- Try writing the scene from a different character’s perspective.
- Try opening you book from a later chapter and see how it affects everything. Try from Ch 2 or 3. Many agents say there’s way too much backstory in opening chapters and the manuscript opens in the wrong place.
- Give your character a fatal flaw you haven’t previously considered. Make them as multi-dimentional as you can.
- Let your characters react in a big way. Let them get mad, hurt, angry, sad, hysterical, etc.
- Switch the setting. Place your character somewhere totally new and see how they react.
- Consider the emotional arc of the character. What’s the one thing that would break them? Then make that happen.
- Make sure your main characters all have a personal stake in the story. Don’t let anyone be there for convenience.
- Look for instances when characters agree on something. What will happen if a character says NO instead? Put as much conflict into every scene as you can. All your dialogue should have some degree of conflict in it: emotional conflict, people that are at odds with one another, different agendas, unspoken fears etc. Good Conversation = Conflict
Popping in for another Snapshot Series with an update of what’s been going on with me! Sorry for the lack of posts lately, but I’ve been in heavy editing mode and that has taken priority. So here we go…
What I Had For Dinner Last Night: Spaghetti topped with sautéed bell peppers, zucchini and squash. I used wheat noodles and a tomato and basil sauce and served it with salad and wheat garlic bread. YUM!
Last Movie I Saw: Gone Girl. I was very excited to see this movie because the book was quite an epic bundle of craziness. The author, Gillian Flynn, wrote the screenplay which made me even more excited. AND then I heard that there was a different ending and I was even more stoked. As I writer, it would be so much fun to create an alternate ending to give to your fans. But it’s a risk, because if the fans loved one ending, they may not like another. Personally, I had felt slightly left hanging in the book-version so I was hoping for more of a settling wrap-up in the movie.
But, that did not happen. And the different ending was mostly the same, but with a more graphic version of what was referenced in the book. So to be honest I wasn’t sure what to think. Did anyone else see it? What did you think??
What I’m Reading: I’m almost finished with Jo Jo Moyes’ book, “One Plus One,” which I’m really enjoying. I read her other book “Me Before You” a while ago and couldn’t get over it so I wanted to read another one of hers. It’s really good!
Getting Ready For: Another trip! I just got back from a girl’s trip to New York City! I went with the GNO Group I’ve been a part of for a few years. We had such a great time and New York was mesmersizing!
Soon I will be headed to Mexico for some fun in the sun. I can’t wait! I’m going ride down a huge zipline which should be amazing.
My latest post on Delicious Reads featured the Top 8 Fright-Night-Movies that have been adapted from books. I LOVE any reason to celebrate, and I especially love Halloween. If you haven’t had a chance to do something spooky yet, maybe there’s perfect creepy flick on my list just for you!
I’ve started an Author/Editor/Agent Interview Series as part of my chair position for the Utah Vally Writers and recently Interviewed Lisa Mangum, the Managing Editor for Shadow Mountain. It’s been so much fun to meet with authors, agents and editors and to share their insights.
What I’m Writing: I’m at the end of my huge edit. Only a few chapters left and I’m determined to get through them fast! I’m hoping to query agents before Thanksgiving. So exciting!
Best Part of My Day: Lately I’m just soaking in all the amazing fall weather and trying to be outside as much as possible. The leaves, the colors, the fall-ish food and decorations. I love it all!
Well that’s it for now! Gotta get those last chapters done!
See ya soon!
Hello. It’s me. I know you thought I’d forgotten about you. But don’t worry your pretty little heads. August thought she had conquered me… but it’s the 27th and I can still win. So let’s Snapshot Series it up!
What I had for Dinner last night: Taco Pasta Salad, as part of the last day of my family reunion. One of my younger sisters lives in China. China! I still can’t believe she lives so far away. Anyway, she and her husband were in town and my family celebrated in a mad-dash of togetherness before they flew back this morning.
Here’s the yummy Taco Pasta Salad recipe: Wacky Noodles (yes, they are actually called wacky noodles), tomatoes, chopped red pepper, chopped avocado, black beans, cilantro, corn, ranch dressing & a packet of taco seasoning. Toss, chill and enjoy. I get asked for the recipe every single time I serve it. You’re welcome.
