One Fictitious Moment — Writing Tidbits

Angela Misri is the up-and-coming Canadian author of the new mystery series, A Portia Adams Adventure. The first book in the series is called Jewel of the Thames and is actually featured on Kindle at the moment for $4.60. But what I really wanted to share with you is the adorable Fiction Writing series that Angela has started on YouTube. The one minute videos feature in-motion illustrations along with her writing tidbits commentary. These are an excellent way to introduce new skills on writing and the writing craft in your already busy lifestyle. The channel is called One Fictitious Moment and it looks like she uploads a new video every few weeks. Here are the first four to get you started. If you subscribe to her channel then you will get an email update when she uploads a new one:

Episode 1: Writing Detective Fiction

Episode 2: Writing a Great Villain

Episode 3: Writing Dialogue

Episode 4: Creating Tension

There you have it! Four minutes of writing tidbits in 1 minute intervals and don’t you feel a little smarter already?

Topic Links
* Subscribe to Angela Misri’s One Fictitious Moment
* Purchase Jewel of the Thames on Amazon

About Maureen Wood

M. E. Wood lives in Eastern Ontario with her husband of fifteen years. She has been moderating BIW for over nine years and works on the Internet. You can learn more about her projects on her official website.

RSS and Email Newsletter Changes

As of a few minutes ago I have severed the BIW blog’s ties with the RSS at Feedburner. If you follow this blog’s RSS you will now have to do so from its original feed at Feedburner will be redirecting but it is best to change the address as Feedburner can go down at any time.

If you are subscribed via Feedburner’s email update I have moved your email over to the shinier Mail Chimp version for BIW blog updates.

Hopefully all these changes will go off without any issues. If you run into any problems let me know via the contact form.

BIW Moderator

About Maureen Wood

M. E. Wood lives in Eastern Ontario with her husband of fifteen years. She has been moderating BIW for over nine years and works on the Internet. You can learn more about her projects on her official website.

Server Issues

Greetings BIWers,

I am sorry for the sporadic internet service this month. I have been pulling my hair out with my current hosting company to no avail so I am preparing to switch all my sites over to a new host.

Hopefully the change over will be completed by Monday because I will be taking a much needed sabbatical away from technology. That’s right, no blogging, no internet, no Twitter, no Instagram, no iPod, no email (not the tv, let’s not go to crazy) — so if you see me on any make sure you kick me off. It has been a few years since I have had a real break so this will start on Monday and continue through to the following Monday.

I am looking forward to recharging the batteries, getting some painting done and maybe some knitting, if my fingers remember even remember how.

Talk to you soon!

BIW Moderator

About Maureen Wood

M. E. Wood lives in Eastern Ontario with her husband of fifteen years. She has been moderating BIW for over nine years and works on the Internet. You can learn more about her projects on her official website.

The Science of Creativity

Here is an interesting video featuring Charles Limb, a musician, surgeon, and TED presenter, about how the brain works during creative endeavours. While the main focus is on jazz music and rappers I think it still relates to the creative process of writing, especially free form writing which is also spontaneously produced. It gets especially interesting around the seven minute mark when they show what happens with the brain during the creative process.

In a nutshell the brain is divided into different areas for different functions. Their hypothesis is “to be creative, you have to have this weird dissociation in your frontal lobe. One area turns on, and a big area shuts off, so that you’re not inhibited, so that you’re willing to make mistakes, so that you’re not constantly shutting down all of these new generative impulses.” Now does that sound like what we strive to achieve during our writing challenges or what?

About Maureen Wood

M. E. Wood lives in Eastern Ontario with her husband of fifteen years. She has been moderating BIW for over nine years and works on the Internet. You can learn more about her projects on her official website.

Ninja Writer Offers Free eBook

Originally written for a 3-Day Novel Contest in 2011, Book-in-a-Week participant Laura Roberts’ first book, Rebels of the 512, is currently available for free digital download through May 31. As part of “National Ninja Month,” Laura is celebrating by giving away free copies of the eBook in all digital formats at You can learn more about her book plus modern-day ninja sightings, lady ninjas and more at Rebels of the 512 website.

