May 26th, 2017

Sh*t Non-writers Say

 

We’ve all had it happen. You’re at a cocktail party, or a Superbowl party, or a kid’s birthday party – and word gets out that you’re a writer. Then it begins…the inquisition. It’s funny – pro or con, serious or humorous, everyone has questions or opinions about our career. I was an accountant. Trust me. Accountants don’t get the questions we do.

On the Not-so-good Side:

I write romance. This seems to elicit lots of body language: waggling eyebrows, raised noses, and shaky smiles. I’ve been asked/told:

  • Do I write ‘nasty’ stuff? 50 Shades is often cited.
  • How much of my sex scenes is autobiographical? (then they look over at my husband)
  • If I feel the need for a plot.
  • ‘Oh, I don’t read that drivel.’
  • That I jot a few ideas a day, but mostly stare out of the window.
  • Maybe I have a drinking problem.
  • It’s almost a cliche, but I’ve had several people seriously tell me they had a great book idea. I’ll write it, and we’d share 50/50 in the millions in profit. These people know where I live, and that I obviously don’t have millions, even keeping ALL the profits. But, then again, I don’t have their great idea, so…
  • Why do they still think we make a ton of money at this? Seriously. I don’t get it.
  • No, my books haven’t been made into a movie.
  • Not a Lifetime show, either.
  • No, Oprah hasn’t featured one of mine.
  • I haven’t met Stephen King, but when I do, I’ll tell him you’re a fan.
  • How would I know if you’ve heard of my books?
  • Oh, I don’t read. *said with an elitist sniff* Exactly how am I to answer without being insulting? I haven’t figured out a graceful reply – especially while biting my tongue.

On the Good Side:

There are many people who seem fascinated by what we do, and want to understand more. Some even are in awe. Almost all want to know:

  • How/when I started
  • Where I get my ideas
  • The process of how a book is made, how long it takes, etc. They seem startled by the answer.
  • If I have an agent, and how to go about getting one. They seem startled by the answer.
  • How long it takes to write a book.
  • Where DO I get my ideas?
  • When I meet romance readers, and they hear what I write, their faces light up and they get all chatty – I love that.
  • If they’re readers, all I have to do is ask what genre they read, and we’re off and running on a great conversation.

Almost all have an idea for a book, or want to write one (except those who want me to write it). I’m encouraging, always, because you never know who will actually sit down and do it. I doubt that when I began, anyone would give odds on my finishing – least of all, me.

I love it when I run into readers. I’ve had some great conversations with book lovers. There’s an instant connection; we get each other.  I’m one of those people who, when I see someone reading on a plane, in a waiting room, wherever, I’ll ask what they’re reading. These conversations have developed into friendships. Sigh. I <3 readers.

Bottom Line:

Good or bad, if you’re a writer, you’d better get used to the fact that others have strong opinions about your job. I’m fine with all of it – except people who treat me like a rock star when they hear I’m an author. I think that probably says more about me than them, but that, as they say, is another meeting….

What crazy things have people said to you when they discover you’re a writer?

Share the good – and bad!

p.s. Laura just broke her leg in two spots while vacationing in Oregon, so we definitely want to fill the comments with “sh*t that non-writers say” to make her laugh. We’re saying prayers for a quick and speedy recovery. Get well, Laura!!!!     

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Like Western Romance? Laura gathered some of the big authors of the genre to write an anthology. 5 novellas that all take place during a Texas Heat Wave! Introducing, When Things Got Hot in Texas.

 

Pre-order price, $.99 After the June 5 release, $2.99

So order yours now!

 

May 24th, 2017

You’re Writers, Not Waiters.

Kimberly Brock

A couple of months ago, I completed a draft of a new novel that did not stink so badly that I had to shut my computer down in order to get some fresh air. And when it was complete – after five years of work and revision and personal trauma and starting over – I did what all writers do, if they are as gloriously lucky as I am. I sent it to my long-suffering agent for feedback.

Now, this would seem to be the beginning of the story, right? It calls to mind the opening scene from Romancing the Stone. I should be tearful, joyful, free at last! I might take a shower and put on pants and go have lunch some place in an actual public forum, maybe even make conversation with another human being! I might clean my desk of all the rubble that has gathered over the years and clear my inspiration boards. I could spend days, at my leisure, going through old boxes or files, discovering my next story idea or five or six. I might take a little drive, bake a little, straighten my linen closet, or spruce up my planters out front. It stands to reason that I would even consider a haircut.

