Deconstructing My Writing Process

By Danica Cornell

Many thanks to my dear friend, Enn Kae, (a.k.a. @zeekworldnet on Twitter) for inviting me to share what goes on behind the scenes in my creation of the  DARK STAR sci-fi/fantasy series.  I’ve decided to use this unique Q & A opportunity to describe step-by-step, how it is that I go about writing a novel.  And while I’m aware many authors undoubtedly dive in and immediately begin their manuscripts, I’ve learned that in my case, a lot more structure is required.  🙂

How do I start my writing projects?

1.  The Spark

For me, every major writing project begins the same way – from a spark of an idea that sets my imagination ablaze!  These “sparks” can come from anywhere:  Movies, news stories, books, billboards, songs—the list is practically endless!

2.  The Think Tank

Once I’ve settled on a story idea, I make a point to write down everything that comes to mind.  In other words, the Think Tank step is basically a non-linear, highly chaotic, stream-of-consciousness, brainstorming exercise designed to generate additional ideas and research questions.  All I can say is, it definitely works!

3.  The Master Organizer 

Thankfully, coming up with sci-fi story ideas, (including characters and sexy, futuristic technologies) has not been an issue for me.  I mean, not at all.  Instead, my challenge has always has been in finding ways to sort through and organize all of my Think Tank material.  Fortunately, I’ve learned to accomplish this task by separating all of a story’s related ideas into the following five categories:  Story, Story World, Technologies, Characters, and Research.  The story’s title is used to create a folder which houses all of these five items.

4.  Playing God by Building My Story World

Once my materials have been organized, I set out to create my story world.  This is accomplished by imagining the time and place my story will occur (i.e. the month, year, geographical location, weather, etc.).  I also consider the different cultural groups within this world, (i.e. wealthy, impoverished, those with top-secret security clearances, alien species, etc.).  With my story world in focus, it’s a lot easier for me to see the backdrop for conflict as well as the story’s theme.

5.  The One Sentence Summary/Storyline

Now that my story world has been formalized, I set about the task of writing a one sentence storyline/summary, which serves as the foundation for keeping my ideas in check.  (I cannot over emphasize how important this step is for my uber-creative brain!)

6.  The One Paragraph Three-Act Structure

Looking at my one sentence summary and Story file, I begin to loosely map out my tale by way of the three-act structure.  The result of this exercise is one paragraph, briefly describing my story’s three disasters:  The call to action, the disaster to support the middle, and the final disaster to force the story’s end.

7.  Character Creation

Referring to my Characters folder and three-act structure, this is when I start bringing my major characters to life.  The beginnings of this process are admittedly humble and include naming each character and defining their role (i.e. villain, hero, etc.), ambition, story goal, conflict, lesson learned or change in character.  Afterwards, I’m able to craft a character summary.  Even as a beginning writer, I’ve come to realize I’ve already had a lot of these points figured out ahead of time.  So far, this step has merely helped to crystallize my ideas.

8.  The Short Synopsis

At this point, I construct a short synopsis, (approximately one page in length, maybe two) using the one paragraph, three-act structure as a scaffold.

9.  Character Expansion

Armed with a clearer vision for my story, I now set about the task of expanding my characters by way of character sketches.  This is where I fill in the blanks with regard to each character’s backstory, ambition, story goal, conflict, lesson learned or change in character, and character summary.  This is also my favorite step in the planning process, no doubt because of my background in psychology!

10.  The Long Synopsis

For me, the long synopsis is the most challenging step of all!  Moreover, since its function is to capture high-level details, I strive to keep the long synopsis to roughly five to six pages in length, going back and forth between characters and plot.  Also, if I haven’t already started my research (often related to advanced technologies), this is definitely the time I’ll buckle down and get serious about gathering any necessary facts and figures.

11.  The Character Bible

A couple of days later, (after I’ve calmed down from the long synopsis!), my next step in the planning process is to create a character bible from all the information I’ve assembled.  This will include everything from each character’s date of birth, middle name, physical description, education and work history, any disabilities, their greatest fears, dreams and hopes, as well as their history (backstory).  Many of these ideas have already been generated as part of the character expansion, so I simply transfer this information and fill in any remaining blanks.  

I should probably mention, the reason I take the time to create a character bible, is to help insure my characters come off as conflicted and flawed.  I’m specifically looking to create characters with competing values and ambitions.  There must be a reasonable dose of intra- and interpersonal conflicts, otherwise the characters will emerge as flat, boring, and frankly, unbelievable. Furthermore, if any character doesn’t meet my rigorous sniff-test, I go back to the drawing board–and will keep doing so, until I get them just exactly right.