What is Rebels of the 512

woman ninja with swordLaid off from her job, thanks to Texas Governor Nick Harry’s most recent round of budget cuts, high school history teacher Suzie Jimenez does not get mad–she goes rogue. Joining a rebel band of ninjas in their quest to fight the power and the pirates that support it, Suzie is swept up in the ultimate battle between good and evil. Can one woman beat the system, or will Suzie be consigned to the dustbin of state history along with Cesar Chavez and her fellow freedom fighters?

Who is Laura Roberts

Laura Roberts is the editor of the sassy literary magazine, Black Heart, with a license to kill your darlings. A former sex columnist in Montreal, she is currently writing a second novel loosely based on her days in the Sin City of the North. To ward off ninja attacks, she resides in a post-apocalyptic bunker in Austin with her husband and literary kitty, Nedward Carlos Nedwards.

Topic Links
* Get a free copy of Rebels of the 512 from SmashWords
* Learn more about Laura Roberts at her website

About Maureen Wood

M. E. Wood lives in Eastern Ontario with her husband of fifteen years. She has been moderating BIW for over nine years and works on the Internet. You can learn more about her projects on her official website.

Publishing Trends

At any given time, there are certain trends in publishing. In the ’80’s, there was the explosion of the female sleuth thanks to such trailblazers as Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky, among others. In the late ’90’s, Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary spawned a whole new sub-genre in women’s fiction; namely chick-lit. By the looks of the shelves of the book stores here in Ireland, chick-lit is still popular. During the Noughties, a ferocious paranormal trend developed fueled by the success of the Harry Potter Series and Twilight. A book in any given genre can go viral and the resulting fallout is a huge boom for the entire genre from which it came from.

bookstore window displayHowever, trends, like the boom years of Ireland, are not really meant to last. Trends are as uncertain as they are unpredictable. When I started submitting my chick-lit manuscript four years ago, I received a staggering 44 rejections. At that time, I read of a New York agent saying that merely labeling your work chick lit was for certain a death knell. How fast the bloom fades off the rose! Currently, I am submitting my young adult (YA) novel and the rejections are rolling in and the word on the other side of the Atlantic is that U.S. editors are no longer interested in paranormal. Apparently there is an epidemic of vampire fatigue as well as angel fatigue and werewolf fatigue.

Luckily the UK follows the trends of the US by a couple of years, so there is still some breathing room on this side of the pond.

Right now, I detect a slight whiff in the air as to the next trend. Erotica. All everyone seems to be talking about is the viral hit Fifty Shades of Grey and for about 30 seconds, I thought, “Oh, I can write that!” Then I remembered two very important things: my mother is still alive and I was schooled by nuns for twelve years. The idea of me being the next Anais Nin is as realistic as teaching an elephant to fly.

Looking back, I do not think I was consciously following trends at the time although it appears that way. (I would have also written a female sleuth manuscript in the mid ’90’s). I always tend to write what I am currently reading if that makes any sense.

Do not let the current trends dictate what you write (although like fashions every thing seems to come back into favor eventually). By the time you write it, sub it and get it published, they have moved onto the next trend and you are left with enough rejections to wallpaper a room. It is best to write what you know and more importantly what you love and write from the heart. Chances are if you love it, someone out there will be sure to love it as well, regardless of what the trend is.

About Michele Brouder

After living for seven years in Ireland, former Buffalonian, Michele Brouder now calls Florida home. Her first book, a YA paranormal, is due to be published sometime in 2014 for Harlequin E, Harlequin’s new digital format. Learn more from her contributor page.

Interview with Beth Gutcheon

Beth Gutcheon, author of Gossip, is the critically acclaimed author of eight previous novels: The New Girls, Still Missing, Domestic Pleasures, Saying Grace, Five Fortunes, More Than You Know, Leeway Cottage and Good-bye and Amen. She is the writer of several film scripts, including the Academy Award nominee The Children of Theatre Street. She lives in New York City. She took some time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions for Book-in-a-Week readrs:

Michele Brouder: After writing nine books and numerous screenplays, how do you still manage to come up with great storylines?

