The writing group I am secretary of, the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, has recently published two poetry anthologies. These collections of poems were created using the responses to prompts created during the last two April Poetry Month challenges. As many of you know I dabble in poetry once in a while, but it is not really my forte. However, I hope that you will take a look (and buy) these wonderful collections. The poetry is as diverse as the poets themselves.
For any inspiring poets out there the foundation holds free online poetry workshops the third Wednesday of every month. No membership required. Just click the link on the main website page to receive the Zoom link. 7:00 pm MST. Next workshop 17th November Link
Other workshops and a sharing meeting are also every month. Check out the website
As for my writing schedule, I am looking at beginning preparation for November’s National Novel Writing Month and book two of my crime trilogy. The two detective’s personalities are beginning to talk to me, which is good! There are some plot points to consider, such as where the body is found and how, the feud between one detective and a pushy wannabe detective character, as well as a partner, who flies close to the wrong side of the law on occasion. I already have the title – The Tainted Search. I know once I begin writing the characters will talk to me and the story will flow. It is always exciting to start a new project.
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As always if you have any questions about my stories, books, writing life etc. – I am happy to answer them. Just put a comment in the box below or email me through the contact form.
With a complete read through this weekend of the manuscript for the first book in my detective series, An Elusive Trail, I am fairly happy with the edits and revisions. The new word count is 61,626 – a far cry from the ‘finished’ story of National Novel Writing Month in November last year of 50,156. This shows how a manuscript changes and grows over the course of revisions. Scenes are added or cut, moved or changed and information researched in order to improve the content. Not only for accuracy but also to ensure the characters and story reflect the trope expected by readers of the specific genre.
I recently attended a crime writer’s week long presentation course online. The most interesting and helpful sessions were with a retired detective. His insight and knowledge gave me several pieces of information I have included in the manuscript to enhance the police and forensic procedures. There are a couple more months of revisions to be done, (an author has a hard time relinquishing a manuscript!) but the first book in the series is well on its way to being ready to submit to a publisher for review.
Writers and authors research their specific genre through books but also movies. My choice of movies to watch has been said to be eclectic. I can watch and enjoy action, romance, sci-fi, fantasy and many others, it all depends on my mood at the time. Take several I watched during April for example:
The Father – Anthony Hopkins was spectacular. Hillbilly Elegy – Glenn Close was exceptional. Penguin Bloom – as a natural lover this true story was heartwarming and wonderful in so many ways. Diana – I always feel my heart break a little reading or watching anything to do with her. The Age of Adaline – I have watched this movie several times because I love the premise of it. Elizabeth and Margaret – because we can only glimpse their lives. Coroner – this series was for my book research mainly. Monty Python -In the Beginning – I grew up with Python and still recite sketches to this day. Ladies in Black – life in 1959 Australia a merging of cultures within the structure of society expectations. It shows how a person’s life is affected by the era’s limitations put upon them. Elvis Presley – The Searcher – I learned more about his life, but also that if he had broken away from the Colonel, his fame would have been even greater, such a shame he was so manipulated. As you can see some are factual, some research, while others are pure escapism.
The most unusual and surprising movie I watched was FAMILY, at first look it is a workaholic woman asked to look after her brother’s daughter for a short time. However, what is so unexpected is the unknown (to me anyway) cultural phenomenon of Juggalo. I have never come across this group (and I listen to an even more of an eclectic selection in music). The Juggalo’s are fans of the group Insane Clown Posse. They dress in clown-like makeup and fantastical outfits. Their motto is ‘I shall not judge. I shall love my Family. I am a Ninja.‘ You may not enjoy their music but their inclusiveness to all is inspiring.
Have you discovered something new through a book or movie?What was it?
When I was struggling to find a concept for NaNoWriMo this year, out of the blue an idea came to mind. Now this, in itself, is not unusual because we all know it happens. However, it was not only the genre that surprised me but the fact the idea formulated as a three book series!
The genre is a detective/crime, something I have not tackled before. Although, I have written in various genres, it is normal for the story to come first and then the genre becomes apparent as I write. This is the complete opposite and makes it an exciting prospect. The idea formulated around three main characters and a common adversary across three books.
The other surprise was that I easily began planning each book – another first for me the self proclaimed free flow writer. I am not sure why this change in technique came about but it will certainly play a big part in this new project.