12.  The Scene List

Next, using my long synopsis, I focus on generating a scene list—what I consider to be the second most challenging step in the entire planning process.  The scene list is basically a simple outline of how the story is planned to unfold.  (Generally, there’s a scene containing a goal, a conflict, and a setback.  This is then followed with a scene containing a reaction, a dilemma, and a decision.)  Additionally, this is also when I finalize my decision regarding what point of view I’m going to use.

13.  Scene Analysis

Before beginning my manuscript, I analyze each scene to make sure I have a goal, a conflict, and a setback followed by a reaction, a dilemma, and a decision.  Additionally, I’ll once again look at my three disasters, to be certain they are doing what they’re supposed to (call to action, support the middle, force the story’s end).  This may result in some rearranging, but I’ve learned the hard way, this step can save me a lot of time later on!

How do I continue my writing process?

Thus far, I’ve been editing as I’ve been writing.  And while this may not be the preferred method for many, as a beginning novelist, this approach has helped me to refine my voice through a lot of experimentation.  It’s also taken me about four times longer to wrap up this project than it normally would’ve, I’m sure!  But in all honesty, I’m okay with this. Why?  Because for me, learning the writing process and putting out a quality product are the only two things that matter.  Everything else is secondary.

How do I finish my writing projects?

Before I reach the point of being psychologically ready to hand my manuscript over to an editor, (and/or beta readers) I need to be certain my manuscript is in the very best shape I’m able to attain on my own.  To reach this point, I carefully scrutinize my story, using a detailed checklist I’ve created.  (As of this writing, accidental head-hopping is my number one writing boo-boo.)

Include one challenge or additional tip that our collective communities could help with or benefit from.

Before I sign off, I’d like to share with you the following time-saving list of transitions. By the way, I keep this list on my desk at all times and use it quite often!  And for those of you who may be new to writing, transitional words and phrases allow writers to express different ideas in ways which are clear to readers.   Okay, so here it is, as promised:

Danica Cornell’s List of Transitional Words and Phrases

 Showing continuation:

  • Again
  • Also
  • And
  • Besides
  • Furthermore
  • In addition
  • Moreover
  • Coincidentally
  • Next
  • Undoubtedly

Showing contrast:

  • Although
  • And yet
  • But
  • Even so
  • However
  • Nevertheless
  • Nonetheless
  • Notwithstanding
  • Still
  • Though
  • Whereas

Showing illustration:

  • For example
  • For instance
  • Likewise
  • Second
  • Similarly
  • First
  • In the same way
  • To illustrate
  • Third

Showing conclusion:

  • All in all
  • In brief
  • In conclusion
  • In summary
  • Therefore
  • To summarize
  • What this means is
  • Finally
  • Thus so
  • As a result

For those of you who have additional helpful writing tips/techniques, I hope you’ll feel comfortable sharing these here, so we may all benefit from your knowledge and experience.  Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to read my post, and I hope to see you again real soon!

Until next time…

Happy writing,

Danica

ABOUT DANICA CORNELL:

Danica Cornel Photo

Danica Cornell holds a BA in Psychology from Argosy University.  She is the visionary president of Mano Nanotechnologies, Inc., who is busily penning the forthcoming DARK STAR Sci-fi/Fantasy Series, soon to be published by Cool Geek Books.  To learn more about Danica’s work, her love of dogs, and her support of UNICEF, please visit her website at www.danicacornell.com.

CONNECT WITH DANICA:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Pinterest

Instagram

Google +

About.Me

You Tube

Danica Cornell is proud to be a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB and the Fantasy Science Fiction Network 

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How to Publicize Your Novel

So you want to be on the top of the New York Times bestselling list? Do you hire a publicist? A literary agent? Do you shell out a wad of cash (or thousands) to promote your novel? Maybe later.

In this day and age, many of the more successful writers have in fact self-promoted their books to a certain degree. How? There are many ways to reach an audience successfully, without breaking the bank thanks to the new technology. Online presence counts for just about everything today, so this will be key in your novel’s success.

The first and most important step is preparation: make a plan. The very least you will need is a press release, short bio, synopsis of the book, and a full manuscript. Once you have all of the basics, it’s time to get down to the not-so-basics. Online presence. Not everyone is technologically savvy, so be sure to connect with someone who can help you with this step.

