The Character that Got Away

Intimate moment - Witzel photoIn the mind of a writer, the character that got away lingers like the shadow of what might have been, the road not travelled, the life one never lived. Definitely a whopper of a fish. We don’t forget, for once writers bring characters to life, those characters – regardless of whether they ever appear on the written page – are real to us.

Couple on beach - Witzel photo

I know of what I speak. In The Light Never Lies, Bethany has a crisis of meaning after her near drowning at the end of Disappearing in Plain Sight. This leads to her desire to have a baby. Earlier versions of the novel had her successful in her wishes. The baby was a boy and they named him Caleb. For a number of reasons, this baby didn’t work out but I still hanker after that child.

A character named Alison, a new career counsellor for Micah Camp, hit the cutting room floor during edits for The Light Never Lies and Chasing Down the Night. Imagine getting cut twice! She simply has to make it into the next Crater Lake novel. I can’t bear to look in her eyes otherwise.

University of Arizona - Witzel photo

I started out with a list of about fifteen core characters for The Jennerville Women’s Chamber of Commerce – a possible next writing project. The other day, I got out a big sheet of paper and did some town planning. What fun to map out your own town. But there has been one major drawback – I now have a list of twenty core characters and an additional list of possibilities as long as my arm. The only way all of these character stories can be told is if this new book turns into a few trilogies. I suspect there will be many more characters that get away – for now!

For some, the idea of investing time and energy in characters that may never make the final cut is not a great production strategy. To those naysayers,  I throw up my hands and shout – but wait, writing fiction isn’t supposed to be efficient and it can never be straightforward. This is a winding path, a circuitous route, a process that requires an abundance of material upon which the author may draw in order to get the job done. Or in other words, tell the story.

I’d love to open up a discussion on the issue of characters that didn’t quite make the final cut. How do you deal with them? Are they gone for good or just waiting in the wings for a moment to grab centre stage?

Witzel photo 1

I do keep threatening – this fellow just has to end up in a novel one day. There is too much character in that face to resist.

The Best Moments of Kid’s Sports

Baseball Brit - Guenette photo (2)

When watching kids play sports, the best moments for a grandparent don’t necessarily match what parents are there to see. Don’t get me wrong, my heart sped up when Emma caught the ball and looked up with the most incredulous expression on her face. But the photos Grandma wants to capture are more in the category of joy-in-the-moment rather than sports hall of fame.

Baseball - Emma - Guenette photo (1)                    Baseball - Emma - Guenette photo (2)

Baseball Emma - Guenette photo

Soccer Brit 2 - Guenette photo          Soccer Brit 3 - Guenette photo

Baseball Brit - Guenette photo (1)

Baseball Emma 2 - Guenette photo

I may be biased but I think these girls were born to wear sport’s gear Smile 

As Michael Jordon says – Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.

AUTHOR WEDNESDAY – FRANCIS GUENETTE

It was quite a treat to appear yesterday on P.C. Zick’s blog in her Author Wednesday feature. I guest post on the sticky issue of how stand-alone a book in an ongoing series must be. Read along and get in on the discussion.

P.C. Zick

cropped-cropped-typewriter.jpgToday I welcome back Francis Guenette, author of the Crater Lake series. She’s recently published Chasing Down the Night, the third book in the series. I loved each of the previous novels, Disappearing in Plain Sight and The Light Never LiesI’m very pleased to turn over the reins of Author Wednesday to her capable hands.CDN (book antiqua) Front Cover 6x9 JPEG Final Proof

Writing a Series of Stand Alone Novels

By Francis Guenette

Beware of the person of one book – Thomas Aquinas

I doubt Aquinas had authors of book series in mind when he penned these words but I seem to have derived my raison d’entre from this thought – at least when it comes to writing.

Many thanks to P.C. for inviting me to appear on her wonderful blog. My guest post will delve into a sticky issue. How stand-alone must each book in an ongoing series be?

First off, let us clear up…

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Self-Publishing’s Row to Hoe

Feel honoured that a lively comment section on my blog inspired this great post over on The Good, Bad and Ludicrous. I’d love to keep this particular conversation going.

The Good, Bad and Ludicrous

I’ve been having a nice chat with Francis Guenette regarding the long road of stigma and criticism to be overcome by the self-published author, individually and as a group.

The chat reminded me of my son…

and his passionate support of Indie Bands from 2004-2008.

His reasons for the ‘why’ of it all made sense.

He was a guitarist and composer with his own dreams…

But he knew he could contribute to the Indie Band’s place in the world just by being a fan.

  • He spent his dollars on their merchandise instead of elsewhere.
  • He shared his love of their music with anyone who would stand still and listen.
  • He posted status reports at MySpace and pics of him and some Indie Band’s lead guitarist with their arms draped over the shoulder of each other, in camaraderie, during an intermission at last night’s show.

