Writers as Observers

Like it or  not, we have to spend time and energy being “watchers.”  Sandra Cisneros from The Writer inspired my awarenesses of being a “watcher.” Since I began my historical novel, Torn Apart, a couple of years ago. (Egad… already so much time), any people have approached me with their own stories of the horrific time in Europe during World War II.

This probably makes me a listener, as well. I live in a small town on the Pacific coast where it is easy to know your fellows. While tending to our small post office flower beds,  a woman I barely know stopped to tell me about a memorial service she recently had attended. The surviving son told  a story about his German grandfather who tried to surreptitiously move Jews from harm. Somehow the police learned of the plan, rounded up the man and his friends and shot them all in the town square. Another person was threatened to death and  his family also would be killed well  if he tried to rescue his Jewish neighbors .

My watching these days includes observing people in the grocery store, people walking alone or with someone, and any opportunity I find:  expressions  of sadness, joy, dislike, silent distaste, laughter are readily available for watching and listening. How many times have the words, “Why didn’t the German people stop the death camps?”  Those who did risked their lives and the lives of their families. I have to wonder what courage I might have had.

The poignancy of human lives whether in a world war or in their daily lives provide story ideas for the writer. We are bombarded when we tune in. Are you a watcher or listener?

i Likey You A lot …

I am not sure what all the fuss is about –the BIG controversy over real likes or RE-follows. May I take the stand that isn’t life complicated enough? Can we not relax and appreciate what it is we are given no matter the cause or form?

We are not transgression voyeurs who can travel into another’s reason or mindset or livelihoods.

The one disturbance in life universally agreed upon is time is fleeting, the day vanishes and there are still a million different tasks needing our attention. Writers experience this in great degrees and for myself my eyes cannot remain open longer than the toll of the midnight bell.

Bloggers/Artists are a finicky breed, brilliant minds and characters of their own. In reading several blogs over the past week, I have come across authors who are now lashing out against those who may follow other blogs in the hopes of a re-follow. Upset that a follower may like a post without investing in every written word and leaving a lengthy comment.

Is this not counter-productive?

Personally, my daily routines have to be kept on a strict regimen. The production of my works in progress is my priority, but my social interaction, albeit one I enjoy thoroughly is on an hourly timer. Time put into another blogger’s post is duly recognized. I equally reach out to as many as I can in a given day. And I am not dismissing any one particular writing over another.

I deeply appreciate each and every follower, comment, liker. (Hence my love for your Gravatar – wink, wink)

Take no disrespect, let this nagging monster go. What does it hurt us in the end if a person who appreciates the time we have spent just getting our work out there can only hit the like button and not spend another few minutes with a reply? (It is possible they are accessing WordPress over a touchy cellular device or a million other reasons)

A like is a like; a smile for our day, an appreciation of what we have posted.

Not hitting the happy star of love can easily be skipped over, so ingest this personal imprint of another artist’s energy as kudos of support in a world with too many expectations. For many of us the task of being seen has been the biggest obstacle in our own personal struggles to move forward in a media-based society.

I say bravo to every beautiful soul who has taken this bottomless step, the plunge, into a journey of individual growth or movement in a literary/artists career.  Let that ego monster stay in its cage of shallow judgments and just be thankful.

Write on! ❤ Jessica


Understanding the Flashback—Bending Time as a Literary Device

OMG, did I forget to mention my first (2nd&possibly3rd) drafts of my manuscript also contain a “few” flashbacks? Kristen you are killing me here and I love it! 😁😍 Lets hear it for #4! I can do this! Write on! 💛 Jessica

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image vis Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Yuya Sekiguchi. Image vis Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Yuya Sekiguchi.

Last time we talked about flashbacks and why they ruin fiction. But, because this is a blog and I don’t want it to be 20,000 words long, I can’t address everything in one post. Today, we’re going to further unpack “the flashback.” I think we tend to use broad literary terms to encompass a lot of things that aren’t precisely the same things, and in doing this, we get confused.

In my POV, the term “flashback” is far too broad.