Starting a blog is essential, and linking it to your author page (if you don’t have one– make one) can drive interest groups to your site. Social media has launched the careers of thousands of successful artists– whether that be through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or a YouTube channel. Pick your favorite, forget it, and create an account in ALL OF THEM. You want to reach as many people as possible through as many social media platforms as possible.

Once you’ve created the above, you are now able to reach out and pitch to various outlets — agents, news sources, bloggers.  Here at PennedApp, we are in the process of doing all of the above, and we have found that pitching your idea must consist of a short honed-in sound-bite of the full version. You want to catch everyone’s attention in the shortest amount of their time. What makes you and your book special or unique? Why are you the only person who could have written it right? Add a touch cleverness, humor, or cliff-hanger mentality to lure the listener in. Remember, the press, agent, blogger, etc whom you reach out to, reads hundreds of pitches a day– standing out is key.

Take advantage of technology, you can do your own promotion at the early stages to help save you time and money. Once you gather a following on your own (even a small one), approaching an agent or news source will be a whole lot easier as they will see you as more appealing.

Here at PennedApp, we believe in the power of technology. We are a platform for writers and readers to create, interact, and share their work with others. We are an ‘Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook’ for writer’s combined, creating the ultimate community. We have thousands of readers, aspiring writers, and a select few of authors who preview their novels to our readers through the application. For more information or to preview your work on PennedApp, visit us in the AppStore (free) and at www.penned.me. ContactSonia@penned.me to speak about any opportunities to collaborate and connect you to our readers as a featured author. The writing world awaits!

—–

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sonia Chopra is a newly-graduated student from UCLA, working with founder Brian Sanders on Penned: the new platform for writers. While she spends most of her time connecting and reading up on aspiring indie authors, she also works as a model, celebrity publicist, and freelance writer.

 

Danica Cornell

ABOUT DANICA CORNELL:

Danica Cornell is the author of the forthcoming DARK STAR Sci-fi/Fantasy Series, soon to be published by Cool Geek Books. To learn more about Danica’s work, her love of dogs, and her support of UNICEF, please visit her website at www.danicacornell.com.

Danica Cornell is a proud member of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.

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Two Perfect Summer Reads by Effrosyni Moschoudi

 

Free promo 7-11 aug 2014

 

Today, I’m pleased to present to you Greek author Effrosyni Moschoudi and her books.  As of this coming Thursday and for five days, they will be FREE on Amazon; seeing that they are perfect for a summer escape, you may not want to miss out on this opportunity!

 

WHO IS EFFROSYNI?

Fros messo1 test2 jpg

Effrosyni Moschoudi was born and raised in Athens, Greece. She has a BSc in Computer Science and has worked for large companies for twenty years, mainly in the hotel and airline business. She’s been writing since childhood and lives in a quaint seaside town near Athens with her husband Andy and a naughty cat called Felix.

Her debut novel, “The Necklace of Goddess Athena”, is a fantasy adventure of Greek myths and time travel that’s suitable for all ages. It’s been described as a “Rare Gem” by the Fantasy & Sci-fi Network and has reached Amazon’s #1 in Mythology and #2 in Fairy Tales. The novel also made the shortlist in 2014 for the “50 Best Self-Published Books Worth Reading” from Indie Author Land.

Effrosyni’s second novel, “The Lady of the Pier – The Ebb”, is an ABNA quarter-finalist. The book follows the lives and loves of two young girls who’ve never met but are connected in a mysterious way. It is the first part of a paranormal romance that’s set in Brighton (England) in the 1930’s and in Corfu (Greece) in the 1980’s. Effrosyni is currently penning the second part of the series (“The Flow”), which she plans to publish in 2015.

On her blog, Effrosyni presents the works of fellow indie authors with spotlights, interviews, and book reviews. She also posts her own content of various subjects, such as travel articles, inspiring personal accounts, tips for authors, and even some Greek recipes.

 

NECKLACE OF ATHENA533x800

IN ATHENS, THE GODS STILL DWELL AMONG THE MORTALS.

