Saturday, April 21, 2018

How do you establish a story? What is your most unusual story? by Connie Vines #Round Robin

 How do you establish a story?  What is your most unusual story?

Thank you Rhobin for this month’s Round Robin Topic.

I, like most of the writers I know, are involved in workshops, plotting groups, and or online classes.  Many of these are workshops sponsored by my local Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers, (past and present) are excellent in content and easy of application.

Christopher Vogler’s workshop “The Writer’s Journey” was a 2-day event which was designed for screen writers.  While I have ghost-written a screenplay, which was adapted for the small screen oversees, this is not main focus.  I have, however, applied what I leaned in this workshop to plot/outline my novels, novellas and expanded the W-plotting guide for my short-stories and anthologies.

And, of course, no writer’s library would be complete without out a physical copy and video version of Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”.  His work goes into detail about the art of storytelling and why we, as humans are hardwired accept and expect the ‘myth’.

Having be active in The International Chapter of Romances Writers, I taught online classes on character development and plotting.  I, as I’ve blogged about in the past, plot my stores in 3-chapter clusters due to story flow, pivotal-points, dark-moment, etc.  Revisions are simpler for me this way because I can to insure my story’s pacing remain even.

After my basic story is plotted, my character sketched out and motivation defined, I need to add depth to my character and strength my conflict.  I fine the series of writer’s reference books by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, of Writers Helping Writers fame, a must-have reference.  However, I also rely on ‘unconventional’ conflict generation.  Astrological signs are great form of conflict.  (Remember I have always worked odd-jobs—some jobs more ‘odd’ than others, to support my writing habit.)  One of my ‘temp’ assignments was for a local (and semi-well known) astrologer.  I already had knowledge of astrology but he explained charting/predictions/ and conflict due to…well, you get the general idea.  I have found this immensely helpful when my characters come from a similar background which can make ‘conflict’ a stretch.

I applied astrology (though it is never an element in the novel itself) to “Lynx” Rodeo Romance, Book 1 (BWL Publishing, Inc. print and e-book).  Rachel is an Aquarius and Lynx is a Leo.  Opposites in the Zodiac, but like all opposites there is attraction/conflict/ and a heart-felt story line.
If a reader is looking for the ‘astrological elements of my character development’ she will find them.

What is my most unusual story?

Meaning: not habitually or commonly occurring or done.
synonyms:  uncommon, abnormal, atypical, unexpected, surprising, unfamiliar, different;
remarkable or interesting because different from or better than others.

All of my stories fall under this umbrella.  My current release “Tanayia—Whisper upon the Water” is a historical YA novel with a Native American heroine and a setting in a boarding school in the 1880s.  The story reads like a young girls’ diary but is written in the 1st person, narrative.

My novella series, would be truly ‘unusual’ because my 1st heroine is a Zombie.  The second novella is titled “Bell, Book, & Gargoyle”.

Thank you for following my blog today.
Please stop by next month, too.

Connie

For more takes on the month’s topic visit:




Saturday, March 24, 2018

Where So My Stories Come From? by Connie Vines #Round Robin







Where do my ideas for stories come from? 



I first have a sense of time and place.  My family and I were attending a rodeo in North Platte, Nebraska when I had a hint of a story.  It was a few days later I began hearing dialog when were where having breakfast in a country cafe.

This is where the story, "Lynx" about a rodeo cowboy and small town waitress/college student began.

My current release, "Tanayia--Whisper upon the Water," book 1, began when I was a board member for the Title IX Indian Education Program.
I was helping one of the students as she prepared  to dance in a local powwow.  It was I fingered the bead-work on her jingle-dress, that I knew I was going to write a historical novel from a young girl's pov.  

Are these stories a apart of me?  To a degree.  
  
Native American culture teaches that a Story finds the Story Teller.  It is the Story Teller's duty to give the story life.

I believe this is true.

Because I am the filter, then many of my personal beliefs, emotions filter through.  However, the story I tell is the character's story--not mine alone.

I believe my stories find me because of my I have a strong sense of duty, honor, of kindness, and the humor and joy I find in life.

My stories seem to always have a core social issue and a happy ending.

Thank you for stopping by today.


















Please stop by all of the members of our Round Robin Blog participants to see what tales they each have to share.

