Friday, August 30, 2019

Writing On Your Feet



By Jorjeana Marie


Improvisation in front of a live audience is “writing on your feet” and although it sounds terrifying (yeah, admittedly, it kind of is at first) it is freeing. Improvisation becomes a mighty resource for the scribe when they make the conscious decision to get out of their comfort zone and try something they’ve never done before.

I’d like to play a game with you. The kind we might have played if we were kids at each other’s houses, rooting through the attic.

All you need is:

A timer.

Something to record with (your smartphone likely has an app).

Your own fabulous child-like wonder.

Warning: You might correct yourself or stop yourself or think “I can think of something better’. Don’t worry about that. Support the idea that comes to you right away and follow it through with commitment. It’s only a few moments of your life, why not make them sparkle and shine a little by following the first rule of improv – agreement. “Yes!” Agree to play and explore and see what this game has in store for you.

Here we go!!

Imagine a unique garment of clothing (it could be something you’ve seen in a history book or a futuristic design, or anything at all). It could be a worn shawl or a felt hat or a pair of dirty leather gloves. See whatever it is as though it were real. Reach out and touch it.

Admire the weaving or be appalled by the smell of mothballs. Whatever is true in this moment. Pick it up, find the end, the start, the middle of it. See it in your hands.

Then make a bold choice. Have a reaction to this piece. Something about it makes you feel… Sad? Angry? Churlish!? Let this attitude grow with your imagination into a semblance of an idea of someone who would wear this, someone who would be the owner of this clothing.

Set the timer for thirty seconds.

Become the character that would wear this clothing.

Now slip it on. (Careful with those delicate buttons!)

Sense how loose or tight or just right it is. Perhaps it makes you stand taller? Or embarrasses you? 

Allow yourself to move in it until the timer goes off. Twirl!

Reset the timer for three minutes. Ready your recording device.

You will, as your newfound character, dictate a letter (yup, still in their ‘costume’). They could be prepping to send their tailor a note. Or it might not have anything to do with the clothing. They could be monologuing out loud what they will say to their lover tonight.

Press record and start the timer.

Start talking, er, rather “writing on your feet” until the ding!

Voila! You just improvised your own character to life! Try this exercise again on a character you’re working on or one you’d like to develop. There’s no better way to understand someone than to slip into their skin.

GREAT JOB! And thanks for playing!
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JORJEANA MARIE is an award-winning voiceover actress, stand-up comedian, playwright, screenwriter, and improv instructor. She has performed on SNL and Chapelle's Show, voiced thousands of audiobooks and won this year's Audie for YA, and done stand-up with the likes of Doug Stanhope. Marie was recently tapped as a playwright for a forthcoming Broadway production and writes story concepts for Disney's flagship brand. After learning the craft of improv personally from legends like Robert McKee and the late Gary Austin, Marie has worked as an improv instructor (including a stint with Upright Citizen's Brigade) for Emmy- and Oscar-winning actors. Author Website: https://www.jorjeanamarie.com/ Book Landing Page:  Improv for Writers (August 27, Ten Speed Press) Social Media:  Facebook
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Thursday, August 29, 2019

“The Chain” and Creating Your Author Brand


By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine


I finished reading the book, The Chain by Irish author, Adrian McKinty. This book makes you think about your personal vulnerabilities exposed by your presence on various social media platforms. We live in an age where it is thought unusual if you don’t have a social media presence. Your privacy and security are something to definitely consider when creating your author brand on social media.

After finishing the book, The Chain, I googled the author and found out he was a former Uber driver, which his protagonist was in the book. There is an interesting article in The Irish Times on the author. 
In that article, McKinty says his idea for The Chain, came while he was, “In Mexico City five years earlier, while trying to write a novel about Trotsky (“it was a big fiasco, it was going nowhere”), McKinty learned about exchange killings: where a person offers to swap themselves for a kidnapped family member while a ransom is raised. He’d combined this with the idea of chain letters – he’d grown up in the ’70s and ’80s in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, “where we used to get these bloody horrible chain letters; we all believed it”. These were the seeds for The Chain, in which a mother is told her daughter has been kidnapped, and that the only way to get her back is to kidnap another child. And so on, down the chain.” The article at this link is a statement of encouragement to all writers to not give up on writing.

