Rocky Mountain Writer #51


20151130_105248Wendy J. Fox & The Pull of It 

Wendy J. Fox, author of the forthcoming The Pull Of It, is the guest. The Pull Of It debuts in late September from Underground Voices.

Wendy is also the author of The Seven Stages of Anger and Other Stories, which won the inaugural Press 53 Award for Short Fiction.

Her fiction, essays and interviews have appeared in ZYZZYVA, the Tampa Review, The Missouri Review and The Pinch, among others.

Wendy Fox

Underground Voices

 

 

Intro music by Moby Gratis
Outro music by Dan-o-Songs

For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com

“Are You Taking This Seriously Enough?” Seriously?

Paul McCartneyPaul McCartney just turned 74 but he’s still not sure how to write a song.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Did you hear Macca on NPR’s All Songs Considered?

Yes, one of the best songwriters of the last six decades or so says he still isn’t sure how it all works.

If I was to sit down and write a song, now, I'd use my usual method: I'd either sit down with a guitar or at the piano and just look for melodies, chord shapes, musical phrases, some words, a thought just to get started with.

And then I just sit with it to work it out, like I'm writing an essay or doing a crossword puzzle. That's the system I've always used, that John [Lennon] and I started with. I've really never found a better system and that system is just playing the guitar and looking for something that suggests a melody and perhaps some words if you're lucky.

Then I just fiddle around with that and try and follow the trail, try and follow where it appears to be leading me … I'm of the school of the instinctive.

I once worked with Allen Ginsberg and Allen always used to say, 'First thought, best thought.' And then he would edit everything. But I think the theory is good. 'First thought, best thought.' It doesn't always work, but as a general idea I will try and do that and sometimes I come out with a puzzling set of words that I have no idea what I mean, and yet I've got to kind of make sense of it and follow the trail.

You can hear the whole interview here. (It's a cool podcast, too.)

If you listen, check out McCartney's youthful enthusiasm for the process. He’s still scratching his head about how it all works.

Do you ever noodle around?

Do you ever just not worry about the big picture, the big idea, the big concept?

And try to write a few words?

Just because?

(Words are cool. There is an endless supply and they don’t mind if you make a mess at first.)

Anyway, if you listen to the interview, check out McCartney’s enthusiasm, his eagerness. He talks about a few experimental efforts and stretching himself out. Think you know McCartney? Check out this effort with Freelance Hellraiser (Roy Kerr) on "Twin Freaks."

That’s a long way from “Eight Days A Week.”

Or “Paperback Writer.”

I was 10 years old when The Beatles blew up. My older brother and I bought every album when they came out. We listened over and over.

And over.

And now here’s Sir Paul decades later, after two inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (one with The Beatles, one as a solo artist).

He’s still writing music--and enjoying it.

I do like it. I do enjoy it. I mean, when I get a day off and I've suddenly got loads of time on my hands, I might do the kind of thing where I'm at home — I live on a farm — so I might get out for a horse ride or something. But when I've done those things that I want to do and there is still a couple of hours in the afternoon, I'll often just gravitate to a piano or a guitar and I feel myself just kind of writing a song. It's like a hobby, and it's a hobby that turned into a living. But I like to think of it that way and I sometimes kind of pull myself up and say, 'Are you taking this seriously enough? Maybe you should try a little bit more.

Yeah, sure, can you imagine if this McCartney’s output if tried a little bit more?

If he took it seriously?

Listening to McCartney chat about the process makes me want to get out some words and push them around a bit, see what happens.

paperback writerIt's a thousand pages, give or take a few
I'll be writing more in a week or two
I can make it longer if you like the style
I can change it round and I want to be a paperback writer...
- Lennon & McCartney

Rocky Mountain Writer #50


LaurenceLaurence MacNaughton & It Happened One Doomsday 

Laurence MacNaughton's It Happened One Doomsday debuts this month (July, 2016) and it's already off to a roaring start.

Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, RT Book Reviews and Library Journal have all weighed in with glowing comments and Barnes & Noble is getting behind the new title in a very big way.

On the podcast, Laurence MacNaughton talks about the approach to writing It Happened One Doomsday, particularly how a chance conversation with one Hugh Howey led to a shift in his thinking about how to write the story. He also gives us a quick look at his Instant Plot workshop and gives us a sneak peek at another workshop that it’s in development. Laurence MacBaughton grew up Connecticut and sold his first magazine story at age 19. Over the years, he’s been a bookseller, typesetter, printer, copywriter and a prototype vehicle test driver.

This episode includes Laurence reading a scene from It Happened One Doomsday.

