Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Should You Base Your Book on a True Story?

From Writerslife.org:

When it comes to writing a book, many authors wonder how much of ‘themselves’ they should put into it. We’ve all been told that ‘writing what you know’ can be helpful, and that by drawing on our own experiences, history, emotions and way of viewing the world we will end up writing a much more authentic, believable and relatable piece of writing.
However getting too bogged down in the ‘truth’ of our story can also lead to difficulties. For a start, much of what happens to us in our everyday lives is fairly mundane, and as we go about our day to day business, we are hardly inspired to write down everything that we see and do. If we only allow ourselves to write what we know, we could end up with a very dull book indeed.
However, everyone has stories to tell, and often our greatest ideas flow from the meaningful events in our lives and how they have affected and changed us.
There is sometimes a fine line between a novel and a memoir, and you should be clear about what kind of story you want to tell before you begin. If you are actually writing your life’s story, a memoir, you should stick to the truth. You can be creative about the way you allow the events to unfold but making up things that didn’t happen is not a good idea. A fictionalised story, however, is a different matter altogether, and this is where things can get interesting!
There are many advantages to basing your book, at least in part on a true story, and these are the things to remember:

You have the freedom to rewrite history. 
The wonderful thing about basing your book on a true story is that it doesn’t have to have the same outcome. You can keep it as close to the truth as you like, or you can change the details to tell it in another way - it’s completely up to you. 
You can be as creative and imaginative as you like
As with any piece of writing you do, creativity is your friend. 
You don’t have to make all parts of your story realistic, let your imagination run wild and mix up real-life elements with fantastical ones to make your story really exciting!
Writing down your most life-changing and powerful moments can be cathartic and enlightening.
Re-living past events, particularly those that had a profound effect on you can help you work through things that perhaps you had kept buried for a long time. Doing so and being in control of how you tell these stories can be very therapeutic indeed. 
By including true stories in your novel, you are connecting with your reader on a deeper and more personal level. 
Telling a story that holds an element of truth makes it even more exciting and special. If your story is in some way truthful, it can be a way of inviting your readers in and offering a deeper more meaningful piece of writing that could truly touch and change them too.
Remember - the truth is subjective anyway!
Writing your book based on a true story can be an exciting and freeing experience for any writer. So next time you are thinking about ideas for your next book, delve into your memories and see if there isn’t a great story in there just waiting for the opportunity to be told!

It has been more than two year now since I got the idea to write about my depression and Prozac experience upon reading Prozac Nation. I mentioned this in this blogpost in 2016.  I had not been sure at first if I did indeed want to write a memoir or attempt a fictional novel based on my story. At one point was going to give into the idea of a novel, and write this brief story that I considered using as the basis of a novel (This was originally posted on my blog in February 2016):

The young girl who looked like a princess sat in the psychiatrist's office, expressing why she was there.
"I've been treated like a servant," she said, looking very depressed. "After my real mother died, my father remarried, then he died, leaving me with that awful new wife of his and her two mean daughters." Tears fell from her eyes.
"They made me do all the work," she continued. "They wouldn't let me go to the ball. But then my fairy godmother appeared and granted my wish and when I got there, the prince was madly in love with me.
"But I had to leave before midnight before the spell wore off, and I lost my glass slipper." She paused.
"Did all this really happen?" the psychiatrist asked.
"No, it turned out to be an awful dream. When I awoke, I wanted to harm myself by cutting or making myself fall down."
"I can see you are very depressed," the doctor observed.
"Yes," she agreed.  "What can I do?"
"Well, it seems you may need  some medication.  We'll start you off on 10 mg of Prozac." He entered her information into his computer.
Later that afternoon, she picked up her prescription, to be begun the following morning. She read over the papers she and her doctor had signed and the notes from the pharmacy.  It was just the beginning of her Prozac journey. 
(It should be obvious what this a retelling of ;) There have been many such stories.  I've read all but the last one in the image below):