Whether we plan in detail or go with the flow, there is no right or wrong way to write – we all do it differently, which results in the uniqueness of our narratives.
Being aware of your genre can help you contextualize your story but remember—just because you may have been writing towards a certain kind of genre, it may not mean that’s what your story actually is.
Common Genres include:
Thriller –built around the fast-paced pursuit of a life-or-death goal.
Fantasy – typified by fantastic aspects, such as magic.
Sci-fi – Sometimes called ‘speculative’ fiction. Fiction typified by scientific aspects, such as nonexistent technology or alternative realities.
Horror – instilling dread or fear in the reader. Sometimes but not always featuring supernatural aspects.
Mystery – solving of a mysterious set of circumstances.
Crime – typified by a focus on criminal activities.
Historical – set within a defined time period but drawing context from the cultural understanding of that time.
Western – typified by aspects of the American frontier.
Romance –focuses on a romantic relationship as the source of its drama.
Erotica – primarily intended to instill arousal in the reader.
Literary – focuses on realistic, weighty issues, typified by character-focused writing and a lack of other genre features.
Adventure Story A genre of fiction in which action is the key element, overshadowing characters, theme and setting. … The conflict in an adventure story is often man against nature. A secondary plot that reinforces this kind of conflict is sometimes included.
Biographical Novel A life story documented in history and transformed into fiction through the insight and imagination of the writer. This type of novel melds the elements of biographical research and historical truth into the framework of a novel, complete with dialogue, drama and mood. A biographical novel resembles historical fiction, save for one aspect: Characters in a historical novel may be fabricated and then placed into an authentic setting; characters in a biographical novel have actually lived.
Ethnic Fiction Stories and novels whose central characters are black, Native American, Italian American, Jewish, Appalachian or members of some other specific cultural group. Ethnic fiction usually deals with a protagonist caught between two conflicting ways of life: mainstream American culture and his ethnic heritage.
Fictional Biography The biography of a real person that goes beyond the events of a person’s life by being fleshed out with imagined scenes and dialogue. The writer of fictional biographies strives to make it clear that the story is, indeed, fiction and not history.
Gothic This type of category fiction dates back to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Contemporary gothic novels are characterized by atmospheric, historical settings and feature young, beautiful women who win the favor of handsome, brooding heroes—simultaneously dealing successfully with some life-threatening menace, either natural or supernatural. Gothics rely on mystery, peril, romantic relationships and a sense of foreboding for their strong, emotional effect on the reader.
Historical Fiction – story set in a recognizable period of history. As well as telling the stories of ordinary people’s lives, historical fiction may involve political or social events of the time.
Horror – includes certain atmospheric breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces.
Juvenile – intended for an audience usually between the ages of two and sixteen. The language must be appropriate for the age of the reader, the subject matter must be of interest to the target age group, the opening of the work must be vivid enough to capture the reader’s attention and the writing throughout must be action-oriented enough to keep it with the use of suspense and the interplay of human relationships. Categories are usually divided in this way: (1) picture and storybooks (ages two to nine)… ; (2) easy-to-read books (ages seven to nine)… ; (3) “middle-age” [also called “middle grade”] children’s books (ages eight to twelve)… ; (4) young adult books (ages twelve to sixteen.
Literary Fiction vs. Commercial Fiction Literary, or serious, fiction, style and technique are often as important as subject matter. Commercial fiction is written with the intent of reaching as wide an audience as possible. It is sometimes called genre fiction because books of this type often fall into categories, such as western, gothic, romance, historical, mystery and horror.
Mainstream Fiction – transcends popular novel categories—mystery, romance or science fiction, [etc.] and is called mainstream fiction. Using conventional methods, this kind of fiction tells stories about people and their conflicts but with greater depth of characterization, background, etc. than the more narrowly focused genre novels.
Nonfiction Novel – real events and people are written [about] in novel form but are not camouflaged and written in a novelistic structure.
Popular Fiction Generally, a synonym for category or genre fiction; i.e., fiction intended to appeal to audiences for certain kinds of novels. … Popular, or category, fiction is defined as such primarily for the convenience of publishers, editors, reviewers and booksellers who must identify novels of different areas of interest for potential readers.
Psychological Novel A narrative that emphasizes the mental and emotional aspects of its characters, focusing on motivations and mental activities rather than on exterior events.