I did all of that. All of it. More than once, actually. And yet, as I write this post I have not heard back from my agent. Many moons have passed. Seasons, y’all. And it is normal. I repeat, it is absolutely normal. Anybody who’s not new to this industry knows it takes time to write the book, just as it takes time to publish one. So, if I know this so well, why do I still get night sweats the minute I turn in a project? I mean, besides my enormous ego freaking out that no one will love me anymore? I think it’s because I’m not a waiter.

Are you a waiter? Is anyone really a good waiter? One who waits? I really want to know because it is a skill that I simply have never been willing to fully embrace. I can act like a waiter for about fifteen minutes before I start to twitch. And I don’t mean the Can-I-take-your-order kind of waiter, I mean the kind of person who gracefully accepts the passage of time while he or she anticipates the outcome of his or her whole existential purpose. Because THAT is what it feels like to me when I turn in a writing project. My whole life depends upon the outcome.

Ridiculous. And yet…

This weekend I taught a workshop for the Atlanta Writers Conference and I will tell you a secret: I came up with this workshop because it is packed with all the skills and wisdom that I need to remember to keep in play in my own life in order to survive my own delusional fits of well, delusion. And I found myself saying to this room full of freaked-out writers who had been pitching to agents and editors all weekend, exactly what I needed to hear from someone else.

You are not waiters, you’re writers.

 It’s so simple, but true. Just as we aren’t publishers (well, generally speaking), we shouldn’t be waiters. Our part in things is just this one thing: to write. Not to wait. Not ever to wait. Waiting is a matter of perspective, I realized, and maybe not an actual thing at all. Maybe what waiting really is, is the wasting of time. And our time should be spent doing that one thing: writing. Because really what all the fuss and the night sweats is about is time and the passing of it and the running out of it, before I can write what I want to write. Huh.

So, whatever you do today, don’t wait. Don’t wait. In the end, the time will pass, regardless of what you or anyone else decides to do with it. Paint your toenails if it makes you feel better. Eat two pounds of tangerine jelly beans (I’m not saying this happened). Send egregious emails to almost perfect strangers asking for advice if it helps you sleep. Time doesn’t care. Publishing doesn’t care. They are what they are, and so are you. Remember and you’ll feel better. You’re not a waiter, you’re a writer.

You know what to do.

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About Kimberly

Kimberly Brock is the award winning author of the #1 Amazon bestseller, THE RIVER WITCH (Bell Bridge Books, 2012). A former actor and special needs educator, Kimberly is the recipient of the Georgia Author of the Year 2013 Award. A literary work reminiscent of celebrated southern author Carson McCullers, THE RIVER WITCH has been chosen by two national book clubs.

Kimberly’s writing has appeared in anthologies, blogs and magazines, including Writer Unboxed and Psychology Today. Kimberly served as the Blog Network Coordinator for She Reads, a national online book club from 2012 to 2014, actively spearheading several women’s literacy efforts. She lectures and leads workshops on the inherent power in telling our stories and is founder of  Tinderbox Writer’s Workshop. She is also owner of Kimberly Brock Pilates.

She lives in the foothills of north Atlanta with her husband and three children, where she is at work on her next novel. Visit her website at kimberlybrockbooks.com for more information and to find her blog.

May 22nd, 2017

Publishing: A Decade in Review

Kathryn Craft
Turning Whine Into Gold

The economic crash in 2008 changed how business was conducted in the United States. In book publishing, as the era of the blockbuster gave way to niche marketing, some of the lines previously delineating warring factions grew blurry. This is a good thing for writers who previously spit on one another across such boundaries.

Do you remember how divisive these notions used to be?

1. Commercial vs literary

In 2012, when literary agent Donald Mass published his book Writing 21st Century Fiction, he suggested an upmarket fiction sweet spot in which a well-written, nuanced novel can still achieve the kind of commercial appeal that will keep it sitting on bestseller lists for months. But in a recent essay (The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 3rd ed., Writer’s Digest Books), one of those bestselling authors—Jodi Picoult—said that despite her desire to remain both literary and commercial, the terms were mutually exclusive. “What makes a writer literary or commercial has far less to do with her writing than it does with marketing.”

The new word: Marketing. There is no qualitative industry standard for commercial/literary distinctions. If you are holding onto old wounds as to whether people think you are a “literary-quality writer” or a “commercial hack,” it’s time to let it go.

