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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Guest post: Creating an Indie Chicks charity anthology by Cheryl Shireman

I’m delighted to bring you tonight’s guest blog post, a Monday night extra, on the topic of creating an Indie Chicks charity anthology, by Cheryl Shireman.

Is Your Life Whispering to You?

I believe life whispers to you and provides direction. I call that life force God. You can call it whatever you want, but there is no escaping it. If we are open, and brave enough to say yes, life will take us in directions we never expected, and you will live a life beyond your wildest dreams.

Those whisperings often come in the form of a “crazy” idea or a nudge to move into a certain direction that seems odd or silly or daring. Then there is that moment when you think, Well, that’s weird. Where in the world did that come from?

And then there’s the second moment, when you have to make a choice. You can dismiss the crazy notion, and probably even come up with a dozen reasons why it’s a bad idea. You don’t have the time, the money, or the resources. Besides, who are you to do such a thing? What in the world were you thinking? So, you dismiss the idea. We always have that option – to say No.

But it comes back – that whisper. Sometimes again and again. But if we are practical, and safe, we can squash the notion until it is almost forgotten. Almost.

Such a notion came to me a couple of months ago. I began to think of an anthology composed of women writers. An anthology that would be published before the rapidly approaching holiday season. The title came to me almost immediately – Indie Chicks. It was a crazy notion. I was working with an editor who was editing my first two novels, and was also in the middle of writing a third novel. Working on three books seemed to be a pretty full plate. Adding a fourth was insane.

But the crazy notion kept coming back to me. It simply refused to be dismissed. So I sent out a “feeler” email to another writer, Michelle Muto. She loved the idea. I sent out another email to my writing buddy, J. Carson Black. She loved the idea, too, but couldn’t make the time commitment. She had just signed with Thomas & Mercer and was knee deep in writing. I took it as a sign. I didn’t have the time for the project either. Perhaps after the first of the year, when final edits were done on my own novels. I dismissed it, at least for the present time. I’d think about it again in another couple of months, when the timing made more sense.

A week later I surrendered, started developing a marketing plan for Indie Chicks, and began sending out emails to various indie writers – some I knew, but most were strangers. I contacted a little over thirty women. Every one of them responded with enthusiasm. Most said yes immediately, and those who could not, due to time commitments, wished us well and asked me to let them know when the book when the book was published so they could be part of promoting it.

One of the first writers I contacted was Heather Marie Adkins. Earlier this year, while I was browsing the internet, I came across an interview with Heather. The interviewer (oddly enough, Michelle Muto) asked Heather, When did you decide to become an indie author? Heather’s answer was:  About a month ago. My dad had been trying to talk me into self-publishing for some time, but I was hesitant. One night, I sat down and ran a Google search. I discovered Amanda Hocking, JA Konrath, Victorine Lieski; but it was Cheryl Shireman that convinced me. This is the field to be in. I was shocked (Astonished! Flabbergasted!). I had no idea that I had ever inspired anyone! To be honest, it was a bit humbling. And,okay, yes – it made me cry. So, of course, I had to invite Heather to be a part of the anthology. Heather not only said yes, but she also volunteered to format the project – a task I was dreading.

As Heather and I exchanged emails, I told her about how I had been similarly inspired to become an indie writer by Karen McQuestion. My husband bought me a Kindle for Christmas of 2010. Honestly, the present angered me. I didn’t want a Kindle. I wanted nothing to do with reading a book on an electronic device! I love books; the feel of them, the smell of them. But, very quickly, I started filling up that Kindle with novels.

One day, while looking for a new book on Amazon, I came across a title by Karen McQuestion. I learned that McQuestion had published her novels through Amazon straight to Kindle. Immediately, I began doing research on her and how to publish through Kindle. I had just completed a novel and was ready to submit it through traditional routes. Within 48 hours of first reading about McQuestion, I submitted my novel, Life Is But A Dream: On The Lake. Twenty four hours later, it was published as an eBook on Amazon. Within another couple of weeks it was available as a paperback and through Nook. Did I jump into this venture fearlessly? No! I was scared to death, and I almost talked myself out of it. Almost. The novel went on to sell over 10,000 copies within the first seven months of release.

As I shared that story with Heather, another crazy notion whispered in my ear – Ask Karen McQuestion to write the foreword for Indie Chicks. Of course, I dismissed it. We had exchanged a couple of tweets on Twitter, but other than that, I had never corresponded with McQuestion. It was nonsense to think she would write the foreword. I was embarrassed to even ask her. Surely, she would think I was some sort of nut. But, the idea kept whispering to me and, with great trepidation, I emailed her. She said yes! Kindly, enthusiastically, and whole-heartedly, she said yes. Karen McQuestion had inspired me to try indie publishing. I had inspired Heather Adkins. And now the three of us were participating in Indie Chicks, that crazy whisper I had been unable to dismiss.

