Posts Tagged ‘writer’

Who is the protagonist of The Grove?

 

The Grove Cover_blogsized

I always think its fun to see if I can create a character that the reader loves to hate. They must be sympathetic. They must be interesting. They must also have a need that must be met in the course of the story. But that isn’t necessarily what makes them a protagonist.

So how do you define protagonist.

The most common definition–especially for the lay person–is that the protagonist is the central character of a story.  And professionals agree: According to Literarydevices.com “A protagonist is the central character or leading figure in poetry,  narrative, novel or any other story.” However, then the definition goes on. Seriously its a whole page.

So lets first start with the central characters. For The Grove that’s Dayla Fisher and Jonah Leifson.

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Jonah wants to save humanity from themselves. He believes waking a few bloodthirsty ancient Gods will do it. And he doesn’t care that he might have to sacrifice a few people to do it.

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The Keeper of The Grove, Dayla will do anything to stop Jonah from waking the Gods.  She suffers over any loss of life though she eventually comes to realize she might have to take life to stop Jonah.

So who is the protagonist?

There are a couple basic elements for a protagonist:

  • The protagonist is driving the action of the story and so the narrative revolves around him/her/them.

By this definition, that means my protagonist would be Jonah as he drives the story towards its conclusion.

  • The protagonist may undergo some change within the course of the story.

Uh Oh, Jonah doesn’t go through much of a transformation, he is a true believer in what he is doing, so that might mean the protagonist is Dayla.

  • The events occurring in a story often viewed from the perspective of the protagonist.

Well that could be both characters. As well as three other people: Dayla’s husband Oliver Hayes, Dayla’s best friend Samantha Miller and her one time rival, now charge, Galeno DeAdams.

  • A well-constructed protagonist allows the audience to relate to themselves and the other characters.

This too could be either character. Do you want to save the world with Jonah? Or stop Jonah from sacrificing people with Dayla?

So who is the protagonist?

The truth is who is the protagonist is questionable. I wrote The Grove as a thriller. So in that sense, Jonah is driving the action, while Dayla is fighting for her life, her husband, her friends and lifestyle. Most people will see Dayla as the protagonist, because she isn’t using her magic to delude people into waking three ancient Gods. She is “the good-guy.”

However ultimately who is the protagonist is up to the reader!

Do you agree or disagree? Do you have a favorite book/series in which you question who is the protagonist?


About The Grove:
The Grove Cover_blogsizedGenre: Contemporary Dark Fantasy
340 Pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780980145908
Ebook: ISBN:9780980145922

Sitka’s Quay appears to be like every other coastal tourist town on Highway 101, but lurking below its southern grove of ancient spruce are three sleeping primordial gods. The Keeper, Dayla Fischer, must remain in control of her magical abilities or fall into sickening madness, but lives a relatively quiet life with her husband, Oliver. That is, until the delusional, but charming Jonah Leifson comes to town with a plan to awaken the Three. Soon, children begin disappearing. With powerful suggestion spells and mind reading abilities, Jonah wins over other sorcerers, meth users, the police, and eventually even her husband. Though no one believes her and she doubts her own sanity, she must stop Jonah, before he wakes the Three and brings about the end of the world.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Grove-Elizabeth-Guizzetti/dp/0980145902/
Barnes&Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-grove-elizabeth-guizzetti/1124461156?ean=2940156779864
IBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-grove/id1153788999?ls=1&mt=11
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/the-grove-9

Reviews for The Grove:
“Chaos, murder, sacrifice: it was a delicious read, and I devoured it all.” Dan Thompson, The Black Petal

“If you’re a fan of well-written, fast-paced, fantasy thrillers that trot into the neighborhood of horror, you’ll love it…” Fia Essen, Ariel

“Guizzetti’s delusional and magically gifted anti-hero is truly terrifying…” Janice Clark, Healer’s Apprentice Series

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Writer’s Fashion: Do clothes make the author?

What do writer’s wear each day?

Casual, Business, or all out fancy pants?

