July 26, 2011

Plotter-Pantser: Talking with Author CHAMSIL

The Writer

CHAMSIL is an author with over ten years of creative writing experience. CHAMSIL possesses multi-dimensionality as he can easily tailor his writing style to a variety of genres, which include urban, erotica, suspense, comedy, horror, etc. CHAMSIL has the ability to draw in an audience with his storytelling and imagery. CHAMSIL has never been one to bite his tongue on controversial topics such as sex, rape, abuse, murder, etc. He definitely likes to keep it raw and most importantly real, because he strongly feels that if he can't convey his feelings in the realest way that he knows how, then he is performing a true disservice to all readers out there. CHAMSIL possesses and intense passion for writing and is always brainstorming new concepts, which keep his creativity as fresh as it possibly can be. At the end of the day, CHAMSIL feels that it is all about four major components: hunger, determination, drive and passion to get your voice out there and be heard and most importantly...respected. CHAMSIL is the complete creative package. You get all of him and nothing less.

This is the heart, mind, body and soul of CHAMSIL.

You can also learn more about CHAMSIL at his website and at the following spots on the web: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

The Book

For Unbeknownst:

Memphis, Tennessee, 20th century.

Jamin Edson is a young business professional, boyfriend, and father of one who sorely lacks the connection, but is seeking love and acceptance within the confines of his family structure. Although, he has longed for this interaction, it has seemed so far from his reach. So far, that he continuously feels defeated. Lindsay Beauregard is a young business professional, girlfriend, and mother of one who is inflexible in every stretch of the imagination. She is very aggressive, opinionated and does things entirely in the manner in which she feels they need to be done. Hope Edson is a young child and daughter of Jamin and Lindsay, who becomes an unfortunate victim of circumstance and entangled in the web that is her parents’ tumultuous and challenging relationship. When Jamin makes the drastic decision to flee the city, abandoning his family in a last ditch effort to escape the persistent and volatile drama, Lindsay is left with no choice but to pick up the remaining pieces of the shattered mirror. Sadly, Hope is also forced to pick up a piece in order to reflect on her life and where she’s headed, even at a very young age.

Take a journey into their worlds in order to see how lives are forever changed and how those same lives run in parallel to one another in entirely different environments over a span of a number of years. Witness the trials and tribulations, heartache and pain, successes, pitfalls, and shortcomings that are the result of one fateful decision. There are many lessons to be learned. Life goes on. Life brings about new experiences. Life has inevitable challenges. Life isn’t always what it seems. But, ultimately, life catches up with you, sooner or later. The only question is…will you be ready when it does?

This is Unbeknownst.

Click the image above to learn more about Unbeknownst and other works by CHAMSIL!

Plotter ... Pantser

Are you a plotter or pantser...and why? Talk to us about your plotter/pantser role as it relates to the experience you had in writing your latest publication.
You have introduced a very interesting topic, Ms. Bacon, and I must say that I am on both sides of the spectrum when it comes to the writing that I have done, albeit published or non-published over the course of my literary career. Please allow me to elaborate in more detail. I write in both traditional and non-traditional (floetic) formats. When I started writing my very first novel, Unbeknownst, in the Spring of 2005, I totally had to outline it in order to adequately conceptualize how I wanted all the pieces to come together and ultimately become the powerful story that it is. Unbeknownst is written in traditional format. I needed that structure and baseline to not only help strengthen me as a writer, but more importantly help me truly understand how a traditionally-written book should be assembled. My initial outline was a great start, but of course as time went on I had to add things, take things out, make changes, so on and so forth in order to give it the meat that it needed to make an impact. In between me finishing and releasing Unbeknownst as a published product, I wrote and released a free traditionally-written novel, Of This Analverse (An Erotiq Comedy) via MySpace in 2008. This also had to be outlined in order to make sure that it was structurally sound. This was deemed a success by those who read it and it was thoroughly enjoyed and readers had plenty to say about what they experienced with that effort.

