Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Illusive Writer's Voice

Among the numerous benefits of attending a writing conference is the opportunity to learn something new. Or better yet, finally untangling that crazy misconception of a specific topic.

I admit it, sharpening the focus on "voice" in terms of writing, has been as difficult for me as learning how to crochet. I still don't know how to crochet. 


Thanks to author Lisa Carter, an instructor at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer's Conference, I FINALLY UNDERSTAND completely, exactly, totally what an agent means when he or she says, I want to see your voice in your story. 

I can't help but tell the world of writers and spare the masses from the same puzzled look I've had.

When an agent or editor says he wants to see your voice in the manuscript, he or she expects to begin reading your story on page one, and due to the engaging writing and deep story, he feels more than compelled to read on...and dreads the bell ending the appointment time. Your twist on the plot. Your presentation of the characters. Your edited writing has sucked the reader into the story.

Any writer can write a given story. The resulting manuscripts of five authors given the same topic will be completely different because we include what we know, what we have experienced, our tastes, perceptions, feelings, hopes, anticipations, dreams, and etc. No two people, even twins, have walked the same exact road and therefore no two stories will be written the same exact way.

These are some ways to ensure our voice is present on the page:
1. Don't allow fear to stop you from confronting your fears and utter joys when keying words onto the page. Not fake, superficial emotions. Touch the heart.

2. Explore your passions. Although we are told to write what we know, we should write what we love. Then and only then will your voice enrich the story.

3. Keep a journal of your experiences. Record clear descriptions that tend to fade with time. Pour your emotions on the page so you can remember the feelings, then give those feelings to your characters.

4. Also, record daily details. What you see and think. Today you saw two people walking across the street. Yesterday you saw two different people walking across the street. How were they different. Dress. Body Language. Voice. These notes will enhance your writing. Most likely if I had seen the same two people, my observation list would look different. These differences are what flavor our voice when writing. If we both wrote a story about the two individuals, do you think the story would be different? Absolutely. 

Lisa gave several more points. Hopefully, the few I've highlights helped you to understand the concept.

One day at the conference, I saw an agent see my voice in my manuscript. This was the first time for me! The agent glanced at my one sheet, slightly grinned and tipped his head to the right then to the left. He asked for my first three chapters and began reading. He shielded his eyes with his hands blocking out other appointment distractions and read on. His eyes slid left to right and down the page. He whipped the first page aside and read on through the second page then looked at the time. 

His smile said he saw my voice in the story. 

I may not be able to crochet, but I finally, after so many years of learning how to write, have discovered how to write my voice into story.

Do you have questions?

~Mary Vee
Photo by Mary Vee

Link to Mary's books: https://amzn.to/2Fq4Jbm

Mary Vee -Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, was a teacher, a missionary, and married an Air Force vet. Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.
Visit Mary at her WebsiteBlog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Medieval Romances + Giveaway of Lord of Her Heart

Medieval romances are not a huge genre in Christian fiction. I've wondered about that because they are popular in mainstream fiction. Is it because there is usually a half-naked man on the cover? Or is it because women were thought of as useless and weak back then (or, at least, that is a general thought)?

That may all be true, but I'm here to argue for the medieval era. In my research, I found that women were not always under a man's thumb.

  • Matilda of Canossa (1046-1115 AD) was known for her military expertise in defending her lands and managing a vast kingdom.
  • Eleanor of Aquitane (1122-1204 AD) was the mother of King Richard I and King John. She participated in one of Richard's crusades and it was believed she rode into battle topless to distract the enemy. She was also a great patroness of the arts.
  • Christine de Pizan (1364-1430 AD) was a counselor to kings and aristocracy and was a proto-feminist very influential in her time. After her husband died, she was able to support herself with her writing.  
There were women in biblical times that rose into power and authority.
  • Deborah, who became judge over Israel. She went into battle one time at the request of the leader of the army. 
  • Abigail, who ran her household and estate for her drunk husband. 
  • Miriam, Moses's sister, who was prophetess in Israel.
This is what I love about researching! Learning new things that can change misconceptions about certain times or groups of people. 