I have heard of authors who found that getting dressed helps them get more work accomplished. Charles Dickens fastidiousness was especially well documented.  In this blog post by Noelle Sterne, she refers to the importance of “being dressed for action.” She points out getting dressed is a helpful ritual for the creative process. She found being sloppy put writing on the bottom of her list.

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Pre-walk Tycho. Note his expectant gaze for adventure. Rosie is running around so I can’t get a photo with both of them in it.

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Rosie and Tycho postwalk.

Being sloppy don’t effect me in such a way. Mostly because I have another ritual. I make breakfast, drive my husband to work, take my dogs to the park for an hour. Then it is time to kick off my shoes, because I don’t wear shoes at home and make a cup of coffee. Most of the time, I wear exactly what I wore to the park: my old ripped jeans or yoga pants and t-shirts. Exchange the jeans for shorts if its warm. Add a sweater if it’s cold. I tend to wear my hair in a pony tail or a loose bun.

Then the pups take a lie down and I get to work immediately for five or six uninterrupted hours.

Now for weekends, I have a convention or other author appearance, I have a few nice shirts, non-ripped jeans, and one casual dress and a few jackets of charisma. Hey, I live is Seattle and Seattle is causal.

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One of my jackets of charisma.

Here are a few authors who were kind enough to speak about what they wear when they write.

Dan Thompson said:  “If I’m writing at home I have to be barefoot when I write. Socks annoy me and make me frustrated. Barefoot allows me to curl up on my chair and write without feeling restricted.” 

Another lover of freedom in movement is Christina Thompson: At home I wear sweats and a t-shirt. I usually don’t wear a bra…too confining. My other quirk is I brush my teeth before I start. It helps me focus more on the writing and less on wanting snacks.

(I totally understand the snack issue, that’s why I always make breakfast before I get to work! 🙂 )

RL King has nearly the opposite feeling. “I have to wear my shoes. If I don’t wear them, I tend to relax, and I consider writing a job. It is a fun job, but it is still a job.”

Anna's sweater

AnnaLee’s Sweater

AnnaLee Zenkner has a ritual outfit.  “I wear this sweater that I found at a value village when I was a teenager and I still wear it. It’s an old man sweater that obviously got shrunk in the wash… But it shrunk into my perfect intellectual girl sweater and I will never give it up. Why? I call it my “professor sweater” I wear it to think, ease drop, observe, sip scotch or coffee and create obnoxious opinionated characters.”

Adam Watson of Darkslinger Comics: “Whatever I am wearing or not wearing that day. I have never needed any special clothing requirements.”

And apparently nothing stops David Boop: “I have worn everything from a three piece suit to my birthday suit, because I write whenever I have the energy, the opportunity and the equipment available to do so. I have written at a desk, in bed, on the toilet, in a car, on the light rail, in noisy or quiet situations. When you need to write, nothing should come between you and your craft.”

What do you wear when you are writing? Do you have any rituals that help your creative process?

Why I believe in diversity in science fiction: an answer to the counter-arguments.

A number of people in the science fiction community are screaming about diversity in books and films. Either they want to bring back the good ole days, or they want to see characters that look how the world looks now. It saddens me that this argument has gotten very nasty. The 2015 Hugo Award Nominations are just the visual tip of the anger iceberg.

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I saw this on PinInterst, Originally found on yahighway.tumblr.com

Anyone who follows my blog knows how much I love StarTrek. I’m going to explain why I think diversity is important for the sci-fi community, but how there is room for all of our visions. I was a young teen with TNG and in highschool, early college with DS9. I loved those show’s wide open universe with all those planets and races. The meme is getting popular now, but I remember the first time I heard Whoopie Goldberg’s story about how she and Gene Rodenberry spoke about how before the original StarTrek there were no black people in sci-fi and how Lt. Uhura, played by Nichelle Nichols during 1966 to 1969, was a trailblazing role for African-Americans.

