Here is the first question for my new monthly blog topic for writers and authors. Please join in the discussion.
Should you pick the genre before beginning your story or figure out what genre it is after you have written it?
We can ask, answer and give our opinions in the comments on this post or subsequent Thursdays in January. Let’s make it as interactive as possible.
What is your genre preference?
How do you decide on the genre?
Would picking the genre first make it more difficult to write the story or not?
Do you merge genres to match your story?
Now-a-days there are many merged genres so it is easy to combined a couple (or more) to make your narrative ‘fit’ but is that okay or not?
More discussion on Thursday 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st January. We may go off topic slightly, reveal writing styles, publishing house experiences, agent advice or …
Let each other know about you!
I have always written free flow so never think what the genre might be as I write the narrative. That comes later once the story has completed the first draft and I read it through, making revisions and getting to know the theme of the narrative. Sometimes the characters define the genre and other times it is the story structure and theme.
I have children’s books, YA novellas and several adult novels, so am a multi-genre author. I am led by the story initially, which can be sparked from an overheard conversation, a life event, a prompt/photo or an experience on a road trip.
Firstly, thank you to all my followers, who make this blog so worthwhile and fun to write. Your interactions and likes mean so much to me.
As a writing community we need to support, encourage and connect with each other. Our writing space, be it a home office, a dining table, a cozy chair or even a shed are our inspirational spaces where we create our stories. We become a vehicle for our characters to whisper in our ears and that is our happy place. It is however, a solitary place, for the most part, and knowing we can connect through blogs gives us a gift. We can ‘glimpse’ another writer’s world and connect.
Blog Schedule for 2019:
Take your Pick Tuesday
Will be author interviews, event news, WIP progress updates, topics relating to my novel’s genre and any other random thoughts. If you would like to be interviewed please contact me.
Blog Question and Answer Thursday.
I hope you will join me in 2019 as I am going to restructure my blog to enable all of you to ask or answer a monthly topic. The first Thursday of every month, I will start the conversation with a question. You may answer on that post or on the subsequent Thursday’s in the month. Raise more questions on that month’s topic or answer it in relation to your writing style or expertise. I welcome any writer/author to link to their blog if they have a similar topic or theme to the initial question.
Happy writing for 2019 and I look forward to our interactions during the year.
I am happy to be a guest on Stephanie’s blog today:
Happy Sunday, writers and readers! I am so pleased to introduce you to writer Mandy Eve-Barnett! We connected several years ago, as we both are writers and bloggers. Being in touch with and staying current with other writers is important as it helps push you and keeps you abreast of what others who share the […]
That depends. In the beginning of a project I am most definitely energized and that is because the story is yet to be told. By the end of a project, after the editing multiple drafts, the process is mentally exhausting. Luckily, I have a very short memory and repeat this process again and again.
2. What is your writing Kryptonite?
Distraction. When I write, all social media and the internet are shut down, except for bringing up a browser to reference something pertaining to the piece I am working on.
3. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
MJ Preston is as close to a pseudonym as I ever got.
4. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Too many authors to name really. A short list would be Gregory L. Norris, B.E. Scully, F. Paul Wilson, Kevin M. Sullivan, Joseph Boyden. Reading their work certainly helps. I am often in awe at their creativity.
5. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
My latest novel, which is in pre-publication has no connection to my other works, but often I will revisit characters and link them to other works.
6. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
That’s a tough one. Let me get back to you.
7. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I believe it was around 1983. I wrote my first letter to the editor of my home town paper. The subject was regarding employers who pay their employees poorly. At that time, I was working for $4.00 per hour in a local carwash. The response to that letter blew me away. There was no email or internet back then, so people put pen to paper and mailed in their responses. That impressed me. Even those who disagreed with my opinion impressed on me that words were a way of invoking discussion and sometimes debate.
8. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I’d have to say, Robert R. McCammon’s vampire novel, THEY THIRST. A great book, set in the 70’s and fun read.
9. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Easy answer. The raven. I have always had love for these dark creatures. I’ve taken hundreds of photographs of them. Written stories and a novel that included them and I am always taken back by their intelligence.
10. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I don’t discuss unpublished work.
11. What does literary success look like to you?
Readers. Plenty of readers. I don’t care much about awards or being the darling of critics. I just want more readers.
12. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Research is certainly part of the process. It varies by project. In most cases, the research begins and continues during the project.
13. How many hours a day/week do you write?
I don’t know really. Again, it varies. Could be 20 hours, could be 30, depending on my schedule. Let’s just say I write as much as I can and as long as my muse is available.
14. How do you select the names of your characters?
Usually, it’s random thought, but once that’s exhausted the internet provides a well of opportunity.
15. What was your hardest scene to write?
I have written about the murder of children. Not an easy task. You have to know where your line is and whether or not you’ve crossed it.
16. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I guess I would be categorized as a horror/thriller writer, but I often ponder writing a book that is completely away from that genre. I sometimes write small pieces or opinion pieces that are of a more serious nature. Balance doesn’t really come in to. If somebody asked about me it would probably be, “That M.J. Preston is a horror writer.” ―but I consider myself a writer.
17. How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing fiction since the 70’s, with a hiatus from about 1986 to 1998. During that period, I wrote articles for newspapers while serving in the Canadian military. So, technically, I’ve always wrote, but my love of fiction took a short vacation.
18. What inspires you?
Reading the work of others inspires me.
19. How do you find or make time to write?
If you want to be a writer you just make time. That’s what I do, anyway.