Roman a Clef The French term for “novel with a key.” This type of novel incorporates real people and events into the story under the guise of fiction.
Romance Novel – the romance novel is a type of category fiction in which the love relationship between a man and a woman pervades the plot.
Romantic Suspense Novel – romantic suspense novel is a modern emergence of early gothic writing and differs from traditional suspense novels because it moves more slowly and has more character interplay and psychological conflict than the fast-paced violence of [most] suspense thrillers.
Science Fiction [vs. Fantasy] Science fiction can be defined as literature involving elements of science and technology as a basis for conflict, or as the setting for a story.
Techno-Thriller – utilizes many of the same elements as the thriller, with one major difference. In techno-thrillers, technology becomes a major character.
Thriller – intended to arouse feelings of excitement or suspense focusing on illegal activities, international espionage, sex and violence.
Young Adult – refers to books published for young people between the ages of twelve and seventeen.
Do real research, describe aesthetic/tone/vibe over content, and be open to adjusting your decision down the line as you grow more accustomed to working with genres.
Genre is different from age group
Genre isn’t the age group you’re writing for. Age group and genre are often said together, so it’s easy to think they’re the same, but they’re not. For example: Young adult is the age group – Spy and thriller are the genres.
The primary age groups are:
– Board books: Newborn to age 3 – Picture books: Ages 3–8 – Colouring and activity books: Ages 3–8 – Novelty books: Ages 3 and up, depending on content – Early, levelled readers: Ages 5–9 – First chapter books: Ages 6–9 or 7–10 – Middle-grade books: Ages 8–12 – Young adult (YA) novels: Ages 12 and up or 14 and up
Choose a primary genre
When you pick your primary genre, you’re identifying the most prominent elements of your book. Ask the following questions.
You may have a handful of these elements in your book but when picking a primary genre focus on the most dominant aspects of your novel.
Is there magic?
If the answer is yes, then your book is most likely a fantasy. Is it set it in a fictional world that you created from scratch (like Lord of the Rings)? Then you probably have a high fantasy. Or is it built into our own world? If so it is most likely an urban fantasy.
Is it a fairy tale or a fairy tale retelling then you might want to classify your book as such.
Are there paranormal creatures (such as vampires, zombies, etc.)?
If there are, then it could be a fantasy, or it could be a supernatural/paranormal. Fantasy and paranormal are closely related and share some overlap, so it comes down to what is the more dominant element. If the magic is the more dominant element, then you have a fantasy. If the creatures are the more dominant element, then it’s supernatural.
When is it set?
If it’s set in the past, it’s probably a historical fiction. If it’s set in the present, you’ve got a contemporary and if it’s set in the future, it’s probably science fiction.
Where is it set?
If it’s set in this world, it might be a historical or contemporary. If it’s set in a world you made up, it might be some kind of fantasy or science fiction.
Is there manipulated science/technology?
If you are using significant manipulation of the science, we know today it’s likely to be science fiction. If you have time travel, then you could consider it science fiction.
Is there an element of mystery/crime to solve?
If the main purpose of your plot is mystery, then this is the genre you will use.
Is it laugh-out-loud funny?
If it is, then you’ve got a comedy
Is it a tear-jerker or a book with a lot of interpersonal conflicts?
Then it’s probably some form of drama.
Is there a romance?
Use the romance genre when the central plot of the book is a romantic relationship.
Is it intended to scare?
Then you’ve got a horror.
Is it “literary”?
If it’s a deep book, rich with symbolism and deeper meaning that’s meant to be dissected an analyzed than you most likely have written a work of literary fiction.
Is it action packed?
If your book is littered with action scenes like fights and car chases, then you have an action or thriller on your hands.
Is it about a terrible version of this world?
Then you’re looking at a dystopian.
Now decide which elements you think are the strongest/most prominent. That’s your primary genre.
Do your research
Make sure you do your research and have a good understanding of genre conventions. Readers of each genre have certain expectations. While you can most definitely take some liberties, you want to make sure you’re giving your readers what they’re looking for.
Note*** I did a series of posts throughout 2018 detailing every genre if you want to scroll through put ‘genres’ in the search box.***
My next novel, Wolfman is Back (released Nov 7, 2019) is the third novel in the Brad Coulter Series. It is based loosely on a very nasty criminal who escaped prison in the early 1980s. He was a stalker who raped and killed several women.