Efimios is an ancient Greek and an unsung hero of Athens. He has saved the city countless times by undertaking time-travelling missions as instructed by Goddess Athena herself. Now an elderly man, he sends his son Phevos and his adopted daughter Daphne on a time-travelling quest to modern-day Athens. Mysterious as always, he only advises his children to look out for the signs without offering any explanations. Mystified, yet eager to obey their father’s will, Phevos and Daphne settle down in this new world, having been offered assistance by two orphaned siblings: Ksenia and Manos. New friendships and romantic love change their lives while their father’s covert purpose is gradually revealed. As the youngsters continue to unravel the secrets of their family past, inevitably they get caught up in the ongoing conflict between two Gods, one of which becomes their protector and the other, their worst nemesis. Who will prevail when the rival Gods meet again and will the mortal bystanders survive to tell the tale?

 

 Praise for the book:

(Excerpts from posted reviews on Amazon.com)

“Beautifully written – an enchanting read!”

“A sweet, nostalgic view of Athens.”

“You will be left wishing it had never ended.”

“Wisdom, eternal values, and ethos are at the heart of this book.”

“I didn’t want it to end – a remarkable achievement!”

“Gem after gem of wisdom that will touch your heart.”

“Each word is a picture! Each turn, a beautiful description of an Athenian site!”

“A tale that is woven with artistry, love, and great care easily becomes one of my favorites. Check it out and you won’t be disappointed!”

 

Find it now on Amazon:

Amazon (US): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I5GXHCO

Amazon (UK): https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00I5GXHCO

 

LADY OF PIER EBB old 533x800

LOVE WILL GO ON FOREVER, SEEKING A SECOND CHANCE.

 

BRIGHTON, 1937

Laura Mayfield leaves London with her mother Ruth in order to pursue a new life in Brighton. She finds employment at the West Pier Pavilion and soon falls in love with Christian Searle, one of the stagehands at the theatre. Laura aspires to a life of riches but this annoys and frightens the proud and insecure Christian, causing rows between them. When she is offered the chance to perform at the theatre, her love for Christian is put to the ultimate test. Charles Willard, a wealthy and arrogant aristocrat becomes fascinated by her and pursues her relentlessly, causing Christian to become enraged. Will Laura’s desire for wealth throw her in the arms of Charles or will her feelings for Christian prevail?

 

CORFU, 1987

Sofia Aspioti, a Greek student from Athens, arrives in Corfu for her annual summer holidays at her grandparents’ house, relieved to escape her overprotective parents’ care for a while. She takes on a job at the local water sports pier and when Danny Markson, a larger-than-life British tourist flirts with her, she is initially worried that his advances will cause her trouble with her strict family. Yet, by the time she realises that she’s desperately in love, she finds she no longer cares. When Danny returns home to a village near Brighton, Sofia becomes haunted by a series of dreams about the West Pier and a woman dressed in black. As if cast by a spell, she takes to writing poems about a love that won’t let go. Who is the grieving woman in her dreams and how is her sorrow related to her own feelings for Danny?

 

Praise for the book:

(Excerpts from posted reviews on Amazon.com)

“Addictively mesmerizing”

“I defy you to put this book down after the first chapter”

“I got withdrawal symptoms when I ended it”

“The writer has an undisputed talent for creating vivid imagery”

“A fantastic read. This author has the ability to draw you into the story”

“If you enjoy romance, take heed: The Ebb makes a perfect summer read!”

“A heartfelt story drawing you in and not letting (you) go until the last page. Fantastic!”

“An inner glow, an inherent purity emanates from the pages to create a sense of completeness, like a dream you don’t want to wake up from.”

 

Find it now on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LGNYEPC

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00LGNYEPC

 

CONNECT WITH EFFROSYNI: 

Blog: http://www.effrosinimoss.wordpress.com

FB Book page: https://www.facebook.com/Necklaceathena

FB Book page: https://www.facebook.com/ladyofpier

FB Author page https://www.facebook.com/authoreffrosyni

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/effrosyni

Twitter: https://twitter.com/frostiemoss

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7362780.Effrosyni_Moschoudi

Google + : https://plus.google.com/+EffrosyniMoschoudi

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/effrosyni-moschoudi/82/347/a01

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/efrosinimoschou/

Book Trailer: (Necklace) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHJcVuAkRV4

Book Trailer: (Lady) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3LrIRBxNVM

 

ABOUT DANICA CORNELL:

Danica Cornel Photo

Danica Cornell is the author of the forthcoming DARK STAR Sci-fi/Fantasy Series, soon to be published by Cool Geek Books. To learn more about Danica’s work, her love of dogs, and her support of UNICEF, please visit her website at www.danicacornell.com.

