August 31, 2020- Let’s talk about writing characters with certain behavioural disorders. I’ve chosen to touch on Narcissism, which is defined as selfishness, involving a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, and a need for admiration as characterizing a personality type. Self-centeredness arising from failure to distinguish the self from external objects, either in very young babies or as of feature of mental disorder.
I’m not suggesting that all villains are characters with behavioural disorders, and I’m certainly not minimizing that for those who battle with this in real life. What I’m saying is that some characters are given these traits when we write them because they exist in the people around us, and that’s where our inspiration comes from. I’m also not suggesting that anyone with a behavioural disorder is a villain, either.
I’d like to focus on one character in particular who exhibits all of the traits below to give you a point of reference; Gaston from Beauty and the Beast is the ultimate Narcissist.
Lack Empathy: Gaston doesn’t care about anyone but himself and getting what he wants. He doesn’t care that Belle’s father has been taken by the beast and locked up and considered a crazy old man.
Conversation Hogger: Gaston never lets Le Fou, or anyone else, get a word in edgewise. He always controls the conversation, talks over others, shouts, interrupts, and dominates the conversation to suit himself.
Self-Importance: Remember this song? “Who’s the man among men? Who’s the super success? Don’t you know? Can’t you guess? Ask his fans and his five hangers-on. There’s just one man in town who’s got all of it down and his name’s G-A-S-T-O-N!” No additional information is needed about what Gaston thinks of himself.
False Image Projection: “Gaston is the best, and the rest is all drips”… “I’m roughly the size of a barge!” Enough said.
Rule Breaking: Gaston feels as though he’s above the rules. He goes to Belle’s house uninvited and unwelcomed, muscles his way in, and expects her to oblige to his every whim. He stands on the table in the bar, wrecks the place, and doesn’t think the rules apply to him.
Blame: “Who does that girl think she is?” speaking about Belle when she “rejects, humiliates” him.
When writing your characters, be sure to do your research on specific traits that you want them to have so that you can build your author credibility and write your characters the way they need to be written to move your story forward.
August 24, 2020-What made you want to be an author? Have you ever been asked this question? I get asked at least once a week, if not more. This is what I say, and I mean every word; I’ve been writing for a long time. I started writing stories when I was around eight years old, but I didn’t always want to be an author. I wanted to be the person who stitched up NHL players’ faces. The first letter I wrote was a piece of fan mail to my hockey idol, Cam Neely. It’s funny that I did that as a little girl because now, the books that I’ve written are at Neely House (a support home and facility for cancer patients) in Boston. I remember going there to donate my books and bursting into tears because it was such a dream come true to make that connection.
I’ve always been a writer, whether it be short stories, non-fiction diary entries, or poetry; I was continually writing. Then as I got older, I was published in a magazine called Women’s World for the first time. From there, I’ve been published internationally about 15 times, and in 2015, I opened my own publishing company and have never looked back.
What made me want to be an author was my sheer love of books. As a child, I would read everything I could get my hands on, backs of cereal boxes, hand me down Baby Sitter’s Club books from my cousins, and magazines that were passed on from a neighbour. As an adult, I read approximately 60 books per year on every subject. Also, I read up to fifteen hundred manuscripts over 12 months that are submitted to me for potential publication. At the age of 33, I finally decided that I wanted to be an author full-time because I love storytelling, creating characters, and inventing worlds. The characters become part of me, and they feel like home. Writing gave me a place to escape to, and it still does. I suppose I wanted to be a writer to inspire others to share their stories and hopefully ignite a love of literacy in everyone I meet. I hope I accomplish that because that’s my most important mission and the reason why I was put here.
That’s why I strive to publish books that people love to read. Literacy matters, and literacy is directly linked to a better future for all of us. What’s your reason for wanting to be an author?
August 21, 2020– Quick, what would make your writing life ideal? Hold on a second, let me clarify that question. What accomplishments would make you feel like “you made it” as a writer? The answer is different for everyone. When I polled 100 writers last year at a festival and asked what would make them feel like they’ve made it as an author, here’s what they said:
A traditional publishing deal.
Being on the New York Times Best Sellers List.
Seeing their book in a book store.
Seeing someone in public reading their book.
Signing their books at an event/book tour.
Having their book turned into a movie.
Being interviewed on TV about their book.
Seeing a celebrity with their book.
Quitting their day job to write full-time.
Having their book translated and sold in different countries.
These were the top ten answers, but what do they all have in common? That every single thing on the list would evoke a feeling of excitement and pride. This list can be broken down to one thing-how these events would make us feel. It all comes down to feeling good about our work, and I’m here to tell you that you don’t need ANY of the things on the list as accomplishments to feel good about your writing. I’m also here to tell you that if you feel good about your writing and your work, that you’ve already made it as an author. No outside factor should be able to define you as an artist, you are not more or less, with or without any or all of the things on the list. Don’t focus on accomplishments, do it for the love of the work. Keep writing, the world needs your stories.
