Carver.

·       Best advice: Be the character. Be the POV. Character drives a story and becomes the experience.

·       Put your energy into discovery. (He doesn't outline.)

·       Always be curious.

·       A long drive makes an excellent Trigger. (A trigger is anything that transports you back into a scene or story.)

·       Writing is thinking something through.

·       There are lots of ways to build plot, characters, etc. There’s only one way for a story to go wrong: fail to pose one and only one emotional question for the reader.

Friday, November 4, 2016

2016 NaNoWriMo

My first NaNoWriMo was 2010. That makes this my sixth year for National Novel Writing Month. I haven’t won the 50,000 word count every one of those years. I’ve missed a few.

I don’t remember much from 2011. My mother died in early October. I kind of think I used most of my time doing rewrites. I was not strictly following the rules, but that November was shot all to pieces anyway. But this had to be where I changed my protagonist. I had begun writing in third person past tense but from the POV of the older woman named Christine at the time. I changed to the POV of the younger woman, the college grad who was closer to the ages of my kids and their friends. Good source material.

The November 2012 NaNoWriMo didn’t come together for me, a total non-starter.

November 2013 was filled up with rewrites. I’m fond of saying how important it is to use the deadline, the daily word count goals, and all the other perks of this organized writing challenge to suit personal needs. That year was no exception.

Then there was 2014, I made my 50,000 words but didn’t get them verified within the time allotted. I didn’t get the winner’s badge on my NaNoWriMo homepage. Still, I had the moral victory. I had done a total rewrite with a shift to a first person POV. It really helped to make my main character come alive. I kept the past tense. I couldn’t get too crazy.

2015 was another non-starter. I got myself registered but filled my writing time with rewrites. If I was doomed to only writing, and finishing, one book, it would be a good one.

Not so this year.

This year I have a clear goal and extra help.

The Bettendorf Public Library has stepped up to the plate. They had the most amazing launch party last weekend and they are supplying a cozy writing spot all during November. All this is like heaven to a writer who needs a little encouragement—and good snacks.