Saturday, July 23, 2016

Deep Point of View

Kathrese McKee helped us all to dive into Deep Point of View at our July ACFW gathering. She began her presentation with two caveats:
  1. WARNING: this material may temporarily spoil your pleasure in the fiction you read. Sorry.
  2. This presentation will only give a beginning understanding about this topic. If you want more information download the booklet (written by Kathrese) entitled, “Mastering Deep POV,” please go to
Her engaging presentation continued with a brief review of Point of View followed by a demonstration of a shallow point of view passage from Louis Sachar’s Sideways Stories From Wayside School

Kathrese then provided us with an extensive and detailed list of guidelines for achieving Deep POV such as: avoid phrases like: she thought, she wondered, she wished or she remembered. McKee encouraged writers to sink deeper and said this would create a more engaging story. 

A writer who is trying to utilize Deep POV should be careful to avoid naming emotions: love, hate, like, or fear, and concentrate on conveying emotions through action, physical reaction, thoughts, word choice and sensory details, setting and dialogue.

Kathrese finished our time together with an opportunity to apply what we had learned. She gave us a passage from Tara Ellis’ novel: Infected: The Shiners, and each of us had an opportunity to re-write the passage choosing first or third person and reworking the Point of View to be Deep POV. A number of writers bravely shared what they had written and it was fascinating to see the different directions each writer took the piece. 


Kathrese McKee is an author of YA fantasy, and she is the treasurer and official photographer of the WOTS chapter of ACFW. You can find her novels, Mardan's Mark and Healer's Curse on Amazon.


Special thanks to Anthea Kotlan for covering for me this past week. What would I do without my friends?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Does the Critique Have Merit?

Recently, on a LinkedIn thread I subscribed to, a woman posed a question to the rest of us pertaining to a critique she'd received from her group. Apparently everyone agreed she needed to deepen her character's POV. She said she followed their advice, but she wasn't happy with it.
This tells me one of two things: either she writes in a genre where the omniscient, or at least a more distant POV, is required (and yes, there are some genres that work best with a distant POV), or she doesn't quite know how to deepen it effectively.
She wanted to know what the rest of us thought, and I was surprised by the vehemence of the responses. "Don't let anybody tell you how to write your book!"
You're kiddin', right?
If you know me, you probably won't be surprised by this: I jumped in with an opposing view. Yeah, yeah, I know--someday I'll learn to keep my mouth shut. Anyway, I said that, in some genres, the deep third person POV has become expected by readers and publishers alike, and it wouldn't hurt to work with it some.
Apparently my response threatened to strip the veneer off the "We Are Perfect" award bestowed only upon those who write. I tell ya, they crawled all over me like fire ants on a hot dog. Eventually, I did everything but apologize for living and bowed out of the discussion. (I'm yellow that way, I guess. Though I don't mind presenting an opposing view, I hate fighting over it.)
Where on earth did authors get the idea that because they could string a few sentences together, they have obtained some sort of artistic nirvana and deserve to be worshiped? We're authors--not gods. We haven't been endowed with special wisdom. We're not better than anyone else. The idea that these folks wouldn't even consider a criticism bugged me.
Perhaps some of us need a lesson of humility.
The best way to approach any criticism of your work, either through a critique group/partner, contest judge, or an editor, is open-mindedly. Does it have merit? Is it worth experimenting with?
Critiques in general hurt. But once you've calmed down, study your work through the eyes of whoever offered something constructive. Do they have a point?
One of the editors looking at The Cat Lady's Secret suggested I pull a character out. After loosely skimming the manuscript, she wondered whether the cat lady's role in The Cat Lady's Secret was really necessary to the story. I'm not sure where she got that. Pulling the cat lady out would've done serious damage to my novel; it would've changed it entirely. That's major. I refused.
Deepening a POV isn't major.  Repairing structure, changing sentences, moving this paragraph from here to there--none of these are major. Cutting certain scenes may or may not be major--who knows? Try it and see if it makes the novel better. Keep in mind, many of the things suggested aren't intended to change the story, but to enhance it.
The lady who started the LinkedIn thread at least tried the suggestion. She approached it right. I wonder how many in that group would've pitched a fit. Their attitude, "the author is always right!" seems to answer that for me.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Achieving Deep POV

Kathleen Y'Barbo couldn't make the meeting this month, so our own Kathrese McKee will be filling in. She'll be teaching the secrets of writing in a deep POV.  If the concept of going deep confuses you, or if you're just looking for ways to improve your POV depth, you don't want to miss this.

Kathrese is the award-winning author of Mardan's Mark and Healer's Curse, The third in the Mardan's Mark series, Mardan's Annointed is coming soon.

About Kathrese:

As a Systems Engineer for EDS, I never guessed I would become a writer since my work was designing systems, coding, and testing. But in every assignment, I wound up supplying the writing muscle for the projects, too. I wrote design documents, technical specs, user documentation, change notes, and more.

Drawing nearer to my true interests, I taught middle school Reading and English as a Second Language for four years. Since I stopped teaching, I've devoted my time to blogging and writing Young Adult fiction. I'm an active member in the Writers on the Storm chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). My other interests are photography and music.

