Category Archives: Books I Read

What’s Your Why? A Guest Blog by Darlene Foster

 I found this fabulous article on Lynne Klippel’s Business Building Bookssite and just had to share it.

Written on October 13, 2011 by admin in Author Inspiration, Writing

Kathleen Ragan, a stay-at-home mother, loved reading stories to her young daughters. She took them to the local library every week to pick out fresh books and made story time an important part of every day.

Kathleen began to notice a disturbing trend. All the books she was reading featured male heroes. As she began to study childhood classics by Dr. Seuss, she noticed the only female characters were negative ones – lazy mothers, gossipy women, or colorless sisters who had no dialog. She then started to study fairy tales and other popular children’s books. There were few featuring girls who were brave, intelligent, or leaders. Instead, the books featured princesses who required rescuing, were evil step mothers, and were wicked witches.

These were not the role models Kathleen wanted for her daughters. She began an exhaustive search for folktales from around the world featuring female heroines. It took several years of exhaustive research including reviewing more than 30,000 stories.

This research led to her book Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters, published in 1998. The book features 100 stories from around the world with female heroines and are ideal for reading aloud to children.

Why is this story important to you?

Writing a book is a big job. It requires an investment of time, energy, and effort. In order to finish a book, you must have a passionate reason WHY you are writing that book. That passionate Why will pull you forward and give you the energy you need to complete your book.

Kathleen was passionate about providing inspiring stories for her daughters. Her passion propelled her to do whatever it took to create her book and share it with the world.

What about you?

Use these questions to measure your passion for your current writing project:
1.Do you enjoy learning about the topic of your book?
2.When you have extra time, does it feel like a treat to work on your book?
3.When you share your book idea with others, do you feel excited and exhilarated?
4.Have you clearly identified WHY you are writing this book?

If you notice that you are not feeling passionate about your book, don’t give up right away. You have two options. You can decide to select another topic which feels more exciting. Or, you can make your current topic more enjoyable to write by adding stories, fresh research, or taking a bolder stand.

One of the quickest ways to increase your passion for your book is to have some conversations with your ideal readers. Discover their needs and determine how your book can serve them. Reconnect with your passionate heart for helping others and you’ll find you’ve

Darlene Foster is a Self-employed writer from Delta BritishColumbia. In her words:

“I am a writer, traveler, and dreamer. I am lucky to have a great family and wonderful friends. I believe “a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.”

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Plot vs. Character: Which is the main course of your novel?

Can you carry a story with a strong plot if your characters are weak and two-dimensional? Can you have a publishable book with strong, three-dimensional characters but no plot? There are those authors who swear that the plot is what drives their book and there are those who swear it is the characters they so lovingly crafted. It seems to be a case of which came first – the chicken or the egg? Which is more important to your novel – the plot or the characters?

Crafting a well paced plot is a matter of art. Anyone can get a character from point A to point B, by having them walk down a street. A skillful author will have them walk with a purpose; amble about aimlessly; saunter into a room; slither down a hallway; race toward a goal, run from disaster, and so on. Plot is the action of the story, true, but it is more than that as well. It is the motivation for the character’s behavior. It is the reason this character came into being in the first place. There is a problem, a conflict that needs to be resolved. Enter the character who not only has this problem/conflict, but who is also the only one who can solve this conflict and do it in a way that entertains the reader and draws the reader into the story. Without the plot, you have a great, 3 dimensional character who is sitting around twiddling his thumbs…well, no, not twiddling his thumbs because that would be a plot – you would have a bored character; what is his motivation for being where he is? Why doesn’t he get up and do something? What could he be waiting for? Do you see where I’m going here? The plot may well be the action of the story, but without a character for the reader to care about and invest emotion in, there is no one to spring to action; no one to sit still and be bored; no one for the reader to wonder about. Try telling a story without a single, believable character and I guarantee you won’t get far. So are the characters the meat and potatoes of the novel?