When I heard the story, it reminded me of being a kid and watching GI Joe, Thunder Cats, or almost every other show and wanting there to be more than one token girl or woman character. That’s when I realized “the girl” was a type, just like “the black guy” or whoever. And I didn’t want to write “types,” I wanted to write characters. I want to tell their stories. I still do.

StarTrek and Ms. Goldberg’s story encouraged me to always look at my “cast” and make sure that there was a fairly even split of men and women–and if there wasn’t, it needed to make sense why. That if there were “colors” of skin in my book’s universe that they are shown–and not just in the background. That sexual diversity was shown.

The cry for diversity rings loudly. Readers want characters that look like them, that they can relate to, but I don’t think anyone is really saying, “Every protagonist needs to look like me!” Though a few vocal white, cis-gender, heterosexual males are certainly coming close to that.

I believe in listening to people, which means I also believe it is also important to answer the (sometimes-bitter) counter arguments with kindness and generosity of spirit.

Counter Argument #1: So you are saying that I shouldn’t write all white or all male books? Maybe that’s my vision!

People should write what they want to write. Just don’t be surprised when the market makes the final call. I would also add no matter what type of characters you write, you may find you end up with a different market than expected.

An example of a terrific all male cast is John Carpenter’s 1982 version of The Thing. They are twelve guys in a small science station in Antarctica so they are cut off from the world. Sexual diversity is not mentioned. However, there is some racial diversity in the cast with Keith David as Childs and T.K. Carter as Nauls. All in all the cast did a great job.

So if for whatever reason, if a non-diverse cast works, go with it. I think your collection of work shows your heart more than a single work.

Counter Argument #2 Authors are just adding this stuff so they can be edgy.

Really, you think authors care about being edgy? I don’t speak for every author, but I care about writing characters that make readers care and I care about finding readers. That’s it.

Counter Argument #3: White people shouldn’t write/explore other cultures because either white people can’t understand it or it is cultural appropriation.

For me this one is insidious, because I want to be an ally to others. To listen and tell stories. How do I get around this? First of all, I admit I’m a white American, cisgender, and heterosexual. I’m mixed European ancestry, a large chunk of that being Italian. This means I grew up with white privilege. This means there are things that happen I will simply not understand, I own up to that.

Then I figure out what I do know. While I never feared the police would racial profile me, I know what if feels like to be afraid. While I don’t know what it is like for a homosexual young man to want to kiss a boy when all your life you are told you can only kiss girls, but I can imagine what that first kiss is like. Love, pain and isolation are part of the human condition.

By admitting my ignorance of certain aspects of culture and then using my own experiences, I can research with an open mind. We all have the Internet at our disposal and we can take the time to do interviews. So, authors, no matter what your background, don’t fear writing about other cultures, but its important to research and write from a place of respect. Don’t rush the details, don’t force teachable moments, just do the work.

Counter Argument #4: What’s the point of writing diversely, the cover artist is just going to make them white?

So far, I’ve always done my own covers, so this hasn’t been a problem for me, but authors have agents and lawyers for a reason.
Authors, make sure you have some authority in your cover. And if you don’t. Guess what we all have blogs. Use them, show your character sketch. Be proactive.
Fans, if you want diverse covers, write, tweet, email publishers.

And the Counter-Counter Sad Puppy Argument to #4.
Why can’t a book with a spaceship on the cover just be about space adventure? Why does it always have to be out race or feminism or…?

Science fiction authors have a long history about putting “second stories” into their worlds. George Orwell and Margret Atwood outwardly wrote/writes social science fiction, but Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert, and Joe Halderman also delved into issues with their stories. So I don’t know when these readers thought science fiction only focused on escapism. That being said, there are escapist stories. Just look for them. I’m sure a google search of “escapist science fiction” will give you somewhere to look. In the bookstore, ask the bookseller, don’t just look at the pretty picture on the cover, flip the book over and read the blurb. Open the book and glance at the first chapter. Online, Check out the reviews. Look at the sub genres.