That's one of the reasons I wrote Lord of Her Heart. I didn't want to write a bodice-ripper where the woman is wimpy and must be saved. I wanted to write about a strong woman who is not afraid to go after what she wants. I wanted to write a story that showed the courage in spite of fear in my heroine. We all struggle with fear and sometimes we have to take a step of faith to push us into our courage. I hope I accomplished that in Lord of Her Heart. 

Hopefully, medieval romances will become more popular in Christian publishing. Until then, I will continue to write them, because I love them. :)

I'm giving away a copy of Lord of Her Heart today! Your choice: ebook or paperback. US only on the paperback. Leave a comment below to be entered into the draw. Winner will be selected Saturday, May 18, and will be announced in the comments. 

Sherrinda Ketchersid is a born and bred Texan, preacher’s wife, mother of 4 children, and works part-time as a bookseller at Amazon. With the children grown and out of the house, she weaves tales of fierce knights and their ladies in a time where men were warriors and women had to be strong enough to keep them in check.

After taking time off from writing, she has returned with a new motto in place to spur her on. “Writers write. Everyone else makes excuses.” ~Jack Bickham.  No excuses this time. She is weaving her love of romance with history to bring joy and the hope of love to those who may one day read her stories. Her first book, Lord of Her Heart, is available on Amazon.

You can connect with her through:
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Website: sherrinda.com
Twitter: @sherrinda

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

#TipfulTuesday The Issues With Head Hopping

Last month, I read ten books, all published in 2018. That is a lot for me. Of the ten books, eight had more than one moment with head hopping. It’s an easy mistake to make. Anyone can do it. Perhaps this reminder will help all of us to weed out these moments.

What is head hopping? Head hopping is when a scene's point of view character sees, hears, feels, or knows the thoughts of another character in an unlikely way. 

For example: A scene is in Jane’s point of view. Jane is speaking with John Dear on the phone. The conversation ends. The call is disconnected. The scene continues with John throwing his phone on the floor and grumbling. He picks up Jane’s photo and … His actions or thoughts continue for a line or two before the scene returns to Jane’s point of view. 

Jane did not witness what John Dear did after the call ended, therefore, those aspects could not be in her scene. An author can begin a new scene or chapter with John’s point of view and include this information. OR. Jane can learn about John’s actions in some other way: a security camera, a bug in the room, another person reporting, etc. 

BUT his thoughts are his thoughts. She can’t possibly know them unless he tells her.

Writing in the omniscient point of view will not fix this problem. We tend to pick one character or another to tell a scene in today’s stories. That is the point of view. Also, I believe the omniscient point of view is taboo today. Stay tuned. It may come back.

I had an instructor who once told me to picture a camera with voice recognition in the eyes of the point of view character figuratively. Jane may see John Dear fall on the ice and cut his hand. She may hear him scream in pain, (or not), she may know what a gash on the hand feels like, and she can witness his body language. However, she does not know that inside his head he feels like a bumbling fool. That he screamed not from the pain but because he ripped his new pants. Etc. The scene can, therefore, include what Jane thinks John Dear is experiencing, but not what is in his head. Because….yep…that is head hopping.

When you edit your story, watch for head hopping. Words like: must, seem, etc., allow us to write things like, "John must really be hurting.”

Since I don’t know what you are thinking, I shall sign off with: May all your characters think only their thoughts. 

~Mary Vee
Next week I will be attending the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer's Conference. My book, Daring to Live is one of the finalists. Please join all of us as we cheer on the Selah winners that Wednesday night.

Photo by Mary Vee- a few friends down the road from me
Link to Mary's books: https://amzn.to/2Fq4Jbm
Mary Vee -Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, was a teacher, a missionary, and married an Air Force vet. Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.
Visit Mary at her WebsiteBlog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter