Children’s Lit: Keeping it ‘PC’

It’s pretty important when writing children’s fiction that we don’t conform too much to stereotypes. Children are easily influenced, and will take in all the information you give them, from life lessons to social inequalities. If you’re writing for a particularly young audience, be careful not to include anything that might influence your reader towards any subtle prejudice.

Sexism often goes under the radar. Gender inequalities are the easiest thing to let slip by you when writing. Boys are all too often portrayed as the strong and dependent characters, while the girls are more loving, kind, and often more intelligent than the others. These things might seem like natural traits to us, but children can easily pick up these differences as the way things should be, rather than as choices they make for themselves.

Don’t use stereotypes. It seems like a lot of fun to have a Scotsman be an eccentric red-head purely because we’re in the world of children’s fiction, but these are the kind of stereotypes that kids will cling to if given the opportunity, as something they can forever associate with one race, sex, etc. The same goes for family roles; try not to have women always doing the dishes while Dad goes off to work – make sure to mix everything up a little. 

Part Two of this writing guide will be coming to you on Friday, don’t miss it! 

Connor Wolf on Writing

It started with a dream. A dream so vivid I couldn’t help but write it down. That’s how The Bite of Vengeance started, as a dream. As I woke, I wrote down everything I could remember – the look of the place, the motivations, reasons, questions, answers. It was this that drove me to carry on. I wanted to answer the questions I knew not the answer to.

My inspiration for becoming a writer came at the age of 11. Adrian Townsend – a well-known author, visited my primary school, and it was from then on that I caught the writing bug. So, later that day, I started taking notes on my surroundings. I sat for hours just trying to write something amazing, expecting to put pen to paper and write an instant bestseller. I was wrong. I felt like giving up; I spent countless days writing pages, only to scrunch them up and let them join the others in the recycling bin. So, for a while, I gave up writing.

At 15 years old, I had the dream. I thought about writing again – surely if I planned everything out, where could I go wrong? This theory, to my surprise, worked. But not before I hit the infamous ‘writer’s block’. I sat waiting for ideas to come, but none did. So, I gave The Bite of Vengeance up, only this time swearing I would return to it. Months passed, and I had just two chapters tucked away in my computer, but I never forgot them. I soon picked the writing back up and the block didn’t return. I wrote for weeks, adding little bits, changing, editing. Finally, April 2013 saw the completion of my manuscript. The joy I felt is second to none. I was proud.

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Dan Moore on Finding His Ideas

When I tell people I write, I often find myself asked the dreaded question – where do you get your ideas? I find this a difficult question to answer, as I’m sure do most writers. For me, inspiration comes in a mad flurry, usually when I’m busy with, or supposed to be busy with, something else. These ideas need capturing quickly. Often they make no sense at all, and it is only through hours and hours of daydreaming (again, while I’m supposed to be concentrating on other things) that these ideas begin to merge into a workable story. The seed of a story, the initial inspiration, can come from absolutely anywhere. Everyday life is full of little gems. Once my story starts to take shape, I play around with it, constantly asking what if?

In Haunted Fields, the protagonist, seventeen year-old Freddie Forster, is busy working when he spots a lad watching him from a distance. Later on, he sees the same lad in a framed photograph, hanging on the wall inside the local village pub. The boy in the photograph has been dead many years, killed in what is said to have been a tragic accident. This idea came from asking what if? What if a character sees someone he knows to be dead? Then I took it further, delaying Freddie seeing the photo until after he’d seen the lad with his own eyes.

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An Interview with: Elle A. Rose

ImageThis week we interview New York author Elle A. Rose on the inspiration and success behind her gripping new title, Frozen. 

 

 

 

How did your book come about? Where does the inspiration behind the book lie?  

Frozen started out as a short story for a Halloween anthology my writing group decided to make. For the Halloween collection, I, along with twenty-one other authors took on the challenge of creating a 10,000 words or less story about Halloween (there is a total of twenty-five awesome stories in the collection). As I sat down to write Frozen, I do believe my husband was playing one of his many fantasy video games (hence, the ending to the short story). By the time I finished the short story, an entire new world, including new characters and a different ending were rolling around in my head. 

Where are you from? Does location have any significance with your book?

I’m from Rochester, New York (Upstate New York) which is about six hours away from New York City. In Frozen, because of the meshing of the lands caused by the aliens, landmarks and other significant locations on the planet we know no longer exist. Think about the Earth’s ground shifting – lands that are now separated by oceans and lakes coming together as one huge strip of land wrapping around the middle of the Earth, with the seas now above and below the band of land.  

When and why did you begin writing?

Until I sat down to write my first novel, ‘The Chronicles of Amber Harris: Last Teardrop’, the only writing projects I worked on were for teachers and professors. I had almost eight chapters finished before I shared my story with my husband. Why did I decide to write? Ha, that’s a loaded question. If I tell you, you’ll have to promise not to judge me. The voices told me to do it! No, really, they do and you would completely understand where I’m coming from if you read ‘Last Teardrop’, my first YA novel. Amber Harris, the main character, has a very strong will. For over a year, Amber’s story took up a huge vacancy in my mind. I would spend hours at a time living and breathing Amber’s life. Finally one night, once my husband went to sleep, (that’s how I wrote for the first few months, until I became confidant I would really be able put ramblings in my head to paper) I sat down to enter Amber into the real world. Can I tell you, he was shocked when I handed him the first eight chapters of the book, and to this day he has been my biggest supporter!  