Now, on the flipside with my non-traditional (floetic) writing, I pretty much fly by the seat of my pants on those. I have written so many poems that it's crazy. I'm talking thousands. I can be so much more spontaneous and words seems to come to me at so much of a faster rate that it actually excites and challenges me more when I write this way. In a way, floetic is my first love. But, I totally can create in both ways. I've published two books written in the non-traditional format. These books are the LOAD memoirs (An Erotiq Anthology) and Breaux (An Urban Nightmare). I'm actually able to take the reader on such a visually stimulating journey that I feel eclipses the effectiveness that a traditionally-written effort can bring forth. Many people who have purchased my books have shared their thoughts and enjoyment levels with reading something so different and unlike the norm, that they appreciated it more. One thing people could never say about me is that I did it like this person or that person. My writing style, my topics, and overall the way I go about approaching a project is one of a kind. I truly believe that.

My most recent publication is Breaux (An Urban Nightmare) which I released in May of 2011. It's just a wild literary ride. As I rewind the clock back to 2008, I had multiple projects that I was working on. I've slowed down a little bit since then, but I was on a mission to open minds. I was still working on Unbeknownst. Of This Analverse was being written for web release. I conceptualized the LOAD memoirs and Breaux and started slowly but surely putting those together. I was writing other short stories and putting those out there. I was in full scale attack mode. I always knew that Unbeknownst, the LOAD memoirs and Breaux would be my first three published efforts. My vision became a reality. I've worked so hard for this. But, I'm just beginning to scratch the surface. I do believe in myself and strongly believe that a creative mind will outlast the cookie cutter formula to writing books any day. Even if it takes a while to open eyes, I will never stop being who I am.

i am CHAMSIL and i am a plotter AND a pantser.

The Excerpt

From Unbeknownst


A person’s vocal inflexion can dictate a certain level of emotion at any given moment.

“I am so fucking sick and tired of arguing with you all the damn time!” Jamin yelled with a scowl of disgust plastered all over his face.

“Well, if you wouldn’t be so damn stupid, I wouldn’t have to argue with your stupid ass, hear?!” Lindsay responded with a scowl on her face possessing even more intensity.

Lindsay Beauregard and Jamin Edson, a young couple, had been in a relationship for about four years. Trust, it had been a rocky four years, too. They made their home in Whitehaven; a neighborhood located on the south side of Memphis, Tennessee. Both being natives of the Memphis area, they met while attending college at Memphis State University. It was love at first sight and they became damn near inseparable.

But, set the clock forward and one could easily assume that these two individuals hated each other with a passion. But, the regression in their relationship did not happen overnight. Things were real good early on and they did everything together. They worked hard. They played hard. But, most importantly, they loved hard. But, things started to change about a year after their daughter, Hope, was born.

Granted, the couple experienced hardships, but Jamin slowly started to see how Lindsay treated him differently. She stopped paying him much attention, which caused him to become bitter. He had become so infuriated with the situation that there were several occasions where Hope would be crying persistently, and he would never leave his permanent post in the living room to see what the problem was. He would simply ignore her cries and keep doing what it was that he wanted to do. This was regardless if Lindsay was at home or not.

Arguments occurred quite regularly around their home, and Hope was in close proximity during the majority of them. Lindsay tried her hardest to shield Hope from the tumultuous and dysfunctional side of her and Jamin’s relationship. However, that was easier said than done. Lindsay understood how critical it was, because she was a product of an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. She could still vividly recall seeing punches and slaps as a child, as if it had just happened yesterday.

July 19, 2011

Plotter-Pantser: Talking with Author Deborah Batterman

The Writer

A native New Yorker, Deborah Batterman is a fiction writer and essayist. Her stories have appeared in anthologies as well as various print and online journals. A story from her debut collection, Shoes Hair Nails, available in both print and digital editions, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She continues to seek that balance between the longer work-in-progress (i.e., the novel) and the shorter, of-the-moment posts on her blog, The Things She Thinks About. . .

You can also learn more about Deborah at the following sites: Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads.