The book began to develop, and as it did, a theme began to form. This was to be a book full of personal stories from women. As women, one of our most powerful gifts is our ability to encourage one another. This book became our effort to encourage women across the world. Twenty-five women sharing stories that will make you laugh, inspire you, and maybe even make you cry. We began to dream that these stories would inspire other women to live the life they were meant to live.

From the beginning, I knew I wanted the proceeds of this charity to go to some sort of charity that would benefit other women. While we were in the process of compiling the anthology, the mother of one of the women was diagnosed with breast cancer. Almost immediately upon learning that, Michelle Muto sent me an email. Hey, in light of *****’s mother having an aggressive form of breast cancer, can I nominate The Susan G. Komen foundation for breast cancer? I mean, one of our own is affected here, and other than heart disease (which took my own mother’s life), I can’t think of anything more worthy than to honor our sister in words and what she’s going through. A daughter’s love knows no bounds for her mother. Trust me. I know it’s a charity that already gets attention on its own. But, that’s not the point, is it? The point is there are 25 ‘sisters’ sticking together and supporting each other for this anthology. I say we put the money where the heart is. We had our inspiration. All proceeds would go to the Susan G. Komen foundation for breast cancer research.

The stories started coming in. Some were light hearted and fun to read. But others were gut-wrenching and inspiring – stories of how women dealt with physical abuse, overwhelming grief, and a host of bad choices. It was clear; these women were not just sharing a story, but a piece of their heart. I felt as if I were no longer “organizing” this anthology, but just getting out of the way so that it could morph and evolve into its truest form.

Fast forward to just a few days before publication. Heather was almost done with the enormous task of formatting a book with twenty-five authors. We were very close to publishing and were on the homestretch. That’s when I received an email. An unlikely email from someone I didn’t really know. Beth Elisa Harris and I were involved in another indie project and Beth sent an email to all of the authors in that project, including me. She attached a journal to that email. For whatever reason, Beth had been inspired to share a journal she wrote a few years ago. She cautioned us to keep her confidence and not share the journal with anyone else. I tend toward privacy and don’t tend to trust easily. This is a HUGE step for me. I’ve only read it once since I wrote it. Intrigued, I opened the journal and began reading. It dealt with her diagnosis, a few years back, with breast cancer! Before I was even one third of the way through the journal, I felt I should ask Beth to include this journal in the Indie Chicks anthology. It was a crazy notion, especially when considering her words about privacy and trust. We didn’t even know each other, how could I ask her to go public with something so personal? I tried to dismiss the notion (are you noticing a pattern here?), but could not. I wrote the email, took a deep breath, and hit send. She answered immediately. Yes. Most definitely, yes.

Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories, with foreword by Karen McQuestion and afterword by Beth Elise Harris, is now available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon. The book includes personal stories from each of the women, as well as excerpts from our novels. And it began as a whisper. A whisper I did my best to ignore.

What whisper are you ignoring? What crazy notion haunts you? What dream merely awaits your response? I urge you, say Yes. Live the life you were meant to live. Say yes today.

Stories included in Indie Chicks:

Foreword by Karen McQuestion

Knight in Shining Armor by Shea MacLeod

Latchkey Kid by Heather Marie Adkins

Write or Die by Danielle Blanchard

The Phoenix and The Darkness by Lizzy Ford

Never Too Late by Linda Welch

Stepping Into the Light by Donna Fasano

One Fictionista’s Literary Bliss by Katherine Owen

I Burned My Bra For This? by Cheryl Shireman

Mrs. So Got It Wrong Agent by Prue Battten

Holes by Suzanne Tyrpak

Turning Medieval by Sarah Woodbury

A Kinky Adventure in Anglophilia by Anne R. Allen

Writing From a Flour Sack by Dani Amore

Just Me and James Dean by Cheryl Bradshaw

How a Big Yellow Truck Changed My Life by Christine DeMaio-Rice

From 200 Rejections to Amazon Top 200! by Sibel Hodge

Have You Ever Lost a Hat? by Barbara Silkstone

French Fancies! by Mel Comley

Life’s Little Gifts by Melissa Foster

Never Give Up On Your Dream by Christine Kersey

Self-taught Late Bloomer by Carol Davis Luce

Moving to The Middle East by Julia Crane

Paper, Pen, and Chocolate by Talia Jager

The Magic Within and The Little Book That Could by Michelle Muto

Write Out of Grief by Melissa Smith

Afterword by Beth Elisa Harris

Indie Chicks is available for your Kindle on Amazon and your Nook on Barnes and Noble. You may also read it on your computer or most mobile devices by downloading a free reader from those sites.