2. Big Five vs Small Press

The publishing continuum now holds so many niche distinctions that it’s hard to believe that we ever thought of being published by a huge corporation was any kind of bonus. We now live in an era in which everyone has access to the same kind of cover and interior design education, software tools, qualified editors, and marketing savvy. At the two ends of the spectrum, there’s no doubt there can be a difference in advance paid to the author, but that disparity may not be as big as you might think.

The new word: Distribution. The main thing you need from a publisher is to get it into bookstores. The proof used to be in publisher promotion, but the era of niche marketing has leveled the playing field. All authors must reach out to their own niche to promote.

3. Traditional vs. Indie

This divide almost caused a Civil War among writers who had once peacefully co-existed within the same organizations. Yet even this either/or has become a hybrid continuum. Traditionally published authors opt to keep their agents while self-publishing interim novellas, short stories, and unsold novels; agencies actually pay staff to identify and offer contracts to successfully self-published authors. And with their titles indistinguishable on digital and brick-and-mortar bookshelves, it has turned out that readers in search of a great story just don’t care who published it.

The new word: Storytelling. Whether your title is self-made or the product of a team, a great story represents a lot of hard work and oodles of decisions. Casting side-eye aspersions won’t improve your career. Go forth and be proud.

4. Amazon vs Bookstores

Right at the intersection of Controversial and Divisive you can find Amazon’s happy place. Its latest controversy seems pointed at driving down the value of books. Yet writers are no longer quite as sure that Amazon is all that bad. With its main website and its acquisition of Goodreads, Amazon holds the two biggest public repositories for author reviews—and agents and publishers want those numbers. The same writers urging readers to purchase their books at a local indie are begging them to go on Amazon to review. Many authors who sweated out their decisions to accept a deal from Lake Union or one of Amazon’s other traditional publishing imprints are now giggling all the way to the bank. Amazon, it turns out, knows how to market books.

The new word: Murky. Authors need to widely support the industry they hope will support them, and like it or not that includes Amazon, which has earned its designation both as a legitimate traditional publisher and a path for self-publishers.

5. Competition vs Cooperation

Here’s the main thing about niche marketing: you are no longer in competition with your fellow authors, each of whom has his or her own brand. Yes, there will be others in the same vein, but you can’t put out a book out a week. Those voracious readers need other works to consume until you’re ready with a new title—and guess what? You can suggest it, making them even more beholden to you. The Tall Poppy Writers—the marketing cooperative I belong to—loves to quote John F. Kennedy: “A rising tide floats all boats.”

The new word: Generosity. Cooperative marketing will not slit your throat. It will help other authors get started, ensure the health of the industry by continuing to lift up those at the front of the pack, thereby ensuring the popularity of reading in our country—all on a public stage where our agents, publishers, and readers can see us doing so.

Let’s quit wasting energy on outmoded divides in the publishing industry and point our efforts toward initiatives that will heal it. If a huge group of creative and intelligent and hard-working authors can’t make a difference, who can?

What do you say? What trends do you most appreciate from the last decade? Which ones do you think should go away? If you could change anything for the next ten years, what would you change?

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About Kathryn

Kathryn CraftKathryn Craft  is the award-winning author of two novels from Sourcebooks, The Art of Falling and The Far End of Happy, and a developmental editor at Writing-Partner.com, specializing in storytelling structure and writing craft. Her chapter “A Drop of Imitation: Learn from the Masters” was included in the writing guide Author in Progress, from Writers Digest Books. Janice Gable Bashman’s interview with her, “How Structure Supports Meaning,” originally published in the 2017 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, has been reprinted in The Complete Handbook of Novel Writingboth from Writer’s Digest Books.

May 19th, 2017

The Origin Scene: Where Your Story REALLY Starts

Lisa Cron

I had a lot of great questions this month, but Laura Drake’s question goes directly to the very heart – the foundation — of your novel. She asks:

I’m stuck on The Origin Scene. Partially, I think, because it feels like if I get it wrong, the rest of my book is screwed. Any wisdom there?

Here’s the easy (and scary) and admittedly way too glib answer: Yep, get it wrong and you’re screwed. Let’s dig deeper into what that really means, and how to make sure you avoid it.

To do that, here are the things we’ll discuss:

  • What the hell is an Origin Scene, anyway?
  • Why is it so crucially important?
  • How can you “get it wrong”?
  • How can you get it right?

What the hell is an Origin Scene, anyway?