The Book

The settings of these stories - 1980s New York City, 1950s Brooklyn, Las Vegas, an exurban town post-9/11 - are as diverse as the rich palette of characters drawn with heart, humor, and sensuality. With a sharp sense of the telling detail, Deborah Batterman weaves narratives around the everyday symbols in our world and their resonance in our lives.

Click the cover above to purchase Shoes Hair Nails today!

Plotter ... Pantser

Are you a plotter or pantser...and why? Talk to us about your plotter/pantser role as it relates to the experience you had in writing your latest publication.
A plotter or a pantser? Somehow, I see this an interesting variation on the question of plot-driven vs. character-driven stories, the point being you have to start somewhere.

For me it often begins with an image. The genesis of “Shoes,” for example, was seeing pairs of shoes lined up on the floor of parents’ bedroom, each with its own story, collectively a narrative about a relationship. Another story in my collection, “Hair,” began with a line – “The last time I saw my mother I was propped on a phone book in a red leather chair at Jeanie’s Hair Salon.” “Crazy Charlotte,” a title that’s as much an image as an ironic reference, is a composite character, though I do picture a woman from my childhood who was a bit offbeat, maybe troubled. This approach probably makes me a little more of a pantser—I let the image linger, see where it takes me, at least as a kind of jump-start to a story.

Where do I go from there? Writing, as I see it, is an act of discovery. With fiction – and even more so with poetry – it demands a certain willingness to get beneath the surface of consciousness, give in to the unexpected. Decisions about perspective -- e.g., first person, third person, dual perspective – need to be integral to the narration, not imposed. Finding that balance is part intuition (i.e., pantser), part skillful weaving (i.e., plotter). There are writers who insist you cannot write a story without a full bio of your main character. I’m happiest when I discover something I did not know about him or her.

All of which is to say, from the very beginning I usually have a sense of where a story is headed, but the discoveries and detours along the way are what shape it and bring it to its denouement. As I sit down to write, scenes will come to mind; one scene leads to another, a sequence unfolding around an image, a situation, an event giving rise to a short story. Maybe for its sheer magnitude, a novel demands more of charted course. That doesn’t mean I won’t start out ‘from the gut,’ so to speak. The novel I’m currently at work on is framed around the archetype of a journey, a modern-day ‘Odyssey’ of sorts, rooted in the four cardinal directions. Originally I began it in the East, with the other sections clearly spelled out, only to realize about halfway into it, that the starting point was wrong. In a way, there’s a kind of dance that goes on, ‘pantser’ and ‘plotter’ making room for each other when the time comes for a shift. In the sense that revision is, literally, “to see again,” each draft is a chance for a writer to consider whether the ‘pantser’ has flown a little too freely and lost ground or whether the ‘plotter’ has never really gotten off the ground at all.

July 13, 2011

Writers, Get into Shape with Award-Winning Author Maryann Reid's Bootcamp

Please check out an opportunity below that may suit your career and professionals goals in publishing or publicity.

I received an email from award-winning author Maryann Reid, who is conducting the below bootcamps, and I am confident you will get your money’s worth. Maryann has been an author (St Martins Press) for over
10 years, has been featured in Newsweek, Glamour, USA Today, CNN, ABC News 20/20, etc, and is a sought after speaker, and mentor. Below is a message from her. If you sign up for a bootcamp, please say you heard it from me!

”My bootcamps have come to mean much more to me as I see my clients go from professionals to experts in their industries. It's a movement of taking ownership of what you have to offer the world, your message, and shaping it the way you want it. Without gatekeepers. Without waiting for clients or consumers to tell you. It's not about becoming famous or just publishing a book, it's about a better life. Fulfilling dreams. Seeing results. It's that simple.”--Maryann

Sign up for the bootcamps by clicking below. There are only a few spots left:

Sell It Before You Write It (Starts Monday)

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July 12, 2011

Plotter-Pantser: Talking with Author Bettye Griffin

The Writer

Bettye Griffin is the author of eleven contemporary romances and six works of women's fiction. In 2009 she founded Bunderful Books and has been publishing her novels independently since that time.  Originally from Yonkers, New York, she now makes her home in Southeast Wisconsin.  For more information about Bettye and her novels, visit her web sites, www.bettyegriffin.com and www.bunderfulbooks.com.

