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James Lipton and the Actors Studio did it for fun with the actors…..Now, I’m doing it for fun with the writers.
piper and Holmes
It’s been a while, but I’ve dusted off the 30 Second Interview for a second outing. And who better to kick start it than belly dancing, fiction writer, Piper Bayard.But first, what do we know about this post-apocalyptic author, who happens to be my critique partner, and a very good friend? Well, she’s a recovering attorney, who has one or two university degrees under her belt, and kinda rules Twitter. (Seriously, I guarantee you a reply – even a conversation – if you tweet her).Piper grew up in New Mexico, and during her teenage years, worked summers at a Rock Mountain dude ranch (in a State she refuses to name), as a horse wrangler. Why the unnamed State? Because there was this one time when a group of New Yorkers wanted to see an elk – and there wasn’t any elk to see. So, to get over the problem and give their tourists a good time, Piper strapped an ornamental deer ract to the head of a bay horse named Bucky. And, unbelievable as it is, it worked!

So, how did this cowgirl become a writer when she was actually studying law? Well, it was when a job offer for her to sell insurance landed at her feet. She’d hit a cross-roads in life, and her chosen career path boiled down to one thing: What could she not live without? Selling insurance or writing books? We all know how that one turned out.Apart from Piper’s debut novel being a dystopian  thriller, she also writes spy novels with fellow writer, (who also happens to be an Intelligence Agent and real life James Bond), Jay Holmes. Together, they have just finished the first in the seven part ‘Apex Predator’ series, which will be published by Stonehouse Inc., in the near future.

Oh, four other random things you need to know about Piper… she taught me to shoot a gun, she makes me run for EVERY plane we have to catch, she can ride an ATV like no one else I’ve ever seen, and she is one heck of a cool room-mate!

Right then, let’s see how she did with the feared ten questions:

1.  What is your favorite word?  Serendipity

2. What is your least favorite word? Globule

3. What turns you on?   Laughter. Laughter is the closest thing to sex besides sex

4. What turns you off?    Malice

5. What sound do you love?   Bells

6. What sound do you hate? Fighting

7. What is your favorite curse word?   Fuck me Agnes! (Blame Holmes for that one.)

8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?   Host on Mythbusters

9.  What profession would you not like to do?  Nursing

10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? “Good job”

 

firelands cover

‘Firelands’ is an amazing read, and available on amazon in digital and paperback format.

And, watch out for the first novel in the ‘Apex Preditor’ series. Release date to be confirmed shortly.

Contact Information

For more information regarding Piper Bayard, please check out her websiteFacebooktwitterblog.

 

If you want more of me, try checking out: FacebookTwitterGoogle+InstagramYou Tube, and Linkedin.

Join my email list and be first to hear about upcoming releases and offers.

 

 

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Page from J.K. Rowling’s, ‘Harry Potter’

I’ve been writing for a few years now and it still amazes me at how much I don’t know. This week I was going through the edits on my novel when my good mate and fellow writer, Piper Bayard, pointed something out to me about new scenes and paragraphing. She, too, only discovered this ‘must-do’ last year.

So, I thought it would be helpful to lay out some of the things I have learned over the last few years that writers must know when writing a novel.

First things, first.

The Basics

The below points are what publishers and agents expect to see from writers.

Font: Always use Times New Roman. It is easy on the eye and makes it easy for the reader to read.

Size: Although it’s commonly said that size doesn’t matter – this time it does. 12pt is the size everyone wants.

Line Spacing: Some use double line spacing, most want one and a half. This allows room for any notes and editing.

Margins: Leave one inch for both the left and right margins. Again, this space is for any notes or editing.

The Cover Page

The cover page is a blank sheet of paper that, when asked for, usually lists the title of your book, your name, contact details, and the word count. When submitting your novel you must read the guidelines as sometimes agents and publishers require different information.

Headers and Footers

It is imperative that you use your header to display your name, novel title, and page number. Without this information, if your novel is dropped how will the reader be able to put it back together again?

The Layout

Chapter Heading: Space down six (one and a half) lines. The heading can be in capitals or underlined.