Last Movie I Saw: Last time I did the Snapshot Series, I was about to go see A Fault In Our Stars. It’s still the only movie I’ve seen since then! But I loved it. It’s was very refreshing to see a book portrayed so closely on the big screen! I will forever have Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters etched onto my heart.
Delicious Reads Collaboration: My last post for Delicious Reads was about five ways to expose your kids to writing. Especially with school starting, there are lots of ways they can be inspired to write without a homework assignment. You can read all about my tips HERE.
What I’m Reading: At the beginning of each summer I come up with a Summer Reads List. I gave ten suggestions and so far I’ve only read five! So….. apparently I need a few more months this summer.
Here are the ones I’ve read so far and the link to my Goodreads reviews:
Landline by Rainbow Rowell: 4 Stars MY REVIEW
It Happened One Wedding by Julie James: 4 Stars MY REVIEW
Fourth of July Creek 3 Stars MY REVIEW
I Am Pilgram by Terry Hayes 5 Stars MY REVIEW
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt 5 Stars MY REIVEW
I’m also halfway through Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, and I’m loving it! The other two I’m reading are “The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova (yes… still reading it. It takes me so much longer these days if its not an audio book!) and “The Giver” by Lois Lowry. That movie comes out soon so I thought I should refresh my memory since I was young when I read it.
Getting Ready For: September brings my toddler’s birthday- which both of us love. The Utah League of Writers’ Conference is in September and this is the first year I will be attending, so I’m excited for that. I’m also now in charge of the Interviews for the Utah Valley Writer’s Website. I’m really excited to get started because I’ll get to meet many authors, editors and agents and share their experiences.
What I’m Writing: I’m working through an intense edit and I’m really exited to get back to my regular writing schedule now that school is back in session. My Riveting Writers group just had our Bootcamp where my motto was: EDIT TIL YOUR FINGERS BLEED. Nice huh? I think I finally hit my groove with this edit so good things are on the horizon!
Below is a picture with three of my four critique group partners at our retreat. We also met with a head editor and Michelle Ashman Bell– an amazing Utah author. We learned so much from her!
One of the girls in my writing group, ROBIN KING (last on the right) has her first book coming out soon! You can read all about her amazing new book, Remembrandt HERE. Remembrandt is a young adult suspense novel with playful romance, espionage and a splash of mystery. So excited for the book launch Robin!
Best Part of my Day: Lately we’ve been having some seriously amazing thunderstorms. Stormy weather is my most favorite writing weather and it also makes me feel like FALL is on the horizon. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this (not sure, probably have), but I have an incurable obsession with the FALL! So bring on it on!
See ya next week. August did not defeat me.
It’s a SNAPSHOT SERIES kind of day, where I give you a quick snapshot of what’s been going on with me!
What I had for Dinner last night: I made a big yummy salad that included: lettuce, red cabbage, tomatoes, avocados, carrots, feta, sunflower seeds, and Brianna’s Honey Mustard Dressing. Huge hit. Everyone devoured it immediately.
Last Movie I Saw: You guys… this is embarrassing. I seriously don’t know if I’ve seen a movie since my last Snapshot Series post (which was Divergent). I’ve been so busy with outside stuff that I don’t seem to watch as many movies in the summer. But I’m a HUGE fan of going to the movies. HHhhmm. I feel like I must remedy this immediately.
Delicious Reads Collaboration: I’m a contributor over at Delicious Reads and we just finished our big bash after reading The Goldfinch. You can GO HERE TO SEE PART I of the evening, which features our food menu- all derived from the Pulitzer Prize winning book by Donna Tartt! I’ll be finishing up Part III on Friday.
What I’m Reading: I’m in the middle of three books right now. I keep track of what I’m reading on my Goodreads Currently-Reading Shelf. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of AUDIOBOOKING it and so right now I have two books on my iPhone:
“The Fourth of July Creek,” by Smith Henderson, which I featured on my Top TEN Summer Reading Suggestions for 2014. It’s about a social worker that goes above an beyond to help a young boy who’s father is a religious zealot. I’m almost done with it and it’s been a very interesting read.
