Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Writing Tips from North Texas Book Festival Authors

This weekend, I am excited about going to the North Texas Book Festival in Denton, Texas! I's open to the public and READERS will love meeting authors from almost every genre including children, young adult, new adult, western, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, romance and of course, Christian romance--both historical and contemporary! :) As well as many non-fiction offerings!

I asked the attending authors to send me some of their writing tips and below are the results. Please do check back and if you can, join us Saturday, April 11, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Patterson-Appleton Center for the Visual Arts, 400 East Hickory Street in Denton. 

Miracle Austin          website

Writing tip: Read the genres that you enjoy the most and give new ones a twirl, may be surprised, where it could take you in your writing... Always keep your eyes, ears, and senses open for that "Aha Moment" that could pop up at any time/anywhere, which may then inspire you to develop a new idea or continue writing, where you left off last... There will be some that may not prefer your writing, but then there will be others who really will. So, write what moves you...

Rod Barklay          website  

Writing tip: Go on a 'WAS' war!  Read over your chapter, or pages, and circle all the 'was' words you find.  Then find another way to tell the story without the 'was'. A complete absence is not necessary -- just limit the use to once in a while. Cheers!

Carolyn Boyd          link to book  

Writing tip: Find a time and place that is quiet and you will not be uninterrupted. I often got up in the middle of the night and worked on 'The Langston Saga' when the phones weren't ringing and there were no interruptions. Also, write about something you know. Do your research and make your characters believable and realistic. 

Katherine Boyer          website

Writing tip: I was a working librarian for over 20 years; I am now a non-working librarian (retired).  I have been a reader since before I started to school – even though I could not understand the funny little squiggles that I learned were letters that formed words.  That is my background.  The writing tip from my side of the book is to PLEASE edit, edit, edit.  Then get either a professional editor or have two or three friends read your book before you print it.  I can’t say how difficult it is to follow a storyline if your mind keeps going back to that one little error (or several).  I know I am preaching to the choir, but even the choir sometimes needs a little uplifting.  *Just a little note – even with errors, I have always found something special and excellent in the books I have read.

Janet K. Brown          website 

Writing tip: Write every day, read every day, and make a synopsis up before writing the book.

Kathy Carniero          website

Andrew Fairchild          website 

Writing tip: “Do your research”, upon recently publishing my first children’s book “Bali and Blu: Friends of a Different Color” I was eager to get my book out without researching and interviewing other authors about options available out there to us indie authors. There are a wide variety of options available that I have learned about, and I am still learning.  There are many wonderful organizations that indie authors can join and fellow indie authors who are just willing to help you to get your book out there.

Diana Farrar          website

Writing tip: Write about your passion, and then write with passion."

Keri Fry          link to book 

Writing tip: Story ideas can come from anywhere from just watching people at the park or restaurant to labels on the on boxes .

Fred Funk          website 

Writing tip: Write everyday.  Some days I write for ten minutes, but other times it is all day. 

Robin Graham          website

Writing tip: Listen to your characters.  When you hit a block, let a character take over and see what they do.  Don't worry, they rarely play it safe.  Maybe they will choose the path less traveled and end up in an alternate universe that actually has flying cars.  Or climb a tree and meet a talking squirrel who tells really great stories.  Or fall into a river, get swept to the ocean and have a rollicking pirate adventure.  If nothing else, your character will show you that block was merely a bump in your road of writing.  And sometimes, all you need is a detour.

Judy Lowe          website 

Writing tip: My best writing tip is to write from personal experience. The inspiration for my first story, The Little White Light, was the existence of an actual white light that appeared to me. It was, and is, on-going even now. My second story, MJ’s New Friend, was developed because of my husband’s inquisitive interest in the small UFO that landed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. He had several paperback books on the subject and the event. I brought into the story my personal experiences as an elementary school teacher to convey to children the messages of acceptance and friendship that they so badly need. People tell me my stories "ring true," and I think this is because they arise from real life experiences with which we can all relate.

Caryl Mcdoo          website     

Writing tip: Don't use too many proper names. any pronoun will refer back to the last proper name mentioned--gender wise. He, his, and him refers back to the last male's name mentioned, same for female, her and she. You will have to use these for the point-of-view-character, since your only choice is name or pronoun for POVC. For other players, use description or relationship. The younger, the red-headed beauty, the teacher, his uncle, her older sister. And definitely don't use proper names in dialogue unless absolutely necessary. When we know one another we don't, so to make dialogue natural, your characters shouldn't either, especially when you're trying to cut down on the use of proper names. They bog down your story.