You can also learn more about Bettye at the following sites: Facebook, Her Blog, and YouTube channel (book trailers).

The Book

In this updated, revised eBook version of Bettye Griffin’s classic novel originally published in 1999…

Ava Maxwell has made a career out of helping other people with their dreams as the leading wedding planner in the trendy but troubled city of Palmdale, Florida. She cherishes the idea of couples starting marriages and creating families…knowing that for her, the reality was painfully different.

Ten years before Ava walked out on her marriage when she and her ex-husband received the devastating news that she would never be able to have children…the one thing her ex wanted most. The intervening years have been marked by aborted relationships, her only comfort being the belief that she will finally be able to claim happiness once she reaches the point in her life where she would no longer be expected to bear children…but she’s only thirty-five years old and lonely, and ‘that certain age’ is still a good ten years away.

Then, in the same remarkable evening, Ava encounters both an eight-year-old purse snatcher and an exciting new man in town.  Unlikely alliances are formed, bonds that soon deepen into something more special than she’s ever known. Could these two be the key to her attaining…A Love of Her Own?

Click the cover above to purchase A Love of Her Own today!

Plotter ... Pantser

Are you a plotter or pantser...and why?
I'm definitely a plotter.  In my years as a tradntionally published author, I sold on synopsis, not on an entire manuscript.  Even with me now independently publishing my novels, I have to make sure a story will work before I start writing...don't want to get halfway through and then have to throw it out.

Talk to us about your plotter/pantser role as it relates to the experience you had in writing your latest publication.
My latest eBook, A Love of Her Own, is actually a re-release, although one that has been revised and updated.  My most recent new project, The Heat of Heat, started with a general idea:  I wanted to give my readers the sequel to From This Day Forward that they wanted, about the heroine's much younger half sisters.  Then I decided to add the daughter from my book Closer Than Close, who was in the same region and was about the same age.  I made them college friends.  I knew I wanted different types of romances:  the scenario where a woman gets swept off her feet, the scenario where the couple act on sexual impulse, and the traditional scenaro loaded with angst.

From there I laid out the women's characters (they had been introduced previously, but as teenagers...they are grown women now).  I decided they had all been business majors and were all running service industries:  a limousine service (Sinclair), an event planning service (Yolanda), and, the least glamorous, an office cleaning service (Chantal), because Eastern Long Island is also a place where ordinary people live and work.  That made choosing the men's professions easier:  the partner for Sinclair's limo service operator would be a wealthy businessman visiting the area (Ivan), and she had to drive him herself because they were so busy.  I originally had event planner Yolanda meeting her partner, rising pop singer Carlos, at an event she was organizing, but changed that to a concert at a small, intimate venue.  I wanted to give that aura of magic as he spotted her in the audience and visibly became mesmerized, plus it seemed like a good way to introduce most of the major characters.

As for Chantal, the custodial service manager, I had her having to fill in for an ailing employee at an upscale office, where she encountered Trystian, a CPA who instantly antagonizes her by calling her by the name of the regular cleaning person without looking up. I had heard about a 1930s script writer who wanted to use a real-life incident of the back of a woman's dress getting caught in the fly of a man she didn't know at a party (in the end he had to modify it somewhat to appease the censors of the time), and decided that would be a good way for them to have their second encounter, after both of them had freshened up in the locker room on the premises.  There's more to it than that, but I don't want to spoil it for readers who might not yet have read the book.


Excerpt from A Love of Her Own by Bettye Griffin

Frank’s Fish Box was a popular informal seafood restaurant on Ocean Avenue in Nile Beach. The two-story restaurant was large and square, actually shaped like a box. Like every other building in the area it was lit with Christmas lights. Because of its boxy shape, the overall effect was that of an oversize Christmas gift.

It was also full, but only four people were waiting to be seated in the reception and bar area in the front. The hostess took their name and assured them a table would be available within the next fifteen minutes.