“The Evolution of Mara Dyer,” by Michelle Hodkin – This is the second book in her YA paranormal romance series, which I was admittedly hesitant to read but I really enjoyed the first book and now this one has my attention as well!
The third book is a well-worn and beloved book that a good friend let me borrow:
“The Historian,” by Elizabeth Kostova” It’s a tantalizing and mysterious read about a young woman who discovers a family secret though a series of old letters addressed to: “My Dear and Unfortunate Successor… ” It’s kind of haunting so I’m excited to see what happens.
What I’m Writing: Summer days with kids at home is the nemesis to my writing. But on the positive side, I’ve been able to do much more of THIS. I’m just chalking it up to seasons of life and I’m trying not to stress about it too much. I’ve been having a ball hanging out with my kiddos this summer. I’ve learned a lot from my little guy: I can totally name every kind of tractor -FYI, there are more than you think. I can play “momma tiger & baby tiger” for much longer than I thought possible. I can watch bugs for an obscene amount of time. I no longer worry about the constant layer of sand on all my clothes/hair/face/feet from our sandbox. I play a mean game of never-ending catch. I’ve come to terms with the fact that every single thing I do takes ten-times longer because my toddler has to do it himself along with me. I’m also a pro-sunscreener. I’m hoping all this will somehow translate into faster writing techniques when I get a chunk of writing time. That sounds like it will work, right?
Getting Ready For: My NAPA trip! This is my second year participating in the GUNBUNFUNRUN 5K in Napa. I have this awesome group of friends and most of them are doing the half marathon (props to you guys). But I had double knee surgery a year and a half ago so I’m sticking with the 5K. This year we are staying at a winery so I’m extra excited!! I seriously have the coolest group of friends.
Best Part of my Day: The best part of my day today is going to be this evening when I’m planning on having a Margarita on the porch. There’s nothing better than Utah summer evenings outside.
What’s up with you? I hope you’re having a great summer, relaxing and spending time with family and friends. Live it up!
See ya next week!
SUMMER is finally in full swing! Today I’d like to share 10 Ways to Have a Fulfilling Summer!
1) Spend Time OUTSIDE. Simply put, it’s good for the soul. Breathe in the fresh air, feel wind in your hair, get some sun on your face. Take off your shoes and feel that tickle of the grass or the soft grit of sand. I promise you’ll feel revitalized.
2) Take a Trip. Everybody needs a break from reality, something to look forward to, a reset of your capacity to deal with life. It doesn’t have to be and exotic location or an expensive get-away. But find a way to get out of town with someone you love this summer. You’ll come back with a renewed zest for life.
3) Participate in Local Activities. There’s something to be said for being part of your community. I bet you’ll be surprised how many events are offered between the city, local schools, libraries and recreation centers. The more you get involved, the more rooted to your community you will feel.
4) Do A “Summer-Cleaning.” Go through your closets, your garages and your kid’s rooms. See if there are things you no longer need or items you can donate to charity (Here’s a post I did about Sorting & Donating). Reducing the amount of clutter in your home will lift the mood of your house and give you peace of mind.
5) Spend 5 Minutes Reflecting at Night. Studies have shown that peoples who are consciously paying attention to the good things in their life are less prone to depression, they feel more fulfilled and live longer. Whether you do a thankful journal where you jot down one thing you are thankful for each day, use the Gratitude 365 App I talked about here, or even verbally share something you enjoyed about your day with someone you care about–find a way to focus on the good.
6) Commit to Less. Summer is a great time to scale back on your responsibilities. Guard your time and don’t be afraid to say NO. Make sure that if you’re participating in something it’s because you WANT to be there, not because you feel obligated.
7) Carve Out Time for Something You Love. Whatever it is that moves you and makes you feel alive… make time to do it! Be conscious to have at least one activity a day that makes your soul happy!