He, too, was playing a part…

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Reviews Really Matter, My Friends

Wisteria - Bruce Witzel photo

The reviews are starting to come in for Chasing Down the Night and I’m pleased to share this one with all of you.

clip_image001A Worthy Third in the Crater Lake Series, 19 May 2015

By Mari Howard

This review is for: Chasing Down the Night: Volume 3 (Crater Lake Series)

     I’ve just read this great book. I loved it. It’s the 3rd in the Crater Lake series. I would not say that it is “YA” though many of the characters are just that, YAs.
     Young, really young, adults, might find it hard going and too near the bone. The relationships and lives and inner lives of everyone are pretty complex, reflecting the knowledge of the author who has worked in trauma counselling for many years, and written non-fictionally on the topic.
     There are a host of characters, (many whom readers will have already met) but Guenette never muddles the reader, she copes with her crowded canvas beautifully and competently.     Even if you haven’t read the 2 previous stories of Crater Lake, you can get inside this and just carry on, there is just enough to fill in the past but no tedious long explanations.
     It’s quite a page turner: the theme of the cougar mentioned at the very beginning carries the reader along through many other events weaving in just that bit of mystery and fearfulness. And, with just a hint (or more) that there is more to this world than we know by science.  Guenette also has a tremendous respect for the Native people – First Nation – of Canada, and for others who have arrived more recently from elsewhere … and also , for anyone who’s life has given them cause to be messed up, as we all are, by circumstances…Her story of a family gradually put together by mutual care and love is moving and optimistic without unrealistic expectations.
     In this well told story, every piece of angst and suspense is set against the wonderful landscape of the Pacific North West … giving a touch of irony without labouring the point. Life is never perfect for her characters … it is lived to the full but there is also sadness, loss, and lessons to be learned. At the end, there is a hint she may take her characters to England: I wonder if she will? And if so, how will she do with the greyness of London … and the wilds of Scotland? And as a Canadian, will she be able to get inside the British? Maybe I am wrong about this location move: we’ll see where she goes for the 4th novel if there is to be one!
Recommended read! (I read it on my Kindle)

As the title states, reviews really matter to a self-published author. I’ve recently read that if a book can make it past the magical number of thirty-five reviews, all kinds of amazing Amazon algorithms begin to place the book in front of customers. If you’ve read any of the Crater Lake books and enjoyed them, then please take a moment to pop over to Amazon and leave a review. It doesn’t have to be lengthy to count. Many thanks in advance.

Clematis - Guentte photo

Connections and Relationships Sell Books

Reflective Robin - Guenette photo

Coffee in hand, I make my way out to the deck and sip as I watch the mist lift slowly off the lake. Sunday morning and I’m feeling reflective. My office space is crowded with boxes of softcover books. Hopefully, at least half will find their way to store shelves and into people’s hands in short order.

I randomly grabbed a few copies of Chasing Down the Night from within the boxes for a quality control test. As I flipped through to ensure all was where it should be, I decided to read the last couple of pages. I was brought to tears. Oh, what a feeling. You may say I lack objectivity but you must read yourself to be sure.

Chasing Down the Night was released as an e-book on April 28th. It had a bigger bump in the Amazon world than my other releases and I worked that as hard as I was able over various social media channels. But like most bumps – it soon became a recurring blip and I have been taking a rest the last couple of days.

Daily itinerary – coffee, smattering of social media activity, go for a walk, knit a few rows of these wildly coloured cabin sweaters I am making for my granddaughters, read a couple of chapters of someone else’s book – repeat.

A chance to be reflective leads me to reiterate, for myself as much as I wish to share with others, my book promotion policy. If I genuinely connect with the right readers, they will buy my book. The choice to pop over to Amazon (or Nook, or Kobo, or iTunes) and download my book is because you and I have developed some type of relationship. You came to my blog or saw me featured on another blog, we interacted, you followed me on Facebook and liked the eclectic mix of things I tossed up there, we interchanged tweets out in the twitter-sphere or you scrolled down my list of tweets and got a laugh. There was some personal connection that tweaked your interest. Or one of the above happened to a friend of yours and this friend told you about me.

My books on the shelf at Overwaitea, Pt. HardyIf you walk into a local store and see my book on the shelf, perhaps the cover will grab you and you’ll flip it over and read the back. Maybe you’ll be hooked without ever having heard of me. It’s not unheard of in the world of paper and ink books. More likely, you’ll see the book and think of some type of connection you and I have had. It might be as simple as recalling that I’m a local author.

There are no shortcuts, no tricks to cheat Amazon algorithms, no magic solution to be found in the words of slick promoters who sell the self-published author’s latest version of bottled snake oil and no one size fits all way to get onto the shelves of real stores.

So followers, this is me connecting with you. I stare at the lake that stretches beyond the confines of my little cabin in the woods and send words out that might bind you to me. It’s like an incantation – though don’t let that concern you. It’s much less double, double, toil and trouble than Field of Dreams, if you build it, they will come. I wish to make you curious enough about me that you might like to read one of my books.

But really, it’s all just throwing pebbles into a wide pond. I’m not about creating a tidal wave. Just ripples extending out and out. And lest I despair of the seemingly small nature of such tossing, I consider the words of Blaise Pascal:

The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.

Ocean waves - Bruce Witzel photo