Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Thoughts on Creative Compromise & Giveaway signed copy MIDDLE SCHOOL, THE WORST YEARS OF MY LIFE by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts

Last weekend, I went to a League of Vermont Writers meeting. One of the speakers was Chris Tebbetts.  He talked about his experiences with co-authoring, ghost writing, and writing alone.  The whole talk was interesting, but one particular phrase stuck in my mind: creative compromise.

It struck me how vitally important creative compromise is to any writer who strives to not just write for their own pleasure or the enjoyment of a small circle of friends and family, but rather to be published on a larger scale. At the highest levels, creative compromise is essential when working with editors and marketing. Before that, it’s indispensible when brainstorming future projects and revising with an agent. For that matter, what value is there in searching out and sharing with critique partners or mentors if you aren’t open to creative compromise?  

To me, being open to creative compromise is freeing. Its roots are in my desire to brainstorm ways to change or develop a project, or to simply figure out how to widen a story’s scope so it will be enjoyed by a larger audience, or to make a story clearer and stronger. Creative compromise is a wonderful thing.  It’s like having a million extra brain cells or as many eyes as a spider. Sure it’s important to not let the original idea morph into something which I’m unhappy or embarrassed to be connected to. Create compromise is about agreeing and disagreeing. But I think it’s equally important not to let stubbornness or tunnel vision blind me—or to fear that my ideas will get stolen if I share with others. Of course, being careful who I share with is important. 

Create compromise has helped me push my writing to the next level. How about you? How do you feel about creative compromise? Have you benefitted from it as a writer?

Since I enjoyed listening to Chris Tebbetts this last weekend, I’m giving away a signed copy of MIDDLE SCHOOL, THE WORST YEARS OF MY LIFE which he co-authored with James Patterson.  Check out Chris Tebbetts' website here.

To enter you must follow me here as well as @patesden on Twitter and leave a comment below.  The winner will be drawn on February 5th. For an extra chance to win follow @christebbetts on Twitter.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Links for Starting A New Writing Project & Giveaway: Phyllis Whitney’s WRITING JUVENILE STORIES AND NOVELS.

There is a lot of talk about how the internet is a horrible time suck, a devil waiting to distract writers from their work. This certainly is true. However, it also can be a great way to prepare for starting a new project.  The trick is to set limits on how long you rev your writing engine before you actually start writing.

In the spirit of inspired beginnings here is a podcasts series, a YouTube and websites I used recently to help me get ready to start my new project.  Read the rest at   Five Curiosities Blog

Monday, January 13, 2014

Interview: Robin Constantine THE PROMISE OF AMAZING

Hi Robin, I’m so excited about your novel THE PROMISE OF AMAZING and thrilled that you agreed to this interview.  I read the book shortly after it came out on December 31st and absolutely fell in love with the story and characters.

First, can you tell can you tell us what THE PROMISE OF AMAZING is about?

First and foremost it’s a romance, but it’s also a story about friendship and family and a lot of high school drama!  The book opens on a day that Wren Caswell is having a “what am I going to do with my life crisis” and by the end of the chapter she is saving Grayson’s life.   Grayson is also putting back the pieces of what was once his post high school dream – so when their worlds collide, he considers it an act of fate.  The story is about their semi-volatile beginning, and how they ultimately choose to take a chance on each other in spite of some past mistakes.  Oh, and there are cocktail weenies.

I had the pleasure of hearing you read a couple of scenes from THE PROMISE OF AMAZING and I was totally hooked by Wren’s voice (and the cocktail weenies). Can you talk a little about your inspiration for Wren and about finding her voice?

Thank you, Patty!!  I was so happy everyone laughed at the right moments during that reading!

As for Wren…I wanted to write a story that would relate to some of what a typical teenager goes through when they hit junior year and are suddenly expected to have concrete goals regarding what they want to do with their life.  I know I went through this in high school and I also went through this process with my son as I wrote TPofA.  So there’s this huge pressure wondering what path you want to take to your future, and yet, you’re still living, experiencing classes, and jobs and a social life and your brain is still developing!  On this side of the experience, it’s different of course, I’m firmly a ‘bloom where you’re planted’ advocate but I wasn’t that way in high school – everything took on epic meaning.  Like “if I don’t get into this school my life will be over before it starts”.   So finding Wren’s voice was easy because it was peppered and influenced by my own experience.

The other point of view in the book is Grayson. Where did the idea for his character and voice come from, and was writing from a guy’s point of view more difficult for you?

Grayson was a character in another novel I ended up scrapping because it was a book two to a book one that never sold, so, um, you get the picture.  It was funny because he was only supposed to be a secondary character but he kept stealing every scene he was in – any time he was on the page the scene came to life, so naturally I wanted to put him with the main character of that book even though he wasn’t supposed to be with her!  So when I put that project aside, and started working on TPofA I took him with me and expanded his character.

As for writing from a guy’s POV…I was worried I couldn’t pull it off but my critique group helped me get that confidence. TPofA is the first book I’d written from dual POV and I really wanted to make it sound genuine. Boys can be gruffer and more direct, especially with each other.  It’s also about a certain cadence.  Grayson’s POV was slightly more difficult because he was very visceral and shoot from the hip in my initial draft and I had to reign him in a bit.  His chapters needed more editing during revision.

Is the book’s setting imaginary or based on places where you’ve lived? Did you have to any research to make sure the setting details were accurate?

It’s set in my hometown but everything else is fictional – the schools, the Camelot, Leaning Tower.  Now if you asked me if these places are inspired by real places…absolutely.  I didn’t even realize how much until I went back to my high school for a reunion over the summer.  I was walking down the halls and I kept thinking – this is where this scene takes place, this is where that scene takes place…it was WILD.  The same goes for when I was wandering around town.  There’s a scene in a park and I could probably point out the exact bench where I imagined it taking place.  I didn’t feel comfortable using the real name for anything because you never know how something you’ve written is going to be taken. I did do some research for the police station scenes, mostly about procedure though.  I think it’s important to have specific details to give authenticity to your writing.

THE PROMISE OF AMAZING is a story about how meeting one amazing person can change your personality and life. Have you ever met someone who has done this for you and if so what happened?

I think I might get in trouble if I don’t mention my husband!  We met when we were sixteen and we were friends for a while before we started officially dating but whenever we were in the same place we always gravitated toward each other. The thing my husband has always been able to do is make me laugh, both at myself and at life in general.  He’s the one who knows how to bring a smile to my face. I always used to take myself so seriously but he has a way of looking at a situation and pointing out the absurd.  I can be myself with him, the good, the bad and the ugly.

On a different note, because I certainly think amazing people can help you change even if you’re not romantically involved, my freshman year English teacher, Mr. Prior solidified by love of books.  I remember he read Romeo and Juliet out loud and did the voices and he would make the learning environment less of a drag.  This class definitely shaped me into the writer I am today.  In other hands, the class might have been a snore!!

What place would each of your main characters view as the most romantic spot in the world?

Well, they are teens – so I would say the Jersey shore but not the one on TV.  Spending the day together at the beach, then hitting the boardwalk would be ideal.  But to be totally cheesy and cute…the most romantic spot would be anywhere they were together! 

(Check out this YouTube and hear Robin answer this question in even more detail) 

Where can people order THE PROMISE OF AMAZING?

IndieBound, B&N, Amazon, Powell’s and iBookstore!

Thank you so much, Robin. I truly enjoyed reading THE PROMISE OF AMAZING and so excited that you were willing to stop by and answer a few questions.