8) Be Active. The days are long and perfect for squeezing in something active to reduce stress, lose weight, tone up and find mental clarity. Go running, biking, hiking, waterskiing, jet skiing, golfing, canoeing, rappelling–just SOMETHING active. Go chase your kids in a game of tag, participate in a fitness boot-camp, take your dog for a long walk, jump on a trampoline, play a pick-up game of basketball, throw a ball around, go to an outdoor yoga class or swim some laps. Take advantage of the these longer days because Fall will be here before you know it!
9) Read! Being a writer, I may be a little biased here… but I also devoured 50 Books in 2013 and it enriched so many things in my life and broadened my perspectives. Here’s my list of the 2014 Top Ten Summer Recommendations. Even if you’re not normally a reader or can’t seem to find the time, try to read at least one book this summer. Here’s a few suggestions of how to make reading more convenient for you!
BONUS CHALLENGE: Create a Bucket List! I had so much fun putting mine together and it’s great to keep things I want to do in my life on my radar. Try it! What have you always wanted to do??
I hope you’re able to use some of these ideas to make your summer more meaningful. 2014 can be the best summer yet!
Have a safe and happy Independence Day tomorrow!!
It’s that time of year again! School’s out, vacations are planned, the days are long and everything can be done poolside! Last year I I shared this list of 2013 Summer Reads, and this year’s line-up promises to be just as good! Let’s get this party started!!
I’m really excited to read another book form this author, Rainbow Rowell. I adored Eleanor and Park and so I can’t wait to try this one out. This book is geared to adults whereas Eleanor and Park was a young adult novel. It’s about and woman named Georgie and her struggling marriage to Neal. Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past, and has to decide if she wants to fix her marriage or if it would be better if they had never been together in the first place. They depth and description of the relationship in Eleanor and Park was fantastic so I’m hoping this one is just as amazing.
This book is a collection of underground short stories that are supposedly astonishing, heartbreaking and beautiful. There’s been a lot of hype surrounding this book lately so I think I’m going to try it out. The author gives instructions at the beginning to read the stories in order. Certain characters and stories weave themselves into other parts of the book. I haven’t read a lot of short story collections so I’m hoping this one lives up to its hype!
I’m going to put the book blurb for this one because it’s so interesting and different:
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
Doesn’t that make you want to read it??? Me too.
Julie James’ FBI/US Attorney Series is my favorite guilty pleasure series. I’ve read all her other books in this series and while I don’t usually read romance books, I’ve loved all of these. They are sexy and witty and always a great beach/vacation read. This one is about Sydney Sinclair who is nursing her wounds over a failed engagement when her sister gets engaged. Sydney is determined to shut down the advances of the best man, Special Agent Vaughn Roberts. Julie James is sure to deliver the witty banter and tension that I love.
This book promises to be one of those books that will stay with you for a long time. It’s about a social worker named Pete who helps a undernourished, almost feral eleven-year old boy in the Montana wilderness. Pete’s journey to help this boy lands him in the middle of an FBI manhunt that will make it impossible to put down.
I’m a big Liane Moriarty fan (My reviews of The Husband’s Secret, What Alice Forgot, & The Hypnotists Love Story). I’m really excited about her new book, which comes out July 29, 2014. Big Little Lies is the intersection of three women’s lives: Madaline, the funny, 40 year old woman who is working through the fallout from her divorce, Celeste, the beautiful mom who seems to have everything lined up perfectly and Jane, the young mother who has been mistaken for the nanny. Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands, second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.
I guess I’m embracing collections of short stories this summer! B.J. Novak, aka the actor, writer and director of The Office delivers his debut this summer. It’s an endlessly entertaining, surprisingly sensitive, and startlingly original debut collection that signals the arrival of a welcome new voice in American fiction. Across a dazzling range of subjects, themes, tones, and narrative voices, Novak’s assured prose and expansive imagination introduce readers to people, places, and premises that are hilarious, insightful, provocative, and moving-often at the same time.
The premise of this book just sounds so interesting I have to pick it up: Paul O’Rourke is a man made of contradictions- he loves the world, but doesn’t know how to live in it. He’s a Luddite addicted to his iPhone, a dentist with a nicotine habit, a rabid Red Sox fan devastated by their victories, and an atheist not quite willing to let go of God. Then someone begins to impersonate Paul online, and he watches in horror as a website, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account are created in his name. What begins as an outrageous violation of his privacy soon becomes something more soul-frightening: the possibility that the online “Paul” might be a better version of the real thing.
