EVIL SPEAKS – An Interview With Author S. Woffington

evil-speaks-34403446INTERVIEW WITH SANDRA WOFFINGTON, author of Evil Speaks, book #1 in the Warriors and Watchers Saga, an epic mythological fantasy series released February 2017

Early reviews:

“Be prepared to be engrossed! Between the awesome fight scenes, in-depth characters, and all the creatures, your son or daughter won’t want to put this book down! . . .remarkable job entwining Greek Mythology, Greek History, and these modern-day teenage misfits. . .the author incorporates characters with different abilities. She helps break down stereotypes that often plague special children.”

Courtney Barnum, Kelly’s Thoughts on Things blog

“In my last years at Harcourt, I can’t remember reading one single fantasy MG or YA that was half as interesting as the world you have created…. So brilliant! Between the fight scenes and the stories and people and creatures…, it was truly a roller-coaster adventure.”

Editor, Evil Speaks

What is Evil Speaks about?

The lords of the underworld have joined forces to open the ancient gates of evil. Seven teens must stop the gates from opening: Kami is deaf, Amir is blind, Zuma is overweight, Layla is gorgeous but lazy, Chaz is in a wheelchair, Benny is a loner, and Raj is as angry as the purple dagger-shaped birthmark running down the side of her face. They are quirky teens who must become warriors. But they can barely save themselves.

What made you put special needs characters in this series?

It wasn’t intentional so much as these characters appeared to me from all of my interactions with special needs individuals over the years—they inspire me. My website has stories of RL Warriors (Real Life). I wrote these characters into a screenplay around 2002, but I set that aside to work on my novel Unveiling. When I went back to it, the story had evolved into an epic mythological fantasy. I always wanted these characters to be superheroes. Clark Kent has flaws; he’s a bit of a bumbler, but as Superman, he is confident, can fly and has superpowers. In Evil Speaks, Amir is blind and vain about his looks but in the underworld, he has super vision; Kami is deaf but she gains super hearing, and Chaz is in a wheelchair but he can walk in the underworld. If regular people like Clark Kent can become superheroes, so can children with challenges. As in life, each character must also grapple with his or her personal problems. Layla, for instance, is gorgeous but insecure. She has low self-esteem; she feels her beauty is her only asset and she didn’t work for that.

How long did it take you to write Evil Speaks?

I will answer that by saying my first novel Unveiling took years. It was historical and multicultural and required massive research. I also gutted it twice to change directions. In hindsight, this seemed like a waste of time. With Evil Speaks, I sat down and came up with a repeatable plan, using the 8-essential plot points and 3-act structure. I worked on character development before anything else. Then I filled in my plot-planner scene by scene. It was a lot like writing the bones of a screenplay. I like to write full days, not piecemeal. I set a goal to crank out the first draft over summer vacation. When I sat down to write, it flowed easily from scene to scene, changed at times, bust stayed on course. I knocked it out in ten weeks. The revisions took months longer, and I ultimately added a chapter. You can find a section titled “Writing Lessons” on my editor’s website at SWoffington.com, where I lay out the system point by point for others. Start with “Writing Lessons: Introduction” under Recent Posts or pick a topic from the list.

What do you like best about the fantasy genre?

You can go anywhere, do anything! You can create entire universes (or underworlds) full of crazy characters and locations. History (or mythology) always comes into play for me. It’s clearly just part of who I am as a writer, as are international settings. Evil Speaks is an international quest.

You work as a developmental editor as well. What mistakes do you see most often?

I love helping authors hone their fiction or improve their techniques. Every author I’ve worked with has strengths and weaknesses: maybe the dialogue is strong but the descriptions and details are weak; or the descriptions are amazing but the dialogue is stilted or it does not fit the character or all characters sound alike. Two basic concepts are critical to every manuscript: 1) avoid passive verbs (every page must have strong active verbs), and  2) “show” don’t tell, meaning write a scene and let me see the glistening sweat dripping down the side of someone’s face, plopping onto the contract and wicking the freshly penned signature into a  fuzzy black Rorschach image; don’t say “He was sweating as he signed the contract” (this is also passive).

You advocate inclusion on the WarriorsandWatchersSaga.com website—can you tell me about that?

Since writing Evil Speaks, I’ve learned that special needs children are bullied five times more often than other children. I’m shocked by this. I put tips for education, intervention and inclusion on my site for parents and educators. I’m using Deer Valley’s “Disability Awareness Activity Packet” in the classroom. Prevention starts with education. Along with that, every parent, educator or librarian should ensure our children read literature with special needs characters. Books create closeness to characters, and that creates empathy in the reader. Empathy can enable children and adults to leap past the page to make friends with special needs individuals and include them in society.