We’ve talked before about creating 3 dimensional characters. They need to have a personality, motivation, background information, and so on and so on. But, what is the one, single, most important aspect of a character if your novel is going to work? They need to have a problem, an inciting incident, a call to action. They need to grow in some way, learn some lesson, solve a conflict, overcome an issue or something to that effect. If your character is truly 3 dimensional, there will be something he or she wants; some intrinsic conflict that needs to be solved that the reader will care enough about to stick around and find out how the character solves it. That conflict is the driving force of your plot! If you take a character who has nothing to learn, no way to grow and nothing to do, then you have a book about a perfect person (already unbelievable) who is just sitting there staring at a wall.

In his book “Hooked” Les Edgerton talks about the beginning of a story; how the first scene in a novel should be an inciting incident that happens to the protagonist. He says:

“…the inciting incident is the event that creates the character’s initial surface problem and introduces the first inklings of the story-worthy problem. In essence, this is the “action” part of the story, the part that is plot-based. This happens to the protagonist, then he does this to resolve it, then this and so on.”

In other words, the beginning of the story may be plot-based, but if there is no one for the plot to be about, then there is nowhere for the plot to go. There has to be somebody there to take action to resolve the story-worthy problem. So the question is, are the plot and the characters equally important? If there are no characters, then there is no problem to be solved, no one for the inciting incident to happen to, no antagonist to block the way. But, if there is no inciting incident, then the story goes nowhere. There is no action; there is nothing for the characters to do. So which is more important? In my opinion, the characters drive the plot; if the characters are not three-dimensional and believable enough for the reader to invest emotion in them, then the plot will be thin because no one will believe the actions of the characters. The reader needs to invest emotion in the character, be it love or hate; they need to care what happens to the character in order for your novel to keep their attention enough for them to read it through to the end. So what’s more important to you when you write, the plot or the characters?

The Value of an Autographed Book

Darlene Quinn has crossed the county doing book signings, meet & greets, and many stock signings. What is it that brings your readers out to buy a signed copy of  “Webs of  Power”?

Since the early 19th century, the desire for an author’s autographed books began and increases yearly. In today’s book market, we have a wealth of knowledgeable authors whose signatures are valuable on their own, but when placed inside their latest book, it adds an emotional value to your admiring  reader.

There is no question that for resale, a book is more valuable if it is simply signed, with no personalization. Collectors desire only the author’s signature, and perhaps there is a greater incentive to purchase a second-hand book without a stranger’s name on it.  However, as I stated earlier, what may have brought the reader out in the first place was the emotional desire to have a signed copy for their collection. What greater boost to your readers is there, than to have one of their favorite authors acknowledge them by inscribing their name in a book for their bookshelf?

As a collector of autographed books myself, I have never attended a book signing with the intention of reselling the book. As an avid reader, certain books hold dear memories and have touched my soul enough that I want it always to reread, to share, and to pass on to my daughter. Someday, hopefully, she will read the same wonderful words and find them as inspiring as I did. The fact that the author signed the copy and acknowledge me, one of their millions of readers, gives the book additional value. I hope that my daughter will add her own autographed copies to the collection and pass them on to her children.

Will autographed books begin to decline with our new book market where thousands of books are being printed as Kindle books, or eBooks downloaded to new technology and ever changing technology? Perhaps in a few generations from now they won’t know the feel of a real book in their hands, or the smell of the print, or the sound of cracking the binding of a beloved book. But those of us that have collected books, and met their creators, we will fill that void for future generations as we pass on our personalized author signed  books into caring hands of future collectors.

When Darlene Quinn signed Webs of Power with an inscription to me, it became part of my collection, not only because I am her assistant, but because her words took me back to a time of history I lived through, and Darlene gave me the ability to feel and live the ambiance again through her memorable characters.  Part of my life history was laid out in Webs of Power – this is what brings a reader out for signatures – the fact that an author touched, or created a memory, in words, on paper, signed, always there on your shelf to relive again, is a heady emotion.

~Kathy Porter

Welcome to my blog

Welcome to my blog, I’m so glad you’re here. I hope you will enjoy reading my posts about writing “Webs of Power,” and how the sequel is coming as well.