20. What projects are you working on at the present?
I said I don’t discuss unfinished work, so I’ll avoid specifics. I will say that there is a new book on the horizon pre-publication as well as another in the works.
21. 22. What do your plans for future projects include?
Usually writing energizes me. I absolutely love it. Even those moments when I’m exhausted from my day job, as soon as I force myself to dig in I’m so happy I did. I love to get lost in the worlds that I’ve created with characters that truly do surprise me.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
If you mean what can deter me from writing, it’s being so tired that I can’t properly focus or having a migraine, which I unfortunately get too often. Creatively, I’m lucky that I don’t really have anything, except on the rare occasion when I’ll get stuck on a plot point (usually unsure where to go next in the story), but it usually means that my character isn’t doing the right thing for the story. I usually talk it through with my amazing writer friends and my husband, who has quickly become the best person to talk through plot with (and he’s not even a writer).
How does having friends who are also authors help you become a better writer?
We keep each other accountable, talk through all of our issues on and off the page, and root for each other. No one else fully understands the highs and lows in this business, so it’s so comforting to have them. We critique each other’s work and have become our own little family over the years. We joke about starting a writing commune.
Do you want each book you write to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I have a few series on the go, but all my books share commonalities. I write gritty, dark stories that explore human motivation and how well you really know the people in your life. I have currently two books in The Pretty Wicked series published and I’m writing a YA witch urban fantasy that’s a ton of fun. The Wicked books can be read as stand-alone novels, though they do complement one another and the reader will get the full story arc if they read both. The YA series will be sequential and need to be read in order.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I recently read two books that I think people would love but don’t really know about. UNEARTHLY THINGS by Michelle Gagnon and THE SACRED LIES OF MINNOW BLY by Stephanie Oaks. They happen to both be YA books but they will be loved by all if given the chance. Unearthly Things is a modern reimagining of Jane Eyre complete with a creepy, haunted mansion, a misplaced orphan, a turbulent love story and dangerous liaisons. It’s great. The Scared Lies of Minnow Bly was so beautifully and hauntingly written that I was actually angry when it ended. I don’t even want to say anything more as to not ruin it. Go look them up.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have two finished but unpublished novels, one half-finished book, and I’m currently completely replotting and reworking another novel that was complete but I realized was all wrong.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I do a ton of research. I read articles and books as well as watch documentaries and movies on the subjects I’m interested in. I’ve even travel and tour places when I’m able. I interview experts in the different fields I’m looking into/studying. I usually do a lot of heavy research before the bulk of my writing starts, but it continues throughout the writing of the book as other things arise.
How many hours a day/week do you write?
Typically, I try and write or research 4-5 days a week anywhere from 1-4 hours per day. I work Mondays to Fridays so I cram in what I can in the evenings and on weekends. I’m also trying to get more reading in because I find it helps my own words flow a bit easier. It’s like a primer.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I often look at baby name websites, though sometimes I look up the meanings of names and their ancestry to make sure it fits the character. I will also jot interesting names down in the notes section on my phone when I hear them. I work at a school with 600 kids, so that also helps.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I’m drawn to certain genres to read and by extension I want to write my own stories and create my own worlds in those genres. For me it’s thriller, horror, and urban fantasy. I love reading and watching some historical but refuse to research that much or I might delve into that. I’d love to write a gothic or Victorian horror—for that I might fall into the research hole.
I balance them by writing one at a time. I have friends that can write anywhere from two to five different books at once. I prefer to get lost in one world from start to finish. I get very focused so the only time I’ll veer off is if I’m editing, then I can split time writing something else.
How long have you been writing?
I think this is year twelve or thirteen. Though I’ve had to take some huge breaks for various degrees I’ve gone back to school for. It’s difficult to keep up on school work and write for me.
Share a link to your author website.
I love to connect with readers and writers. Here’s where you can find me:
Pretty Wicked, is a mature YA novel that follows a fifteen-year-old girl named Ryann Wilkanson who has always known she’s a little different than most people. Early on she recognized that she had a darkness inside of her that she didn’t see in her friends or family members. She becomes obsessed with serial killers who she refers to as “The Greats” and decides that she wants to join their ranks. Lucky for Ryann, her father is a detective and she has made good use of her visits to the station, paying close attention so that she can get away with murder. In this series, Ryann is the protagonist while the detective hunting her, who also happens to be her father’s partner, is the antagonist.
14. What about the sequel, Wicked Fallout?
Wicked Fallout was a natural extension of the first book, though it takes place twelve years later and is classified as an adult novel. I didn’t feel ready to leave the characters and world behind and felt there was a lot more to the story that I wanted to explore including how possible it is for someone to change drastically as they mature, how well can you trust your own judgment and how all of your life’s experiences culminate to inform everything that you do. The book shares a point of view with Dr. Nancy Clafin, a forensic psychiatrist, who is hired by Ryann’s new and formidable defense team to evaluate her to determine if she should be released when new evidence comes to light.
Kelly Charron is the author of YA and adult horror, psychological thrillers and urban fantasy novels. All with gritty, murderous inclinations and some moderate amounts of humor. She spends far too much time consuming true crime television (and chocolate) while trying to decide if yes, it was the husband, with the wrench, in the library. Kelly has a degree in English Literature as well as a Social Work degree. She has worked as a hairstylist, youth outreach worker and education assistant. She lives with her husband and cat, Moo Moo, in Vancouver, British Columbia.