My second novel. OutlawMC is about biker gangs. In OutlawMC there was a very, very nasty biker that readers asked why I hadn’t killed him at the end. The readers hated him.
So, I did the only thing a writer could do, and I not only had him live, but he’s the main antagonist in Wolfman is back. I combined the two ideas for the story with lots of added nastiness.
How did you come up with the title?
This was the easiest title so far. Jeter Wolf, the biker/antagonist, has a nickname, Wolfman. Since readers wanted him gone, I brought him back, thus Wolfman is Back!
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I’m not sure I have a specific message, other than the situations police and EMS respond to are at times beyond comprehension. That someone can be so evil and remorseless is chilling and what one human will do to another is incomprehensible, yet it happens. Fortunately, not much of it is reported by the press. But police and EMS have a very changing job, and it takes its toll.
How much of the book is realistic?
The banter between police officers is something I try hard to make real. The closeness of partners, the teasing, the outright pushing all the right (wrong?) buttons is everyday. But when stuff hits the fan, they come together like no other profession I know. It’s almost like siblings fighting, but someone outside challenges on sibling, the whole family takes it as a challenge and becomes very protective. Thus, an injury to a police officer or paramedic, is felt by the entire department.
Are your characters based on someone you know or events in your own life?
The characters in my first novel, Crisis Point were almost all based on people I knew or combinations of traits. My Protagonist, Brad Coulter, was a bit of me. I was a police officer for 3 years then a paramedic for 37 years. The premise of the Brad Coulter series is, what could my police career have been if I’d stayed in policing? Before the middle of Crisis Point, the character, Brad Coulter, had taken over the role and he became his own person (if that makes sense and isn’t weird!). I like to think of Brad a better version of me. My police friends have fun trying to guess who the other characters are based on. They manage to nail a few of them!
The German shepherd in the novels is Lobo. And he is the first dog I had (I rescued him from the pound 6 months into being a police officer).
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
There a parts of social media that baffle me (Twitter). I am on Facebook at Dwayneclaydenauthor and Dwayneclayden. Facebook is where I spend most of my social media time. I’m also on LinkedIn: dwayneclayden and yes, Twitter: @DwayneClayden
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
I have plans for novels from now to December 2022. Whether I can keep that schedule and pace— we shall see.
The next novel which I hope release in March or April 2020, is the first in a new series called Speargrass. The first novel deals with the opioid crisis in Montana and on a Montana First Nation.If you have seen the TV show Longmire, you’ll get a taste of what I’m doing. If you like Longmire, you’ll love Speargrass. It has its own backstory and characters with lots of flaws. I should be finished Speargrass by the end of September and then I will send it to my marvelous editor, Taija Morgan. While Taija does her thing, I’ll start Coulter #4. The working title is Sniper and if all goes to plan, that release will be November 2020.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
I can be sarcastic and cutting, so I add that to some of my characters. Brad is sarcastic, cutting and very quick with comment or insult.
In Wolfman, there is new character, a detective that I really like. He’s an older, more seasoned version of Brad.
What is a little scary, is that I was able to get inside Jeter Wolfe (Wolman’s) head and I think he comes across realistic in all his evilness! I’ve been told a few times I write the bad guys better than the good guys! That was the critique from my first submission in my first writing class in 2010!
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
I’m definitely a crime guy. I love the style of Michael Connelly, Robert B Parker, John Sandford, and Lee Child.
However, I wrote a short Story, Hell Hath No Fury, which was a hard-boiled, down on his luck private detective story. It was published in2015 in AB Negative, An Anthology of Alberta Crime. It was fun to write and I have a sequel to that half-written.
This fall I’ve been asked to write a short story with a gothic them based in Alberta. So, I’m testing the water, but only with one toe!
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
I plan out every story. I start by putting ideas on index cards and then when I have 50 or so, I lay them out on my pool table and create an order. It gives me a starting point and direction. None of my four novels resemble in any way the original outline. Having direction helps me with the first draft.
Then when I do my first edit, I tend to re-write the story as I go, adding chapters as needed. I believe outlines are simply roadmaps and you can still take various routes to your destination – that’s up to your creativity. But no novel will likely resemble the first outline.
What is your best marketing tip?