Laurence MacNaughton

Pyr Books

 

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For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com

Rocky Mountain Writer #49

Jennifer K 3Jennifer Kincheloe & The Secret Life of Anna Blanc

Last week, Jennifer Kincheloe found out that her first mystery, The Secret Life of Anna Blanc was nominated for a Macavity award in the historical category—one of the top prizes in the mystery writing field.

Just a few years ago, that same novel was a winner in the annual Colorado Gold contest for unpublished novelists. .

This time on the podcast, Jennifer talks about her path to publication and how she goes about researching her books, set in the early 1900’s in Los Angeles and southern California. She also talks about how she developed the Anna Blanc character and her interesting approach to social media.

This podcast includes a recording of Jennifer reading a selection from The Secret Life of Anna Blanc.

Jennifer holds a Masters degree in Public Health from Loma Linda University and a PhD in Health Services from UCLA. She spent 11 years conducting research to inform health policy.

She is a member of RMFW, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and other groups.

She lives in Denver with her husband and two children.

Jennifer Kincheloe

Seventh Street Books

 

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For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com

Rocky Mountain Writer #48

Lisa AdamsLisa Adams - Nuts & Bolts of Tax Law (For Writers)

The guest is writer and attorney Lisa Adams, who is giving a master class at Colorado Gold conference in September called Avoiding Real Life Drama, The Nuts & Bolts of Tax Law.

Lisa Adams is an Arizona-based attorney. Her expertise is in federal tax law, federal Indian law, criminal law and procedure, and complex business transactions. She is also the author of Bound Justice.

As a writer, do you know the basics of what counts as income or how to track expenses? If you’re going the indy route, do you draw up contracts when you hire a graphic artist or an editor? Do you think you should?

Lisa’s got some great advice—and experience.
 

 

Lisa Adams
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For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com

Backstory Feeds Frontstory

Whack me upside the head – go ahead.

I was putting together a presentation recently for a workshop about writing mysteries and I wanted to make the point that the variety of ideas for mysteries—setting, characters, plots and themes—is endless.

I thought it might be insightful and instructive (maybe even interesting) to look at recent Edgar Award Winners.

So I made up a nifty PowerPoint slide for three books and included, verbatim, the description of each story.

JuneBlog2016LouBerneyThe first was Lou Berney’s The Long and Far Away Gone, winner of the Edgar Award for best paperback original.

(What a great title.)

Summary: In the summer of 1986, two tragedies rocked Oklahoma City. Six movie-theater employees were killed in an armed robbery, while one inexplicably survived. Then, a teenage girl vanished from the annual State Fair. Neither crime was ever solved. Twenty-five years later, the reverberations of those unsolved cases quietly echo through survivors’ lives. A private investigator in Vegas, Wyatt’s latest inquiry takes him back to a past he’s tried to escape—and drags him deeper into the harrowing mystery of the movie house robbery that left six of his friends dead.

 

JuneBlog2016LoriRoyThe second was for Lori Roy’s Let Me Dies in His Footsteps, winner of the Edgar Award for best novel. (Best novel!)

Summary: On a dark Kentucky night in 1952 exactly halfway between her fifteenth and sixteenth birthdays, Annie Holleran crosses into forbidden territory. Everyone knows Hollerans don’t go near Baines, not since Joseph Carl was buried two decades before, but, armed with a silver-handled flashlight, Annie runs through her family’s lavender fields toward the well on the Baines’ place. At the stroke of midnight, she gazes into the water in search of her future. Not finding what she had hoped for, she turns from the well and when the body she sees there in the moonlight is discovered come morning, Annie will have much to explain and a past to account for.

 

JuneBlog2016LoriRaderDayThe third was Lori Rader-Day’s Little Pretty Things, winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award. (Love this title, too.)

Juliet Townsend is used to losing. Back in high school, she lost every track team race to her best friend, Madeleine Bell. Ten years later, she’s still running behind, stuck in a dead-end job cleaning rooms at the Mid-Night Inn, a one-star motel that attracts only the cheap or the desperate. But what life won’t provide, Juliet takes. Then one night, Maddy checks in. Well-dressed, flashing a huge diamond ring, and as beautiful as ever, Maddy has it all. By the next morning, though, Juliet is no longer jealous of Maddy—she’s the chief suspect in her murder. To protect herself, Juliet investigates the circumstances of her friend’s death. But what she learns about Maddy’s life might cost Juliet everything she didn’t realize she had.

I haven’t read any of these books—but I want to read them all!

Right?

In putting together the presentation, it was easy to spot the fuel for each fire.