Authors create worlds. Sometimes the author will delve deep into the political or sociological issues of that universe, other times, not so much. I personally love to delve into issues with my writing, but not all my writing is about how I view the world.

In closing, I think there is room for all types of science fiction and all types of science fiction fans. I don’t need to like every single book to be a fan, nor do you. We can have conviction and still be respectful. Please remember, that we’re are a community and behind every avatar is a person wanting their voice to be heard.

Five Time Management Tools for Writers

Some days, you might ask yourself, “Why do I still feel like I can’t get everything done?” Or “Why can’t I get any writing done?”

I’m going to make the assumption that everyone who reads this blog post is on Earth. That means we all have 24 hours a day. Those hours are broken into minutes, those minutes are broken into seconds.

While I am not debating the realities of time dilation, we  like to think time is relative. It’s not. We say time flies when you are having fun or drags when you’re not, but the truth is we all have 24 hours a day. And since I have become an adult, all time is moving too fast. Even Virgil agrees: fly

I lose chunks of time during the day. I have a house to keep, dogs to walk, and meals to cook. I have a curriculum and the accompanying handouts to write for my summer art courses. I have artwork and novels to create. While no one, not even me, cannot eliminate interruptions, we get a say on how much time we spend on them.

Here is how I keep myself productive:

1) Every Sunday night, I write weekly to do lists broken down by project.  

If I don’t get something done by the end of the week, it gets moved to the top of next week’s list.  And you will notice two items for the coming week. Last week’s list looked like:

To do: 1/19 – 1/24 

Other Systems Universe

TLSotM Reedit

  • Mon: Chap 26
  • Tues: Chap 27
  • Wed: Chap 28
  • Thur: Chap 29
  • Fri: Chap 30 – 31
  • Friday: Print out TLSotM manuscript (I’ve jury duty this week)

Short Stories

The PeaceKeeper

  • Add ghost of commander
  • Name dead soldier
  • Add screaming victim about the False King

Other

  • Dentist Wednesday Jan 21 @ 12
  • Page 2 Books – pick up cosigned books and check
  • Inventory
  • State and City Taxes

Websites/Social Media

  • Twitter Goal: 10,000 followers
  • Blog Post for Mon 1/26

2) Alarm! Alarm! Alarm!
When I am writing, I set an alarm on my phone so I remember to pick up my husband from work or run timed errands such as my dentist appointment.

3) Meal Plans

I keep a weekly meal plan on the kitchen calendar so cooking is easy. 

B: PancakesL: Hotdogs w Chips
D: Steak Kabobs
B: Quiche & Cros.
L: Work
D: Orange Chick
w Rice
B: Ham Scramble
L: Work
D: French Dips
B: Sand w/ham
L: Work
D: Tacos
B: Eggs & BaconL: Work
D: Quinoa Salad
B: Sand w/baconL: Work
D: Spaghetti & Meatballs
B: Biscuits & Gravy
L: Orzo Salad
D: Enchiladas

4) Scheduled Chores

I keep a schedule with weekly, monthly, and quarterly rotational chores. Monday is laundry, Tuesday is vacuuming, etc. 

5) Deadlines!
I use major conventions to act as deadlines both for writing and marketing projects.

So that’s how I get projects done, how do you do it?

My RustyCon Speaking Schedule!

So my first convention of the year is: RustyDates

Held in Seatac, Rustycon is an annual science fiction and fantasy convention with a smaller, relaxed intimate feel. They have multi–track programming in writing, gaming, films and media. They also have a dealer’s room, art show, and a hospitality room for the general membership.

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Here’s a photo of me and Bruce from Rustycon 2014. I’m the human.

If you’re looking for the convention experience without the crowds of ECCC or the pressure of Norwescon, you’ll LOVE Rustycon.

I hope to see you there.

Friday 1/16

2:00 pm
Sexy or Sexualized
Mercer B

When does the depiction of a heroine stop being sexy and become sexualized?