Happy Reading,

Connie

-- 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Writing Process by Connie Vines

Flash Back

The Writing Process

1.      What am I working on right now?
I work on multiple projects at once.  Is this a good thing?  Probably not—but rebel that I am, I do it anyway.  I’m finishing up the Second Act in my novella, Bell, Book, and Gargoyle and I’m three quarters through my anthology: Gumbo Ya Ya (an anthology for woman who like romance Cajun). While all this is going on, Rand, Book 3 in my Rodeo Romance Series in bumping around in my head. And Book 4, Crystal Thunder, in my Rodeo Romance Series is being plotted in my Dramatica Pro a thought at a time.

2.     How does my work differ from others in the genre?
I write in multiple genres and each of genres have a different “tone and focus”—in other words, a different ‘voice’.  My YA novel, Whisper upon the Water (Dream Award Winner, Nat’l Book Award nominee), is told in the 1st person.  The novel is complex; not only a coming-of-age but also a transformation of society as a whole (Tay is Apache, Nde). My heroine begins as a girl on the verge of womanhood, a member of her band, speaking her native tongue.  Kidnapped, held hostage, and manages to escape. Taken to a Native American boarding school, Tay learns a new language, skills, and encounters prejudice but also experiences kindness.  Later, she must make a very difficult choice.  Her decision will influence her life, as well as the lives of others.  The novel is written for YA level and is reading selection for the G.A.T.E. program in numerous SoCal schools, and was selected as a “Teen Read” at libraries at the time of its release.  My novel is being read by 7th grade students at an IB school this trimester, and student feedback is great!

In my Rodeo Romance Series: Lynx, Book 1, is a contemporary western romance and set in Montana and Texas. This book is lively.  Rachel is spirited and Lynx is hot and sexy—but both have had hardships in life.  My secondary characters add elements of comedy and unexpected plot twists. (Winner of the Award of Excellence, Finalist: H.O.L.T. Medallion, Orange Rose and Rocky Mt. Gold contests).  Brede, Book 2, is a western romantic suspense, set in New Mexico.  Since the novel is romantic suspense, I do not wish create a spoiler in this blog post.  I will say everyone one loves old Caldwell, the ornery old cook, and his cohorts.  Brede is strong-willed and caring; Amberlynn is beautiful and in mortal danger.  Rand, Book 3, is told in the 1st person: ChickLit meets the Wild West and goes straight to Hollywood. Lights, Camera, and a boot-full of Action! I am having, fun, fun with this novel!
Crystal Thunder, Book 4, has a more serious tone and is set in the Dakotas.

My stories are diverse, because, like most of us my life experiences are unique.

My stories take place in places I have lived, or where I have vacationed. I know my subject matter.  My father rodeoed while in high school in Texas. I grew up in a career military family and my childhood was nomadic.  I have been involved in Native America culture and educational programs. My husband is a Louisiana country boy.  I now live in SoCal—where, of course, I have met Hollywood television stars and facilitated workshops.

3.     Why do I write what I do?
The story calls to me, it is that simple.  I have a feeling of time and place.  Then I begin hearing snatches of dialogue (like when you are sitting in a coffee shop and you over hear snippets of conversation).  The story invades my life (well it does, just ask my husband).  Today, I’m listening to Zydeco music and I have gumbo in my crockpot.  I am compelled to complete the story.  Native American culture says, “The story comes to the Storyteller.  The Storyteller must bring it to life.” 

4.     How does my writing process work?
For short stories, novellas and anthologies, I utilize the basic W-plot with extra twists and pivotal points.  When I am writing a novel, or a novel series, I plot in acts and work with three chapters at a time (1-3, 4-6, etc.).  With the exception of short stories, I compile detailed backgrounds, motivation, and personality traits. I also conduct interviews, research, and immerse myself in the ‘culture/environment’ I am creating.  It is then I begin the first draft of my novel.  This will change as my characters begin to take over the book.  Any writer will agree with me, under no circumstances can you force you characters to act against his/her will.  You can, however, place huge obstacles in the way and see what happens.