Stop by our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/IndieChicksAnthology

Follow our Indie Chicks hash tag on Twitter!  #IndieChicksAnthology

Thank you Cheryl, I hope it sells really, really well!

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with romance author Chris Karlsen – the one hundred and seventy-fourth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2011 in ebooks, Facebook, short stories, writing

 

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Podcast: Bailey’s Writing Tips ep 042 – back to basics

Episode 42 of the Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast was released today Monday 31st October 2011.

Having spent episode 41 talking about NaNoWriMo I thought it would be an opportune time to cover the basics of writing and talk about ‘show don’t tell’, repetition (not to do it!), dialogue fundamentals and much more.

The episode concluded with a 314-word first-person short story called ‘Lost’ which I will be posting on my Flash Fiction Fridays page on Friday 18th November.

The podcast is available via iTunesGoogle’s FeedburnerPodbean (when it catches up), Podcasters (which takes even longer) or Podcast Alley (which doesn’t list the episodes but will let you subscribe).

Details of the other episodes (interviews, reviews, red pen sessions etc.) can be found here.

 

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Guest post: Writing for Radio and Theatre by Dal Burns

I’m delighted to bring you this guest blog post, today on the topic of writing for radio and theatre, by Dal Burns.

‘Writing for Radio and Theatre’

I began writing for radio while working for a local Theatre group.  I had worked my way into writing articles in the play programs and they were happy with what I was producing. After listening to the radio ads produced by the local station, I knew I could do better and sat down to write.  I found it takes real discipline to write an ad that can be narrated in either twenty-nine or fifty-nine seconds. A lot depends on the narrator and the speed at which they normally speak in an ad. I timed my own narrations at different speeds and it soon became clear what words were easy to speak at speed and which ones caused me to require the Heimlich maneuver.

Most ads are poorly-written. Trying to generate excitement by using buzz-words and an excited tone of voice is so tired, so I decided to use the best medium for getting out a message. A little touch of humor and the use of subtle picture words is where I headed. Funnily enough (no pun intended) that worked.

Here’s my formula. Don’t preach. Use a little humor and seek for the picture words that will get your point across. It takes quite a bit of banging on doors to get work at local stations but it’s worthwhile as once you are in the door, the different style you employ helps the station to sell more ads. A writer who can generate good ad copy is worth a lot.

Once known at the local stations, I tried my hand at radio plays. This type of play relies on a combination of sound effects and picture words.  I always had my plays broadcast or recorded in front of a live audience. This brings an ambiance and life to the play that is simply not possible in a regular studio recording.

One great technique in a comic play is to have the actors break character once in a while and speak to the other actors. One of my favorites is to have one actor ‘steal’ another actor’s line. This generally leads to a short argument, before the engineer breaks in and gets the show back on track.

The long history behind radio plays makes them an ideal resource for research. As most people have never heard a radio play, it’s easy enough to take the basic idea behind an old play and bring it up to date with new words and ideas. Case in point would be the old Richard Diamond series from the 1940’s. Diamond was one hard-boiled and whip-smart private eye.

This was too much to resist, so I took Richard and married him to a 1950’s style of British comedy and suddenly he was a major goofball with a very cool-dude voice. From there, it was simple to write a script that highlighted Diamond’s strengths and weaknesses. Several examples were:

“Hi, I’m Richard Diamond, private eye but my best friends call me diamond dick, swinging detective…I wonder why?” and “I was sitting in my office the other day when a man came through the door (crashing sound). I wish he’d opened the door first!” Speaking of his secretary, “Now there’s a gal who carries a pair of 38’s, and a gun, wherever she goes.”

Corny as all get out and yet the studio audience howled with laughter and the local critics loved the show.

Theatre plays are another animal entirely. Theatre is the actor’s medium, much more so than the writer’s. Once the curtain goes up, it’s the actor’s play. They are in control of the process of bringing your words to life.