Cinderella Retellings

But once I began writing down ideas for my story, it got to sounding like a memoir, like many of this I had read up until that point. I have either exaggerated some details in my memoir or jumbled some up, but they are true for the most part.  And some time ago, some girls I went to high school with who had gone to the Catholic school in my town, recalled on Facebook (commenting on their eighth-grade class photo that had been posted) how some of once them fantasized about marrying the members of Duran Duran. I included this, even though it did not happen at my junior-high school. It was a perfect '80s reference, and I can bet it happened somewhere else in the country.  This was a more recent addition to my manuscript. 

In some ways, the truth can be exaggerated, even in a memoir.

Monday, January 22, 2018

2018 Reading Challenge @ Streets and Stripes

Another I could not resist. Most of the monthly categories are right in my league.

The Topics

  • January: Memoir: The World's Strongest Librarian--Josh Hanagarne
  • February: A book that features a POC main character.
  • March: A book written by a POC woman.
  • April: A book that’s been made into a movie
  • May: Mental Health
  • June: A book that’s been sitting on your shelf.
  • July: Written by a person who identifies as LGBTQIA.
  • August: True Crime
  • September: A book written by an immigrant.
  • October: A book featuring a character with a disability.
  • November: Political Book
  • December: A book published posthumously

Sunday, January 21, 2018


I was sure I didn't want to join anymore challenges, but this one looked great.  I've never read this author, but it's always good to try a new one :)

The categories:

  1. A book set on the water.
  2.  A novel that features a character with a disability.
  3.  A classic you always promised yourself you would read.
  4.  A novel with a person’s name in the title.
  5.  A travelogue.
  6.  A novel featuring a woman over sixty as a major character.
  7.  A novel set in a different century and in a country not your own: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas--John Boyne
  8.  A family saga.
  9.  A novel from a genre (romance, sci-fi, etc.) that you rarely or never read.
  10.  A novel by Emilie Richards.
  11.  A non-fiction “how-to” book.
  12.  A young adult (YA) book: I Hate Everyone But You--Gaby Dunn & Allison Raskin
  13.  A book you choose just because.
  14.  A time travel novel.
  15.  A novel that’s been made into a movie.
  16.  A book that’s been in your to-be-read pile for more than a year.
  17.  A memoir.
  18.  A book by a local author.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Inspiring Reasons to Keep You Writing

From Writerslife.org:

All writers go through periods where they feel a little demotivated, a little uninspired to write. It happens to all of us at some point, and for some of us, it’s a recurring thing!
However, when we are feeling down about our writing, it is important to try and get back on track as quickly as possible. The sooner you get back to your creative, passionate and energetic self the better. After all, it’s your writing that will suffer if you don’t.
Sometimes all we need is a little reminder of why to write in the first place! So if you are in need of a writer's pick me up, take a look at these inspiring reasons to keep on writing!
Writing is relaxing.
Once you get into the writing zone, your brain shuts off from everyday life and the stresses, strains and pressures of it. The more you write, the more you can get rid of anxieties and worries and really let go. 
Writing is cathartic. 
Writing enables you to lose yourself in another world. It also helps you find ways of expressing things and exploring your emotions which can be superb for your sense of wellbeing and peace. 
Rejection is a badge of honour.
Don’t worry about rejection, in fact, look forward to it. Getting rejected proves you are a real writer, so wear that badge with pride!
There are so many publications out there just waiting for you to get in touch. 
Just because some publishers have turned you down, you shouldn’t give up. There are hundreds of thousands of different publications out there; you will find the right one for you!
You don’t need to be a flawlessly perfect writer all the time.
Writing isn’t about being perfect. You are allowed to make mistakes. You are allowed to write something that is a bit rubbish!
The more you write, the better you’ll get.
If you stop writing you’ll never improve. 
There is always time to write. 
You can always find 10 minutes to write, no matter how busy you are. Find them and get going!
Your never too old or young to write. 
You can start writing at any age, don’t let anyone hold you back or tell you otherwise!
Your writing could change the world. 
You never know who is going to read what you’ve written. No matter the topic if you write something that resonates with people you could end up having a massive influence on them, and your writing could eventually change the world!
Your writing could change your life. 
You never know what’s around the corner when you write, and you’ll never know until you try. 
Whatever happens, if you are following your dreams you are on the right path. If writing is your passion, then write - you can’t regret something or think it’s a waste of time if deep down you know it’s what you were made to do!
So there you have it if you ever need a reason to keep writing, or some motivation to help boost you when you aren’t feeling great about how your writing is going, take a look at these inspiring reasons, and you are soon to get back on it once more!

