I’m the mother of three sons, all voracious readers, and all highly opinionated. Each knows what he expects from a story, so if he’s going to invest time reading a book, it better deliver. So, no surprise that as I rinsed the dishes and arranged them in the dishwasher my youngest son, Joey joined me to talk books.
“Hey Ma, do you prefer books written in first or third person?”
I thought for a moment, which did I prefer? First or third person point of view? “Either as long as it’s well done.”
A lively discussion ensued regarding the pros and cons of first person…he had mostly cons, I was somewhat divided.
I wondered how my writer friends might feel about the topic, so I brought it up at a recent write in.
“It doesn’t work well in fantasy, how do you give the reader a view of the world you’ve built in first person?”
“Don’t like it, it just doesn’t work for me.”
“The reader’s view is too limited in first person.”
The majority landed on the third person POV team.
Interestingly enough I’d never considered POV as controversial until these conversations. Personally, I love good writing, and whether the author delivers in first or in third, I’m happy.
First person done well can be amazing. Think Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain, or Edgar Allen Poe’s, The Tell Tale Heart. Either story can be told in third person, but first person gives you a more personal glimpse into the main character’s head, and The Tell-Tale Heart gives you a view of the mind of an insane person that you probably couldn’t get in third person.
Some of my current favorite authors do first person brilliantly.
Author, Megan Hart writes in both first and third person and does both well. Her first-person books are seductive, slightly dark and suck the reader in from the very first line. As a reader you know her heroine, and each page gives you a better understanding of the main character, the choices she makes, what she thinks and how she feels.
The Book Seller, by Cynthia Swanson is written in first person. Swanson could have told the story in third, but by writing in first, she kept secrets from the reader, only to be revealed at the perfect moment.
Erika Robuck pens literary fiction in first person. Many of her stories offer a glimpse into the life of a historical figure, but written from the point of view of a fictional character who could have been in their life. By doing this, Robuck is able to present a different perspective. The story is fiction, but with an amazing excellent historical detail. She leaves you wondering…what if?
I write primarily in third person, but occasionally in first. And I read and love both. Tell a good story, make me turn the next page. If the writer puts me into their world and I don’t want to leave, I don’t care what tools she (or he) uses to get me there.
What about you? Do you prefer to read third person or first? And why? Or do you care? Which do you use when you write?
As a little girl I dreamed of having my own library, a room filled from floor to ceiling with books just for me. And to go along with it, of course…unlimited time to read. I suppose that right now I have most of that. As my boys moved out I made one bedroom into a sewing room, and the other into a library filled with books.
Of course, as kids do, my youngest son moved back home last summer to go back to college. He’s sleeping in my library. Rather than pack up all of my books, he moved in another full bookshelf. Now, I worry that my son will be covered in an avalanche of books if we have an earthquake!
So, I have the books, and that doesn’t include what’s on my Kindle, and because my boys are all adults, and I’m no longer working, I have time. I can read all day long if I want. Or I can write.
I’m writing full time, well between loads of laundry, loads of dishes, and feeding my guys. Most of the reading I do is for friends, and while I enjoy working with friends, and it’s important for us to help each other out…I have good friends they reciprocate. There’s nothing like reading a book just to read, just to get lost in a really good story.
But I’m editing a historical novel and writing some novellas, romantic comedies right now, and I’m trying to focus, so there’s been little reading for the pure pleasure of it. I’ve learned so much in the last few years, and editing my historical novel has been exciting, educational and sometimes overwhelming. At one point my editor made notes that I needed to dig deeper to show Violet, my heroine’s growth, I needed to share more with my reader. I thought I knew what she meant, but I wasn’t sure. I poured through my manuscript. I could see places that could use more emotion, partially because Jenny had made notations by many them out, and partially because now that she’d pointed some out, I could see more. I sat at my desk digging into Violet’s soul. I could feel her hurt, her frustration and her fear, but I was having a hard time getting into the page. So, I walked away.