Is my first draft perfect? No.  Is my third draft publishable? It’s probably close.  At this point in the writing process, if I have any bumpy spots, I’ll have writer friend look over those pages. She will give her opinion and suggestions—that I may, or may not follow (though I always give the input careful consideration).  Writing, after all, is subjective—as is a reader’s preference for one novel over another. 

To read the first chapter teasers of my novels please follow this link:  http://www.amazon.com/Connie-Vines/e/B004C7W6PE  


My Book Trailer to Brede, Rodeo Romance Book 2




Thank you for stopping by.  I hope you have stop by next week at Dishin’ It Out out to read my next blog post.


Happy Reading,

Connie Vines




Sunday, March 4, 2018

Flash Back to the Past!

I miss Justin Wilson's Cajun Cooking Show.

I watched him on weekends. My husband is from Louisiana and enjoyed the mini vacation to the south  Gotta love Justin Wilson's  funny stories.  And, no matter what was on the stove, everything needed more wine! he would tell an no matter what every needed more wine!



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eK4umRMJlrs








Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Author Branding—Don’t Muddy the Waters (Part 1) by Connie Vines

Since this is my wedding anniversary, I'm posting a previous Bog Post.

I have been researching this topic via workshops, online chats, and discussion with other authors for several years.

The workshop I attended recently wrapped up the final meeting with: author branding was totally unnecessary.  (Well, that was a total waste of my money!)

So, does Connie have a brand?

No.

Does Connie still think she needs a brand?

Yes.  And no.

I know I need a memorable brand for each series that I write.  However, since I write in multiple genres, I don’t know if an all-encompassing brand is possible.  Or even practical.

We all know how much Connie loves to do research, enroll in online workshops, and conduct impromptu interviews with total strangers (to quote my husband, while we are in line at Souplantation, “why were you asking that man about the cost of a sleeve of tattoos?  You are not going there for the sake of research).  I handed him a napkin and smiled.  Now was not, I decided, the time to remind him that I had my eyebrows and eyeliner enhanced with “wake-up with make-up” tasteful, but still permanent ink.

How to Design Your Author Brand

Okay, it’s scramble time.  Find a piece of paper and something to write with.  You can use the note app in your phone, but I think pen to paper works better in this case. (If you write under more than one pen name, just select one.)


Ready?



Write down what your author brand is.  You have 10 seconds. Go!
Time’s up.

Were you able to write down your band?  Did you use 6 words or less?

Good for you.  You probably have a good idea of what your brand is.
If you didn’t (you are with me) don’t worry.  We will go about fixing the problem.

Brands Need to Be Specific

If you failed, the above test the reasons are likely because:

1. You don’t really know what your brand is yet.
2. You are over-describing your brand and couldn’t write it all down fast/concisely enough.

Now is the time to sit and ponder.  Strip away the contradictions, muddiness, superfluous.
What does a brand do?  A brand is a signal to customers to know what to expect when they see it.
Once they have had experience with a brand, they (hopefully) know what to expect.  Ideally this is a favorable expectation that encourages them to purchase your product, talk to their friends, and take chances on your next release.

How about a brand like this?

“Daring, Thrilling, Romantic, Action Packed.”

What if we change it to…

“Daring, Thrilling, Sexy, Action Packed”

A big difference isn’t it?

I selected very genre-esque words.  This was my intention because genres play a big role in branding. Brands are also about trust.

Remember genres and sub-genres are their own brands.

This is really important.    We already have a mind-set/expectations when we select a genre to read.  If you select a “Historical” novel (unless it is a sub-genre) you do not expect or probably appreciate elements of Urban Fantasy in the story-line.  Riding in stage coach, you prim-and-so proper heroine isn’t going to mesh with a hidden magical world featuring Fae, Vampires, and Werewolves.    So, unless you plan on inventing your own sub-genre (SteamPunk/StoneagePunk) with a limited readership, consider what you are inheriting from your genre.

Following these guidelines, I will attempt to come up with a brand for my current Rodeo Romance Series (BLW, BooksWeLove, Publsihing.).

Genre:  Contemporary Romance (Lynx), Romantic Suspense (Brede), Contemporary Romance/Humor (Rand), Romantic Suspense (TBT).

I’ll go with Romance as a genre.

Now to the dictionary and thesaurus.

For part 2, stop by next week.

(Feel free to post idea :-))

Connie 

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