Get Inside Their Head: Historical Fiction Interview

Get Inside Their Head: Historical Fiction Interview

“Get inside their head” is about getting to know the audience you’re writing for. Once a month, I interview one avid reader of a particular genre, asking questions every author wants to know, or should know about writing for their audience through the eyes of one ideal potential reader. Today’s discussion is about Historical Fiction. And my interviewee is blogger, author, and avid reader, Hannah Heath: Hannah Heath Hannah is a college-aged author, blogger, and hopeless bookworm. She loves searching for old books at thrift stores, winces every time she hears the phrase “I don’t like to read,” and often wishes someone would invent candles that smell like hardcovers. She writes young adult Christian Fantasy and is currently seeking representation for her first novel, The Stump of the Terebinth Tree. Check out Hannah’s blog page here: hannahheath-writer.blogspot.com Hannah can also be found at Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/48039868-hannah-heath FacebookTwitter Thanks again Hannah for joining us on this feature interview about what readers are looking for in a historical fiction novel. And thank you for being willing to let us poke around your brain a little! My pleasure, Rae! Thank you for having me. First of all: How long have you been an avid reader of the historical fiction genre? I’d say since I was around nine years old. That’s when I first discovered Scott O’Dell, who I will forever credit for my love of historical fiction. What drew you to the historical fiction genre? I loved the fact that these were stories about real people and events. To me, it was so amazing to read something and think, “Wow. This actually happened.” It gave me strength...
All Great Stories Have This One Key Factor in Common:

All Great Stories Have This One Key Factor in Common:

Listen to this post on my Podcast! All of these hit t.v. shows, movies, and books have one thing in common: Is it an excellent storyline? Perhaps great characters? Maybe it’s the plot twists? Or the uniqueness of the story idea itself? While all of those things are strong factors, the one underlying key point that made these stories resonate with us may surprise you. They don’t focus on one character’s journey alone. Jocelyn Hughes once said, “Treat all your secondary characters like they think the book’s about them.”And Jocelyn is right. Each story depicted above focuses on more than one individual’s personal goals and problems. The author treats every character as if the overall story is about them. While there may be one character that plays the iconic role of hero or heroine, the story is incomplete without the supporting cast of characters. Simply put: great writers understand that there is always more than one story being told. Suzanne Collins did an excellent job of garnering our sympathies for characters like Peeta, Finnick, Johanna, Haymitch, Rue, Beetee, and more. She delved into back story, revealed personal struggles, and played on their personal strengths. This made us appreciate the depth of her unique stories. The idea is this: you must give every character in your story purpose by giving them: Personal goals/ambitions Personal obstacles to challenge their character A glimpse into their life, their origin story Weaknesses or faults And most importantly, an active role/job in your story When you take the time to form a solid identity for each character, you’ll want to give them a chance to motivate the plot through...
Blog Special Part 3: Building Your Fantasy World: Natural & Man-Made Laws

Blog Special Part 3: Building Your Fantasy World: Natural & Man-Made Laws

Listen to this post on my Podcast! The Force was not a magic button that could get Finn, Han, and Chewie out of the tight spot they found themselves in. Why not? Isn’t the Force an all-powerful, magic-like strength that could lift an entire X-wing out of a swamp only two episodes earlier? Yes. So what’s the deal? The Force has natural laws which govern it, principles that cannot be obstructed. These laws can never be changed. That’s why Han could confidently say the quote mentioned at the outset- because Han knew the Force from years of experience. Finn didn’t know it at all. He thought it was just a mysterious magic button that could save them from their desperate situation. You must be responsible with the laws you put in place in your world. If there are irreversible natural laws that govern the planet you’ve created, or the naturally occurring powers you’ve invented, then you must record these laws and strictly adhere to them. Absolutely nothing causes a reader to throw your book across the room harder than a break from rigid natural law. The reader is 1,000% of the time going to feel cheated. And even worse, they will see you as an irresponsible writer that cannot be trusted! Think about the natural laws which govern Earth, for a moment. Gravity, for instance, is the force causing all things to pull toward the center of the earth. If you drop a hammer, it is 100% likely to fall to the ground (and about 75% likely to bust up your toe along the way). Absolutely nothing on Earth...
Blog Special Part 2: Building Your Fantasy World: Maps