Picture of Author Beth GutcheonBeth Gutcheon: I read all the time, lots of biographies and volumes of letters. I read the papers, I listen to my friends, and I’m always sifting, watching people, looking for details or character tells or plot twists. There’s something metabolically necessary to me about taking the chaotic material of real life and re-forming it into patterns that have meaning. We’re all searching for meaning in our various ways; storytelling is mine.

Michele Brouder: What do you ascribe your staying power to?

Beth Gutcheon: I love to read. Love it. But I’m too much of a Calvinist to just settle down and read in broad daylight, unless I’ve got a fever over 101, or if it’s for work. Starting a new novel is like starting a college course expressly designed to match my curiosity. Gossip gave me a delicious excuse to read about the fashion industry from the 50’s on, and the careers of various professional gossips. Walter Winchell, anyone? I love the research phase of any book. Hate the actual writing, but it does sort of go with the job description.

Michele Brouder: Where do you get your ideas from?

Beth Gutcheon: Everywhere. Travel. For a year after a trip to Madrid, I thought I would write about Velazquez. You should see the research stack from that. So far all that’s come of it is that Avis, in Gossip, is an expert in Old Master paintings, but maybe I’ll come back to it. Reading, listening, studying fiction I admire to see what it sprang from and how it was done. But really, from everything.

Michele Brouder: What is a typical writing day for you?

Beth Gutcheon: I write five days a week; my office is at home. When I’m in the writing phase of a project, I read the paper, I take care of email, then I work until I’ve done a minimum of 500 words. Some days, I do more, but I never do less. I don’t answer the phone, and I don’t go out for lunch or anything funny like that. When the word count is done it’s time for exercise, a long walk or gardening, depending on the season, or yoga and Wii Fit at home if the weather is gruesome. I try not to go back into the office until the next morning, and I never reread one day’s work until I’ve slept on it.

Michele Brouder: From start to finish, how long does it take you to write a novel?

Beth Gutcheon: They’re all different. How long it takes to accumulate critical mass so I can begin a first draft depends on serendipity and the subject. Once I actually start to write, I think it’s usually nine months until the end of the first draft. After that I edit and rewrite and polish until I have a draft I don’t hate. Then it goes to two readers, I get their notes, then do what I have to do. When I either think I’m done or don’t know what else to do, it goes to new readers. Then I polish and squeeze out every bit of fat I can find. When I start adding things back in, I know it’s time to stop and send it to my agent. Two years is probably the average.

Michele Brouder: Do you have any unpublished or unfinished manuscripts in the bottom of a drawer?

Beth Gutcheon: No. I only write long fiction, and I only have come completely apart in the middle of one once. It was a terrible experience, and frightened me for years. Then finally after three more novels and some screenwriting that went well, I went back to the one that had blown up and was in a sufficiently different place in my life – being older helped a lot – that I could see what to do. That became More Than You Know, a book that really found its audience, so I can’t say I regret what went into it, but do sincerely hope it never happens again.

Michele Brouder: What do you find helps when you are writing a book and you have become stuck?

Beth Gutcheon: I used to go to the gym with my friend Laurie during writing hours, against all my rules, and we’d wear ourselves out and then laugh in the steam room. Once I think I took a week off and didn’t talk to anyone and exercised all day and read all night. But the real answer is that I don’t start a novel until I know enough about it that I’m pretty sure I can make it work, and after that I’m not allowed to be stuck. It’s 500 words a day, even if I know I’m going to have to throw it out the next day. Somehow, you inch forward. I’ve supported myself as a storyteller almost my whole adult life, and put my son through college on my own. It was and is my day job. And every day’s work is in some way homage to all the books I’ve loved, and it is privilege enough to be labouring in those vineyards, that I feel a duty to get on with it.

Michele Brouder: What amount of preparation do you do beforehand (i.e. outline, research, character analysis) or do you write spontaneously?

Beth Gutcheon: Tons of research on the background, place and period, reading both fiction and non-fiction. Tons on the working worlds of characters. I take notes all along on plot ideas, turns of phrase, character traits. When it gels, I do character outlines for all the major players, so I know exactly when and where they were born, what they eat, what they read, where they went to school, their birthdays, wedding days, etc. I can’t imagine writing long form fiction spontaneously.