August 19, 2020-I recently saw a post on Facebook that talked about how society has normalized working excessively, and the poster asked to hear people’s opinions and experiences. She asked if we work more than 45 hours per week, and what impact does working all the time have on us? She also asked, does loving what you do make it acceptable to work 10-12 hours a day? Here’s my answer:
This is a tough subject for every entrepreneur. I personally work 4 hours a day, but only because I finally put systems in place that automate things and do the work for me while I’m doing something else. I outsource menial tasks as much as possible. I used to work 18 hour days on my business until I figured out the most important use of my time. Now my business is more successful (funnily enough) than when I was working 18 hour days.
Let’s talk about the systems that I use that make my life easier:
Hootsuite– I love this app because it allows me to preschedule my social media posts. It allows me to schedule things a month in advance and connects to three social networks for FREE.
WordPress-My blog and store are hosted by WordPress. It’s an extremely user-friendly platform that allows scheduling of blog posts, podcasts, videos, and more. I do a whole bunch of posts in advance and schedule them to come out every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It saves me a ton of time and ensures that I’m always creating and uploading new content.
Speech to Text-I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been driving somewhere when suddenly a great idea for a book or a marketing campaign pops into my head. My phone connects directly to my truck, so I’ll tell Siri to add a note.
Podbean-This is an excellent app for podcasting. It’s super simple to use, and you can record live or in advance. I create podcasts in advance and schedule them to come out on Tuesdays. It saves me a ton of time and allows me to consistently think of good discussion topics.
The point is, if you can preschedule things, it will make your life easier. It may take you a day or two to bang-out 15 blog posts for the month or a few podcasts, but that’s a better alternative to sitting and staring at a blank screen trying to think of what to write/say, or worse, not creating consistent content at all. Plus, the time you’ll save during the month by not having to scramble to post will allow you to do other things with your time.
August 17, 2020-You need social skills to have a conversation in real life — but they’re quite different from the skills you need to write good dialogue. Educator Nadia Kalman suggests a few “anti-social skills,” like eavesdropping and muttering to yourself, that can help you write an effective dialogue for your next story. Directed by Joyce Stenneke, narrated by Rose Eveleth. Check out the TEDEd below:
August 12, 2020-If you haven’t read Life Supports by KG Watson, you should. It’s a fantastic book that examines the important things in life. Here’s an excerpt from the story:
“It was during a search of my basement music storage for material that the ladies unexpectedly came across the box of cookbooks. I had forgotten I put them there, maybe I didn’t, maybe the kids put them there when they cleaned out the kitchen prior to the arrival of the students.
The Evercare bus had dropped me off at my house after the service. After I handed my just-used material back to the digitizers, I went to find what I thought I needed for next week. I had pointed to the boxes I wanted to look through and Margaret had hoisted them up the stairs and onto a cleared corner of the dining room table for sorting.
When I opened the first box there they were rank on rank of cookbooks, ragged with loose paper sticking out of them it was not what I expected. While Trudy and Jessica continued their perfected ballet with my music scores and the electronics, Margaret diverted her attention to scan this new trove. If it looks like a book, Margaret is helpless within its sight. The kitchen library has been stacked into the box spine up. There were fat volumes of cookbooks separating words of pamphlets on the top layer.
With the removal, a packet of letter size sheets and plastic archive folders that have been stuffed down the side, fell over onto the lower layer of pamphlets. Margaret pulled a page and couldn’t help noticing the title on the top peeking from beneath the rusting pinch clamp that held the clump together. Gingerbread Cookies it said in bold print, I sighed.”
There are recipes included in this book and I think that we should attempt to make a couple of them. Gingerbread just happens to be my absolute favourite cookie of all time!
I hope you enjoyed the above excerpt from Life Supports by KG Watson. Now available on Amazon and soon on our site!
August 10, 2020-Do you know what a query letter is and what purpose it serves for a publisher? If not, you’re missing some important information! Publishers expect several things when an author submits their manuscript for consideration, and one of those items is a query letter.
By definition, a query letter is what introduces you and your work to a publisher. Its primary purpose is to get the publisher interested in your book so that they want to read more! Well written query letters whet the publisher’s appetite and pique our interest, poorly written ones make us recycle your query and move on to the next one.
There are four essential parts to a query letter:
1) Title, word count, genre, and category-Including a working title is fine as well as where you would place your book in the market. The rest is self-explanatory for this first step.
2) Brief description of your story and the HOOK-The hook is what gets us hooked on your story! What does your character want? What will they do to get it? And who is preventing them from getting it? Remember to include the ending of your book. We don’t like to be kept guessing.
3) A bit about yourself-Credentials, awards, classes, continuing education etc. And why you wrote the book that you’re sending to us and any other relevant information.
4) Thank you and a closing line-Thanks for reading my manuscript. I hope to hear from you soon. Nice and clean and simple.
Query letters are essential! Don’t let this one page be the thing that stands between you and a publishing deal. X LLB
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