Blog Special Part 2: Building Your Fantasy World: Maps

Listen to this post on my Podcast! Preparing a physical map is the first step in any world building process. When you sketch your world out in detail, it makes your characters’ journey and the challenges they’ll face easier for you to formulate. Some of my favorite authors implemented this method themselves, and it wasn’t just for show. Tolkien was the master of world building, and often used his own maps as references when writing the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Knowing where his characters were headed was a quick way to formulate the next plot point. When the Fellowship took the paths through Moria, they didn’t know what beast lay hidden in the shadows or sleeping under the waters. But Tolkien did! Drawing out detailed maps are a fantastic way to beat writer’s block before it strikes. If we draw the land, scale the terrain, and even designate flora and fauna across the map, it will be a reliable reference tool come plot structuring time. So how, then, do you do it? Where do you begin? Most folks like to use apps or computer programs to map out their new terrains. Some programs have multiple tools and features that make cartography a breeze. In the new book I’m releasing, Building Your Fantasy World, it includes multiple programs you can use to help create a digital map. However, there are advantages to having a physical map beside you on your writing journey. In my experience, having a physical map is the perfect anchor while I outline chapters and craft the storyline. The map reminds me of each...

Blog Special Part 1: Building Your Fantasy World: Languages

Do you really have to create a new, working language like the master Mr. Tolkien himself did? No you don’t. The use of language can range from mere interchange here and there, to an actual working language college students can major in (like Klingon, for example!). But what if you’re not interested in creating a fully-working language? What if you only want to add a language for the sake of enhancing the culture you’re creating? That’s absolutely fine. No matter what you decide, you must keep a log book recording language pattern. No matter the extent of your new language, there are principles you must abide by. I’ll break these principles down, but for now, let’s discuss why language is considered a fundamental building block to world building. Earth itself has over 6,500 spoken languages in use today. The most popular language in the world is Mandarin Chinese. There’s roughly 1,213,000,000 people in the world that speak it. Each language found on this planet is a unique and extraordinary representation of its people’s history. And there inlays the point: language represents history. Language is the only form of ancient history that is still very much alive. English, for instance, adopts and combines the speech pattern, grammar, meaning, and pronunciation of almost ten different languages! Those languages being Old English, Danish, Norse, French, Latin, Greek, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, and Spanish. The first speakers of the English language were tribes that lived in present-day Denmark. Both the Angles and the Normans contributed to the development of the English language because they invaded England. Imagine that? War influenced the evolution of a language. English is...

Blog Post Special Part 2: My 30 Day Hike Across the UK

Listen to this post on my Podcast!  March 7th 2016 Day one in London and the Cotswolds, Southwest England  We arrived at Heathrow International airport on Virgin Airlines painfully early Monday morning. The flight was perhaps the smoothest ride I’ve ever traveled via plane, six hours in total. As we landed, I remember spotting the giant ferris wheel made popular by the Sherlock opening credits, and that was when it hit me: we’re actually in England! In the first article of this blog post special, I discussed the ridiculously awesome opportunity I had to travel to England, Scotland, and Ireland for an entire month with my family. During that time,  I visited the homes of the Greats like Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters, Charles Dickens, Robert Burns, and more. Walking across the very land that inspired their writing and learning how their famous works of fiction came to life, truly motivated me as a writer. I was fascinated with their lives and how the the land they lived in inspired unforgettable classics we as readers still hold dear today. I began to view the world with a romance I thought I had lost, and my writing blossomed as a result. I kept a daily journal during my journey. I didn’t want to forget a single memory made, but really, the fire inside me was raging, and as Charlotte Bronte once put it so perfectly, “I’m just going to write because I cannot help it”. With that determination in mind, each day was a new and exciting challenge. My eyes scoured the sites with the excited energy of a vacuum “hoovering” up any minuscule detail it could devour (wow, my choice in metaphor. Thanks England). I found that...

Interacting with Indie Authors: Proper Etiquette vs. Poor Decorum

Listen to this post on my Podcast! Dinner Party. Social Gathering. Business Interaction. Day-to-Day Driving. What do all these things have in common? Etiquette.  For every single one of these occasions, there is a range of decorum that is expected of others and of yourself. The range will differ according to the occasion, but the goal is the same: show respect and maintain dignity. So how does proper etiquette play into the life of an indie author and/or a blogger? How does a subscriber, a reader, a reviewer play into this decorum too? There seems to be an unspoken forfeiture of etiquette when people deal with other people online. It’s as if the decorum we’ve practiced at work, with our family, with our friends, is somehow thrown out the window when we take to our computers. For most indie authors, this is the main form of interaction we experience, business or otherwise. And it seems like many folks don’t know how to properly treat indie authors or bloggers. They don’t know that there’s a proper etiquette to follow when dealing with us, too. So let’s take a moment to clear the air and refresh the standard. Understand Our Lives: I’d say indie authors are normal people, but we’re not. We’re total oddities, in fact. We take on an incredibly challenging passion which requires total devotion from our heart, our time, our sanity. We hear voices in our heads- characters– telling us what they want to do with their lives at odd hours when we should be sleeping. We bury our noses in any book we can get our hands on instead of partying with friends. (Friends? What are f-r-i-e-n-d-s?) We...

