Writing a stand-out novel involves a lot of individual pieces working together in perfect concert. If there's no solid plot? Readers get confused, lost or bored. If the plot is great, but the characters are all one-dimensional paper dolls? No one cares. If we butcher grammar, spelling and formatting? It's a formula for dismal sales or even a long line of one-star reviews from ticked off readers.
Gratitude is part of my daily routine, but on Thanksgiving and this year, on a Thanksgiving that coincides with Hanukkah, I’m especially grateful for my family history. Several generations back, my ancestors left lives and livelihoods behind for a better deal in America. I’m grateful for that, because between the cossacks’ pogroms and Hitler, who knows if I’d even be around to write these words?
Perhaps that’s why I find immigrant stories so compelling. Here are a few of my favorites. Continue reading
Randy (Random Number Generator) and I have just chosen the winners from each stop on my recent virtual blog tour for Sliding Past Vertical. One commenter from each participating blog wins a copy of Drawing Breath; the overall winner from all the commenters wins a $30 Amazon gift card, just in time for holiday shopping.
Here are the e-book winners:
And…drumroll, please…the winner of the $30 Amazon gift card is…
Congratulations to our winners! Thank you to everyone for stopping by during the tour and thank you to Goddess Fish Promotions for throwing the party. They make the best margaritas…
Happy Friday, everyone! I’m excited that Sliding Past Vertical is about to go on tour—well, a virtual tour—and that these lovely blogs have agreed to host me. We’ll have a mix of interviews, reviews, and short articles. I hope you’ll stop by and leave the blog owners a like or a comment for being so nice. Especially a comment, because that’s how you can win stuff. I’ll be giving away an e-copy of Drawing Breath at each stop (And maybe some extra goodies.) At the end, I’ll draw from all comments for one winner of a $30 Amazon gift card: just in time for holiday shopping. I’m looking forward to seeing you!
Monday, November 18: Zee Monodee – Author’s Corner
Tuesday, November 19: Deal Sharing Aunt
Wednesday, November 20: Straight from the Library
Thursday, November 21: Musings and Ramblings
Friday, November 22: Long and Short Reviews
Fifteen years ago this month, my husband and I moved out of the tiny apartment we’d overgrown and into our own house. I hesitate to write that we’d “taken possession” of it, because technically it’s the bank’s house and they’ve been generous enough to let us live here. What excited me most about home ownership? Not that we’d finally have room for all of our stuff. Not that I could go crazy landscaping or putting up an herb garden. Not that we had the ability to knock out walls, which we haven’t, or paint them in colors not synonymous with “off white,” which we have.
No. Continue reading
If you want to jump start your writing or give your creativity a little cross training, you might want to check out Morgen Bailey’s Online Novel Writing Group website. Every weekday, she posts four writing prompts. Sometimes it’s a group of words to be used in one piece of writing. Or sentence openers, concepts to explore, or maybe even a picture. Set your timers for fifteen minutes and try one of them. You don’t even have to be a novelist. Use them as a warm-up exercise for other writing, or to shake the cobwebs out of your brain if you have a problem you can’t solve. Continue reading
Sometimes a book, like a character, will name itself. You’ll be chugging along on the first draft and the perfect name or title pops into your head and nothing, no matter how long you brainstorm, poll your friends, read the baby-naming books, or draft pro-con lists, will ever work as well.
Drawing Breath was like that.
In a way, Sliding Past Vertical was as well.
The title came from a term used in diving competitions. I’m a huge fan. Obsessed, you could call it. When the Summer Olympics air, I will troll the cable channels and Internet footage for all of the qualifying rounds, not just the finals. Mainly I watch because it’s so beautiful. These daredevils leap and spin and twirl and land perfectly, knifing through water with such quick precision that they become negative space, leaving a tiny hole where they cut through. I want to know why. I want to know how they position their hands and feet to create barely a teaspoon of splash. I want to know what’s going through their heads as their toes leave the board. I want to know what those little towels they dry their hair off are made from. I want one. I want to know why someone would think of jumping off such a ginormously high platform in the first place.
I’m also fascinated because I have always been terrified of diving. No matter how much my father egged me on, no matter how many times he offered me a quarter to simply put my arms out and roll head first off the edge of the pool, I couldn’t make myself do it. I still can’t, and I’m okay with that, so I live vicariously through Olympic diving.
I forget which Olympic games I was watching while I worked on the first draft of this novel. During the commentary, one of the announcers, a former champion herself, kept talking about one competitor’s unfortunate habit of “sliding past vertical” during her dives. In the ideal dive, no matter how many times you spin and flip and twirl, you need to straighten out your body at a certain point so that you break the water as perpendicular to the surface as possible. That’s part of what results in the tiny splash, which is the last impression a diver leaves with the judges. The Chinese divers seem particularly good at it. Slide past that vertical ideal, however, and it’s not the prettiest of pictures. If you don’t get a good jump, or if your spins go out of control, often you don’t have enough time to get your body in the right position for the entry. Hence, that sliding thing.
Even before I started writing the book, I knew that Sarah, my female lead, had been a diver. I knew she was having problems with getting her life on track, especially when it came to certain ill-considered decisions going terribly awry. Learning about “sliding past vertical” brought it all together for me. I knew that had to be my title, because the affliction not only ended Sarah’s diving aspirations, but also had bled into her everyday life and the lives of the other characters.
What are some of your favorite “odd” book titles? Do you think they fit the stories?