I'm still trying to get back to my writing even if it means doing something new or just journaling! I've been starting to worry that I haven't been doing enough recently, after seeing the line above that says you'll never improve if you stop writing. But I think I'm doing OK. 

I still haven't tried to get published, therefore I haven't been rejected. But I did come across this recently:

Blydyn Square Books’ 2018 Publishing Contest (click for more information):

Blydyn Square Books is excited to announce our first-ever publishing contest.
Beginning January 1, 2018, we will be accepting submissions of unpublished, full-length manuscripts (at least 50,000 words) in all categories and genres, both fiction and nonfiction. (Previously self-published books ARE eligible.)
The deadline to enter is September 30, 2018.
Our panel of judges will review the submissions and announce the winner by December 31, 2018.
The winner will receive a standard Blydyn Square Books publishing contract for our upcoming 2021 publication list.
I've already shown this to my boss and some of my fellow mentors and clients, and all have said I should enter this. I'm not sure whether to email it or send a hard copy, but I have some time to decide.  If I entire the contest, I'm definitely sending my memoir, since it's over 88K words as of now, a count I never thought I'd reach. My diary story is currently over 6,000 words and I feel doubtful I'll get to 50K before the end of September.  And even if I start something else now, I again doubt I'll reach the required word count before the submission deadline.  It took me some time before I got my memoir word count to the current number of words, since I thought I'd never reach since it seems most already published memoirs seem to be in that word range. I now think I should go over the memoir again before I send it off, to decide what I want to change now.  

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


I now want to give this one a try, going for the first level. Click here to sign up.

 I am hosting the first ever Royalty Reading Challenge in 2018. This reading challenge will complement the Quarterly Royalty Readathon. The aim here is to read books with royalty. It can be the main character or even a little inconsequential side plot, it all counts.

My Books:
  1. La Princesa and the Pea--Susan Middleton Elya
  2. A Court of Thorns and Roses--Sarah J. Maas

Monday, January 15, 2018

The One Piece of Advice You Need to Hear to Become Successful

From Writerslife.org:

There’s only one thing you need to hear to become successful, and that’s to just start! Millions of people dream of writing a book or starting a business. Yet, for some unknown reason, they don’t accomplish those goals. 
The only reason you’re not living your ideal life is because you’re making excuses. You say you don’t have enough time or money. No, you’re procrastinating and you’re not starting. 
Everyone can make excuses because it makes them feel good as to why they’re not living their ideal life. The truth is, they’re not executing. If you’re not living the life you desire that is all on you and no one else. It doesn’t matter what your circumstances are, it only matters what you’re doing each day that will get you ahead. 
You can keep saying I’ll start my business tomorrow or that I’ll go to the gym tomorrow. Eventually, there will not be another tomorrow and you will have wasted your life. Do you want to be on your deathbed with regret? I didn’t think so.
When you wake up in the morning, get up before the sun and don’t even think about checking your phone. Each day will be a new challenge and you have to be ready for it. By waking up early, you can get a head start on the day. You can get to work before the rest of the world is waking up and allow that notion to carry you throughout the rest of the day!
The hardest part of becoming successful is starting. It may sound opposite of what you’ve normally thought. Once you start, your mind will only be on the task at hand. 
It doesn’t matter if your idea seems stupid to you. People thought Henry Ford was stupid for trying to invent the car. But Ford didn’t give in, he just started.