We can mistakenly believe that any time an author shifts time, that THIS is the dreaded “flashback” I am referring to and the one I (as an editor) will cut.

Not necessarily.

We need to broaden our understanding of the “flashback” because lumping every backwards shift in time under one umbrella won’t work.

My favorite example is the term “antagonist.” I’ve…

View original post 2,374 more words

Become your Reader

I try to remember that the reader does not have access to my mind, how I see the characters, the setting, or the characters’ back-stories. Quoting Nancy Kries from a 2002 article in Writers Digest, “The essence of writing is to become the reader.” That seems to be a simple task; it is not. Especially when I know them and their plight at the end of WWII. I envision Torn Apart as a film, only because of the clarity in my mind. (It would be a good one!)

An activity to assist in writing for the reader is to ask questions before or during the composition. Why am I writing this book? Who will be reading it? How do I want the reader to respond to the main characters, their escape, and am I leaving out many details? Is the setting described well and allowing the reader to “be there?”

I discovered my main character, Musa, seems to be a stubborn hothead after reading her resistance to leaving Budapest. She was in denial about the imminent danger and devoted to her life and her extended family. She had a life there and didn’t want to leave it or her parents and siblings. But that is only a part of her. My revisions/additions are to include details of her playfulness, humor, generosity and her intellect. She was not a flat person; I know that, but I have not included sufficient details to show her character and likeable personality.

I am the reader of my novel, first and foremost.

Thank you following this blog!


Personal Loss Lessons

A writer friend from an editing class died last month after a relatively brief fight with pancreatic cancer. She had written 4 books of various genres but had not had the means or information to make her books available to be read. Many members of the group are taking her husband’s war memoir to fruition as a memorial. They are caring friends and colleagues to take on this project, and, as writers themselves, they know how often blood, sweat and tears have been shed to finish a book. It becomes a member of the family.

A death is an “in your face” reminder of Carpe Diem, Seize the Day! How many opportunities do each of us have to complete our writing goals? With digital publishing available to anyone, we have no excuses.

A goal without a plan is a dream. Dream away. Dreams are what writers are made of, but goals/plans make it happen.

Thank you,


Choosing a P.O.V.—What is BEST for YOUR Story? Structure Part 9

Okay, WOW!
Kristen where have you been all my life? I admit, I am quite naive and freshly born into making an actual go at what is my, ‘dream’. To not only finish writing a novel, but see several make it to the light of day as the rest of the hallucinating world. For the past year-and-a-half, I have surrounded myself with incredible, brilliant, educated educators, and we critique weekly. I boldly sat and read romance to women who had yet to read such fluff. Not once, did POV come up until I sent my manuscript out to Beta readers. Guess who is a head-hopper? Yeah, me…This whole time I thought I was writing third-person omniscient.
I guess I have something new to share with the group. Gag, Gag…me dying here, people. Oh and I also learned (in my short life span of self-imposed idiocy) that agents are quite finicky in having you know what genre your current work resides, precisely. Romantic Fantasy was not where my story sat, but pitching to agents and looking a fool is where this tidbit came from, and my genre correctly explained was Paranormal Romance.
Such a beginner am I. Gracious me; I do so love life!
Details, Details – Write on! ❤ Jessica

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 5.35.06 PM This is my Upside-Down-Face

P.O.V. is a word that throws many new authors into panic. What is THAT? Prisoners of Vietnam? Pets of Vegans? Pals of Viagra? P.O.V. stands for Point of View. Traditionally, I’ve not included this lesson in my teachings on structure, but I am amending that since P.O.V. will affect structure.

The structure of a novel written in first person is very different than a novel using multiple third-person P.O.V. characters. Scenes will need a different kind of balancing, so choosing a P.O.V. should not be taken lightly. Yes, often choice of P.O.V. will come from author voice, but not always. Sometimes genre might influence our decisions as well.

Thus, today, we are going to whiz through Kristen’s P.O.V. Spark Notes.

***Just a quick reminder though. Comment over at my new Dojo Diva blog and there is a separate contest for comments with better odds of winning…

View original post 2,252 more words