I’m really excited about this thriller! Check out the blurb: Can you commit the perfect crime? Pilgrim is the codename for a man who doesn’t exist. The adopted son of a wealthy American family, he once headed up a secret espionage unit for US intelligence. Before he disappeared into anonymous retirement, he wrote the definitive book on forensic criminal investigation. But that book will come back to haunt him when there’s a textbook murder – and Pilgrim wrote the book.
I’m finishing up my summer reads list with a book I’ve read TWICE since it was released last October! I adore this book! It just won the Pulitzer Prize and is very well deserving. Donna Tartt is amazing with her descriptions and you feel completely immersed in Theo’s world.
The Goldfinch is the story of Theodore Decker whose life veers onto a new path when he survives a terrible accident in the Metropolitan Museum of Art that kills his mother. Inextricably connected to the Goldfinch painting, his whole life is altered by this one event. It’s an epic story that will give you book-hangover and make you wish you could read it for the first time all over again.
You can read my original review of it HERE. I will also be moderating the discussion of this book at the beginning of July for the Delicious Reads Book Club and I’m so excited!! I really recommend the audio-version, read by David Pittu who does a fantastic job. The book is a whopping 771 pages (I can’t BELIEVE I read that twice!) and so having the audio version is really helpful.
Well, that’s my 2014 Summer Line-Up! Have you read any of these yet? Do you have other recommendations for me? I hope you have an amazing summer and that you are able to relax and spend some time immersed in some of these books!
See ya next week!
As a voracious reader, I love to find complex characters that that move me- the kind I’m rooting for and the ones I love to hate. The more you understand why you’re identifying with your favorite characters, the better you’ll become at choosing books you can’t put down.
Typically, the main characters can be broken down into the protagonist and the antagonist- they’re pretty easy to spot: the protagonist is the one we’re rooting for and the antagonist is the one in the way of the protag’s goal.
But this is where it gets interesting. The characters who move me the most are intricately layered. The hero has several flaws that at any moment could be his/her undoing. And my favorite villains have a sliver of humanity in them- a reason to hope for redemption.
Think of Dexter (Dexter Book Series and Dexter TV Series)- the Miami Forensic specialist who is a serial killer- the caveat is he’s only killing other serial killers who have slipped through the legal system and pose a significant threat. So you want to hate him… but he’s saving lives, so it gets a little complicated. He’s the protagonist in the series, but his “dark passenger” gives him an unexpected depth that leaves you questioning if you love him or hate him.
Consider Miranda Priestly (The Devil Wears Prada Book and The Devil wears Prada Movie). She is one of the most powerful women in the business. She gets what she wants with possess poise and grace toward those she wants to impress. But we love to hate her because she’s so heartless to her staff. She’s the antagonist, but we briefly catch a glimpse of a few redeeming qualities, leaving you to wonder if all her nastiness is a product of her situation.
Jay, from The Great Gatsby (The Great Gatsby Book and The Great Gatsby Movie) is a man of ambition. We admire his tenacity and his passion- we identify with him because we all want to make more out of ourselves. But as the story unfolds from the view of his neighbor, Jay’s shallowness is exposed, leaving us with that sick feeling of a disappearing mirage.
Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games Book and The Hunger Games Movie) is the protagonist of this series but in order to save her sister and herself, she has to kill many other innocent teenagers. You don’t want to root for a murderer, but her circumstances force her to do what she does, so you can get behind her motives.
And of course we can’t talk about layered and complex characters who get lost in their fight for good without mentioning Walter White. Walt from Breaking Bad is a high school chemistry teacher with lung cancer. In his quest to provide for the family he will leave behind, he begins cooking and selling Meth. Walt is about as complex of a character as you can get, and we both love and hate him.
As a writer, I try to infuse as much depth into my characters as I can because that evokes emotion and moves us. Everyone has flaws, everyone tries and fails. That’s what we want as readers- to feel the humanity of our favorite characters. To identify with them and then question what you would do in their situation.