“Let’s have a drink,” Hilton suggested. They sat at the bar, and Ava ordered a Chardonnay, Hilton a Seven and Seven.

“Ava, hi!”

“Linda! What a surprise! I thought you were living in West Palm.” Ava warmly hugged the attractive fortyish woman who’d been passing by with a companion.

“I am, but we came to spend the holiday at my father’s. It was here that we met two years ago. I guess we’re just sentimental.” She took the arm of the bespectacled man standing to her left, whose black hair contained a smattering of gray. “Honey, this is Ava Maxwell, an old friend of mine. Ava, this is my husband, Neil Barkley.”

Ava shook hands with Linda’s husband, then introduced Hilton to both of them. “Tell me, will you be here for the entire holiday season?” she asked, beaming. She was so happy for her friend, whose face just glowed.

“Until January second.”

“Then you must come to my open house New Year’s Day. Take down my address.”

The bartender placed their drinks in front of them just as Linda completed writing down Ava’s address. Neil held up his hand. “I’ll take care of that, bartender,” he said.

“Oh, that’s all—” Hilton began.

“No, I insist,” Neil said. He squeezed Linda’s shoulders affectionately. “We’re celebrating. Linda’s pregnant.”

Ava placed her hand palm down on the surface of the bar and swallowed hard. Pregnant? Linda? If it were anyone else…but Linda? How could that be?

The answer came to her just as quickly.

It couldn’t be.

Hilton was offering congratulations and pumping Neil’s hand. “Hey, that’s wonderful.”

“Um...will you excuse me?” Ava asked. “I’ll be back in a minute.” She knew Hilton and Neil would think her behavior odd, but she had to compose herself, quickly, and in private.

“I think I’ll go along,” Linda said. She hurried off behind Ava.

In the privacy of the lounge area of the ladies powder room, Linda said, “Thanks for not giving me away. I know Neil’s announcement came as a shock.”

“Linda, what’s going on? In our infertility support group you said your endometriosis was so severe you had to have a hysterectomy.”

“I did. It cost me a husband, and I thought I’d never get over it. But then I met Neil. He’s wonderful, Ava. He’s been married before, too, but only for a few years. He’s gotten everything he’s wanted out of life except children. He told me from the beginning that he wanted a family, that even one child would be fine. I agreed.”

“Linda, how could agree to such a thing when you knew it was impossible?”

“I didn’t want to lose him, Ava! Don’t you understand? I can’t be dumped twice in a lifetime because I can’t have kids!”

Ava took her friend’s hand. “I know what happened to you was devastating, and I think your husband—your first husband, I mean—was a macho heel to treat you the way he did, but don’t you see how wrong this is? Obviously you can’t keep up the charade forever. So what happens? A miscarriage? Surely you’re not going to steal someone’s baby!”

“Of course not. It’ll be a miscarriage. What other choice do I have? I’ve been faking having periods all this time.”

Ava shook her head. “Linda, how could you?”

“Everybody can’t be as noble as you are, Ava, and walk out of an otherwise happy marriage.”

“But it’s what Neil wanted. How can you knowingly deprive him of that?”

“I have no choice,” Linda repeated. “It’ll be soon, after we’re back home. He has to go out of town on business the second week in January, and by the time he gets home it’ll all be over. Then I’ll just never be able to conceive. That’s not so unusual for women my age. I’m forty-two, you know. Maybe then Neil will want to adopt. He wasn’t too keen on the idea when I suggested that my childbearing years might be behind me.”

“Oh, Linda.” Ava shook her head.

“Please go along with me on this, Ava. I can’t tell you how much it means to me.”

“What about your family? How do you know your father won’t give it away?”

“My father doesn’t even know I had a hysterectomy. All I told him at the time was that I needed gynecological surgery. He knew from when my mother was alive that I had all kinds of female troubles, but I didn’t have the surgery until after my mother had passed. You know how uncomfortable men are with those details. He’s remarried now, and my stepmother doesn’t know about it either. Ava, are you with me on this? I need to know.”

“I won’t say anything,” she said after a long moment of silence.

