Author Archives: K.L. Gore

About K.L. Gore

I write YA contemporary and suspense, as well as MG fantasy. Come check out my author site: www.klgore.com, and my blog about edibles: www.amateurfooddetective.blogspot.com.

Roundtable Topic #2

Hello fellow writers! This month’s topic is:

How long does it usually take to write the first draft of your novel? How long does the revision/editing process take and who do you go to for “another pair of eyes” on your work? Do you use a beta reader, editor, proofreader? What is your process from start to finish?

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Roundtable Topic #1

Hi everyone! Today is the first of many roundtable discussions I hope to have involving writing. Consider it a virtual meeting of the minds. I thought it would be nice to start out with a simple topic to discuss. So…let’s begin:

How do you make time to write? When do you do your best writing?

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What To Do When All Else Fails? Succeed!

Most of my LCRW friends know how hard I’ve struggled to become a published author. I made it through all the hoops…went to writer’s conferences, had my work critiqued by professionals in the biz and by my peers, pursued agents and managed to hook one with a strong reputation, grabbed the interest of editors from “big” publishing houses. And then…things went downhill from there and my books never got published.

What went wrong? I ask myself that countless times. Was it bad timing? A difficult marketplace? Editors busy looking for that “best seller” and not seeing that possibility in my work?

In the end, I have no answers. But if there is anything we writers do in this business…it’s persevere. Because the truth is, the first person that needs to believe in me is…well…ME. And I do. I have to admit, every step up the mountain of success has surprised me. I dream big, but wait for that familiar moment of disappointment. That step onto crumbly stone that sends me going backwards instead of forwards. The climb is difficult. Painful. But the view every time I look back? Beautiful.

My next step, which feels like a step back but is really a huge leap forward, is to self-publish my book SEVEN LITTLE SECRETS. It’s a young adult novel about a high school cheerleading squad and the co-captain who takes her own life. I wrote it many years ago, and it had some close calls with publishers, but ended up a no-go. But with 13 REASONS WHY making headlines these days, this is a great time to market it (thanks, Lisa Scott, for pointing that out for me). So I intend to do so. And do it well. Because in the end, I haven’t failed. I’m just doing it different than how I envisioned ten years ago. I’m using different strategies, finding a way around rushing rivers and mudslides. But still moving forward.

That alone, makes me a success.

 

 

 

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How to Hook

Yup. You read that title right. I am going to teach you how to successfully hook.

First of all, you don’t just want your story to be pretty, you want it to be hot. The kind of hot that makes your reader sweat with anticipation. Don’t lose him to another book by filling your first page with wimpy words and a long-winded backstory. Dress it up with active words, give it some fantastic legs to stand on. You want to set this sucker up right. Make your reader take notice and not want to put your book down. He’s paying good money here, don’t make him feel as if he’s wasted it.

Your first sentence must make him want more. Just give him a small taste of what’s to come…don’t give it all away at once. Why buy the book if he can get the plot for free? But give him a little something of what you know he wants. A small tease. A smoldering sentence. Then lay it on thick for your first few pages. Let him know what he’s getting into. Who he’s going to be with for the next few hours, and promise him a good time using a few well-placed words.

Do this, and I guarantee he’ll want to pick up your book and take it home. And when he’s done, hopefully you’ve made it so good he’ll want to come back for more.

And that, my friends, is how to hook.

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Writing a Novel in a Month. Really?

by Joan Baier

The president, Kim Gore, of our writing group, LCRW, wrote a recent blog about the Nanowrimo event, beginning November 1. She got me thinking…

That unique sobriquet, Nanowrimo, is actually the acronym for National Novel Writing Month, a national effort on the part of writers to complete a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. A Herculean project, to say the least.

I actually tried to participate last year. But, to tell the truth, I didn’t complete either the novel or the participation. As a matter of fact, I just checked my file and discovered that I was a member for only four days and had written only my brief synopsis. But I think I’m going to join the undertaking again this November, even though there were several things I didn’t like about the program last year. For instance, November is such a busy month to begin with: Christmas shopping, Thanksgiving (and all the baking, preparing for overnight guests, extra housekeeping, etc.), holiday entertaining. These activities are not to be taken lightly, at least for those of us who lead the band in those areas.

Writing an average of 1667 words a day, every day, for a month straight, is, as I said above, a Herculean effort. Put that on top of the busyness of the month, and our poor old buddy, Sisyphus, comes to mind. However, maintaining that kind of attitude kills the incentive, the spirit, of it all before you even start.

So here are the positives: the powers that be in Wrinonamo have set up a wonderful program, which keeps track of the numbers of words you write, which regularly cheers you on, boosts your morale, and lets you know where you stand, among the others, in the midst of it all. If you really want to do this, they make it as easy as possible for you to work through it.