An Origin Scene captures the moment, which occurs long before page one of your novel, when your protagonist’s defining misbelief takes root. It is almost always occurs during childhood.

This might have you asking, “Um, what’s a misbelief, exactly?”

As you no doubt know, every protagonist enters a story already wanting something. This is what sets her story long agenda – the agenda she steps into the novel with already fully formed. To be super clear: this is something she’s wanted for a long time, since way before page one. 

The key thing is: in all that time your protagonist hasn’t gotten what she wants. Hey, if she could easily get it, sure, you’d have a happy protagonist, but then you’d have no story. In other words, something has long stood in the way of your protagonist achieving her goal. And that is her misbelief.

We’re not talking about a logistic misbelief – like, “Hey, I thought the world was flat, and you won’t believe this, but turns out it’s round!” Rather, it’s a misbelief about human nature; a misbelief about what makes us tick, about what people are really like, inside. And your protagonist — just like us here in real life — is not after this info on human nature as an academic quest or as “knowledge for knowledge sake,” but to help her achieve her primary goal: continued physical and emotional survival.

Misbeliefs tend to spring up during a traumatic situation in which your protagonist has skin in the game – meaning, something that matters to her is at stake. And by traumatic, I don’t mean a great big “dramatically” traumatic moment, like getting sucked up into a space ship or snatched and tossed into the trunk of a car. I’m talking about the more mundane, insidious variety of everyday inter-personal trauma. The kind that cause you to suddenly realize things like: “The nicer a person is to you, the more they’re trying to manipulate you,” or “The only way people like you is if you never rock the boat,” or “Only weak people need help.”

And here’s the kicker: in this traumatic situation, your protagonist’s misbelief isn’t a misbelief at all, but something she believes to be wholly true and that rescues her from something that otherwise might have caused her emotional harm. Thus her realization doesn’t make her dumb, stupid or flawed, it actually makes her smart. The problem is that while said misbelief might have been true in that specific situation, out in the real world, it’s not true. I mean, every time someone is nice to you it doesn’t really mean they’re trying to use you. I don’t think.

The trouble is, what was adaptive in that one specific situation, is maladaptive everywhere else. But your protagonist doesn’t know that. To her, her misbelief is a very savvy piece of inside intel that she’s insanely lucky to have learned early in life. As far as she’s concerned, it’s not what’s hurting her, it’s what’s saving her. Thus it’s no surprise that she then uses her misbelief to help her achieve her agenda, trusting it to guide her through the rocky parts of life.

And so by the time she’s an adult, her defining misbelief will have snaked into just about every crevice of her life, picking up supporting misbeliefs along the way, securely rooting it in place. That’s one of the main reasons that misbeliefs are so hard to recognize, let alone overturn.

Why is it so crucially important in the beginning?

Because – make no mistake — overturning your protagonist’s misbelief is what your plot will be constructed to accomplish. Which, of course, means you must know, in detail, what her misbelief is, where it came from, and how it’s shaped her worldview since its inception.

That’s why your protagonist’s defining misbelief cannot remain general or conceptual. It must be traced back to the single, concrete event (again, almost always in childhood) during which her worldview shifted.

And capturing that moment – in scene form — is your novel’s Origin Scene, and it takes place long before the novel opens, often by decades. It is always written in the first person, regardless of the novel’s POV. The goal is to transform this life-altering turning point moment into a full-fledged scene, so you know not only what happened, but exactly how your protagonist made sense of it internally as it unfolds.

How can you “get it wrong”?

What defines your story’s arc – in fact, this is your novel’s genuine throughline — is the inside intel on why your character does what she does as her worldview evolves thanks to the events of the plot. A novel is about an internal struggle, not the external struggle that triggers it. On one end of this arc is the Origin Scene, when your protagonist’s misbelief takes hold. The novel itself begins much later, when the plot forces her to go after what she wants, but in order to have a shot at it she must recognize, question, and ultimately see through her misbelief. Your story makes its point near the end, with your protagonist’s “aha” moment – that is, when her misbelief finally bites the dust. Or as T.S. Eliot so aptly said: “The end of our exploring will be to arrive at where we started, and to know the place for the first time.”

So “getting it wrong” means that the Origin Scene does not set the novel’s whole arc of internal and external change in motion. When that happens said novels tend to begin with some surface level, or randomly “dramatic” moment that’s geared to “objective” generic drama, rather than something with unique, subjective meaning for the protagonist.