Michele Brouder: What, in your opinion, is the one quality an aspiring writer needs to succeed?

Beth Gutcheon: An ability to spend a great deal of time alone. The woods are full of really gifted writers who couldn’t hack that part and took up other, more sociable professions.

Michele Brouder: What advice would you give an aspiring writer in today’s publishing climate?

Book Cover for Beth Gutcheon's GossipBeth Gutcheon: Be sure you are writing in the right form for your talent. Many beginning writers learn the short story, because it’s easier to fit a short form into a teaching curriculum, but it’s a very difficult form, and not suited to all talents. Be wary of memoir and of first person narrative; they seem to come naturally but in fact are very hard to handle effectively. And your agent is your most important professional ally. You want someone who is really invested in your career, who hopes to rise with you, whose tastes you trust, and who is well enough established to get her phone calls returned.

Topic Links

About Michele Brouder

After living for seven years in Ireland, former Buffalonian, Michele Brouder now calls Florida home. Her first book, a YA paranormal, is due to be published sometime in 2014 for Harlequin E, Harlequin’s new digital format. Learn more from her contributor page.

The Artist’s Way Challenge

Are you an artist who has lost all your creative mojo? Do you wake your muse up to ask her a question and she kicks you in the head and runs away laughing hysterically? Do you want to write more than anything, but just cannot get past that block? Artist's Way Book cover

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is a book that has helped thousands of artists fill their empty creative wells and get back on track.

For 12 weeks, beginning September 12, 2011 the Book-in-a-Week (BIW) community will be hosting an Artist’s Way Challenge for its BIW members. Guest author, Lori Soard will work through The Artist’s Way with participants and provide additional tips and techniques that will help you get past your blocks. Tell your muse you are not going to take her abuse anymore.

Duration: 12 weeks, from September 12 to December 6, 2011.

Cost: It is free to BIW members. If you are not a BIW member please see the join page to see how to become one.

Recommended Tools: The Artist’s Way book (If you cannot purchase check your local library. You can take the course without the book, but you will not get the full benefit.), a 8 1/2″ x 11″ notebook, and a good pen.

The Artist’s Way Challenge Course Outline: Below is a little about what participants will study each week. The titles do not correspond to the titles in Cameron’s book, but the concepts will tie in perfectly.

  • Week 1: Beginning Elements — This week we will talk about the basic tools we will be using for the next twelve weeks, creativity steals and how to recover your creative safety.
  • Week 2: Who Am I Really? — Begin to discover yourself as an artist (yes writers are artist’s too). What are crazymakers? Learn how to handle them.
  • Week 3: Gain Power as a Creative — Learn how to deal with things like shame, anger, criticism from self and others. We will also discuss synchronicity.
  • Week 4: Dig Up Buried Dreams — If there are dreams you have set aside, we will be looking at those. We will talk about things that you may need to change to be successful as a writer and you will face one of the biggest challenges of the course, reading deprivation.
  • Week 5: Possibilities — Accepting where we are led even if it is unexpected. Trusting the creative process. Taking the time an artist needs to withdraw from the rest of the world and refill the creative well.
  • Week 6: The Root of All Evil is Not Money — This week we will look at abundance and if our attitudes are preventing it in our lives. This is a tough week, but well worth the effort.
  • Week 7: Connection — Instead of worrying about what others have or how they are better, this week is about focusing on our strengths. This week explores whether we need to be absolutely perfect to be effective and what your goal is as a writer. Do you want to reach people with a message? Make money? We will look at all of this.
  • Week 8: Creative Muscle — This week we will look at becoming stronger than ever. We will talk about what happens when things do not go your way. What if you are blocked, how do you keep going, etc.
  • Week 9: Life’s Little U-Turns — Learn how to overcome fear and gain enthusiasm in all you do. Who are you really working for? More work on overcoming writing blocks and how to handle life’s u-turns.
  • Week 10: The Writer’s Bubble — This week we are going to look at how to protect yourself as a writer. There is a balance to everything. How do you handle writing droughts? How do you handle fame? What about the competition out there?
  • Week 11: No Steps Back — This week we focus on how to continue forward even after the 12 weeks are over. How do we continue to improve creatively?
  • Week 12: Renewal — This final week, we focus on avoiding last-minute sabotage of ourselves as artists. We will talk about where creativity comes from and learning to trust the process. Although this is the final formal week of lectures, we will meet one more week for wrap-up and open discussion. The 13th week will be more of a gathering/discussion where everyone can share what they have gained from the course and thoughts they have.