This past week I read in AAA Living, bi-monthly magazine, September-October 2019 issue, the cover story was on security issues with your social media accounts. In the article titled, “Social Media Self-Defense,” it states, “You’ve likely heard of financial identity theft, but your social media identity can be stolen too. What can thieves do with it? They can use personal information from social media (birthdays, pet names, important dates) to access other online accounts. They can create a fake identity to scam others. Your best defense? Keep personal data private. Avoid photos that reveal where you live or work, and be mindful of metadata, which can divulge where and when a picture was taken. Maintain strict privacy settings so you control who see your profile. Finally, consider identity theft protection that monitors social media.”

As authors we have to have a social media presence to garner reader attention. When does sharing too much information make you vulnerable and put your security at risk?






Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Book Writing in a Group or Class



By Pam Webber


Book writing is often accomplished in a quiet, solitary environment where an author listens only to herself and her characters. However, writing scripts for TV is anything but quiet—a writers’ room is conversational and collaborative. By merging these two approaches, I set out to test whether book writing in a group could improve the quality of the work.

During the editing process for my bestselling debut Southern novel, The Wiregrass, I discovered the rules (yes, there are rules) of literary writing. Some I'd followed, albeit unintentionally, and others I hadn't. As a result, when preparing to write my second novel, Moon Water, I searched for a mentor who understood how to merge these rules with creativity.

I found such a person in a class sponsored by James River Writers, an organization in Richmond, Virginia, dedicated to helping authors. Traveling there meant a long, weekly trek through the Blue Ridge Mountains, a trip I initially looked forward to making. During the first class, the teacher, a New York Times bestselling author, made clear his role. To make us better writers, not coddle our egos and lavish us with false praise. He wasn’t kidding.

His brutal critiques of our short stories quickly earned him the nickname, The Flogger. For weeks I limped home with a bruised ego, questioning my sanity for continuing the class.  Eventually, I realized my writing had improved, by literary standards and my own. After surviving the fall class, several of us signed up for the spring one. By summer, we'd made such progress, The Flogger agreed to lead a novel writing group for four of us, a lawyer, an artist, a factualist, and me, a nurse practitioner.

We all came to the group with the same goal but different areas of expertise. The Flogger preached a Puritanistic style of writing that required us to "interview every word." The lawyer shared grammatical and technical writing skill. The artist had an eye for multi-layered creativity. The factualist kept everyone honest, and I brought the ability to create a sense of place.

For a year we wrote, edited, critiqued, laughed, cried, and prayed we'd not supply The Flogger with an absurd phrase or line he'd make fun of the whole night. Somewhere along the way, we became better writers with skills to challenge and occasionally win against The Flogger's critiques. I believe this was his intent all along. That we learn the rules, then choose to apply or not apply them with a confident author’s voice.

I don't know if Moon Water will have the same commercial success as The Wiregrass, but one thing is certain. The writing in Moon Water is better thanks to The Flogger and the gifted members of our group.
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Pam Webber is author of the bestselling debut Southern novel, The Wiregrass and its standalone sequel, Moon Water (She Writes Press, 8/20/19). The award-winning university nursing educator and nurse practitioner had previously co-authored a nursing textbook and peer-reviewed research articles before she was invited to be aPanelist at Virginia Festival of the Book. Pam lives with her husband, Jeff, in the Northern Shenandoah Valley. Visit Pam at


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Authors Road to Success



By Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief, Southern Writers Magazine   


Never think you are alone on the road to success as an author. You’re not. Many people are walking with you. Look around you will see family, friends and associates. However, their numbers are limited. There is another group on that road with you, they are your readers. This group is much larger and hopefully growing. I have one more group that is important to your success, authors. Yes other writers.

Experience has taught us success is not an occurrence so much as a process. Regardless of where you are in the process of becoming successful and selling many books, there are always writers ahead of you and writers behind you. As you progress forward on this road, do not fail to turn around and give attention to those who have not come as far as you.

Funny thing about mentoring someone, you not only are helping them but you find you have increased your abilities as a writer. Someone told me the act of mentoring is neither completely gratuitous nor completely out of self-interest. Rather, it propagates the success process through others. This creates a chain of professionalism, which strengthens with each new link, added.

No successful trait we possess is lost by sharing our knowledge with others, matter of fact, very few things are as rewarding as watching someone else become successful and know you had a hand in it.

I see this when my husband gets a phone call from someone he has helped. (He is retired and works with our community literacy program helping people study for their high school diplomas.)