It’s said there are only three types of play:

  • American: Man gets girl. Man loses girl and spends the rest of the play getting her back
  • French: Man gets girl and spends the rest of the play trying to get away from her
  • Russian: Two people, who neither want nor get each other, spend two hours complaining about it

Forget about them. As the writer, you have three tasks:

  • A plot line that is coherent
  • An emotional dilemma for each actor that is slowly revealed during the play
  • A sharply defined resolution to the play

I’m adding two more essential elements:

  • The picture words
  • Blocking

The plot’s the easy part. Movies and books can provide the framework of a play. Plays, though, require a great deal of emotion in the plot, to keep the limited action on stage from becoming dull and static.

Emotional dilemmas are vital. The dilemma each actor is given will enable them to make a rich and interesting character. It really is the actor’s food and drink on the stage. It drives the words they speak and movements they make. The script is designed to make the actor’s dilemma more and more difficult to hide as the plot progresses. The plot must force the actor to reveal their hidden dilemma slowly and with much resistance.

The resolution is not really about the plot. It’s about allowing the actors to resolve their emotional dilemmas. That’s the payoff for the audience. It’s their emotional release. All audience members have dilemmas. To present them with the same dilemma on stage and then provide a resolution is cathartic for an audience member and it sells tickets!

Picture words. Your script must contain words that evoke pictures in the actor’s mind as that is how the actor relays the emotion and plot of the play. Without them, the actor is lifeless. If you don’t see pictures when you write the words, the actor won’t be able to communicate those words to the audience. It’s that simple.

Blocking. Forget about it. Don’t write a single word of blocking into your play. It shackles the director and the actors. Let dialog drive action on the stage. Make them get up, sit down or pace the stage because the words they speak force them to. Not because you block the play for them.

This is great, thank you Dal!


Dal is a fourth-generation entertainer first put on stage at age eight, by his father. He has been involved in TV, movies, radio, recording studios, rock band, theatre etc. He has written for radio ads, theatre programs, screenplays and radio plays (he says they were fun!) theatre plays (two of which were produced and quite successful). Dal wrote his first story at seventeen, after a mentor suggested he enter a writing competition. He said the suggestion was made because he was rather well known in his village (in the wilds of Northumberland) as the local storyteller. After that he didn’t write again until in his thirties, when working with a theatre company.

Dal has written four books and is working on a fifth, which is an illustrated children’s book, with co-author Kari Wishingrad and illustrators Sona & Jacob. That book will be released this year with the title “The Neighbor’s Cat”. He is also working on three new books; another children’s illustrated book, a YA story about an alternate universe and a YA story about two horses. Although Dal has never visited an alternate universe, he thinks he owns Bella, a Peruvian Paso mare. Bella knows better. Dal’s websites include http://dalburnswrites.com and http://dramaworksinc.com. He can also be found on Twitter and Facebook and leading the ongoing children’s writing competition ‘Write Across America‘. You can also read Dal’s interview with me here.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).

 

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Author Spotlight no.27 – Rachel Cochrane

To complement my daily blog interviews I recently started a series of Author Spotlights and today’s, the twenty-seventh, is of scriptwriter and spoken word director, editor (and more) Rachel Cochrane.

After many years of scriptwriting full-time and several shortlists, Rachel decided to bypass the cumbersome commissioning process and take advantage of the advent of digital media.  After being selected for the Creative GLEAM scheme at Durham University Business School and a DigitalCity Fellowship at the Institute of Digital Innovation, she has now set up a spoken word entertainment website listenupnorth.com, recording her own dramas and inviting other writers to submit their quality work for you to enjoy.  Rachel is about to launch the pilot episode of her webdrama Celia, the deliberations of a middle-class, middle-aged woman which bears no resemblance to her own life – honest.  Catch the trailer http://listenupnorth.com/drama-page/338.

And now from the author herself:

After almost 7 years of near solitary writing, I decided to set up listenupnorth.com, a spoken word entertainment website.  I had a vague plan of how it might work but I was charting new territory.  Really it was a case of putting my toe in the water to see what might develop.

I wanted to produce the radio plays that I had written as audio dramas and put them out to an audience on the web.  This needed a several-pronged approach:

  • Gathering actors
  • Directing
  • Arranging recording and editing
  • Legal considerations
  • Developing a website to house the productions

Having no experience of recording and editing, I contacted a local studio and arranged to record a short pilot drama.  They were used to recording music rather than drama and so arranged to do the pilot free of charge.  The drama was called Couple and needed 3 actors: a narrator and 2 actors that make up the couple, figures in a sculpture of the same name sited on a breakwater off the Northumberland coast.  Most of my dramas have a village setting because that is the environment with which I am familiar.  However I hope that the themes of my stories are universal and something with which most people can identify.