 

DARK STAR I The Assassins (2)

IN 2045, DEEP WITHIN A TOP SECRET WORLD, LURKS A THREAT BEYOND COMPARE…

 

CONNECT WITH DANICA:

Website:  http://www.danicacornell.com

Blog:  http://danica-cornell.com/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/DanicaCornell

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDanicaCornell

Instagram: http://instagram.com/danicacornell

You Tube:  https://www.youtube.com/user/DanicaCornellChannel/

 

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Danica Cornell is a proud member of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.

The Superhero

By Danica Cornell

Here’s a question: What’s your favorite thing to do in your spare time? Is it shooting pool? Going to a ball game? Writing? Those who know me best would probably tell you that learning is hands-down my all-time favorite pastime—with writing coming in a very close second.

Looking back, my thirst for knowledge started quite early. As such, I figured out that in order to avoid getting beaten up on the playground, I had best conceal my geek-like tendencies from the other kids. Thankfully, this plan worked out quite well—that is, until Christy came along.

Much to my chagrin, this mammoth-sized third grader saw right though me, promptly informing our classmates that I was in fact, The Teacher’s Pet. As you might imagine, it was at this point when I began to experience a long-held and long-feared universal kid-truth: There’s nothing quite like facing the stomach-churning glares of the less intellectually endowed, to make a Teacher’s Pet hand over her lunch—especially if those glares come from a girl who happens to be a lot meaner than you.

Not to mention, a lot bigger.

There’s no point in denying it. Christy’s acid tongue and sheer girth terrified me! And it was because of this fear that it took me an entire year before I decided I’d finally had enough. An entire year! That’s like a hundred lifetimes to a kid! Nevertheless, by the time I turned nine, I’d grown fed up with going unfed at lunch. I was determined to man-up and face my nemesis head-on.

And so it went. The exact time and location where my archenemy and I would face-off was set without debate or delay—along with a few ground rules: No biting, scratching, or hair-pulling. And above all else, neither of us could rat the other one out. Amazingly, in about half the time it took to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, we’d gotten it all settled: In 24 hours, the colossal showdown would take place. (Now that I think about it, it’s a little ironic we weren’t able to resolve the lunch-issue in a similar manner!)

As it turned out, it didn’t take all that long for the tough-talking, lunch-stealing, Christy, to hobble away with more than a little blood gushing from her nose! I distinctly remember listening to her uncontrolled wailing in the distance and wondering why I’d allowed myself to endure an entire year of hunger-inducing harassment. As my new reality began to sink in, it occurred to me that in confronting the evil Christy, I had acted as bravely as any of my favorite comic book superheroes!

Minus the cape, of course.

What I didn’t realize is that when it comes to navigating through the fog of war, even the most accomplished of superheroes can eventually find themselves facing the consequences of being on the wrong end of a fist. My rapidly swelling and blackening eye was proof positive; I was no exception to this rule!

But from my perspective, none of that mattered. As far as I was concerned, my David vs. Goliath moment had been well worth a bit of physical discomfort. After all, tucked away in the far corner of the school’s playground, I had bravely stood up and fought for what I believed in. Cocooned within a sense of intention and purpose, I was now surrounded by a swarm of children—most of whom congratulated me and agreed Christy had had it coming for a good long while. It was a magical feeling. I was brimming with a newfound sense of hope and justice, basking in the glory of my hard-won elementary school kid status—

For all of about 15 seconds.

That’s when the teacher I’d nick named, Mrs. Piranha, appeared. Of all the adults in the school, it was she who could strike fear into the hearts of even the most seasoned of trouble makers. Parting the sea of kids with a level of efficiency I’ve not seen since, she grabbed me by the elbow in a way that suggested The End Was Near. Now parading me in front of God and everyone, The Piranha and I made our way across the playground and into the aging, brick building that housed The Principal’s Office.

Maybe being a Goliath-defeating superhero wasn’t so great after all…

In hindsight, the whole thing was really quite a spectacle, but it was probably the best outcome I could’ve ever hoped for. Sure, I got in trouble. But I’d also earned the respect of my peers – something which served me well throughout the rest of my elementary school career. But perhaps even more noteworthy was that I finally got to tell my side of the story. The principal actually cared about the fact that for the last year I’d been feeling as though my life had been spiraling out of control. He understood my need to seek justice and take back my power. And through it all, through my discussion with that empathetic man, I could feel myself changing. Growing. Evolving.