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Bas Bastinck on Finding Inspiration

Hello fantasy lovers. I am Bas, the author of The Claws of the Earth series. How do I find my inspiration for a series like this? A simple question with an elaborate answer.

First, I get a faint idea in my foggy brain, which will whirl around for a while. Then, I hear a piece of music, witness a conversation, or even see a weird tree branch that will get the cogwheels turning. It truly can be anything.

I let those cogwheels grind away for a while, and then sit down and start writing. I begin by drawing a picture alongside my words, so that I have a clear image in my mind. That image then starts to move as if it were a film, and I write down exactly what I see as it happens.

Do I know the whole story when I begin? No, I don’t. When I start, I haven’t got the foggiest where the novel will take me, or which characters I will encounter along the way. Without doubt, the whole story is in my sub-conscious, but consciously, I know as much about what will happen as you do.

I sincerely hope that you enjoy reading The Claws of the Earth, and that you will share my story so that others can enjoy it.

If you have any questions feel free to ask, and I will answer them as truthfully as I can.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

 

If you’re a fan of the fantasy genre, we can’t recommend The Claws of the Earth series enough. Bas’ second title in the series, The Library of Menthok-Sikh, will be available to pre-order via our website over the next couple of weeks, as both paperback and e-book, and will be on general sale from the end of April. Don’t hesitate to swing by http://www.rowanvalebooks.com and see what all the fuss is about! As for us, we’ll be back next week with some more helpful tips. See you then!  

Keeping It Fresh

Many writers find that writing the opening for your novel is child’s play, but carrying on with the same plot for two hundred pages can start to wear away at your sanity. All the eager excitement and fresh ideas that you began with start to wane, and you find yourself asleep at the desk wondering how you’re going to keep this going until the long-awaited conclusion. Well, help is at hand. Below are a few tips to avoid getting stuck in the mid-novel rut.

Revisit the blurb. For some writers, it can be as simple as removing yourself from the thick of the novel and rereading the blurb or summary you’d written up, once upon a time. Revisiting those big ideas that made you so excited in the first place can work wonders for a flagging novel, and will remind you of the bigger picture you are working towards. It can really help you remember who, and what, should be the focus of your writing.

Bring in another conflict or character. If things are really slowing and you feel the need to bring a little excitement to the plot, try creating a fresh conflict for your central character – one that runs alongside the existing problems they might be facing. This can add further tension to the novel, and, at the very least, spice things up a little while you work towards your big conclusion. An additional character can also work towards the same end, but make sure when taking this route that they are introduced seamlessly into the plot, and not just dropped at random into your story.

Do something manual. If the problem is not a tired plot, but that you are losing interest in the story, then a little space away from the project is the best remedy. Writers often admit that they take time out to go walking or running, anything physical to give their minds a rest, and to relieve the ache of a lagging manuscript. When you return to the novel with fresh eyes it should look a little more like the exciting new project you started with.

Next week, you can look forward to a guest blog from one of our hard-working authors, Bas Bastinck. His second novel, The Claws of the Earth: The Library of Menthok-Sikh, will be available to purchase from the end of April – so we thought it was the perfect time to grill him on where he finds his inspiration! Until then, faithful readers.

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Amazon.com – An angel or a devil?

Originally posted on Thriller Writing Help for Authors:

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“I just met the world’s biggest snake-oil salesman. It’s going to be really bad for books,” a bookstore owner once said to his partner after meeting Jeff Bezos. Why shouldn’t he say so? After all, Amazon.com soon came to become the nemesis of the brick-and-mortar bookstores. In one of the fantastic articles Cheap Words in The New Yorker, George Packer admits  that Amazon is undoubtedly good for customers. But then asks the real question – Is it good for books?

Read it here.

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Inspiration for Writing

One of the most common questions authors receive is ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ It seems everyone is looking for the font of inspiration for their own novel. Many have the drive, they have the style, but they don’t have the next big idea. If you’re struggling to find a vision for your novel, we’ve compiled a short list of opportunities to find new ideas.

  • Overheard conversations. Two elderly women waiting in line at the post office, a couple of teenagers on the bus, your room-mates arguing over something trivial – these are all great places to run into new ideas. Even if you only hear snippets of conversations, these can often be the best opportunities, as you can fill in the blanks and let your imagination run away with you. A number of writers have recommended riding on public transport while searching for ideas, as you’re guaranteed to come across a variety of unusual characters and overheard stories every day.
  • Your typical day. Even in your everyday life, there are a hundred little ideas just waiting for you to stumble across. When you get into work, who is the first person you see every day? Imagine what life is like for them, if they had children, what would the children be like? Imagine writing a story from the perspective of that child… perhaps about the relationship between these two characters. Take an everyday occurrence and follow on with a series of questions just like this, there will always be something new and previously unimagined to inspire you.
  • Watch the news. There is a lot to be said for looking to newspapers and magazines, as well as the news, both online and on television, for researching ideas. Local news is often better than national, as you’re far more likely to run into those unusual, somewhat kooky articles that great stories are born from. Take inspiration from characters that are being interviewed, to drastic weather scenarios and unusual criminal activity – whatever captures your imagination.

Drop by and see us next week for some tips on keeping your writing fresh!

And be sure to check out our fabulous new titles at http://www.rowanvalebooks.com. You can get a sneak peek at our upcoming YA fantasy Haunted Fields, by Dan Moore, by clicking below for the teaser.

Haunted Fields, Dan Moore – Teaser