A Little About Lori Soard: Lori has been writing professionally for about sixteen years, although she has always been a writer. She has a Ph.D. in Journalism and Creative Writing. She helped found and served as the first president of From the Heart, co-founded World Romance Writers, and served on the national board of Romance Writers of America. She has run promotional sites for authors for many years, but now only does a little web design work on the side for a handful of authors. She teaches both adults (college correspondence courses) and high school students about writing, American Literature, British Literature, and language arts. Now that her girls are both teenagers, she is working as a full-time writer and editor.

Lori Soard’s latest book is Dear Viking, available from Amber Quill Press and there is a new book coming out next spring. She has sold first foreign rights. Finding Ms. Right will come out in Japanese sometime next year and may be turned into a serial manga comic as well.

On a personal level, she has two beautiful daughters (Caitlin–17; and Hailey–14) and lives in southern Indiana. She loves to read just about anything but romance has always been her favorite. She is tough as nails on the outside, but on the inside she is a marshmallow. You can learn more about Lori Soard at her official website.

Signing Up for the Artist’s Way Challenge: Please bear in mind that this program requires active participation both online and independently. The full session will run about 13 weeks with wrap up. It will run on an Eastern Standard Time line but because each session is over a week can include other timelines. There is already a private space set up for The Artist’s Way challenge in the BIW community under the challenge area called “Morning Pages”. If you are a BIW member and are interested in participating email me and let me know or use the contact page in the header above and I will add you to the Morning Pages challenge area. No one will be added after the September 12th start date so express your interest early. If you are not a BIW member please consider joining by visiting the BIW join page.

About Maureen Wood

M. E. Wood lives in Eastern Ontario with her husband of fifteen years. She has been moderating BIW for over nine years and works on the Internet. You can learn more about her projects on her official website.

The Evolution of ePublishing

There has always been some sort of stigma attached to self publishing. It has even been given a derogatory label of “vanity” publishing, suggesting that the writer’s ego was so big that they could not handle not being published via the traditional route, so they self-published instead. The criticisms were both rife and universal: you could tell a self-published book a mile away simply by its amateur-ish cover; like the no-name brand box of rip off cereal. The other blanket assertion was that if it was rejected by traditional publishers, then it must be crap. (In response to that particular criticism, I must admit that I have read “runaway” bestsellers and a couple of books that have been “short-listed” and have scratched my head and wondered how on earth they were published in the first place).

But as we venture into the world of electronic publishing one would have to wonder if that general perception of self publishing may be turned on its ear.

The advent of the Kindle (Amazon) and the Nook (Barnes & Noble) as well as other electronic reading devices has revolutionized the very act of reading alone. Kindle has become Amazon’s best selling product of all time. And both the Kindle and the Nook account for more than 20% of book sales today.

Print publishing will never go the way of the dinosaur because there are too many people–myself included–who prefer the physical aspect of reading: the feel of the book in your hands as well as the smell of the pages of a new book.

About Michele Brouder

After living for seven years in Ireland, former Buffalonian, Michele Brouder now calls Florida home. Her first book, a YA paranormal, is due to be published sometime in 2014 for Harlequin E, Harlequin’s new digital format. Learn more from her contributor page.

Insanity Writing

Interview with Don Britt

The ultimate act of writing insanity: that’s what Don Britt calls his attempt to produce twenty-four novels over the course of the next year, beginning this month.

Don got the idea after he participated in The 3 Day Novel Writing Contest this past September. That planted the seed for him to try to produce twenty-four 3-day novels in the next twelve months. All his entries will be live for viewers to follow along and he will use a countdown timer.

I spoke to Don about his ultimate act of insanity this week:

Michele: Tell us a little bit about yourself: background, family, where you live, etc.

