Writer’s Digest interview with Patricia Cornwell

Hey, peeps!

If you’re a US writer (heck, a writer anywhere!) and not a subscriber to Writer’s Digest, try it. At least for a year to see how you like it. And if you’re a reader but not necessarily a writer, there are some FAB interviews with authors in WD.

For example! The October 2012 issue of Writer’s Digest has this super-cool interview with international supah-star crime writer Patricia Cornwell, by Jessica Strawser. As those of you who are familiar with Cornwell are aware, her premier character is medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta.

If you’re not a subscriber, find someone who is so you can read it or buy the issue. It’s available in print, but it’s not available to non-subscribers online. If you purchase the digital issue online, I believe it gives you access to online content relevant to that issue not available in the print. Like the extended version of the interview, in which Cornwell briefly discusses gay characters and mainstream fiction in the online outtakes.

I’ve been reading Cornwell off and on since Postmortem (1990) was released, and I’ve followed her career peripherally. One of the things that I really appreciate about her books is the extensive research she does for each one. It shows. And for crime writing, that is, I think, ultra-important.

In the interview, she discusses her writing process, the boundaries she keeps, and how she approaches writing and forensics. One of the things I appreciated about the intro to the interview is the matter-of-fact way her marriage to psychiatrist Staci Ann Gruber is treated. It’s mentioned, and. . .that’s it. No OMG THE GAY CRIME WRITER freakout. A mention of her marriage to her, and on to a couple other pertinent details about her successful defamation suit against a writer who accused her of plagiarism then waged an online war against her character.

So let’s have some more tidbits from the interview!

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More processing

I was reading the latest issue of Writer’s Digest (I highly recommend you try a subscription to this mag — it usually contains good writing and promo tips for authors plus interviews with authors) and came across an interview with Andre Dubus III, who wrote The House of Sand and Fog (among many others). The film based on that book was an Oscar nominee. The book itself was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Dubus is a larger-than-life kinda guy. Boston brawler born, who looks like the literary love child of John Mellencamp and Kurt Russell (that’s Zachary Petit’s description and I agree), he’s comfortable sharing a laugh and a pint as well as writing these intensely dark and poignant stories that leave us wrung out, alone, and wondering where the good is in being human. He taps the deep and lives his truth, which may be why his writing resonates with so many.

How does he do it? I like to find out about other writers’ processes. That is, the actual mechanical things they do to prepare for a writing session. Here’s Dubus’ process, from the article in Writer’s Digest:

“Andre Dubus III is both artist and businessman. It’s methodical: Every morning, Dubus wakes up and takes his kids to school (he lives in Massachusetts with his wife, who is a professional dancer, and two of his three children). He returns home. It’s empty of everyone except the dog. He takes a cup of black dark roast coffee down to the basement, where he’s built a 5-by-11 sound-proofed room. He sits at a desk in front of a blank wall, types the previous day’s longhand writing into the computer, then turns the machine off. He sharpens a pencil with a knife, reads three or four poems — for ‘the high bar of language that poets always give us prose writers’ — and then stares at the page.

‘I try to put myself in a state of openness and receptivity and not try to say anything and not think it, but dream it. And then I pick up where I left off.’

He writes for two to three hours, goes to the gym to clear his head (he still works out ‘like a demon’), and that’s it.

When it comes to creating a piece of writing, Dubus believes the story has to percolate in our mind — and that you shouldn’t write it too early.

‘There’s a profound difference between making something up and imagining it,’ he says. ‘Imagining it instead is falling into your psyche, your imagination, and finding some aspiring writer asks him a career question, he says he gets uncomfortable — he’s happy to help, but wants to know if the person has done the real work first: painstakingly crafted the words.”
From “Meet the Real Andre Dubus III,” by Zachary Petit (Writer’s Digest, July/August 2012), p. 43.

The interview itself is not available on the Writer’s Digest site unless you’re a subscriber (it’s in the print version, though), but you can get some of Dubus’ other words of wisdom from the site HERE.

So, writers. What’s your process? Does it seem to work? Would you change it if you thought it would open new windows for you? Just curious.

Happy Sunday.

Cool issue of Writer’s Digest

Hey, peeps!

Hope your week is treating you well. Mine’s outta hand, but no worries.

So I finally got around to reading the May/June 2012 issue of Writer’s Digest. Writers, if you buy one issue of this magazine this year, make it this one.

There’s a big ol’ piece called “The New Era of Publishing: Making It Work for You” by literary agent April Eberhardt. It’s a good primer for coming to grips with how publishing is changing, and what that means for you in terms of finding the right model for how you want to proceed as an author, regardless of where you are in your writing career.

There’s also an article by e-publishing guru Jane Friedman, called “The Basics of DIY E-Book Publishing,” which is another crash course in that subject, with Jane’s easy-to-understand info and tips. You can find her HERE, too, for more awesome-ness from her guru-ness. (No, SRSLY. Jane Friedman is considered an authority in e-publishing. She’s currently a professor in e-media at the U of Cincinnati and a former editor of Writer’s Digest.)