In the end, my punishment really wasn’t all that bad. I was made to endure a highly uncomfortable phone call home to my mom, plus I apologized to Christy in front of the whole class—all while sobbing, mind you. Interestingly, Christy’s reciprocal apology was equally heartfelt! And while were never really friends, we did manage to reach some kind of equilibrium in our relationship—a kind of mutual understanding, I suppose.

I have no idea whatever happened to Christy, but I am grateful for the valuable lessons she taught me: Whether a superhero or super geek, I have the right to be me. I have the right to be happy. And I definitely have the right to eat my lunch in peace. Now that I think about it, maybe being a geek isn’t so bad after all!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Danica Cornell

Danica Cornell is the author of the forthcoming DARK STAR Sci-fi/Fantasy Series, soon to be published by Cool Geek Books. To learn more about Danica’s work, her love of dogs, and her support of UNICEF, please visit her website at www.danicacornell.com.

 

CONNECT WITH DANICA:

Danica’s Website:  http://www.danicacornell.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/DanicaCornell

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDanicaCornell

You Tube:  https://www.youtube.com/user/DanicaCornellChannel/

 

Danica Cornell is a proud member of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.

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Confessions of an Indie Book Reviewer

Hello everyone, please help me welcome the one and only Kindle Ninja!  Mr. Ninja and I met some time ago through RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.  He is truly fun to chat with, as I discovered while reading and then participating in one of his now-famous conversations over Milk & Cookies.  Mr. Ninja, the floor is all yours…  

Submitted By Kindle Ninja

Hi, I’m Kindle Ninja, the Kindle-reading-book-reviewing Ninja who occasionally stalks indie authors and invites them for conversations over Milk & Cookies.

Although I was born a Ninja, it took a long crooked road to get to this point where I devote a few hours a day reading indie books and reviewing them.

Many years ago, I was a games and gadget reviewer (yeah, good times!), and briefly, a slush pile sorter (horrible times!). [To the uninitiated, a slush pile is a stack of unsolicited manuscripts that have been sent to a publishing company for consideration.]

Most of the manuscripts were dreadful, but there were also brilliant ones that I lobbied and fought for, only to be shot down by the ‘Editorial Overlord’. I wielded no real power. I was at the bottom rung of the editorial ladder. No, make that the gum stuck to the bottom of the Dark Lord’s shoe. It was maddening.

In some warped way, my mind was conditioned to think that those aspiring authors were delusional until proven brilliant. It was a distorted thinking brought on by an ambiguous system.

Needless to say, my stint as a slush pile sorter was short-lived. It was an ugly job akin to kicking someone in the teeth. I didn’t want to be the one who crushes dreams with ego-shredding rejection letters. And I certainly didn’t want to be that fool who rejected Harry Potter.

Years later, the self-publishing revolution happened. Kindle Ninja was born. It was time to make amends.

CONNECT WITH KINDLE NINJA

kn_jaa

Say hello on Twitter @kindleninja

Read my book reviews

Meet the Rave Reviews Book Club Board & Members

ABOUT DANICA CORNELL

Danica Cornel Photo

Danica Cornell is the author of the forthcoming DARK STAR Sci-fi/Fantasy Series, soon to be published by Cool Geek Books. To learn more about Danica’s work, her love of dogs, and her support of UNICEF, please visit her website at www.danicacornell.com.

Danica Cornell is a proud member of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.

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The GIMME MORE! Blog Series, Part 2

Using Psychology to Create and Develop Complex and Compelling Characters

Written By Danica Cornell

Hi Everyone!  Before I get started, I feel as though I owe all of you an apology for taking so long to submit this follow-on article.  As some of you might have guessed, I had intended to post this some time ago, however, a number of things related to my nanotechnology work have come up over the last few weeks.  While all of this prevented me from sticking to my original schedule, these were positive developments.  With any luck, I’ll be able to share some of these details with you in the not-too-distant future.  🙂

Okay, now on to the good stuff…

In looking back to my previous GIMME MORE! post, you may recall my discussion on how good character development is considered by many to be the hallmark of truly great storytelling.  I can honestly say that as a reader, writer, and television/film viewer, I too share this viewpoint – which is why when it came to constructing my own book series, I decided to tap into psychology.  After all, what better way to create and develop compelling and complicated characters?  Of course, when it comes to science fiction, one must be able to imagine story worlds which are out-of-this-world!  This is where my work in nanotechnology comes into play.