You’re working with a publicity company for the launch of Evil Speaks. What has been your experience with this?

I love it! I interviewed many companies. One company would have worked to increase my on-line presence alone for $500/month, but I wanted more. I chose Smith Publicity, because they have a long track record of working with authors. They helped me design a campaign to fit my budget. I decided to make the investment, because I’m writing a 7-novel series. It seemed prudent to get the word out on book one. The publicist sends review requests to book bloggers, sends out requests for author interviews for radio or television, sends out press releases, lines up book signings, and more. I wanted a team approach, and that’s what I received. I’m very happy with my publicist Katie. She works as hard for me as I do for myself. The Smith Publicity website is packed with media tips for authors, such as “101 Book Marketing Ideas to Promote Your Book.” In short, do your homework, have realistic expectations, and stick to your budget.

Brief Bio:

  1. Woffington is a California native, whose thirst for adventure began when reading1001 Arabian Nightstales as a child. In her twenties, she lived in Saudi Arabia and England, spent months in Italy, and traveled extensively. After completing UC Irvine’s Humanities Honors Program, she earned dual Master’s in English and Creative Writing from Chapman University. Her stay in Saudi Arabia inspired her debut novel Unveiling, which won Honorable Mention from Writer’s Digest SP e-book awards. Woffington teaches middle grade students at a Montessori school. During Summers, off, she writes fiction and works as a freelance developmental editor.

BURNING DOWN THE SYSTEM TO THE GROUND?

20161126_blp902-bannonWhy does Steve Bannon want to “burn down our form of government to the ground?”  By Steve Bannon’s definition, it means doing away with our democratic system of government. With words like nationalism, populism, and his strong belief in Eurasian, the writing is on the wall, literally.

Eurasian means a system of authoritarian government that is, at best a dictatorship, at worse a medieval form of governance. Think, the Ottoman Empire. Bannon is not a conservative, he is an “Imperialist – like Putin – but worse.

Bannon’s belief in Eurasian, is a system of government that loathes secular modernity, like America and most Western European countries. Bannon’s belief heralds back to the Slavic-Turkic land empire and it is Bannon’s wish to do just that, democracy must go, ergo, he intends through Trump to do just that – “burn down our system of government to the ground.”

How do I know this? Because Steve Bannon has talked  about this kind of authoritarian/dictatorship for many years. It is easy to find out for yourself. Just go to google and go to http://www.economist.com/blogs/erasmus/2016/11/america-russia-and-new-right

Also google Steve Bannon’s favorite philosopher’s  Alexandre Dugin (Putin’s Rasputin), and Julius Evola to know more about Steve Bannon’s (Trump’s Brain) plan for America.

 

You have been warned

I laughed so hard reading those signs, and the comments under each picture ofa relative of Bob’s family, so adorable and hysterically funny. I really needed some laughter today! I also like the Bitter Blue Bird! Great post! Karen 🙂 ***definitely following you – a shout out to Chris, the Story Reading Ape’s blog for introducing many of us to your blog!

bluebird of bitterness

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Point of View

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I believe that in order to tell a story well, it depends most specifically on a point of view. What Point-of-View do you think meets your style of writing most often or does it all depend on the story you are writing? Today’s post includes excerpts from What’s the Story? Building Blocks for Fiction Writing, by Melissa Donovan, chapter six: “Narrative Point of View.”

(The terms story and narrative can be used interchangeably, meaning a sequence of events, real or fictional, that are conveyed through any medium ranging from prose to film. However, when we talk about narrative, we’re often referring to the structural nature or presentation of a story, the manner in which it’s told.)

Point of View in Storytelling

The narrator of a story is the in-world storyteller, the voice that imparts the story events to the audience. Narrative point of view, often called POV, determines the position of the narrator, relative to the story. Points of view include first person, second person, and third person.

If readers envision the events of a story as a movie playing in their minds, then the narrative point of view is best described as where the camera is sitting at any given time. In the case of first-person point of view, the camera is inside the narrator’s head; we see the story through their eyes. In limited third-person point of view, the camera sits on one character’s shoulder; that character is not telling us the story, but we’re close to their perspective of events. In omniscient third-person point of view, the camera is pulled back so it can capture everything in the story objectively.

First Person

In a first-person narrative, the narrator is a character within the story—often (but not always) an active participant. First-person point of view is easily identified by the narrator’s use of I or we. It’s often told from the point of view of the protagonist. The Catcher in the Rye is an example of a first-person narrative told from the protagonist’s perspective. However, first-person narrative can also be relayed by a secondary or tertiary character, such as when the narrator is a witness to the story events rather than an active participant. In the case of a story such as Heart of Darkness, the first-person narrator is relaying a story as told to him by someone else.

The first-person point of view provides ample opportunities to present a narrator with a distinct voice, which flavors the story’s tone, giving it personality and a subjective slant. For this reason, first-person narration can feel more intimate, as if the reader is in a close conversation with the storyteller. First person often feels as if we’re inside the narrator’s head. When executed well, this helps readers forge deep and lasting connections with the character and the story.

First person is ideal for stories that need to explore the narrator’s internal thoughts and emotions. However, first-person narrative comes with interesting limitations, such as when the narrator is not privy to what other characters are thinking, feeling, or doing. Because some stories require that readers know what other characters are thinking and doing, first-person narration is not always appropriate.

First-person narration is frequently used in all genres of fiction and is especially common in the nonfiction categories of memoir and autobiography.

Second Person

Second-person narratives use second-person personal pronouns (you) to refer to other characters or the reader. These stories often feel like the narrator is talking to the reader as if the reader is the main character in story. We tend to see second-person point of view used mostly in instructions (“After you dip the apples in caramel, set them on wax paper to harden.”). This point of view is rarely used in storytelling. Bright Lights, Big City is one of the rare novels written in second person. Here’s an excerpt:

You keep thinking that with practice you will eventually get the knack of enjoying superficial encounters, that you will stop looking for the universal solvent, stop grieving. You will learn to compound happiness out of small increments of mindless pleasure.

Third Person

Third-person point of view is the most common form of prose narrative because it offers the greatest flexibility with access to all characters and full view of the story world and all events taking place. Even limited third-person narratives offer broader access to the story’s full scope than a first-person narrative. Characters are referred to as he, she, and they. There is no I or you. The narrator is not a person but an entity.

Third-person narratives are categorized on two axes: subjective/objective and omniscient/limited.

Third-person subjective allows the narrator to describe characters’ thoughts and feelings using internal dialogue. Third-person objective does not have access to characters’ thoughts and feelings; it only offers an external view of the characters. Many narratives float in and out of subjective and objective, giving readers glimpses of the characters’ thoughts when it benefits the story and keeping the characters’ thoughts hidden when doing so serves the story.

A third-person omniscient narrative has full view of the story and characters at all times. The narrator knows everything in the story world but may choose which details to reveal to the reader. A third-person limited narrative only has full knowledge of one character and can only relay events that character is privy to.

Narrative point of view is an important consideration for any storyteller, because it helps orient readers in the story world by giving them a distinct perspective from which they observe the story events unfolding.

A Review for an Extraordinary Story

come-to-a-memory-31171219COME TO A MEMORY Joab’s Story/Lila’s Story

Come to a Memory, by Francis Webb,  is an extraordinary read. It feels genuine and real. I felt like I was reading a true story from the viewpoint of a little nine-year-old girl, named Lila.  America was barely edging out of the depression era and nerves stretched thin by the inconceivable shock, fear, and confusion of another war, so soon after the Great War.  This story takes place at the beginning of WWII in a small town and a family suffering financial loss like so many others during the Great Depression. What many people forget is that children were the ones that suffered in silence because that was the way children were instructed to behave, but not Lila.

Lila, intelligent, stubborn, and inquisitive, found ways to-be-heard, by throwing acorns at her cantankerous grandfather, as she hid in a tree, and by hiding a real chicken foot in her sleeve during her grandmother’s wake, terrifying ladies as Lila greeted them at her front door, not with her hand but with the chicken foot—claws and all.

Lila’s complex friendship with a Jewish boy from Germany, named Joab, who came to join her 4th grade class, grew slowly during the time before America entered into WWII after Pearl Harbor. Lila’s choice to befriend Joab, over the sneering remarks of children and adults alike, taught both lessons they would never forget.  Through it all, it was Lila and Joab, both suffering for being different, who helped to mend the suspicions of a small town about a little boy who escaped Nazi Germany, though his family did not.  I highly recommend this true-to-life story. This historical fiction, “Come to a Memory, made me cry, made me smile, and made me laugh hysterically.  A story that still lives in the hearts of many, still here, to remember the horror that was.  I highly recommend this story – to one and all!

10 Tips for Writing Good Dialogue

words-to-erase10 Tips for Writing Good Dialogue

Dialogue is one of your primary story telling tools. Dialogue means more than just attribution, meaning to tell the reader whose voice is speaking at any given time within any given scene/chapter.

It defines through speaking who they are, their character, their state of mind, and their intentions, most often. The “he said and she said” attribution is the most common and most accepted form for attribution. On the other hand, a “beat” is a description of a physical action that can be used to indicate the speaker instead of an “attribution”.

Tips on Writing Dialogue

  1. Don’t explain your dialogue. When you follow dialogue with phrases like “he said angrily” or “she said harshly” you are explaining how the character feels. Instead, their feeling should be obvious by the words they say as well as their actions.
  2. Use of an adverb(ly) almost always catches you in the act of explaining dialogue. Instead of an adverb, use a beat of action to convey your characters’ feelings.
  3. When you are writing speaker attributions, said is always the right choice. Do not saddle your characters with impossible actions; you cannot beam, smirk or grin a line of dialogue. Said is akin to punctuation. It disappears on the page. For the sake of variety, you can use beats of action in place of said.
  4. Always place the character’s name or pronoun first in a speaker attribution. Use ‘Sam said’ instead of ‘said Sam’. This is the professional standard for dialogue.
  5. Choose one way to refer to a character in a scene and stick with it. Don’t use “Detective” the first time and “Jane” a few paragraphs later. This is one case where shaking it up for the sake of variety can be confusing.  Please note that this is within the confines of single scene, not the entire story.
  6. Avoid ping ponging dialogue by having your characters refer to each other by name in order to eliminate speaker attributions. This is just plain awkward. Use the speaker attribution or a beat of action.
  7. Use sentence fragments and contractions to make your dialogue sound real. Dialogue is the one place you can play fast and loose with grammar.
  8. Do not use dialogue to data dump. Having your characters speak like an entry in Wikipedia is not natural. If you have a chunk of background information to reveal, do it piece by piece through both dialogue and exposition.
  9. Let your characters lie to each other, argue and misunderstand each other. Allow your characters to be suspicious of each other, to wonder what the truth is. Real life is never wrapped up in a neat package, so give your characters the chance to disagree and they’ll sound more human.
  10. Read your dialogue out loud. Listen to see if it sounds natural, and if you can differentiate the characters in your scene by the words they say. As you listen, you should be able to find places where you stumble over words or places where you need beats of action. If your dialogue sounds stiff, make sure it isn’t announcing information that could be imparted through exposition.

 

DEAR STRANGER!

I have reblogged a great post the site and title,  “Dear Stranger” on https://bhavika24.wordpress.com. It is an excellent post. A must read!  My comment is as follows:

I believe that domestic abuse is still very much a terrible social problem in our American culture as in other cultures as well. There are many pathological rationales, however, bullying, power plays, anger tantrums, sexual abuse and rape, as well as drugs and alcohol, are key behavioral problems and often lead to a deadly outcome for any female of any age by fathers, brothers, boyfriends, male strangers, and husbands.

Parents often avoid to act on or deny that their male/female child, at a very young age, display acts of cruelty, meanness, and anger tantrums. Often parents just don’t know how or have no time to address these pathological issues. Whenever a culture accepts bullying, as America has recently decided to do, I suspect the act of emotional abuse and violence will escalate.

Abuse whether physical or emotional, is also observational by children watching the actions of and by adults within all of our social interactions/mediums. It often starts at the beginning of a child’s life and if not addressed, continues the cycle of abuse and violence throughout these individuals lives. Stop abuse where every you see it, whether in church, school, or at home. Unfortunately, the culture aspect of religion often by design, encourages dominance over females, this is intellectual and emotional abuse that sets the stage for emotional and physical abuse for life.

bhavika24

Stranger! YESS that’s what you are.! That’s what you always were.!!

I never met you by my own choice.I was told to meet you by my parents.And I was forcibly expected to like you.Because no matter how I felt,it was already decided that you were the perfect choice for me, and that I could not get any better. Everytime I tried to believe them, I inturn doubted myself. But I was so obliged to my parents that I couldn’t question their intentions for me.I wore those specs of oblivion that I couldn’t see any flaws in you.Since I had to spend almost all my life with you,I started respecting you. Before I knew what was happening I even started to like you. Our story seemed to be a fairy tale.Our lives seemed to be written by God’s own hands.

We got married.This is the most beautiful day of girl’s…

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