Wow. I think I just talked myself into signing up! So this is my official notice: except for Thanksgiving Day and the day before it, when I’ll be baking pumpkin and lemon pies and roasting a 25-lb. turkey, don’t expect to see me or hear from me next month. I’ll be glued to my keyboard, staring at my screen, thinking, conniving, solving. I’ve already worn the letters e, r and t from my keyboard. By December 1, the whole rest of the keyboard letters may be worn away.

But I’ll have that novel finished!

YES-S-S!

Want to join me?

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Writing As a Painter

by Elizabeth Kelly

When I write I paint. The two go hand in hand. A character description is a verbal painting. The essence of a character is the emotional component. How to express red hot anger so the reader feels and sees the characters response? What visuals describe insecurity or loneliness?

By using an overlay of texture, colors and shapes, Edward Munch creates a vision in his painting The “Scream” that gives me a deep throbbing ache in my stomach. A writer uses words to construct those same types of layers through background, a character’s thoughts, dialogue, and the specific overlay of words that create the rhythm of good prose. I have often heard actors, writers, and painters talk about the music or rhythm they hear when creating. That inner music or rhythm gives the order of words their flow like ripples in the river that glide and dip into rapids creating the tension in a scene whether it is character description or a part of the plot.

As a painter I can add or blend a color, build up or dilute the texture to communicate. As a writer it is adding adjectives for depth and texture, adverbs to quicken the pace of the sentence or slow it down, and wonderful prepositional phrases just for fun that make a story complex and interesting. With both painting and writing, it is the building up of layers.

Painters and writers both start out with blank canvas and the anxiety of not knowing how to fill it. Some painters sketch and draw the subject; they experiment with different compositions before preparing their canvas. Other painters intuitively attack the canvas allowing the muse to direct them. Writers are the same. One writer prepares detailed outlines before writing one word while another writer has an idea and goes with it to a blank piece of paper hoping the idea and the characters will develop on their own.

Many writers are painters. Sylvia Platt, William S. Burroughs, Lewis Carroll, and Kurt Vonnegut are only a few who are known more for their writing than their art work. Natalie Goldberg, a writer/writing teacher also published a book of her paintings. She says painting makes her a better writer because it forces her to look carefully at the hues of color, geometric shapes, and arrangement of objects to see the usual in an unusual way.

A good painter is better for his pursuit of music or writing and a good writer can show rather than tell by pursuing painting and/or music.

Being creative is a gift. I don’t mean you are either talented or not talented, but rather you are born with the passion to create. Regardless of the outcome we are lucky to be able to see outside the box.

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NaNoWriMo…Yes or No?

November is National Novel Writing Month.That means that people all over the world are going to try to produce the first draft of their novel in one month. That equals roughly 1,667 words a day. Me? I try most years. Fail every time. Why? Because I get behind, darn it all. It’s HARD to write 1,667 words (or more) a day. My creativity isn’t always there. If I don’t feel like writing, I don’t do it.

NaNoWriMo is supposed to help writers remain focused and motivated. So my question to you is: have you ever tried NaNoWriMo? Would you do it (either try it for the first time or do it again)? Why or why not? I want to hear your experiences.

*If you want more information or wish to sign up, click on this link: http://nanowrimo.org/ Be my buddy, if you like. (Under the name KWehner)

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The “Great” Idea for a Book Concept

It happened again.

I went to a party, struck up a conversation with a very nice guy, and when he found out I was a writer, he said the inevitable: “Really? I have a great idea for a book.”

I wish I had a pen for every time someone said that same sentence to me. I would never run out of ink again. Anyone can come up with a “great” idea. Most of the time, that idea has already been done. And if it hasn’t, a variation of it has. Listen up…your idea is not genius.

The genius lies in how you construct your idea. In other words…how you implement that idea into a story.

Let’s take an example…an easy one. Harry Potter. Boy has a special gift. Only he can destroy the enemy. In the end, he wins.

That plot has been around for centuries. (David and Goliath, anyone?) But J.K. Rowling masterfully creates an entire hidden world of witches and wizards around it. And she sprinkles mythology throughout…bringing the familiar into the fold.

The other part I love about people who want to let me know they have a “great” idea for a book…most of the time they add, “Tell you what. I’ll give you my idea, you can write it, and we’ll split the profit.”

Really? You will come up with an idea…maybe spend ten minutes on it…then I can spend the next two years crafting it into a publishable book…and we can split the money 50/50? How lucky for me I bumped into you!