Generously sharing knowledge with other writers is beneficial to you. It strengthens your foundation and it expands into the world layers of other successful people. Self-made? Not really. There are people who helped along the way,

Monday, August 26, 2019

The Landscape of Character Building



By Lori Benton


The seasons of the writing life allow me time to pursue another creative passion, landscape photography, and my home state of Oregon offers an abundance of breathtaking subjects. From lush snow-capped mountains to rugged coastline, thundering waterfalls to high desert mesas, the character of the Pacific Northwest landscape is endlessly varying.

Providing readers with multifaceted characters who live and breathe on the pages of a novel often feels like condensing the centuries-long process of a landscape’s alteration into the span of a few months. And like those landscapes, story characters are built in layers, starting with their earliest defining moments.

A defining moment in a character’s life might be as subtle as a breeze or as cataclysmic as a landslide that forever reshapes their inner topography.

Every writer comes at this crucial aspect of storytelling—character building—uniquely. Since characters initially come to me as the person who appears in the early chapters of their story, my method of fleshing out that character requires sifting through a seemingly endless array of potential soul-shaping experiences a person could have and choosing those that best support the character who has leapt out of the ether of my imagination.

Why is he this way? What events or people shaped her?

Like a geologist digging through the strata of a cliff-side, it’s my job—via research into the life my historical character would have known or by simple persistent rumination—to unearth their past and discover their emotional layers and the experiences that laid those layers down in that particular pattern.

The emotional scars he bears. The lie she believes about herself. A disappointment that still bleeds raw. The hope she clings to despite all odds. That thing he’s sworn he will never do or believe. Her deepest fear. His secret weakness.

Such layers provide an emotional arc, the inner battle a character will wage throughout the pages of their story.

The creation of these layers usually happens in tandem with a novel’s plotting and even writing. 

Character building, story plotting, and writing are a braided process that at times feels as erratic and unpredictable as this planet’s weather. It requires a measure of faith to press on, but if I do then eventually a believable, vibrant character emerges. Layers of defining moments have made her who she is in the story’s opening pages, ready to be challenged and shaped by the story’s narrative, to make the inevitable—yet hopefully surprising—choices those layers have prepared her to make.

Character building, once it’s complete, feels like magic every time. Yet like water rushing over stone, wind rippling a dune, or the violent upheaval of an earthquake, it’s a magic constructed of many defining pressures brought to bear. Like that wind and water, with relentless patience we mold the souls inhabiting our novels, creating multilayered characters that have the power to sweep a reader away on a story’s tide.
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Lori Benton was born and raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American and family history going back to the 1600s. Her novels transport readers to the 18th century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history, creating a melting pot of characters drawn from both sides of a turbulent and shifting frontier, brought together in the bonds of God's transforming grace. Lori's debut novel, Burning Sky, earned the 2014 Christy Award for First Novel, Historical, and Book of the Year. Photo 1 by Lori Benton, Photo captions (all photo by Lori Benton) Grandmother Rock; Trinidad CA, Painted Hills; Mitchell OR



Friday, August 23, 2019

The Joy of Books



By Kathryn Ramsperger


I'm a lifelong bibliophile. Some even call me a book hoarder. My husband tells me my full bookcases might collapse our house. A woman on a recent webinar pointed at the bookcases behind me, advising me to give most of them away. "If you find you need one in the future, just buy it again," she said.

She was so adamant I acted on her advice. Now I know I hang on to most books for a reason. I know because I've sorted through everyone in my office.

People used to treasure books. I'll never forget plucking A Girl of the Limberlost from my grandmother's shelves. Or devouring Rebecca at the public library. Wedged between the stacks at Ram's Head Bookshop, I made my way through my favorite nonfiction, a musical encyclopedia. Books were our prized possessions though we could afford only a few. Later, my first year at National Geographic, I went to a colleague's party, and every wall in every room was lined with books. I dreamed of the day I could have a home library.

As I sorted through my current collection, I looked for any that might need another home. I didn't find many. I use my books. I lined one shelf with out-of-print classics, another with research books for my writing and marketing, another with books signed by fellow authors I'm proud to call friends, and another with the books I'm using for my current works-in-progress. I buy 10-20 books for every novel I write. Fictional worlds need to be based on real places, people, and events. Otherwise, no one will stick with or believe your story.