Myra McIlvain          website 

Writing tip: The first step is to place your bottom on the chair, your fingers on the keyboard, and begin to write over and over and over until each sentence is the best it can be. Since Texas history is my interest, my work requires tons of research to get the history as accurate as possible. With historic fiction, I try to follow the actual dateline as closely as possible and then I allow my characters to come to life within that historic framework. Characters have to be alive for me before I can make them alive for my readers. Things happen that I do not plan and characters behave in ways I have not anticipated. I do not demand a certain number of words a day. I demand that what I write is my best for that day. Always, I return to that same page many times to hone and improve each line.

Jennifer McMurrain          website 

Writing tip: One word - Outline. Outline are especially helpful for writers. They give you a road map to where your story is going. Write down those plot point destinations and then write away to your destination. No more writers block or getting lost, because you'll know where you're going.

James N. Patrick, co-author          Link to Book 

Writing tip: Visualize the scene as if you are in it.

Randall 'Randy' Reneau          website 

Writing tip: The best writing tip I ever got was from writer, Ken Hodgson. He told me to give my characters some "rein."  He said, "Let 'em  run a bit . . . and you'll be surprised where they'll take you." Boy was he right! Second best tip: Keep it fast-paced with deception at every turn . . .

Kathleen M. Rodgers          website 

Writing tip: Being a writer, that's my job. At book signings and presentations, I am an author. But when I am working, I am a writer. And, a writer must get beyond the thrill of a byline, plunge deeper than the words themselves, and dive head-on into a bottomless pit where all the good stories are swimming around waiting to be rescued from the soul.

Elaine Smith                website      

Writing tip: Put on some meditation or other music with no words, put your fingers on the keyboard, close your eyes and let the thoughts flow from your brain through your fingertips. Don't look, don't worry about misspellings or format. Just let it flow. Some call this "free writing." It is very cathartic and often great ideas pop into the flow. Then save it and go back another time to review. I usually choose music like this: 3 Hours Chi Activation Music - Extremely Powerful Brainwave Binaural - Focus Concentration Music

Jan Sikes          website

Writing tip: I want to remind you to feed the reader within.  You spend hours upon hours with research and you write, rewrite, proofread, and edit day and night, sometimes around the clock and into the next day without a break. But are you remembering to feed yourself, to give yourself the nourishment you need to stay strong and alert at those tasks?

Tui Snider          website 

Writing tip: In this era of rampant high-tech gadgetry, a simple kitchen timer remains my favorite writing tool. When feeling stuck or tempted to procrastinate, I set the timer and say, "You only have to write for 2 minutes." It's a silly trick, but it works! After 2 minutes, I've written through my resistance and am ready to continue. The timer also keeps me on track when researching. Hearing it ding after 20 minutes allows me to consider whether or not I've veered too far off the subject. My only caveat? Choose a timer with a pleasant ding and not a jarring buzz! 

Shelly Tucker          blog 

Writing tip: In the beginning, there were spoken stories.  When mankind developed writing, these tales were recorded in books for future generations to enjoy.  As I have been a storyteller for over thirty years, I am in the habit of telling the story (or section of the story) out loud before I ever put pen to paper.  Sometimes I only tell it to myself, but often I tell it to a friend or two.  By judging their reactions, I'm better able to refine my words to create a finished product.  Though the story often changes as I begin to write, that first oral story is necessary for me to be able to develop the tale.  While it might not be helpful for everyone, telling the tale out loud can sometimes help with writer's block!

Danielle Vann     website      Amy Zeller, illustrator

Writing tip: Often I am asked if there is a secret to excellent writing. My answer is always the same--READ YOUR WORK OUT LOUD! As authors/writers we often read what we intended to write instead of what is truly on the page. Most computers now have a programs that will read your work to you. As I begin editing, I will print my work, read aloud, and then turn the reading program on in Word and have the computer read to me. This simple step allows you to not only hear how your writing sounds to a reader, but it helps with flow, editing, pace, and consistency. It has changed the way I write, edit, and publish.