The next piece is called “Today’s Best Strategies for Savvy Self-Publishers,” by Joel Friedlander, author of a book on self-publishing and an award-winning book designer. Go see.

And one of my personal faves, WD’s best websites for writers. This is their 14th annual “101 Best,” broken down by category like “Creativity,” “Everything Agents,” “Online Writing Communities,” “Jobs & Markets,” and “Publishing Resources.” A couple that readers here might find intriguing include WOW! Women on Writing, an ezine that supports women through every step of the process. Go here. The current issue is about the art of storytelling. Novel Rocket offers tons of interviews and advice from published authors and literary agents. Grammar Girl (she is freaking supercalifragilisticexpealidocious) takes on grammatical quandaries that authors of all levels deal with. Check it out. And one more, to whet your whistle — Coalition of Independent Authors, a group of self-published writers who created the Coalition to gain exposure for their work.

That is just a taste of the 101 entirely useful sites in this list. The catch? You have to actually purchase the print copy of this mag, as these groovy tips are not available at the website. However, there are lots of cool things on the site for writers in terms of tips, writing prompts, exercises, and workshops to consider. So even if you opt not to subscribe or buy this issue, the Writer’s Digest site offers some good info for all kinds of writers.

Happy writing, happy reading!

Tuesday Writing Prompt

Hi, all–

Whew. Hope your T-Day was awesome (if you celebrate it — if not, hope your weekend was awesome). I was on the road enjoying some groovy sights n’ sounds but here I am! Back again!

Anyway, I think you need a writing prompt. Try this one, from Writer’s Digest:

A close friend asks you to help him kill his wife and, to his surprise, you agree without hesitation—not because you particularly dislike his wife, but because she’s the only person who knows this one deep, dark secret that could ruin your life forever. Write about how you confront her and how the murder plays out.
Source: Writer’s Digest

A little on the macabre side, yes? Some of you, I’m sure, will dig that. And speaking of macabre, how about 10 ingenious ways to get rid of a body, from 10 different movies? That might help you…um…”flesh out” your scene that the prompt above provides. 😀 And if you just wanna find out about some horror books and news from the horror genre, try Greg at the Undead Rat. He’s always got great info about books and writing in horror. He’ll steer you to places you never thought you’d go. MUAH HA HA!!!

Now if that doesn’t say holidays, I don’t know what does. hee hee!

Okay, kids. More later this week. Take care and happy writing!

Writing tips!

Hey, peeperinos–

Here are a couple of good writing tip links. Here’s Jeff Abbott, award-winning international suspense- and thriller-writing guy over at Amazon’s Omnivoracious talking about how to “build a hero” in your mystery/thriller books. Abbott talks about how he comes to embrace a hero in his books, and the characteristics a hero should have.

And here’s Writer’s Digest, with 5 most excellent tips for building a story.

Here’s a flavor (Quote):

1. Orientation:
The beginning of a story must grab the reader’s attention, orient her to the setting, mood and tone of the story, and introduce her to a protagonist she will care about, even worry about, and emotionally invest time and attention into. If readers don’t care about your protagonist, they won’t care about your story, either.

So, what’s the best way to introduce this all-important character? In essence, you want to set reader expectations and reveal a portrait of the main character by giving readers a glimpse of her normal life. If your protagonist is a detective, we want to see him at a crime scene. If you’re writing romance, we want to see normal life for the young woman who’s searching for love. Whatever portrait you draw of your character’s life, keep in mind that it will also serve as a promise to your readers of the transformation that this character will undergo as the story progresses.

And there are four more with great explanations. Check ’em out and have fun!

Happy writing, happy reading, Happy freakin’ Thursday!

Tips on writing stronger characters

Hi, all–

Usually on Sundays I provide some reading material or share with you a title of an article or book I’m reading. But since I am a writer, I also like to share tips for those of you who, for whatever reason, thought being a writer was a good idea. Welcome to my circus! I thought it was a good idea, too! LOL

Anyway, since we’re on this journey together, here are a couple of articles from Writer’s Digest that might help you create stronger, more nuanced characters. Plus, there’s another link to a blog that fellow writer Clifford Henderson did on it. And readers, if you ever read something and the writer makes it look easy, I hope you can appreciate the amount of work that went into that tract. Because it’s when everything’s working properly and smoothly that you know it’s the best kind of writing. Most writers work hard to achieve that — I don’t know if I have, yet, but dang it, I keep trying.

Want some more?

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Writing tips–need a quickie prompt?

Hey, all–feeling cranky and dispossessed? Just want a quickie little prompt to give you some writing oooomph?

Check in with Writer’s Digest bloggers, like Zachary Petit. Today’s prompt involves an author, an ocean, and a weapon.

Here’s the link to his blog.

And here’s the link to Writer’s Digest, which is a good resource for writers.