I loaded the washer, unloaded the dishwasher, found other chores that needed done. Eventually, I had to come back to my desk. I played a game of solitaire, then checked in on my friends on facebook. My friend, Author Nikki Prince (who is moving out of state, and I wish her the best, but will miss her terribly) had asked for suggestions for new books to read. Author Beth Yarnall and several others had recommended Sierra Simone’s book, Priest. Now this book may not be for everyone, it’s pretty steamy, and I’d consider it controversial. (Aunt Gloria if you’re reading this, this is not a book suggestion for you!)
So, I downloaded the book to my Kindle…I wasn’t getting much work done anyway.
From the very first words I was hooked. I devoured three hundred and forty-eight pages in one sitting. It had been a long time since I’d done that. I could feel Father Tyler’s compassion, his desire, his struggle with self-restraint, his suffering.
And when I finished the book, I felt renewed, and ready to write. I wanted my readers to feel as though they’d lived Violet’s life when they closed the book and I knew what I needed to do to get more from Violet. I went back to my manuscript, back to page one.
Now, I haven’t finished my edits, and I don’t know if Editor Jenny will be satisfied with what I’ve done, but I feel Violet’s frustration, her desire, her guilt and her fear. I feel Violet, and I hope that my readers will too.
The point of this is, that I’ve realized I need to read. I need to pick up a book just to hear a new voice, to live someone else’s life, to remember why I want to write.
So, make your suggestions now! What books have changed your writing? What books have left you wrung out, energized or in awe. What should be next on my reading list?
There’s a very special group on Facebook, if I do say so myself. The #CharmedWriters group. You may or may not have heard of it. It’s a semisecret group but it has a lot of power, at least within its members and special guests.
It started a couple of years ago at this very time. Many of our local writer friends were getting ready to attend the annual Romantic Times Convention. For those of you not familiar with it, Romantic Times is a magazine for romance readers. Every year they put together an amazing convention that connects romance readers with the authors that they love.
Anyway, many of us were “stuck at home, while our friends were at RT 2016”. And thus, a Facebook event titled Stuck at Home While My Friends are at RT was born. I invited all of my writer friends, at the time mostly romance writers. And they invited some of their friends. About 25 authors participated. It was basically a Butt in Chair event, where our goal was to keep our butts in our desk chairs, and see how many words we could write while our friends were partying at Romantic Times. We had word count challenges, we talked about promo, we had online happy hours for networking. All in all, I think those who attended had a great time, I know I did.
Many of the writers broke their highest daily and weekly word counts that week, individually writing 10, 20 and more than 30,000 words. We got a lot of work done, learned from each other, made new friends, and motivated and inspired each other.
And I gave out charms. Lots and lots of charms. When the week ended, we didn’t want this special week to just fizzle and go away, and the #CharmedWriters group was formed, named for the charms we earned while writing. We continued writing together regularly in what we call Office Hours, and had a few more Butt in Chair events in 2016.
Last year I added speakers to the Stuck at Home event, making it more of an online conference, and the most amazing people stepped up and hosted online Ask an Authors and Workshops, and the event has continued to evolve including not just authors, but industry experts. Members get access to some highly successful and incredibly brilliant people.
Next week we have a special line up of speakers including the wildly talented romance author Megan Hart (I’m a huge fan!). Author, and book coach the inspiring Ara Grigorian. The multi-talented romance author, editor and cover designer Judi Fennell. Award winning YA author, marketing wiz, and my former playgroup friend, Elena Dillon. Romance author and historical fashion designer/seamstress Victoria Vane, I’ve seen her gowns in person and they are amazing! And publicist and career coach Robin Blakely, who works with my friend, author of my favorite legal thrillers, Rebecca Forster…who has previously been a presenter for #CharmedWriters, and if you haven’t read her books you should! Not that she needs me to promo for her, she’s a brilliant writer…and she has Robin Blakely! And you probably know both Rebecca and Robin from right here on Slice of Orange.
Do you wish you were a member now? Keep reading!