Sub-Title: If you want to add a sub-title of a place, time, year, etc., then add it before you begin your story. This can be underlined, typed in italics, or in bold. There is no indentation.

First Paragraph: For the first paragraph in a chapter, there is no indentation.

Further Paragraphs: Following paragraphs are indented one inch throughout the scene.

Justification: Never justify your work. Aline your type to the left.

For example (and due to formatting issues with wordpress *bangs head on desk*, I have added in … to show the spaces):

CHAPTER ONE

Almalfi Cathedral, Campania. Italy – Monday.

The uncomfortable harness cut into his groin.

……….The thief shifted position, tried to ignore the dull ache as best he could, and listened.

……….Three bloody hours he’d been hanging here in the dark, just listening.

N.B. New Scenes: If starting a new scene in a chapter, then as at the beginning of a chapter, no indentation is needed.

For example:

……….Eliza rest her head back against the pillow. Her head hurt and she no longer had the energy to argue anymore. The young boy nodded and disappeared from sight. Her father waited a second, as if to bask in his triumph and remind her who was boss, then also left the room.

It was just before lunch when Nate made it to the records office. He parked in the unusually empty car park and got out. Removing his sunglasses, he strolled along the brick paved path to the front of the building and pulled the doors where they shuddered and remained closed.

Well, these are the basics to laying out your novel and enough to get you started.

And now it’s your turn. What are your pet hates? What is the worse mistake you’ve ever made when typing and submitting a manuscript? Maybe you have a question to ask about the manuscript you are currently writing, so feel free to type it in the comments.

If you want more of me, try checking out: FacebookTwitterGoogle+InstagramYou Tube, and Linkedin.

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I’ve been away from my blog for what seems ages. But I do have good reason. I’ve been in Texas, working.

Honest, I have. And here are the pictures to prove it.

First, you find an awesome group of friends. Above, I’m with the adorable, Jenny Hansen, best room-mate ever, Piper Bayard, my gorgeous twin, Ingrid Schaffenburg, and the Godmother of us all, Kristen Lamb. This picture was taken after a long and stressful dinner with NYT Bestseller, James Rollins,  and a ton of other people. (I think Nigel Blackwell is taking the picture and bitching at the amount of time we took to say goodbye to each other).

Then, we invaded Lamb Ranch to do a little character R and R. Originally, my antagonist was a mild mannered gal whose only crime was to return her library books back two days late. Kristen ripped her apart and turned her into the Terminator’s ‘Sarah Connor’. Can you spot the difference?

  

Piper and I became so obsessed by our characters, we shot up the place.

We thought I’d missed the tin can….then on closer inspection found I’d hit it with every shot. 🙂

Afterwards, we went riding on the ATV’s at night across snake infested land…. just ’cause we’re hard as nails.

Unfortunately, it was all too much for Spawn. He may need a few more years training…..

So, back to business. How to hook an agent the ‘SOO’ Publishing way.

N.B. For those who haven’t been following my Facebook page, and I will shoot you later, ‘SOO’ stands for ‘Squeeze One Out’ – a term I used while stormchasing when wanting a wee or tinkle as the Americans like to put it. Unfortunately, to the Americans it means ‘No.2’ and I was saying it every time we stopped for gas – which averaged ten times a day five days of the week. No wonder they looked at me a little weird. ‘SOO’ Publishing will publish any novel…… as long as it’s c**p.

Right, the tried and tested way on how to snag that all important literary agent.

1. Gate-crash a writing conference party. The DFW Writers Convention is excellent!

2. Along with a friend (I recommend Jillian Dodd), find a likely male candidate. The more vulnerable he looks, the better. For the purpose of this blog and because I don’t relish a law suit, our agents name will be kept a secret 🙂

3. Start a conversation to break the ice. We began with the very boring, “so, what genre do your represent?”

4. Then make it more personal. We used questions like, “what are the names of your mum and dad?” and “what is your inside leg measurement?”

5. You’re almost best friends at this point so go for broke. Ask about his Abs and whether you can take a picture. If their face begins to redden, offer to do this in a secluded corner of the room.