Many of my books are out of print. I rue the day I gave away Tillie Olsen's Silences. It was out of print when I needed it most, while I was raising my kids. I see it's been reprinted for its 25th anniversary, but I had to find my way out of being silenced with only the memory of  her passages, such as one of her son banging on the closed door to her office as she tried to find her Muse. “[Silences is] ‘the Bible.’ I constantly return to it,” said Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango StreetAnother prized possession is the first edition of John Steinbeck's letters to his editor as he wrote East of Eden, my favorite novel. My writing group gave me a copy when I finished drafting The Shores of Our Souls. 

I saved the bottom shelf for my special collections of fairy tales from around the world, including my first favorite book, The Three Little Horses. Fairy tales taught me allegory, archetype, and other cultures. When I want inspiration, I read one. 

I seldom shelve the stack of books I want to read next. They're bedside. I was excited about ereaders for a while because of my husband's angst about bookcases. I also wanted to see less pulpwood trucks on the road and more birds singing from forest branches. However, I find it difficult to keep notes and mark passages digitally. I have trouble finding a specific quote on an ereader, instead of simply flipping to an earmarked page in a print book. My eyes get tired and dry from too much screen time. Having worked in publishing, I love the texture, smell, and weight of a book in my hands. It feels as if I'm holding another world. 

Owning books is better than owning almost anything else. Mine are now organized and easy for my family to give away if I decide to stay in a new land, or whenever I keel over for the last time. The older I get, the more I know they are a privilege beyond compare. (If you don't believe me, read The Book Thief.) They made me the writer I am. They molded me into the person I am. They come to me when I'm sad or lost, searching for the reason I write. I’ll be able to hold a book in my hand long after age keeps me grounded. That book will take me places I've never been. Books, unlike anything else, contain magical brews that defy time and space. They make me feel young again.  They make me feel. 

What better gift to give, to own, to cherish, than a book? What better way to decorate your home? What better profession than to create an object that can change a person's life? 

It's a privilege I'll never give up.
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Kathryn Ramsperger’s literary voice is rooted in the Southern tradition of storytelling, informed by her South Carolina lineage. Her debut multicultural novel The Shores Of Our Souls (TPP, 2017) received a  Foreword Indies award and an America's Best Book award. A sequel is in the works, as is a work of creative nonfiction. She began her career writing for The Roanoke Times and The Gazette newspapers and later managed publications for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent in Geneva, Switzerland. She has contributed articles to National Geographic and Kiplinger magazines as well as many online publications. She's lived in Europe and Africa and traveled throughout the Middle East. Her most recent adventure was in Iceland, and her vision is to pursue humanitarian work on every continent. A graduate of Hollins University (Roanoke, Va.), Kathryn  also holds a post-graduate degree from George Washington University. Winner of the Hollins University Fiction Award, Kathryn is also a finalist in novel, novel-in-progress, short story, and poetry categories in the Faulkner-Wisdom literary competition. Her award-winning stories have appeared in journals for several decades. Author website: shoresofoursouls.com  Blog: groundonecoaching.com/how-to-change-your-life-blog/ A fuller list to my work or reviews: shoresofoursouls.com/media/


Thursday, August 22, 2019

STRETCHING—WRITING OUTSIDE YOUR GENRE



By Vicki H. Moss, Contributing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine


I’d always wanted to read a Ted Dekker novel. So imagine my surprise when I was on holiday and the house where I stayed had several of his tomes. There was a book series along with a single novel. I had visions of me plowing through the series before tackling the lone novel. 

Yeah, right. I had to be experiencing journey proud grand delusions. However, I immediately turned to the first chapter of the first book. 

The first book of the series was so strange, and weird, and contained so much symbolism, it took me almost all week to read it. The genre could be called Speculative Fiction. Very interesting, but not a light read. I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish the other two books in the series so chose to read the stand alone novel next. I plowed through it in a day—a much easier book to read, and I really enjoyed it because I didn’t have to think so hard as in—okay, what’s Ted talking about here?

But why did I enjoy the second book so much more than his other book? Perhaps because I’m not that big a fan of science fiction, mysterious worlds and such—meaning, creepy things that go bump in the night. But that first read did make me think; just what exactly is the definition of speculative fiction?