A couple of weeks ago we hit 100 members when a friend of mine from middle school, author Christine Simolke, joined the group.
Our membership is made up of authors at various stages in their writing journey, but all are seriously pursuing a writing career. We share our work, give and receive help, share experience and knowledge, help each other promote, and even more. Many of us have become friends, we share a passion that even if our friends and family support us, they don’t always understand. It’s truly a #CharmedPlace.
To be included you need to be invited by a member of the group, and you need to be actively writing. So, if you’re actively writing, and you’d like to be a #CharmedWriter, consider this an invitation! Friend me on Facebook and if we’re already friends just send me a message!
So, being Stuck at Home While My Friends are at RT is no longer such a bad thing! And now you know why I titled my column Charmed Writer. Because I am!!
What makes you a writer? Is it the act of picking up a notebook or sitting at the computer and filling a blank page? The desire to put the fantasies in your head on paper? Does it happen when other people read your work? Or when you see your work in print? How about when you’re paid for your writing? Is it a writing degree? What makes you a writer? And are you a writer even if you feel like everything you write…well, it sucks?
I’m pretty sure I’ll never feel like I’m A Writer. I mean who the heck am I to call myself writer? I’m certainly no Anne Rice, or Danielle Steele, but I know that nothing can keep me from writing. I eventually turned nearly every ‘real’ job I had into a writing job.
I was hired as a secretary for the marketing director of a luxury automobile accessory catalog company. Catalog copy crossed my desk every day, eventually I started writing my own copy and putting it on her desk, and before long, I was writing most of the new product copy that was written in house.
Later I worked for a high end furniture store in customer service and began an employee newsletter. Then I worked in human resources for a medical staffing company and wrote an employee handbook, a newsletter and a television infomercial. I worked as a receptionist at an advertising agency where I slowly started writing television commercials instead of answering phones.
And eventually I freelanced for magazines and wrote regular columns in four different publications.
My first fiction released in February! Such an amazing feeling, but I still can’t say that I feel like a Real Writer.
So what does it take? What makes you a Writer? Does it even matter? At this point I’m pretty sure that no matter what else I do in my life, I’ll always write. Maybe when I see my book on the shelves at Barnes and Noble I’ll know I’m a writer, or if I’m lucky enough to make a best sellers list. In the meantime, I’ll just keep writing.
One of my favorite movies is the 2008 comedy/fantasy Stranger than Fiction. In the story, Will Ferrell plays Harold Crick, an IRS agent who wakes up one morning and finds that a voice is narrating his life. Every swish of his toothbrush, every step that he takes, every experience he has is being narrated. Harold decides that he must be part of a story that’s still being written, he seeks help from Literature Professor Jules Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman) for help. After asking him several questions, Professor Hilbert informs Crick that “the last thing to determine conclusively is whether you’re in a comedy or a tragedy”. This line has stuck with me since I heard it.
Personally, I’d classify my own life as a romantic comedy. And often a television sitcom (think Home Improvement). So, I’m very excited that my first book to be published will be a romantic comedy.
#PleaseSayYes is a light, sweet and I hope fun little novella about how social media can influence the search for true love.
With 3 young sons, my oldest Gerrod just recently married, and the younger 2 Jayson and Joey (see I told you Home Improvement) still in the dating game. I’ve seen how social media has changed the way couples meet and interact. Sometimes it’s crazy, sometimes it’s scary…and sometimes it’s a comedy.
So, my Valentine’s offering this year is my first published fiction #PleaseSayYes. The story of a sweet school teacher who would rather read romance than look for love, and a young business owner who admirers her from afar. Until, family, friends and social media take matters out of their hands. I hope you’ll check it out and let me know what you think. It’s available for preorder right now and will release on February 13th in the Love Me Tender boxed set with a dozen other sweet romances for you to enjoy.
And if you haven’t seen Stranger than Fiction yet, you might want to buy it for Valentine’s. I’ll let you decide if it’s a tragedy or comedy, but it’s definitely a romance.
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