Tapping Into Nanotechnology and Psychology to Create Science Fiction

I realize a number of you may be unaware, (or vaguely aware) of my history in both the behavioral sciences and nanotechnology business development.  Without a doubt, these two diverse areas have proven quite handy when it comes to penning a sci-fi series!  Specifically, owning a high-tech start-up has captured my imagination when it comes to the future directions of technology and society, while holding a BA in psychology has enabled me to better understand myself and others.  The latter has also allowed me to recognize certain behavioral patterns, thus helping set the stage for the development of my DARK STAR series characters. Please know, I’m not suggesting all novelists need to run out and get a psychology degree.  Rather, I’m making the point that for new writers, learning about the inner workings of the human mind, (along with observable behaviors) could prove helpful in the areas of character creation and development.

Characterizing Character Development

Character development.  How many of you have noticed just how often this term is used today?  Sometimes it seems as though this term is mentioned without any regard for non-writers or those new to the literary field.  Since not everyone reading this may fully understand what character development is, whenever I discuss this in the context of my own book series, I’m really describing a character’s:

  • Physical appearance;
  • Personality;
  • The things they say/don’t say;
  • The behaviors they exhibit;
  • The choices they make as they move forward in my DARK STAR series.

To be honest, the way I envision my characters is the same way I see people in the real world; both can grow in surprising and unexpected ways!  They can also remain stuck in the same place, (emotionally, spiritually, and physically) depending on the situation.

So, just how I was able to get started with all this?  In other words, what steps did I use in creating DARK STAR‘s three-dimensional characters?

Looking to a Character’s Past, Present and Future

To answer this, let me begin by saying, I recognized early on that each of my characters has a past—one which I know intimately, even if my readers do not.  Of course they also have a present and a future, (even if that future sometimes ends in an untimely death).  In fact, I’ve discovered, the only way for a character to truly come to life in my mind’s eye, is by knowing their past and present, while also having a good idea about their future.  All of my characters, (no matter how minor they may be), have histories which have helped to shape them into the people they are today.  They also have their own perceptions, motivations, present-day realities, and futures which will be impacted by the situations they face and the choices they make.

But here’s the best part.  I’ve found that things get really interesting once I’ve factored Free Will into the writing equation.  After all, the possibility that a particular character might break away from their past and move toward a future that’s not easily predicted, is what helps to add an element of surprise for readers.  And let’s face it.   We all enjoy stories with twists and turns and endings we don’t see coming!

Saying No to Stereotypes

Once I started getting my feet wet with generating DARK STAR’s characters, it quickly occurred to me that I’d be doing them, (and my readers) a disservice if I allowed them to come off as overly stereotypical.  After all, what could be more boring than a character who is average in every conceivable way?  In the real world, the people I know are anything but stereotypical.  They are flawed, complicated, and not easily labeled.  Why should my characters be any different?

Of course just like real people,  characters have their own gender identities, religious backgrounds, ethnicities, and political affiliations.  But in order to avoid the Snooze Factor, I’ve learned that not everything about them should be predictable.  This is why even though my characters are typical in many ways (this helps them to be believable), they are also unusual in a few ways.  For example, imagine a tall and handsome CIA agent – an assassin, who just so happens to love kids.  What will he do when his nuclear device-toting target runs smack into the middle of a busy playground?  Will he pull the trigger?  By adding an atypical element to this character – along with free will, I’ve set the stage for an interesting scene.  I’ve also provided the potential for this character’s continued development.

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Coming Up

In my next installment of the GIMME MORE! blog series, I’ll be shining a spotlight on character motivation and conflicting values.  It’s been a pleasure spending this time with you.  Thanks so much for stopping by!

Until we meet again…

Happy reading and writing,

Danica

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Danica Cornel Photo

 

DANICA CORNELL, holds a BA in Psychology and is the visionary President of Mano Nanotechnologies, Inc.  She’s also a dog lover, a self-confessed chocoholic, and a UNICEF supporter who is busily penning the DARK STAR science fiction/fantasy series, soon to be published by Cool Geek Books.  To learn more, please visit Danica’s Website.  You may also follow Danica on Twitter, where she’s been known to tweet about aliens and hybrid humans, among other things.

 

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Danica is a proud member of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.

 

Not A Famous Writer

Please help me give a warm welcome to my friend and RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB colleague, Bruce A. Borders.  For those of you who don’t know Bruce, he’s the very talented author of a number of books, including one of my favorites, Over My Dead Body.  Take it away, Bruce!