I will be presenting along with Jon Del Arroz and Michael Suiter

Saturday 1/17 

11:00 am
Part3World Building in Sci-Fi and Fantasy or How to Avoid the Infodump
Orcas B

Too much information and the story bogs down, but too little and the reader is left lost. Writers want to deliver an enthralling alternate world, but how do we do that gracefully? Experts share the details that make a world great, and ways to sneak in the brick and mortar of world-building.

I will be presenting with Verna Mckinnon, Thomas Gondolfi, Tom D Wright with Rick Hipps Moderating

12:00 Noon
Designing Character Backgrounds
Orcas B

When you read, do you fall in love with a story or a character? By designing your characters, major and minor, you shape the story they’re going to carry. But how do you bring them to life? And how much obsessing is too much? Do you really need to know their favorite food, color, and dessert topping? Learn how to design a character.

I will be presenting with A. Maire Dinsmore, Rick Hipps, and Todd Tepper

Sunday 1/18

9:00 am
How do I Finish???

You have the story, the big climax.. how do you end it??  A lot of beginning writers (and some pros) have problems with that.  Come get some ideas.

I will be presenting with Will Mcdermott, Verna Mckinnon, and Rick Hipps

11:00 am
Independent Publishing 
Orcas B

Independent publishing has taken off, especially with the recent rise of the hybrid-author, who is willing to sell work traditionally but not afraid to self-publish and promote. From ebooks to POD, which stories benefit from independent publishing and how do you get them ready? Bring your questions about editing, Kickstarter, cover art, sales price, and marketing.

I will be presenting with Jennifer Brozek Dustin Gross and Thomas Gondola

Where do your ideas come from? Five Ways to Stay Creative

People often ask me where my ideas come from. The short answer is everywhere. I am constantly bombarded with ideas from half heard phrases or stories in the news or silly things that I see. Once one lets the creativity flow, creativty doesn’t like to stop. However that doesn’t tell you how I got there. So here are Five Ways to Get and Stay Creative

1) Don’t be afraid to be a Beginner.
Adults often feel they need to be good at something immediately. When I went to a critique group, I’ve seen many first drafts of first books that suck. Sorry, but that’s the way it is. People get good at something with practice. To be a writer, you need to write. To be a painter, you need to paint. If your first attempts aren’t perfect, keep striving. You will get better.

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I hike with my pups to stay in shape and to relieve stress.

2) Keep your eyes on the process.
Organization helps on a long project such as a novel, a comic book series, or a series of paintings. Having a list, or even a loose outline, of each step can really make the difference between continuing on when it stops being fun, and stopping.

3) Exercise.
Being creative can be painful at times. Creative people open themselves and their work to the world. We want to support each other, yet work in a highly competitive field. Most of us make very little money, but we love it so we do it anyway. So if you are stuck, take a walk. Take care of yourself.

4) Experiment.
If you are stuck, try something new! In my latest project, I wrote a scene by scene outline between draft 2 and 3. Why? Because I could see a few minor points were missing and I needed to find them. Guess what? It worked.

In The Light Side of the Moon, the book began going slow. I needed to mix it  up. I wrote this crazy scene with the protagonist—which I don’t want to talk about since the book is in editing now— but that change is in the manuscript I sent my publisher. Every project has had surprises. Embrace them.

Cover Illustration for First Contact which you can read on Wattpad. It was written as an experiment and trying out Wattled was an experiment too.

Cover Illustration for First Contact which you can read on Wattpad. This short story was written as an experiment and trying it out Wattled was an experiment too.

5) Surround yourself with creative people within your field.
Attend conferences, book store and library events. Join a writing group. Find people to support you with friendship. It’s also important to point out, writers have writer friends so we don’t drive our non-writer friends crazy.

If you can’t find folks in real life, then write a blog. Join Twitter. Join an online group.

 What do you do to stay creative?

Long Road to Publication is more like a Dark Cave filled with Giant Boulders…and monsters don’t forget the monsters.

I’m walking down the path towards publishing my second novel, The Light Side of the Moon. I thought it was going to be easier this time–I was wrong.