In 1941 Robert Heinlein came up with the term “speculative fiction” to collectively describe works in the genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. It can also include other genres like Historical Fiction, Alternate Histories, and Mysteries with some Romance thrown in. I was surprised to discover Tarzan fit into this genre. As well as The Twilight Zone and stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Edgar Allen Poe tales also fit because they were stories on the fringe. Speculative fiction can put your everyday ordinary people into out-of-this-world extraordinary circumstances. The genre can take you to far out places while you’re still sitting on the front piazza swing, swilling sweet tea, while listening to mourning doves cry.  

After a week of binging on a couple of Ted Dekker books, what did I learn from the exercise of reading the works of a new (for me) writer? I discovered that I might like to one day venture out and write a speculative fiction novel myself. Yes, really. No horror, but maybe some “on the fringe” story with a Twilight Zone verve to it—something I never dreamed I might like to do.

One thing I absolutely did learn was this: reading outside the genres I normally read stimulated my muse. And, the old adage is true that writers should read vociferously, fiction as well as nonfiction. Never know what new ideas might come forth. There might just be a speculative fiction novel in your head that’s waiting to be written.                 
          

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

A MOMENT OF HISTORY, CAUGHT IN THE PAGES OF A BOOK



By Monica Bennett-Ryan


It’s not easy facing Goliath; standing as a whistleblower against corruption within Defence; the most powerful organisation in the country. From start to finish the battle my friends and I fought raged for three and a half years, with an extra year and a half delegated to the ‘mopping up’ being done in the highest levels of government.

During our battle, we had of necessity kept meticulous records, and I’d jotted down personal details that would later be woven through the pages of the book I intended to write. However, it wasn’t until after we gained an unequivocal victory that I could step back, take a long, deep breath and begin to write the story.

The writing itself was cathartic. Going over the events in minute detail helped to re-focus unbalanced emotions and re-gain a broad perspective of the whole affair; a simple, but wonderful natural healing process. Writing became the panacea for the corporate and political dysfunction which had jaded my view of our government.

I used eight months of the ‘mopping up’ time to lay out the bulk of the story, but couldn’t write the last chapter because I was living in an unfolding drama. It was a surreal feeling, writing an historical account in real time, living in the victory, but still awaiting the outcomes of high-level investigations, not knowing how the book itself would end. That’s when I decided to take a friend’s advice.

Early in my writing career, another writer told me, ‘After you write something, bury it! Put it aside for at least 12 months. Don’t think about it anymore. Don’t even look at it. Go on with something else. At the end of 12 months, pick it up and read it again. You will immediately see what a reader would see. All the mistakes, all the gaps in information and any plot holes will be glaringly obvious.”
I didn’t just bury the story for 12 months, I buried it for five years. In fact, I was happy to leave it buried and never have it see the light of day.  Now, I’m glad I buried it!

Early this year, two things happened which made me want to take a fresh look at what I’d written. First, someone asked to tell my story and telling him made me realise this was a good story and should not be buried.  Second, the issue turned up in the news again, and I suddenly knew it wasn’t quite over. Certain aspects of fact were still being overlooked by the appointed overseers; aspects they would hopefully notice and act on if they read my book.

I pulled out the manuscript, re-read it, and suddenly knew exactly how to finish it. It only took me a few weeks to write the final chapter. Then, with a little tweaking and a little editing, it was ready for publication.  A moment of history, caught in the pages of a book.
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Monica Bennett-Ryan is a Christian Author and whistle-blower. While working within one of Australia’s intelligence organisations, Monica witnessed things she shouldn’t have seen. Sworn to secrecy she and her friends could’ve been prosecuted for revealing what they knew. Nevertheless, on 16 May 2011, without a scrap of evidence to back their claims, they took what they knew to the media and watched in awe as God not only protected them from prosecution but exposed the greatest intelligence scandal in Australia’s history. It’s a remarkable story. WHAT THEY SAW takes the reader behind the scenes to travel with Monica as the story unfolds. Website www.inhisname.com.au  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011543743218 Twitter: https://twitter.com/HisPublishing




Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Expectations Under the Tuscan Sun



By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine


Frances Mayes author of Under the Tuscan Sun was asked what her expectations were upon writing her book. Having been a Professor of Creative Writing and a poet with several books of poetry to her credit this would be her first book other than poetry based on her memories of buying, renovating and living in an abandoned villa in Tuscany. She explained she expected it to sell like her books of poetry, not many.