6. Then, lure him back to a hotel room and ply him with drink.

You will have an agent for your novel by the end of the night – Guaranteed! If not, don’t untie him just yet. Take further pictures, if you know what I mean. It will help your cause immensely and he will cave in to your demands by morning.

If you’d prefer to take a more serious route, (you boring lot), then check out these posts:

Ingrid Schaffenburg’s Top Five Lessons from DFWCon,

Jess Witkins Celebrating her Writing Slump,

David Walker’s take on the DFW Convention

Julie Glover’s Ten Things to do at a Writing Conference

Tiffany A White’s What Writers Really Do at Conferences (apart from the above)

Jenny Hansen’s DFW Con and the Flu…Oh My!

And, Julie Glover’s Vlog – you can see us in the background, plotting.

If you want more of me, try checking out: FacebookTwitterGoogle+InstagramYou Tube, and Linkedin.

Join my email list and be first to hear about upcoming releases and offers.

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Picture from http://ineligibleforgreatness.com

We’re all writers, right?

And every story starts with a beginning. So I thought I’d share the beginning of my writing journey with you.

Like 95% of writers, I have always loved writing. Back in the eighties, 1985 on a Friday night if memory serves, I used to video tape (remember those)?, a TV cop show called Dempsey and Makepeace.  Then on the Saturday morning I’d get up at the crack of dawn, before anyone else, and watch, write, and rewind the show until I’d written the whole script. Makes me laugh now, knowing how easy it is today to find scripts on that revolutionary tool called the internet. But, back in ’85, I had to make do with a VCR, writing pad, and my trusty biro.

The crime stopping duo

So what was my reason for doing this?

Why, to adapt the episode into a novel of course.

And my passion for writing never dwindled. Well, I misplaced it for a few years while I went to college, worked in a chartered accountants, slogged my guts out at OK! Magazine, and wrote a car off while at Essex Police.

Then, a few years ago I began writing articles for magazines and my passion returned.

So, how did I get to where I am now? Well, I have two different stories.

The first involves a lady you all know very well; the fabulous Kristen Lamb. By sheer luck, she came across a chapter I’d written on the internet, and through sheer generosity, she emailed me some critism. And, there began my novel writing career and my friendship with a true hero.

Up until that point, I’d only written one novel; a romantic thriller called ‘The Stalker’. Friends had read it and loved it and naturally I thought, “Hey, I’m onto a winner here.”

I worked hard with Kristen as she bomboozeled me with plotting, character profiling, the three act structure, conflict, ARC’s, inciting incidents, antagonists, protagonists, minions, Big Boss Trouble-makers and, oh yeah, pulling me out of my comfort zone, I realised what a load of rubbish I’d actually written. The story was okay but the characters were so boring and one dimentional – worse, they had no flaws!

Of course, now I’m a fully fledged psychotic nutter and there’s no switching off my imagination. In fact, my tag line “I could write for Days of our Lives” as seen in my banner, is Kristen’s description of me.

So began my second novel. Only this one I was writing the Warrior Writers Boot Camp (WWBC) way. After months of researching, character profiling, plotting, and re-plotting, I was ready to start writing another thriller……

Only Jason Statham could play my villain

And then I met Natalie Hamilton-Duggan. She’d just finished film school in London, wanted to write a paranormal screenplay, and asked if I’d like to help. At first I was a little apprehensive. I am not a massive YA paranormal fan. Sure I like The Vampire Diaries and True Blood, and Supernatural is one of my favorites, but I’d had enough of vampires. They’d been done to death. After a full five minutes deliberating, I agree to become a co-writer. I knew nothing about script writing but what the hell. There was one condition though….. No Vampires!

So, together we began to plot out a story. Kristen’s WWBC training became invaluable and I applied it to screenwriting the same as I had my novel.

Now I was working on two different stories in two different formats at the same time.

It was during this time that Kristen invited me out to Texas to attend the DFW Writing Convention. I thought, why not? I could pitch my novel to an agent and see what they thought.

Also, Natalie and I had finished the script to the now titled “Legend”, and decided to take the plunge and stop in L.A. first, you know, to see if we could get a bite out there. We emailed hundreds of queries and waited.