Berney: Twenty-five years later…

Roy: Two decades before…

Rader-Day: Back in high school…

I know it’s obvious.

It’s a simple point.

But characters are nothing if not for their backstory.

Brighton - Michael HarveyCharacters don’t walk onto the page without having been bruised or beaten or worse. They have had a life.

If your character’s past is dull, gray, bland, flat, flavorless, vanilla, and drama-free, you may not have a character. Or much of a story.  Sure, it’s what happened to your character but it’s also how your character responded to those key moments. That’s where character—and your story—is forged.

Now I see backstory everywhere I look. “Happy Valley”—the best Netflix thing I’ve seen in a long, long time. The writers backed up a dump truck full of backstory and piled it on West Yorkshire sergeant Catherine Cawood. (The "happy" in Happy Valley isn't so happy.) And I just read a taut novel called Brighton, by Michael Harvey, and backstory drives “front” story like a seamless Mobius strip of tension and action.

As I said, an obvious point.

But if you’re struggling with a plot or the “now,” you might take a look at the past.

Rocky Mountain Writer #47

Heather Webb
Heather Webb

Heather Webb - Nailing an Agent-Grabbing Opening  

 

Writer Heather Webb stops by the podcast to give a sneak peek of the four-hour master class she'll be giving at Colorado Gold, RMFW's big three-day conference in September.

Her class is called Nailing an Agent-Grabbing Opening and it will give participants a chance to learn what makes an opening grabby, or trite, and how to win an agent's eye.

Heather also catches us up on all her projects, including a short story collection she spearheaded that was recently reviewed in the New York Times.

Heather Webb’s novels Becoming Josephine and Rodin's Lover are published by Penguin Random House and have sold in six countries. Both books have received starred national reviews and Rodin's Lover was a Goodread’s Pick of the Month in 2015. Heather’s works have been featured in national print media including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Elle, France Magazine, Dish Magazine, the Washington Independent Review of Books, and more

 

 

 

Heather Webb
On Facebook
On Twitter

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For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com

Rocky Mountain Writer #46

Susan Spann
Susan Spann

Susan Spann - Writing a Killer Mystery 

This time on the podcast we welcome back RMFW Writer of the Year Susan Spann, author of the forthcoming The Ninja’s Daughter.

Susan is giving a master class at Colorado Gold in September and she’s here this time to give us a sneak peek of that class, Writing a Killer Mystery.

Susan talks about the key elements every mystery writer needs—the crime, the sleuth, clues, the setting, how to ramp up tension and much more.

 

 

 

Susan Spann

Seventh Street Books

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For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com

Rocky Mountain Writer #45

Stuart Horwitz
Stuart Horwitz

Stuart Horwitz - Finishing Your Book in Three Drafts

This podcast is the first in a series of conversations with key presenters who are coming to Colorado Gold, RMFW’s big annual three-day writing conference, in September.

This time the guest is Stuart Horwitz, who is leading a master class on Friday, Sept. 9 and that workshop follows the approach in his new book, Finish Your Book in Three Drafts: How to Write a Book, Revise a Book, and Complete a Book While You Still Love It. That book is set for publication on June 6 and it’s the third in Horwitz’ Book Architecture trilogy.

Horwitz is founder and principal of a company called Book Architecture. He’s spent over fifteen years helping writers become authors, signing with top literary agencies, sealing deals with coveted publishing houses and forging a successful path through indie publishing.

Stuart Horwitz is an award-winning essayist and poet. He has taught writing at Grub Street of Boston and Brown University. He holds two masters degrees—one in Literary Aesthetics from NYU and one in East Asian Studies from Harvard with a concentration in Medieval Japanese Buddhism.
 

Book Architecture

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For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com

Rocky Mountain Writer #44

HEADSHOTcrop 2000x2000Corinne O'Flynn - Getting Ready for Colorado Gold

Registration for Colorado Gold, RMFW's big three-day conference in September, is now open and this podcast provides a thorough preview from conference chair Corinne O’Flynn.

There are several new features to the conference this year including “Hook Your Book” sessions, new options on the master class schedule, an expanded author signing sessions, additional author readings, the mentor room and more. Corinne talks about the two keynote speakers who are on the way and offers suggestions for first-time conference goers.

Corinne O'Flynn is a native New Yorker who now lives in Colorado and wouldn't trade life in the Rockies for anything. She's the author of The Expatriates fantasy series and the Half Moon Girls mystery novella series.

When she isn't writing, Corinne works as the executive director of a nonprofit. She is a member of RMFW, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and ALLi, The Alliance of Independent Authors.

Corinne O'Flynn

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For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com