The next two books we are reading at Delicious Reads both have complex characters that I’m really excited to read and discuss!
In The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty (our May selection to be discussed at the beginning of June), the lives of three women are intertwined when Cecilia Fitzpatrich finds a letter from her husband that is only supposed to be opened in the event of his death. The secret held in the envelope will make her question everything.
The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt is the June selection that I will be moderating at the beginning of July. I’m SO excited about this book!! Little Brown & Co. invited us to be one of their Book Club Insiders and generously sent us copies!! Delicious Reads loves Little Brown & Co!
The Goldfinch just won The Pulitzer Prize! Congrats Donna Tartt!! It’s the story of Theo Decker, who survives an explosion at a museum that kills his mother. It’s in this dire moment that he’s entrusted with a painting of a Goldfinch that changes his life forever. Theo is a very layered and complex character and I’m so excited to discuss everything about him. I’m not going to reveal anything here because I don’t want to spoil your read. Just trust me, pick up this book!!
Hopefully this post helps you understand how to pick out the complexities of your favorite characters, allowing you to appreciate your favorite heroines, heroes and characters you love to hate.
See ya next time!
I just finished reading Harlan Coben’s “Missing You, (which was fantastic and you can see my review HERE). He brings up a thought that has stuck with me, spinning around in my head all day. The main character, Kat Donovan’s father was murdered many years prior, and she’s been hunting his killer ever since. There’s a moment where she is having this revealing conversation with someone who knew her father, and learning both good and bad things that she never knew about her dad. This person says that they would give up anything, forgive anything, forget anything, for just a few more minutes with him. Kat is struck by this thought and it changes her perception on everything.
That idea of loving and missing someone so much that you would literally do anything to even have just a few more minutes with them has got me thinking about what’s really important in life. It could just be someone who you don’t see anymore for whatever reason, or someone who has passed away. It made me think of moments I might otherwise take for granted. It made me realize how much faster we should forgive, how much deeper we should love, and how much harder we should fight for what makes us happy.
It’s funny how a gripping thriller would make me turn so introspective, but its good to have a wake-up call to level everything out so you can see things in your life clearly.
Life is unpredictable.
Be happy. Forgive. Work hard. Be grateful. Find your passion. Love with everything you’ve got.
Til next time…
Happy Valentines Day!!
Today is your day to revel in all that we’ve accomplished with the “30 Days to Love Yourself Project“ I designed. Thank you for taking this journey with me and for all your participation.
Here are links to each post to go along with the recap collage above. Sending all my love your way!
Happy Love Day!! xoxo Brooke
30 Days to Love Yourself Project
Day 30!!! YAY!
Put your best foot forward- Dress up, let the sun in, laugh as much as you can, turn up the music, spend time with loved ones, celebrate your uniqueness, acknowledge the strides you’ve made, appreciate your body, your mind, your heart and love with wild abandon.
Congratulations on making it to our 30th day in the project! I hope that you’ve been able to learn some things about yourself, stretch your limits and have some fun along the way. Tomorrow is Valentines Day. I love the idea to celebrate love by starting with yourself, which is the thought that started this whole thing. I designed this project to bring us full circle- back to the beginning.
My final thought I want to leave you with is this:
You are enough.
Everything in your being, exactly as it is right now- no more, no less, is as it should be. You are enough.
You have been though things. Hard things, that have changed you and left scars. You are enough.
You are loved. You don’t need validation from someone else for this to be true. Reach deep yourself and you will find it. You are enough.
You are beautiful inside and out. You are enough.
You have things to contribute to this world that no one else can. You are enough.
If there’s one thing I could etch onto your hearts after this month, it is that you are enough. You’re not broken, or ugly, or out of shape, or boring, or lazy, or unloveable. You are enough. Just the way you are.
Revel in that.
My friends, on this Valentines Eve, and at the end of this project, I hope you’ve been able to internalize the things we’ve done to help you appreciate yourself and all you have to offer. I hope you feel rejuvenated and ready for whatever you have planned tomorrow, feeling confident and happy.
All my love, Brooke
(If you missed any of the previous days of the 30 Days to Love Yourself Project” you can read the posts HERE.)