I wish I had one! It has been a slow process to get a few enthusiastic fans/readers. The biggest thing right now is that I now have three novels. When readers finish the fist one, they reach for the second, and third. The challenge is keeping ahead of them and not having too much time between novels or they will find someone else.
If someone has ideas on how to sell e-books, I’d be very interested!
I have had local success at Farmer’s Markets and Christmas Fairs.
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
For me, social media is hindrance and distracting. For my novels, I have had minimal success with advertising my novels on Facebook. For now, my time is better spent writing that next, great novel the readers want. However, my Facebook goal is to find the funniest jokes, memes and stories to give anyone following me a laugh or two for the day.
What do you enjoy most about writing? I get lost in the story and the characters and sometimes write well into the night/morning because it is flowing so well.
What age did you start writing stories/poems?
I started writing short stories in high school, slapstick and parody like Saturday Night Live. Then a career in policing and then paramedics got in my way. I co-authored four textbooks for paramedics, but that is not the same as fiction writing. My fiction writing career began in October 2010.
Has your genre changed or stayed the same? Stayed the same.
What genre are you currently reading?
I read Michael Connelly, Robert B Parker, John Sandford and Lee Child. I also read John Grisham, Ken Follett, and Jeffrey Archer to name a few.
I am reading novels by Nelson DeMille. He writes crime/thriller novel. I’ve just started reading his novels on a recommendation from a friend. I quite like his style.
Do you read for pleasure or research or both?
I read for pleasure, but it is hard to turn off the writer/editor brain and just enjoy a novel. In some respects, writing has spoiled reading for me.
For OutlawMC I read 12-15 books on Outlaw Motorcycle clubs
Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
My best supporter is my mom, Sheila Clayden.
Valerie West, my partner, is my encourager and has always believed in my writing.
Jonas Saul, the Sarah Roberts best selling series author, has been an incredible mentor.
Where is your favorite writing space?
I have a writing room/man cave in the basement where most of my writing is done. I have tried writing at nice places, like our cabin, but it’s not the same.
Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?
I do not belong to a writing group now. For about 3 years we had a writing group in Calgary called the Inklings and we met every Monday evening. The members read Crisis Point and OutlawMC through many, many edits.
If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?
Joseph Wambaugh because he changed the genre of crime novels to portray the realism of thed streets for cops. That is what I’m trying to do, so I’d to have beer and discuss his early writing. His early novels also changed TV crime from happy ending Adam 12 and Dragnet to Hill Street Blues, the first of the realistic police dramas.
Michael Connelly because I love his Bosch series which is also a TV series. I want to know how he did that! I’d love to have a hit novel series and I think my novels would do well on TV. Of course, that’s just my wishful thinking!
If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?
The Big Island, Hawaii. We went there for the first time in May 2018 and I loved everything about it. Especially the calm pace. You can’t help but relax there.
Do you see writing as a career?
Writing is my career. I’m putting everything I have into it. I mentioned a writing schedule and I plan to stick to that. Next year I hope to launch 2 novels and 1 non-fiction book.
I love writing and creating. My challenge is getting the exposure beyond my family, friends, colleagues, and into the American ebook market.
Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?
To my family doctor’s dismay, I drink Pepsi when I write and often eat chocolate covered almonds. That doesn’t mean I don’t like coffee (with Bailey’s) on occasion!
What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?
I have been told to reward myself, but I don’t. Maybe a weekend.
I’m pushing hard to keep the novels coming that by the time one novel is launched, another is in editing and a third is on the first draft.
I am now receiving emails from readers wanting to know when the next novel will be out. Some readers chastise me when they see I’m on Facebook and say, “You should be writing!”
Dwayne Clayden writes crime thrillers.
Crisis Point, Dwayne’s first novel, was a finalist for the 2015 Crime Writers of Canada, Arthur Ellis Awards.
OutlawMC is the second in the Brad Coulter Series.
Wolfman is Back, the third in the Brad Coulter Series, with be released in Fall 2019.
In his 40 year career, Dwayne has served as a police officer, paramedic, tactical paramedic, firefighter, emergency medical services (EMS) chief, educator, and academic chair.
Dwayne is a popular speaker at conferences and to writing groups presenting on realistic police, medical and paramedic procedures.
The co-author of four paramedic textbooks, he has spoken internationally at EMS conferences for the past three decades.