By Bruce A. Borders

First, I would like to thank Danica for inviting me as a guest on her blog. I appreciate the opportunity!

Odds are, you have never heard of me. I’m not a famous writer—yet! I’m still one of those authors who write simply for the love of writing. Good thing too, or I probably would have quit years ago!

Part of the joy of writing, and usually my goal, is to make people think, or laugh, or elicit some sort of emotion, such as anger or frustration—not directed toward me, hopefully. Then, through reviews, email, and comments on social media or blogs, readers provide valuable feedback that lets me know how I’m doing in that regard. No matter their opinion, I like hearing from readers; their thoughts, and questions. And, sometimes there are lots of questions. I thought I’d answer a few of the more common ones I’ve received about my book, Over My Dead Body.

 

Over My Dead Body WHITE3sm

NOW AVAILABLE

The question I get the most is if it’s a true story. The short answer is no. But like many tales of fiction, it does have a basis in reality. I used several news stories I’d heard for the setting and the plot, then added my own details to finish out the story. As I moved forward with the rewrites and editing, the book took on a life of its own and the original stories gave way to a single narrative. This may not be the so-called correct way to write but it worked well for me.

A lot of readers also want to know if the book is based on what I would do in a similar situation. The answer to that is a definite yes! Not only is the story based on what I would do, it is exactly what I would do. That’s what provided the impetus and motivation to write it.

If you haven’t read the book, and are now squiting at the screen, wondering what in the world I’m talking about, here is a short description.

 How far will a man go to protect his family? When the director of Child Protective Services uses his position to exact a personal vendetta in removing three-year-old Ashley from the Blake’s home, Jeff Blake, a financial advisor, responds to the threats in the only way he feels he can – violently. By the end of the short encounter, three people are dead and Ashley, the daughter, is still taken and placed in temporary foster care, so the tragic fiasco gained Jeff nothing. Or, so it seems. Matters are further complicated when Amy, the wife and mother, winds up for a brief stay in a mental ward due to the trauma she witnessed in her home. It seems as though everything is against the Blakes. Understandably, the police, as well as the Courts, are not too concerned with the needs of the family. Complete with many twists of fate, the story looks at the common problems of a typical family caught between love and the law.

I tried to write the book, especially the opening chapter, as if I were Jeff Blake. The news stories I’d heard spanned a few years so, I’d had plenty of time to consider what my response would be. That part of the book was very easy to write. Admittedly, it’s probably not the wisest response and I’m under no illusion that things would not bode well for me in such an event, or anyone, for that matter, who reacted in a similar manner.

From the comments I’ve received, I think most readers would agree, the book describes a typical father’s reaction, and initially, I marketed the book to fathers. However, thanks to feedback from readers, as well as comments from friends and family, I discovered that women, particularly mothers, connected and reacted to the book much more passionately than fathers. Not that fathers didn’t like the book, or that they disagreed, but their response was more matter-of-fact. “Yeah, that’s what I would do too,” I heard more than once—seemingly without much emotion.

Mothers, on the other hand…

Mothers were extremely emotional and far more vitriolic with their fiery reaction. They were out for blood! And calling for the head of anyone who would dare think they could use a position of so-called authority to go after a child. Remind me to never make a woman angry!

Another question that often comes up is if I plan to write a sequel. Well, originally I hadn’t. I think the story definitely ended in the book. But after the response from all the female readers, I have begun to consider writing a similar book with the mother being the one who exacts the vengeance. I think there is a strong potential for quite a compelling story in that.

Problem is, I’m not a woman. Or, a mother. I’m not sure I could write through a mother’s eyes. Not convincingly anyway. And I’m not sure how readers would respond. They might not be interested in a guy’s portrayal of a vindictive woman. Sure, a well-known author might get away with it, but me? I’m not so certain. After all, I’m not a famous writer—yet!

 

CONNECT WITH BRUCE:

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Bruce’s Website:   http://bruceabordersbooks.weebly.com

Over My Dead Body is Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble:

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00J5U2UL8

Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/over-my-dead-body-bruce-a-borders/1105621591

 

ABOUT DANICA CORNELL:

Danica Cornel Photo

Danica Cornell is the author of the forthcoming DARK STAR Sci-fi/Fantasy Series, soon to be published by Cool Geek Books. To learn more about Danica’s writing, her nanotechnology start-up, and her support of UNICEF, please visit:  www.danicacornell.comDanica Cornell is a proud member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.

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