Disclaimer: I am not trying to scare you. I did not publish this post during November, because I didn’t want to sound like I am attacking Nanowrimo, speed-writing, or anything that helps authors follow their dreams. However, after four self-published comics and a published novel and short story, I realized that the main attribute that makes or breaks an author is patience.

Here’s why:

Your first draft sucks. Now don’t feel bad, my first draft sucks. When he was alive, Ernest Hemingway’s first drafts sucked. firstdraft

For me, its the first few drafts that are shit. I’m not going to talk about my process today, but its a boulder that’s so big, it has false summits. Other Systems had seven distinct drafts, The Light Side of the Moon had five. My current project entitled The Grove has had two so far, but I know there is at least one more on its way. BTW This is all before professional editing.

Writing the novel is the easiest boulder. It’s big, rocky but with steady work eventually I get over it. So will you. Because whether you write the book or not, is completely within your control.

None of the next steps are within your control.

After I finish the book, I send it out into the world hoping it gets accepted somewhere. 48Fourteen has had manuscripts of mine from anywhere to two months to nine months. Other small publishers have been similar. Large publishers are even longer. I had a manuscript at Angry Robot for nine months before getting a rejection. I had sample chapters at Tor for seven also rejected. I get so many more rejections than acceptances. They don’t hurt anymore. I just list it on the manuscripts spreadsheet, if there is personalized feedback, I try to glean what I can from it–but that’s time.

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Skylight in Ape CavEven short story markets sometimes take months to hear back.

So if you want to be published, authors need to wait, learn patience.

After a traditionally published book is accepted, there is waiting–alot of time in the dark, not knowing what’s going on. I am happy people ask me about the book, but they really have no idea how long each part of publishing takes.

First of all, there is calendar issues. Every publisher has a calendar to get out their yearly catalog. So the publisher has to decide what makes sense for the title and put it in between other titles.

There’s also the cover art. This one isn’t as bad for me, since I do my artwork with 48Fourteen, however, I do need to wait for my cover lettering to be finalized.

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One of the abandoned tunnels at Iron Goat

Next boulder is editing. Right now, The Light Side of the Moon is getting edited. My publisher told me. This is a huge boulder that I have to climb over, cutting my hands in the rough crevices. Not because every word I write is gold, (that last sentence certainly wasn’t) but because I am curious what the editor will suggest. I want to get to work on making it a better book, I don’t know how long the editor will take. Every week I freak out a little more. I have to remind myself that the editor is a person with a life, she will finish it when she finishes it. And I need to stay chill, so she can do a great job.

Seeing your manuscript marked up the first time is pretty shocking. When I was going through Other Systems, I joked that it looked like a smurf died with all the comments. That being said, going through the process is the best thing for your writing.

People often ask, “Does it hurt when they touch your baby?”

Answer: “Not as much as you’d think.”

Truthfully, it doesn’t hurt at all. I don’t argue with my editor. I read their comments and unless I feel they are way off, or I don’t understand them, I get to work on the corrections or rewriting the passages. Only if the editor is way off, I argue. While editing does not hurt, WAITING does. The not knowing. I tend to start thinking weird thoughts. Computers exploding, stuff like that. The Boulder morphs into a monster. Maybe a stone golem or something.

Other Systems had two editorial passes, will The Light Side of the Moon? Who knows.

Then a book goes to formatting and actually become an ebook and a paperback.

Then the book gets released….and its still not over. We stumble around trying to sell it while we write our next book. We need to go slow and steady. We want to write with passion, while everyone tells us to get out our next book: now, now, now. Whether self-published or traditionally-published books sell is up to the whim of the readers. Will they like it? Will they find it compelling?

I can send out review copies, do interviews and go to conferences, but I can’t make people buy my book. I can’t make people read it. That is not in my control. What I can control is how I react to it. My goal is to respond with patience and persistence and to remember the long game. It boils down to the publishing of The Light Side of the Moon or any book is just another step in a career.

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