Wayne Alexander, an entertainment lawyer, read it and promptly emailed it across to Amy Schiffman, a manager and literary agent colleague of his at IPG. She loved the script and wanted to meet us.

So out go Natalie and I, wet behind the ears, totally out of our depth, and expecting the whole experience to swallow us whole. We couldn’t have been more wrong. We loved Wayne and Amy, and they seemed to love us. Amy became our manager, gave us a ton of ideas to start work on, and asked if I would adapt the script into a novel.

After three whirlwind days in L.A., Natalie and I flew to Texas; where I pitched an idea for a book I hadn’t even thought of writing two days previously. Luckily the agent loved the idea and asked to see a chapter or two when I’d written them. Oh yeah, as if that wasn’t amazing enough, Kristen gave me a fabulous stetson and took me shooting, and I brought a wicked pair of cowboy boots.

20130503_202030

That’s me in the centre

Since then Natalie and I have written two TV pilots and I’m half way through writing ‘Legend’ (the novel version). I’ve two agents in the UK who are also waiting to read it.

With regards to WWBC, I now help Kristen teach other writers, along with my WWBC team mates and writing buddies, Piper BayardNigel BlackwellKerry Meacham, and Xandra James. I just hope I can help them as much as Kristen has helped me.

So, what’s your story? How did you start writing? How long have you been writing? Do you have an agent? Have you been published? How did you feel seeing your book in print? Have you even just taken a chance and come up trumps?

If you want more of me, try checking out: FacebookTwitterGoogle+InstagramYou Tube, and Linkedin.

Join my email list and be first to hear about upcoming releases and offers.

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A few weeks back, Karen McFarland asked if I could guest on her blog. And I thought you guys may like to read it, too.

Three years ago, I made a decision. To step away from writing articles and write that ‘book’ I’d always planned to write.

Okay, that wasthe easy part sorted out.

I sat down, and for a couple of months scribbled in my note pad and tapped away on my laptop. I gave my finished story to friends, all of who liked it, and began plotting the sequel.

Then I met Kristen Lamb.

Kristen stumbled upon the first chapter, which I’d posted on a blogger site, and proceeded to hunt me down. She pointed out where I was going wrong and offered to help me. Naturally, I jumped at the chance.

We stripped back my story to its very core, and I wrote a background for my antagonist – something I had never done before.

Kristen’s reply, after I nervously emailed it across to her. “Crap, do it again.”

And again I did. Several times in fact. Until, finally everything clicked into place and I created a psychopathic alter-ego.

  Be wary if Kristen invites you over for dinner.

I’m very good friends with Kristen now. She has the most amazing way of making you pay for her kindness (see picture). I’ve since written two teleplays and currently adapting one into a novel. I’ve plotted my second book, and lead WWBC Team Delta. I apply the Warrior Writer method to every story I plot and wouldn’t consider doing it any other way.

So, without further ado, here is the way to write – Warrior Writer style.

Your Story

First and foremost – you must have an idea of what your book is about. Knowing the genre is extremely helpful, and what your protagonist wants and who’s trying to stop he/she from getting it will also make things a lot easier for you. 

Log Line

Once you know the basis of your story, you can write that log line. Now, don’t be scared. They are easier to write if you follow this simple rule:

An ADJECTIVE NOUN (protagonist) must ACTIVE VERB the ANTAGONIST before  SOME REALLY HORRIBLE THING HAPPENS (stopping the protagonist from reaching her goal).

See my post on Log Lines

Backgrounds

A background is a little like a biography. Imagine you were writing your own life story. You’d start from the moment you were born and take the reader up to the current day. Well, a background is the same thing. Write all about your character from the moment they were born, right up to the moment you are about to start your story.

This is a fantastic way to get to know your character, and give you time to flesh them out. Once done, you will have no trouble writing them, or writing their dialogue.

Backgrounds – Who To Start With?

Antagonist – Why? Because they are the biggest problem. Without them in our story, we have NO story.

Protagonist – Yep, you’ve guessed it. Now do the same for your protagonist. Oh, and don’t make them too perfect. Flaws are good! Flaws make us human.