I suppose we could make a deal. If you build houses, how about I design one, hand you the picture, you build it, and then we split the profit after it sells? Or, wait, how about this? If you own a restaurant, I’ll mention what should be on the menu, you make sure the chefs make those meals, and we will split the profit!

Sounds silly? Then how about this? Instead of sharing your “great” idea with me, you spend the next ten years learning how to write a book, then write the dang thing yourself.

Ninety-five percent of those people with “great” ideas won’t even try. Four percent will give up before they finish the story. But one percent will make a go of it. And perhaps a handful of those people will succeed.

But a full 100% will understand…writing is demanding. Having an idea is only a fraction of the work involved. Making that idea work throughout the entire novel and finding a satisfying conclusion involves patience, research, and many hours of sitting at a computer screen praying loose ends can be tied up and readers will find the story plausible.

So when people tell me they have a “great” idea for a book and maybe they should have me write it (and split the profits), I tell them that I have more than enough ideas in my head, thank you very much. But that if they truly believe in their idea, then they should sit down and start writing that book.

It’s not going to write itself.

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How Do You Live with a Ghost? by Roz Murphy

By Roz Murphy

 

During the break in our last LCRW meeting, someone asked me how I managed to live with a ghost. The question has haunted me (hmm….) ever since. So this morning, as part of my daily exercises in writerly procrastination, I finally decided to ask Bob, my resident ghost, his thoughts on the topic. He’d drifted in early, which was unusual since we tend to chat at dinnertime. In retrospect, I don’t know why I even bothered to consult him. Bob’s rarely much help when it comes to practical matters and he’s even less useful early in the morning.

 

“So my LCRW colleagues want to know, Bob, how I live with a ghost,” I tossed out, my fingers hovering over the keyboard as I awaited his pearls of wisdom.

 

“How should I know how you live with a ghost?” Bob muttered, obviously in a bad mood. I suspected a little too much partying in his mysterious netherworld last night. “I’m on the other side of the equation here.” He sat back in his chair at the kitchen table and rubbed his face with both hands, shielding his eyes from the bright sunshine reflecting off the lake and flooding the room. The light caromed off his balding dome and illuminated wrinkles in his usually immaculate silk smoking jacket. Maybe he’d slept in it?

 

“Look at the question from my point of view,” Bob continued. “My assignment is to help a crabby, middle-aged,” he hesitated as he noticed the mutinous look on my face and back-pedalled swiftly, “I mean, my assignment is to help a put-upon ‘woman-of-a-certain-age’ get a few things done. Since I’m the ghost in this scenario, I’m not sure I’m the right person to ask. I don’t really worry about how you live with me.”

 

Truer words were never spoken.

 

I sighed and took my fingers off the keyboard. Another one of our baffling conversations, circling endlessly around the drain. Bob and I had been at this for weeks–talking for hours at night to help me ‘fix’ a few issues with both my daily and my non-existent love lives. (A ghostly two-fer…lucky me…) Frankly, most days, the only issue I felt like fixing was the one in which I could show Bob the door. Not that he’s a bad ghost, exactly. As he diplomatically pointed out when we first met, he’s not one of those young, thuggish spirits who throw furniture around and terrify people. Instead, Bob’s ghostly toolbox includes martinis, babbling, obscure references and large doses of nagging. (For instance, his idea of great dinner conversation includes lecturing me on the menace of buttered toast. Or on the sex lives of newts. I mean, really…newts?) For a woman trying to survive the financial ravages of the Great Recession, I find that this ‘haunting’ situation sucks up a lot of time that I could spend better elsewhere.

 

“Let me rephrase the question, Bob.” I tried again. “How could I, the hauntee, make this a better experience for you, the hauntor?”

 

“Well, now that’s a much better angle,” Bob responded, sitting up straight and brightening. “You need more martinis around this place, for one thing. And you’ve got to do something about that awful music you’re always playing, like that Goo-Goo Lady. Why can’t we listen to something snappy by Irving Berlin or George Gershwin? They write zippy tunes!”

 

“Irving Berlin? That’s the soundtrack that would make this haunting experience more enjoyable for you? And more liquor? Don’t you carry enough rye around in that flask in your pocket?” I shook my head in dismay. No way am I going to incorporate Bob’s suggestions for improvement.

 

The conversation–as most of our conversations do–degenerated from there. When it comes to life with Bob, sometimes I feel like I’ve woken up in the middle of an Abbott and Costello routine (‘who’s on first?’) or a Marx Brother’s skit. So thanks so much, LCRW, for sending us more fodder for another lakeside squabble…oops, I mean, discussion. Sigh.