“Oh, thank you, honey!” Linda hugged her, but it was with a limp hand that Ava patted her friend’s shoulder.

July 5, 2011

Plotter-Pantser: Talking with Author Mike Mullin

The Writer

Mike Mullin’s first job was scraping the gum off the undersides of desks at his high school. From there, things went steadily downhill. He almost got fired by the owner of a bookstore due to his poor taste in earrings. He worked at a place that showed slides of poopy diapers during lunch (it did cut down on the cafeteria budget). The hazing process at the next company included eating live termites raised by the resident entomologist, so that didn’t last long either. For a while Mike juggled bottles at a wine shop, sometimes to disastrous effect. Oh, and then there was the job where swarms of wasps occasionally tried to chase him off ladders. So he’s really hoping this writing thing works out.

Mike holds a black belt in Songahm Taekwondo. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and her three cats. ASHFALL is his first novel.

Website: www.mikemullinauthor.com
Blog: http://mikemullin.blogspot.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Mike_Mullin
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001482248900
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4445700.Mike_Mullin

The Book

Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don’t realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying supervolcano. It has erupted three times in the last 2.1 million years, and it will erupt again, changing the Earth forever.

Fifteen-year-old Alex is home alone when the supervolcano erupts. His town collapses into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence, forcing him to flee. He begins a harrowing trek in search of his parents and sister, who were visiting relatives 140 miles away.

Along the way, Alex struggles through a landscape transformed by more than a foot of ash. The disaster brings out the best and worst in people desperate for food, clean water, and shelter.  When an escaped convict injures Alex, he searches for a sheltered place where he can wait—to heal or to die. Instead, he finds Darla. Together, they fight to achieve a nearly impossible goal: surviving the supervolcano.

The first two chapters are available at Mike Mullin's website!

Plotter ... Pantser

Are you a plotter or pantser...and why?
Yes, I am, thank you. A plotter and a pantser.  In fact, I don’t think any of us are purely one or the other. It’s sort of like autism spectrum disorder—all writers fall somewhere on the plotter/pantser spectrum. Writing is probably a disorder, too, but I’ll leave that for you to judge.

No, you protest? I plot every detail of my story and follow my outline with religious fervor. Or, I never plan ahead—how dare you suggest I put my precious characters into straitjackets? My response: you need to try the other style.

I’m not pulling this suggestion out of my butt. (Clearly I’m capable of pulling ideas from there—I write fiction, after all.) Deren Hansen recently posted a helpful piece on Literary Rambles summarizing recent psychological research on this topic. The punch line:  “People with a rational problem-solving style (plotters) and people who approach problems intuitively (pantsers) generated more creative answers when they were asked to solve a problem using the opposite style.”

I’ve tried both. I pantsed my first novel, which may forever remain in a drawer.  But even while pantsing that novel, I had plot ideas in my head. I even had whole scenes written out—I was pantsing the spaces between them, not the whole thing. I’m now on my fifth full revision of that novel—one of which was a rewrite done plotter-style.

I plotted my second novel, ASHFALL, which will be released by Tanglewood Press on 10/11/11. By plotted, I mean I started with five pages of chaotic notes about the novel. I frequently pantsed my way off the plan. For example, I stayed with my uncle, who was dying of metastasized colon cancer, for a few days while I was drafting ASHFALL. While I was there, I wrote a section of ASHFALL that had never appeared in any of my notes. In those two chapters, Alex, my protagonist, meets a family grieving their dead father.

Later, my wife and I took a road trip to Iowa to drive the route Alex takes while trying to find his family. A stop in Bellevue, at Mississippi Lock and Dam Number 12, inspired another couple of pantsed chapters, in which Alex crosses the Mississippi.

Plot if you want, but be open to pantsing. Pants if you want, but be open to plotting. Whatever it takes to reach your maximum creative potential and give your readers the novel they deserve.

Talk to us about your plotter/pantser role as it relates to the experience you had in writing your latest publication.
Oops, I already covered this question in my answer to the first. I should have plotted this interview instead of pantsing it. Sorry about that.