Blog Post Special Part 1: My 30 Day Hike Across the UK

Listen to this post on my Podcast! I couldn’t help it.  These writers put into words precisely what I felt as I experienced England, Scotland, and Ireland. Their masterful words fully encompass the 30-day trek I took across the UK with my husband and my in-laws. This was the trip of a lifetime, and I understand fully now why the world’s most incredible writers come from the UK. England is a snow globe. A thick layer of tradition, charm, and culture encases the little island like preserving glass from the rest of the world. Inside, both quaint and regal enchantments flicker like glitter and celebrated history drowns the land like a blizzard of ornamental snow. If it were shaken up, the glitter and snow would simply fly about faster and England wouldn’t be flustered one bit. In fact, I’m certain some folks in England aren’t aware that anything exists outside of the lush, endless emerald hills and rows of humble cottages. And I’m incredibly glad for them. As far as I’m concerned, absolutely nothing better exists outside the world of wellies, three o’clock tea, and clotted cream. Oh, clotted cream. Death by clotted cream is my death of choice. Scotland is Narnia England’s border to Scotland is much like an unassuming wardrobe. You see the beauty and majesty that is England and you think that’s where the charm ends. Inside, it’s nothing but empty storage for fur coats, right? Well as we traveled nearly six hours over the border into Scotland, I found that we had stumbled into a fairytale land practically unchanged since the time of its creation. It was as if I had tripped, face first, into a world...

Guest Post: 5 Strategies for a More Productive Writing Session

  When you sit down for a writing session, it can either be a time of great productivity or great procrastination. Unfortunately, it’s not often find yourself somewhere between the two. Staying focused and getting stuff done tends to be more challenging than it seems. So what’s a writer to do?   Here are 5 strategies to help you cut out distractions, stay motivated, and increase your productivity so you can finish your novel in no time!   Create an Internet-Free Zone It’s so easy to get distracted by the internet when you’re trying to write. Trust me, I know—I spent an hour on Pinterest before forcing myself to sit down and write this post! But why is this? Why do we let ourselves get distracted when writing is something we love?   Even though we might enjoy writing, it’s still hard work and it’s natural for humans to procrastinate and try to avoid doing work. On our toughest of writing days, Twitter and Pinterest may just be too tempting to resist. During your writing sessions, disable the wi-fi on your laptop and shut off your phone to avoid the temptation. Without access to these distractions you’ll be forced to focus on your work and get ‘er done!   Create Goals or a Checklist Give yourself a visual of what you want to accomplish during your session by writing it down. This could be a goal like “Write for an hour” or “Write 300 words.” Or, you could create a check-list of smaller tasks you want to accomplish, like “Fix opening paragraph, Edit chapter 2, and Develop setting.” Seeing...

Get Inside Their Head: Epic Fantasy

“Get inside their head” is about getting to know the audience you’re writing for. Once a month, I interview one avid reader of a particular genre, asking questions every author wants to know, or should know about writing for their audience through the eyes of one ideal potential reader. Today’s discussion is about Epic Fantasy. And my interviewee is twenty-four year old blogger, author, and avid reader, Dakota Lopez: Dakota Lopez Dakota is the founder and editor of Geekritique, a blog dedicated to reviewing genre works in book, movie, and tv forms. The blog also hosts a number of editorials and recommendations for geeky things across the board. Dakota is also in the process of writing his first fantasy novel, which you can read more about at TalesFromAtelinor.wordpress.com . Dakota does his best to stay up to date with the ever changing SFF community, and does well keeping his content new and entertaining. Twitter   Thanks again Dakota for joining us on this feature interview about what readers are looking for in an epic fantasy genre.  Thanks for having me. First of all: How long have you been an avid reader of the epic fantasy genre? My inclination is to just say “oh gosh, forever.” But that would probably be a lie. Although I’ve always liked the fantasy genre.  What drew you to epic fantasy? I’d have to say that personality has a lot to do with it. I read a lot of different stuff. I love science fiction and science fantasy as well. Usually fantasy is a much more nostalgic genre, where SciFi is hopeful. I tend to lean more on nostalgia, as a fault in my personality. What is...

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