Love Interest and Supporting Cast – Mentors, Minions, Allies and Love Interests all fit under this section. Note: These are characters that aid your main characters. I’m not talking about the guy who shows up in one scene and delivers the post.

Your Story

You need to ‘bullet point’ your story from beginning to end. Walk yourself through your story step by step. It’s better to hit your dead ends now so you can re-plot, rather than get 40k words in and realise you have to axe 10,000 of them.

Start with:

Normal World
Inciting Incident
Turning Point Act I into Act II
Turning Point Act II into Act III
Darkest Moment
Dénouement 

Get to this point and voila! You have a story to write.

I know most of you may read this and think “Huh? What a waste of time.”

I’ve met people like this and guess what? They are still at the same stage they were a year or so ago. My team mate Piper Bayard and I are living proof this method works. Agents have requested fulls on both our manuscripts.

It’s like building a house. Do the prep-work: dig footings, add cement, lay bricks, and your building will be standing for decades to come.

Good luck with your writing.

Now, let me know if you are a ‘plot and plan‘ writer, or if you just ‘make it up’ as you go along. What works best for you? Have you ever written yourself into a corner?

Want more? You can also find me on FacebookTwitter, Google+ and Linkedin

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I am nosey and curious. I don’t mean to be but just cannot help myself. Maybe it was because I was born a Collins and is implanted in my genes or maybe it’s just because I am female. Whatever it is, this curse leads me to check out things…..like twitter.

It was about a year ago now and just after I had decided to write my first novel. I had heard people talking about this new social networking site and thought I would take a look. And a look is all I could do. I understood nothing; follow buttons, @ tags, tweet options – my mind boggled. Two days later, and on the verge of losing the will to live, I tired of trying to figure out how it worked and walked away.

Twittermania was exploding around me so a few weeks later I tackled it again, still totally clueless as to what it was all about. However this time, and I’m still unsure how, but people began to follow me. Now I am not a huge tweeter by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t class myself as extremely humorous, I don’t follow people just because, and I certainly did not think twitter would benefit my writing in any way, shape or form. I just liked the idea, as with Facebook, that it allowed me to see what was going on in the world outside my own little bubble. I was totally unprepared for what was coming.

The last time I attempted to write a novel I was ten years old. I was the proud owner of a beige electronic typewriter and my trusty pink laptop was an item that even NASA could not comprehend. There was no internet, no mobile phones and certainly no ‘wheelies’. If you wanted to read a book, you actually walked (yes, remember those days), to a book store and purchased a £1.99 paperback. And if you wanted to talk to someone it was either in person or via the telephone, which was usually a hideously coloured and oversized monstrosity taking up the majority of a kitchen work surface. If you happened to be ringing a number containing numerous zero’s, then you also had to contend with the possibility of watching an episode of Starsky and Hutch while waiting for the dial to rotate.

Nowadays, though, it’s so different. The internet allows us to talk to our friends via Skype, keep in touch via numerous social sites, and the research benefits are extraordinary. Taking for granted these amazing, if not now under appreciated, opportunities, I tweeted a link to a friend. It was a draft first chapter for a book I was writing and they wanted to read it. It wasn’t meant for anyone else and I was certainly not expecting anyone else to even click the link, let alone read the chapter. But a young lady named Kristen Lamb did click the link, then read the chapter and finished with a comment. I was overjoyed. We got emailing and I found I really liked her. She shared my passion for writing and had the most brilliant, wicked sense of humor. She began to tell me where I was going wrong with my writing. Up until then I had only written articles, something so different to novels. I listened to her intently, she was amazing and I could not believe my luck at having found this kind of help, and even a friendship that I will always be grateful for.

Over the past year I have become a much better writer, am a proud member of WWBC and have met some of the most amazing writers (you know who you are Karla).

I used to plot and write……now I plan, plan, plan, plot and write. I don’t know about you, but twitter has been an amazing experience for me.

Kristen Lamb is the author of ‘We Are Not Alone’. Check out her blog or twitter

Author Piper Bayard’s blog

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