If you have read the book or even saw the movie you are aware of the story. She brings the villa and surrounding property back to life. Again, expectations come up. As Mayes states, “It’s a story about a woman taking a risk, doing something out of her expectations.”

Written in 1996 it went to Number One on the New York Times Bestseller list and stayed there for over two years. The movie was released in 2003 and was loosely based on her book. The movie revitalized the sale of her books and to this day the success of the book amazes the author.  When Mayes was asked if she had expected this in her career as an author she said, “Isn’t it great not to be able to expect it? Because if you can expect and predict it’s not as much fun.”

Expectations are something each of us live with. Some are taken for granted while others are only hoped for. Those we take for granted are terribly missed when they no longer exist. Those hoped for are either met or exceed our expectations or they fall flat. If they fall flat, we consider it as getting our hopes up too high. If they meet or exceed, we may say we knew it was going to happen. I once asked a young girl if she had ever flown in an airplane. Her answer was, “My Daddy always told me never get higher than picking corn or lower than digging potatoes.” Thinking she may have missed the point of her Daddy’s wisdom I had to laugh. But wisdom is was. Getting your hopes and expectations up too high or even not high enough can be a dream killer.

Back to Mayes statement, “If you expect and predict it’s not as much fun.” In her case her expectations of the sales of Under the Tuscan Sun would be like her other books of poetry was like digging potatoes. It in fact was like picking corn. Now we know what she means by “If you expect and predict it’s not as much fun.”  If you write with no expectations other than fulfilling your passion. You will never be disappointed.  


 


Monday, August 19, 2019

Writing an Unexpected Ending



By Joanna Davidson Politano, author of  Finding Lady Enderly


A twisting ending

“That’s not her name.” A mama looks down at her new baby and tries to wrap that special name around the person now in her arms, but it doesn’t fit. That’s how I felt when I had about two-thirds of my novel, Finding Lady Enderly, drafted and done. It wasn’t the name that bothered me though, but the core of the story—the twist. It wasn’t that story’s ending, and it had to go.

The entire story idea actually grew out of the original twist. It started with Princess Diana, and my mother’s speculation that her death was faked so she could slip away to live on some island with the man she loved. Originally, that’s what had happened to our dear Lady Enderly who the heroine fears is kidnapped or murdered. But as I wrote it, and those vague characters became flesh on the page, that ending was such a bad fit—and it sort of felt familiar, like something I may have read before.

I blame Daphne Du Maurier for my addiction to unexpected endings, and I delight in attempting it. 

Here are my secrets.
1.      I give about 70% of my manuscript to a handful of readers and have them guess at as many possible endings as they can. Then I throw them all away. I write something totally different and unexpected. I did this for my debut novel, Lady Jayne Disappears, and happily surprised many readers.
2.      For a manuscript that isn’t working, I outline the whole thing and mark where it turned trite, forced, or predictable. I throw in something wildly unexpected right there—even if I have no idea how it’ll play out. I let it ripple through the novel and see what comes of it! My second novel was rescued this way, and I had amazing, very touching scenes that included characters who were actually dead in the first draft.
3.      I turn my ending upside-down and challenge myself to make it work. Even if I don’t keep it that way, I often have lots of brilliant ideas to play with. I make the character I intended to be the villain into a victim of heart-rending proportions. I see where I’ve layered in assumptions and then prove them wrong in big ways. (Oh, you’re cancelling out this suspect and that one because they couldn’t possibly have killed your dad? Ok, that works. Except it wasn’t your dad who was murdered, but this person over here. Dad just died of natural causes.)

Most of all, my best secret is that I’m extremely flexible, receptive to wild ideas and bursts of inspiration, suggestions from friends and crazy dreams. Even if they seem far-fetched, I let them play around on the playground of my mind. I have to be honest—nothing is more effective than changing my novel’s ending as I write. If I’m surprised, the reader probably will be, too.
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Joanna Davidson Politano writes historical novels of mystery and romance, including her debut Lady Jayne Disappears. She loves tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives and is eager to hear anyone’s story. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan and you can find her at www.jdpstories.com. Author website/blog: jdpstories.com - Social Media Links: www.facebook.com/joannadavidsonpolitano/  https://twitter.com/politano_joanna https://www.instagram.com/joannadavidsonpolitano/ https://www.bookbub.com/profile/joanna-davidson-politano