You get it wrong by not digging deep enough, by staying surface, general. That is, by writing the scene from the outside in, so we’re not inside your protagonist’s head as she struggles to make sense of what the hell is happening. The whole point of the Origin Scene is that one of your protagonist’s seminal beliefs is going to get blown out of the water, and replaced with a powerful misbelief, and we want a front row seat inside her head as she draws this conclusion.

How can you get it right?

I think this is the real question you’re asking — how do you know what the right moment is? Since this is what kicks everything off, what if it kicks it in the wrong direction? That is a scary thought.

The good news is that by the time you’re writing your Origin Scene, you’ve already created a lot of potent story-specific info: you know the point your novel will make, you know who your protagonist is before the novel starts, you know what she enters wanting, and you know what her misbelief is. So while yes, you’re now creating something out of nothing, you’re doing it purposefully, rather than by “pantsing” blindly forward into the abyss, fueled by nothing more than desire and a whole lot of caffeine.

And that can feel clunky. Which is totally fine. Don’t fight it. Lean into the clunk. And know that there is no “right” answer here. No “one” moment that will work, making every other moment “wrong.”

The reason this can feel so intimidating is because you are consciously creating the seed from which will grow the web of internal logic your protagonist will use to make sense of everything. In the beginning it can feel almost arbitrary. It is not.

Rather, it will be — by design — one end of a very clear, escalating trajectory that culminates when your protagonist finally realizes that what she thought had been keeping her safe is really what’s kept her from getting what she wants.

There are many possibilities for an effective Origin Scene– if you’re struggling with it, my advice is to use an exercise that the brilliant book coach Jennie Nash came up with:

  • Put on comfy clothes, and get a timer. Set it for 45 minutes.
  • Sit down at your computer, or pick up your pen and write out a possible Origin Scene. Remember that there is no “one” right answer. Start writing and don’t stop. Don’t censor yourself, don’t try to “nail” it, let yourself go. If this sounds like pantsing, it kind of is – but with parameters, with context, and, most important, with internality. Meaning: make sure you’re letting us know what your protagonist is thinking as she struggles with what to make of what’s happening. Also don’t worry about “writing well,” don’t edit, don’t waste time with lengthy description or lovely luscious metaphors. That would defeat the whole purpose of the exercise.
  • When the timer goes off, stop, stretch, get a snack, then set the timer again for 45 minutes. Write a different Origin Scene – one that happens in a different place or time. Jennie is strict about this: You can’t just write a different version of the same scene or the same scene from a different perspective. She means a whole new scene.
  • When the timer goes off, rinse, repeat. The third time is often the charm. Let yourself be absurd, even. Ridiculous. Don’t hold back!
  • Evaluate which scene resonates the most. Jennie says that it’s often the one that surprises you the most, or calls up a strong emotion in you. You can, in other words, feel it in your bones.

Pair this scene with the aha moment scene when your protagonist’s misbelief will be resolved near the end of your novel, and you’ve got an Origin Scene caffeinated enough to effectively drive your whole novel from start to finish. (Yes, as in just about everything, coffee is key.)

Otherwise, you risk falling into the most common rabbit hole novelists inadvertently tumble into: writing 327 pages that turn out to be nothing more than a bunch of things that happen.

And that, too, calls up a strong emotion. One that even coffee can’t help.

Do you agonize over your Origin Scene? What exercise(s) do you use to dig for it? What other questions do you have for Lisa?

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About Lisa

Lisa Cron is the author of Wired for Story and Story Genius. Her video tutorial Writing Fundamentals: The Craft of Story can be found at Lynda.com, and her TEDx talk, Wired for Story, opened Furman University’s 2014 TEDx conference, Stories: The Common Thread of Our Humanity.

Lisa has worked in publishing at W.W. Norton, as an agent at the Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency, as a producer on shows for Showtime and Court TV, and as a story consultant for Warner Brothers and the William Morris Agency. Since 2006, she’s been an instructor in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, and she is on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts MFA program in Visual Narrative in New York City. In her work as a story coach, Lisa helps writers, nonprofits, educators, and journalists wrangle the story they’re telling onto the page. She can be reached at wiredforstory.com

May 17th, 2017

Does Description Work For Your Reader, or Against Them?

Les Edgerton

 

“When we are told that a Handsome Prince went into a wood, we realize that we are that Handsome Prince. As soon as the prince is characterized, ‘A Handsome Blond Prince with a twinkle in his eye, and just the hint of a mustache on his upper lip…’ and if we lack that color hair, twinkle, and so on, we say, ‘What an interesting prince. Of course, he is unlike anyone I know…’ and we begin to listen to the story as a critic rather than as a participant.”