Kathrese is a fun speaker, so I hope everyone can make it to the meeting!

Saturday, July 16, 11:00 - 1:00, at Lupe Tortillas, on I-45 in The Woodlands!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Melanie Stiles: Life Coach in Blue Jeans

(Thanks to Anthea Kotlan for filling in for me this week.)

Dear friends, I've dropped everything to write you about this life of salvation that we have in common. I have to write insisting - begging! - that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish. (Jude 3)

Do you sometimes feel that you just have to write? Do you see your writing a gift that God has entrusted to you? Melanie Stiles, a life coach in blue jeans, brought a heaping helping of encouragement and scripture to her audience on Saturday at our June meeting. Stiles charged her audience to view God’s gift of writing as a ministry tool for each to share lavishly. After decades of working in the area of non-fiction writing, Stiles was quick to offer some extremely practical advice in the way of application for her message. “Walk through any other door the Lord opens!” Here are a few of Stiles suggestions:
  • Concoct plays for your church, family or group to act out.
  • Blog for your church or group (and create a team to include other writers).
  • Make and deliver a list of reasons you love or appreciate someone or his/her efforts.
  • Create and publish a family or group newsletter.
  • Write letters for those who don’t have physical or language abilities.
  • Walk through any other door the Lord opens!
Stiles went on to give us four steps to be taken:
  1. Don’t be tempted to hide your words.
  2. Practice boldness…we’ve all been scared sometimes when we say yes.
  3. Let the Lord know you are ready to be used by Him. He’s a gentleman and won’t force you.
  4. Be thankful for any gifts or opportunities God gives you.

She added that when doubts assail us, remember 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NKJV) :

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

Finally Stiles closed the meeting by asking to pray the writer’s prayer over us:

Lord, I come to you expressing gratitude for the gift You have bestowed upon me. I thank you for trusting me to use it to my full potential for Your glory. Open my eyes, my heart, my spirit and my mind, that I may see Your intentions. By the strength of Jesus Christ, I know I am able to overcome any insecurity or obstacle that would keep me from doing Your will! I surrender my gift to You and Your purposes. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, June 20, 2016

New Releases!

Several WOTS members new and upcoming releases. Actually, this active group of ours has had several releases all year, and I haven't been nearly as diligent as I should've been announcing them. I'm going to try to do better from now on (note I said "from now on," with apologies to those who had releases before June).

Murder Mezzo Forte: A Preston Barclay Mystery

Donn's mystery released June 9, and 
Linda's released June 12.

Donna's newest became available June 14,
and Martha is involved in this set which released June 19.

My sequel to Give the Lady a Ride releases July 5
(available for preorder), 
and the newest in Janice's Bella Series 
(also available for preorder) releases
July 15. 

If you have a release you want to announce, let me know!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Raise Your Book Above the Crowd

© 2015 Sharyn Kopf (reposted with permission from author. Originally posted in The Write Life.) 

You’re probably better off if you just don’t think about how many people you compete against when it comes to marketing your novel. We live in a world where everyone and his uncle can not only write a book but publish it. And they do.

Now we can start by disregarding the hacks—the truly awful writers who wouldn’t know a prepositional phrase from a hockey stick. They’re not your competition. But that still leaves quite a few—the writers who care and have a good story and hired an editor and quite possibly secured a publicist to get their work up and over the stacks of books clamoring for attention.

So … how do you stand out? Well, it helps to do everything I mentioned. But if you really want to be heard above the noise, stop trying to be heard above the noise. If you try to get attention the same way everyone else does, you’re just another cheap noisemaker in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

Let’s say, for example, you’re in Times Square and across the way, you see your ideal reader. All these authors stand between you and her. If you could just get her attention, you know she’d pick you. You wave your book in the air. But everyone is waving his book in the air. You shout her name. As do thousands of other voices.

It’s time to look closer. Who is she? Why is she there? What does she need? More importantly, what does she need that only you can provide? Will your story offer her hope or give her direction or help her rest? If so, that’s what you tell her. But don’t make her come to you. You go to her.

The same holds true when you send out your media kit to a blogger or a radio host or a journalist. Do your research. Find out what they want. Go to them. If you can meet a need while at the same time nudging your book in their direction, you’ve done a good job.

What it comes down to is this: When someone opens your email, she's not wondering how she can help you. She's wondering how you can help her. It may sound selfish, but that’s Marketing 101.

Raise your book above the crowd, and your dream reader might forget it’s New Year’s Eve because she’s at home engrossed in your book.
Award-winning author Sharyn Kopf published her first novel, Spinstered, in 2014, then followed that up with a nonfiction version titled Spinstered: Surviving Singleness After 40. Besides writing and editing, she’s developing a speaking ministry to women. During her spare time, Sharyn plays the piano, makes the best fudge ever, and watches too much HGTV. She lives in Bellefontaine, Ohio, just five minutes from her favorite people in the world—her family. Visit her on Facebook.