Through our local am dram I was able to enlist the help of willing actors keen for a new experience.  We rehearsed in my sitting room, it was the first time that I had directed and being tuned into voice was the key, as there would obviously be no visual clues.  Because actors did not have to learn lines, we could concentrate on performance.  The actors were very supportive and I learnt that being open to suggestions does not mean you lose artistic freedom or ownership of your work but that collaboration makes it greatly enhanced.

Waking up on the morning of the recording is always a tense affair; it’s not until I get to the studio, the actors are positioned behind the microphones and I start ticking off items on my schedules that I can start to relax.  Depending on length and complexity of script, it can take anything from a few hours to one and a half days to record.  I usually attend sessions with the recording technician at the later stages of editing.  It takes around four times longer to edit than record.  Sound effects are also added in, purchased with a royalty free licence as my website is potentially commercial.  The actors also sign performers’ contracts to ensure that I own the recording that we make and I can put it out on a website and use parts of it for publicity.  Similarly, for any writers’ work I use, a contributor’s contract is also required.

The finished work is then uploaded with great excitement to my specially developed spoken word entertainment website listenupnorth.com and publicised through social and traditional media to take it out to an audience.

Radio/audio Plays produced so far: Couple, Village Notes, Tilting at Windmills (monologue), Any Other Business, Oranges and Lemons, A Grand Old Lady (monologue) and Dolly’s House.

There is no greater joy for a writer than hearing their words come to life and I am indebted to my generous and talented friends for helping me realise this dream.

You can find more about Rachel and her work via the links above and you can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. You can also email her at enquiries@listenupnorth.com.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with mystery novelist Anne R Allen – the one hundred and seventy-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks here.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2011 in Facebook, scriptwriting, Twitter, writing

 

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Are you ready for NaNoWriMo?

Am I ready for NaNoWriMo? Um… probably as ready as I was last year and 2009 which is “no, not really” and certainly not as ready as 2008 when I’d plotted to almost every last detail but then I started writing and quickly learned (it was my first piece over c.3000 words) that once the characters take over the writer takes a back seat and enjoys the ride.

So this year I have a few character sketches and a vague idea of what they may be doing for the next 30 days but that’s about it, and I can’t wait! 🙂

Hitchhiker’s Guide author Douglas Adams is quoted as saying “I love deadlines… the sound as they woosh by” (or something like that) and I love deadlines for a different reason… because it gets me writing. This year will be more of a challenge for me because I only started this blog at the end of March this year and it eats up a lot of my time. Whilst my blog will still keep going during November (at full speed, I’m pleased to say) I will have to find new pockets of time to fit in my 1,667 words a day, but being me, I just know I will. Something will have to give; the scant-already social life… slightly shorter dog walks (sorry hound)… the Red Cross volunteering (I’m my local shop’s ‘book lady’) or some of my equally-scant hours of sleep, and my answering of emails will probably be slower, but I know that come 1st December I’ll look at my 50,000+ words and say, with a smile, “I did that”.

If you’ve considered NaNoWriMo, it’s not too late to take part… even mid-November isn’t too late if you’re a fast typer. The only aim is to write at least 50,000 words and if you do it you ‘win’. What exactly do you win? Nothing materialistic except for the words you’ve created.  I’ve done it three times, how hard can it be? Yes, OK, it’s pretty tough but 2009 I wrote 117,540 so it can be very rewarding… and heaps of fun too. I’m registered as Morgen Bailey so feel free to find me and ‘buddy’ me (especially as the NaNo system seems to have lost the ones I did have :)).

The aim of NaNoWriMo is for quantity over quality and whilst we all want a great book at the end of it, you can’t edit a blank page and given that we have to write almost 1,700 words a day there’s no time to edit as you go along. If I get stuck or know I want to add something later I put ‘MORE HERE’ and go back if there’s time at the end but I know I’ll be going through the whole thing three or four times afterwards anyway (times that by 117,540 words and you’ll know that writing my 2009 chick lit was where the hard work started).

Originated in San Francisco USA 13 years ago, they’re a non-profit organisation which relies on donations and the sales of goodies from their shop (I bought a t-shirt) and with hundreds of thousands of people participating it’s a community event for the usually-solitary life that a writer can have. Whilst you can join the online forums, meet in person with members of your local region (mine’s Milton Keynes, there isn’t a Northampton one) you can equally just sit and write your little heart out. I will probably aim for two of the three (you can guess which two) but I know that my little heart will be beating a little faster come the early hours of November 1st.

Morgen with an ‘e’ 🙂

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2011 in events, NaNoWriMo, novels, writing

 

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