~ David Mamet from his book Writing in Restaurants

Years ago, in my days of cutting hair, I talked to most of my clients about my work. That was a big mistake—I later discovered that when you talked about the work, especially the current work—that I’d expended the energy of actually writing it that night when I went home and faced my computer.

But, in those days I still hadn’t learned that lesson. What was profitable from those conversations was that I learned something from my readers. Most had read my work, particularly Monday’s Meal, my first collection of short stories. We’d talk about them and I’d answer the usual questions—how did you come up with that idea? did that happen in real life? how come there are a lot of characters who have their hands or fingers cut off?

And then, one day, I noticed in our conversations, very often the person would describe one of the characters in the stories. That’s odd, I remember thinking. I couldn’t ever remember providing character descriptions. It wasn’t because of something someone had told me not to do—I’d experienced little or no writing instruction of advice in those days and wrote purely from an instinctual stance.

I went back to see if I had, inadvertently, provided descriptions. I hadn’t.

So then, I began asking the person I was chatting with if he or she could describe the character in the story we were talking about. Sure, they said, almost to a person, and proceeded to deliver a very detailed, sometimes exhaustive description of the person. And, I began to notice that in these very complex descriptions always there would be a characteristic that belonged to the person telling me the description.

“And where,” I said, “did you get this description from?”

“Why, it was in the story,” they’d say.

“No, it wasn’t,” I said.

I’d open a copy, turn to the story, and ask them to point out where their description came from. Where any character description occurred. They’d skim through it, a puzzled look on their faces, and finally, say, “Well, I was sure I read it.” And then, we’d laugh and go on to other topics.

I think the best way to learn to write well is to read lots and lots and lots. Something I’ve done all of my life. One of the things I’d always thought boring in a novel was when the author described their characters. Especially when they overloaded the details of those descriptions. I knew that my brain switched off at those passages and I’d almost always skip those parts and go ahead. And, usually those kinds of stories were fairly boring to me. At the time, I couldn’t articulate why that was so, I just knew it was.

And, like Harry Crews (who said it first and these days it’s inaccurately attributed to Elmore Leonard by some, who included it in his book on writing and had taken it from Crews) I was always acutely aware of those parts I tended to skip when reading and did my utmost to not provide those parts in my own writing.

And, then, a few years ago, I happened upon David Mamet’s book, Writing in Restaurants, and when I read the quoted passage above, had one of those Eureka! moments.

I didn’t change anything. I didn’t pay closer attention to avoiding character descriptions—that was already finely-honed in me to not do so, but it is always great when you encounter a bona fide writing “authority” that confirms what you’ve been doing is spot on the money. Kind of validates what you’re doing.

How about you? How do you feel about character descriptions? Are you like me or are you the opposite? Are you one who really enjoys the author laying out exactly what the protagonist looks like? If you are, can you say honestly, if upon encountering such a description you begin reading as a critic or remain identifying subconsciously with the protagonist? Or, does it even matter to your own personal experience?

I’d really like to know!

Blue skies,
Les

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About Les

Les EdgertonLes Edgerton is an ex-con, matriculating at Pendleton Reformatory in the sixties for burglary. He was an outlaw for many years and was involved in shootouts, knifings, robberies, high-speed car chases, drugs, was a pimp, worked for an escort service, starred in porn movies, was a gambler, served four years in the Navy, and had other misadventures. He’s since taken a vow of poverty (became a writer) with 18 books in print, including Finding Your Voice and HOOKED.

Three of his novels have been sold to German publisher, Pulpmaster for the German language rights. His memoir, Adrenaline Junkie is currently being marketed. Work of his has been nominated for or won: the Pushcart Prize, O. Henry Award, Edgar Allan Poe Award (short story category), Derringer Award, PEN/Faulkner Award, Jesse Jones Book Award, Spinetingler Magazine Award for Best Novel (Legends category), and the Violet Crown Book Award, among others.

Les holds a B.A. from I.U. and the MFA in Writing from Vermont College. He was the writer-in-residence for three years at the University of Toledo, for one year at Trine University, and taught writing classes for UCLA, St. Francis University, Phoenix College, Writer’s Digest,  Vermont College, the New York Writer’s Workshop and other places. He currently teaches a private novel-writing class online.

He can be found at www.lesedgertononwriting.blogspot.com/.