 

Yours from the misty shores of Keuka Lake,

Roz

 

p.s.–Bob also sends his regards and asks if anyone out there recalls the real (birth) first names of the Marx Brothers. He’s having a spectral moment and can’t remember them, and it’s making him (and, consequently, me) crazier than usual. If you would just comment below or post the answer on my FB wall at ‘Roz Murphy Author’ I will pass along your message and put the poor ghost out of his misery…

 

(To learn more about the misadventures of ghost Bob and his long-suffering hauntee, Roz, read Roz Murphy’s novel, Bob at the Lake, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble online.)

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On Writing by Elizabeth Kelly

Elizabeth Kelly August 4, 2014

As a Counselor for the state of New York, I found writing reports the easiest part of my job. I used writing like a cup of chamomile tea to calm my anxieties. The formulas of the reports made them easy to write and took little effort.

My joy with the prescribed writing was that I could play with words and sentences within a structure. I didn’t need to step out of my comfort zone. I tried to create descriptions of my clients that made them unique instead of the diagnostic label they were forced to become.

I wrote for a paycheck. I wrote using a specific template. I wrote about someone else. It was stress free.

Writing for myself is different; it is not easy. There is no formula to follow. No one is going to pay me for writing at my dining room table. All the characters I create are a part of me. I feel like I am undressing in public.

Then there is the issue of being perfect. How hard is that? Without my template, without my structure, I forgot how to have fun with words and sentences. I didn’t know where to start or even how to start. Then I found Natalie Goldberg, author and writing teacher who wrote the books,“Writing down the Bones,” “Old Friend from Far and Away,” and “Thunder and Lightning, Cracking Open the Writer’s Craft,” and many other books.

“Writing Down the Bones” was the first book I read about the art and work of writing. In it Ms. Goldberg motivates the new writer to be courageous; to write with love, energy, and confidence. She teaches different techniques some of which come from her Buddhist background. One technique is to sit quietly for at least 10 minutes, watching your breath. This technique clears the mind of distracting thoughts. It also opens up the writer to inspiration. Maybe the next scene in your novel is in the quiet of your mind.

Another technique is to center yourself before writing by walking very, very, painstakingly slowly. I attended a Workshop with Ms. Goldberg at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY. We walked very slowly from the dormitory to the building where the class was held so we could center our minds before writing.    I had to concentrate on the process of putting on foot in front of the other to walk as slowly as required. As with deep breathing my mind slowed down to concentrate on how my feet were moving and my mind was forced to focus.

A focused mind is open to new ideas and thoughts instead of being obstructed by the numerous daily happenings such as looking in the past, worrying about the future, unfocused, distracted, uninspired and closed to new thoughts and ideas. Ms. Goldberg’s writing techniques help the mind to quiet and listen for the next great sentence or great scene. I can’t say that I wrote a mind bending response to the prompt we were given after that slow, so slow walk, but I was grateful to sit down and I wrote.

The major part of her teaching technique is the ten minute writing exercise. I quote “Writing is an athletic activity.” Athletes practices every day to build up their muscles to win the game. You can see the Athlete’s muscles bulging, but a writer’s muscles are not easily seen, yet it is important to exercise and build up writing muscles.

The ten minute writing exercise is the impetus of her Writing Program. Ten minutes of writing on a specific topic is the same as bench presses to a body builder. Think of a specific topic to write about, “What makes up my perfect day” “My favorite actress is ____ because”, “Sunrise smells like”. If you can’t think of a what to write about write on the topic then start your prompt with “I am thinking of”. When you reach a block go back to “I am thinking of” This simple prompt can lead to much more or it can lead to nothing, but either way you are writing and building up writing muscles.

Ms. Goldberg’s books gives numerous simple writing prompts. Or you can make up your own writing prompts to help you work on a specific project. As Ms. Goldberg states, “Maybe you will write nonsense for 10 minutes, but there could be one great sentence or thought in the middle of the nonsense you can use.

The Memoir writer can find writing prompts and motivation in her book “Old Friends from Far Away”

A few of her prompts are:
Write about your mother’s jewelry. Go. Write Ten minutes.
Write about your mother’s shoes. Go. Write ten minutes.
The ten minute writing exercise can be used when you are blocked or you need
inspiration for the next scene. It can be used to Show and not tell.
Describe your house. Go. Ten minutes.
Describe the colors of a sunset. Go. Ten minutes.
Describe feelings of terror. Go. Ten minutes.

Writing for you me is easier when I have a specific question to answer, especially when I feel blocked. Ten minutes can grow to 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 90 minutes or more.

You may think Ms. Goldberg’s books are for the beginning writer or someone like me who feels insecure. But they can also be for the seasoned writer who needs a new trick, because at some time we all need a new trick.

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