Don Britt, WriterDon Britt: I was born in California to Canadian parents, and brought up in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. From an early age words and music defined me, and both served me well when I felt called into ministry. After ten years I left the pulpit to pursue my heart’s desire, writing. I wrote full time until I ran out of money and then returned to the ranks of the employed, which I’ve been trying to escape ever since. My wife’s name is Georgia, a health care professional and fanatical lover of animals, and we have two children, Crystal and Caley. We live in W.O. Mitchell country, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Michele: On your blog you mention that the ‘genesis’ for this idea was a 3 Day Novel Writing Contest –what was that about and how does one go about writing a novel in 3 days? Is there a standard length or word count? And how did you come up with the number 24?

Don Britt: The 3-Day Novel Contest is an event held each September over Labour Day weekend. It gives each contestant 72 hours to write a story that comes in around 100 pages in length. I took this to mean properly formatted, double spaced manuscript pages. It works on the honor system – you send in a statement with your submission attesting that you obeyed the rules. I’m very grateful to the organizers, and especially to Melissa Edwards, the managing editor, who gave me permission to use their trademark ‘3-Day Novel’ in my project. The contest was a great kick in the pants for me. It inspired me to do something I’ve done all too infrequently in my life as a writer. That’s finish what I start. (Please check out their website for more details on their contest.)

As for the number 24, I considered a more sensible goal, say twelve 3-Day novels in a year. But that just didn’t seem gimmicky enough to me. This is a shameless publicity stunt. 24 struck me as a number that’s over the top enough to garner attention.

Michele: How do you plan to complete this around your work schedule and family commitments?

Don Britt: I’m billing this as an act of insanity. I’m hoping that will excuse the fact that I’ve really made no practical plans of any kind. I’m mainly hoping that my family and the people I work with will be forgiving.

The only real preparation I can cite is a conversation with my wife, who offered me her unconditional support, thank God. Without it this would not be possible.

Michele: How are you going to come up with 24 ideas for the novels? How many ideas do you have now going into it?

Don Britt: I’m a big believer in brain storming. I sat in our local diner recently and wrote out some story ideas, just a sentence or so for each one. Most of them were beyond horrid. Like “Guy gets trapped in car that’s surrounded by zombies – entitled ‘THEY NEVER SLEEP!’” Feel free to steal that one. I’ll never use it. I might have eight or ten workable ideas, at best. So I’m hoping inspiration will strike as things roll along.

Michele: Will you have a routine or plan to follow for the 72 hours? If so, what is it?

Don Britt: When I took part in the 3-Day Novel Contest, I managed to get forty pages in the tank on day one. Fatigue set in after that, and my page count dropped each day. If I didn’t open with a ‘big serve’ I’m sure I wouldn’t have finished my project. So that will be my main goal for each entry. Come hell or high water, get forty pages in the tank on the first day, and go from there.

As for the rest of my routine, I’m afraid it won’t be kind to an already bulging waistline. I wrote my first 3-Day novel while eating cold chicken, pizza and ice cream, and drinking lots of coffee. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. So there will likely be a big weight loss resolution heading into 2012.

Michele: How will you prevent novel fatigue or burnout over the course of the next year?

Don Britt: Julia Cameron recommends ‘artist’s dates’. Nice walks in the woods, hanging out in a favorite cafe. That sort of thing. Living in rural Saskatchewan poses some challenges in that regard, but there’s no end of scenic wonders grand here in The Land of the Living Sky. Hopefully, I’ll find my rest and inspiration along the way.

Michele: Aside from publication, what else do you hope to accomplish from this endeavor?

Don Britt: I guess I’m pretty conventional in this regard. Authors talk about that delicious moment when they first see someone reading their book. I’m hoping to get the same rush from this enterprise. What blows me away is the thought of my characters and ideas literally coming to life inside another mind, in the engrams and firing neurons of another living soul. That’s my dream, that my work will continue to leap between the synapses of the human brain long after I’m gone.

Topic Links

About Michele Brouder

After living for seven years in Ireland, former Buffalonian, Michele Brouder now calls Florida home. Her first book, a YA paranormal, is due to be published sometime in 2014 for Harlequin E, Harlequin’s new digital format. Learn more from her contributor page.