Once again, I'm still putting off writing. But things have been hectic lately, with holidays, including today. I still have some ideas for my diary novel, but just haven't gotten them down. This article is basically telling me what I have bene doing lately! 
Yes, I agree that getting started is always hard. I seem to have an easier time imagining some things than getting them down on paper. This is something I want to work on getting better at. 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Why You Should Mix Up Your Writing Routine

From Writerslife.org:

One of the most common pieces of advice for any writer is to try to get into a good writing routine.
A good writing routine will ensure that you write more productively, will help you pick up where you left off, and make writing become a habit, and something that is incorporated into your daily life so that you are always making progress and getting closer and closer to achieving your goals.
However, as with any routine, there is no harm in mixing it up once in a while. Without doing so, a writing routine can become tedious and uninspiring, which can lead to procrastination and eventually abandoning it altogether.
So what are the things you can do to keep your writing routine fresh and exciting? Let’s take a look.

Change your writing environment.
Often a change of environment can work wonders at giving us a fresh perspective and allowing us to settle into our work with renewed vigour. You could consider redecorating your office, moving the furniture around or just going mobile for a week where you head out to cafe’s, libraries, or even a park bench, and work from there instead.

Write at different times.
If you always write with a glass of wine after dinner perhaps try writing first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee instead. You might think you work best at a particular time but try changing up your writing schedule to see if this makes you more productive.

Change your process
You might have some fixed things that you do before you start to write such as writing exercises for example. Or you might always start your writing session by reading over the last chapter you have written. Try something different. Go for a short walk in the fresh air before you write. Do some stretches, change the writing exercises you do or just dive right in.

Start a new project
Sometimes it can help if we take a step back from our current project and work on something different for a while. So if slogging through your novel is becoming a little tiresome, set it to one side and work on a different writing idea. Then you can come back to it in a week or so and look at it with a fresh set of eyes.

Learn something new and experiment
Remember, when it comes to writing there is always more to learn. Make sure you set some time aside to learn new things and to experiment too. Doing so could add a whole new depth to your writing and help you discover new passions and techniques that you love.

Meet new people and travel as much as you can
If you feel as though your writing routine is getting you down, give yourself a break from it. Why not instead go on an adventure? Travel somewhere exotic, meet new people, get some stories to tell. You’ll feel much more inspired by getting out there and enjoying the world, so don’t forget that there is one just waiting to be explored!

So next time you feel as though your writing routine might be getting you into a writing slump, why not try the above? Writing habits are good, but there is no reason why they can’t be flexible, and by shaking up your writing routine you may well end up feeling more motivated and productive than ever before.

I still haven't made much progress on my writing except for one part of the memoir since the new year began. And every time I want to work on something, I get too tired. The winter does that, unfortunately. But I'm going to try to do something about all this soon. Perhaps trying to write during the day might be better at this time of the year.  My sitting at the computer has taken its toll on my back, causing the muscles near and below the neck to ache. I just saw a doctor about this and am on prescription ibuprofen for at least a week. I'm thinking a new room setup for my computer would be better, but am unsure how to go about doing it just yet.  And I am shaming myself right now about the ideas I have for the diary novel I have been working on, but haven't gotten down yet. Believe me, though, I am trying to get this stuff done!  And I have just signed up for Wattpad, but haven't read any stories yet or even tempted any of my own. I'm still not sure how to write fanfiction, but I remembered years ago when I was trying to rewrite stories I loved as  child, and people telling me those would never get published because I was plagiarizing other people's works (Though I'm not sure I was ever intending to get them published). I guess I was a little ahead of my time, since this was years before "fanfiction" was ever used as a term. So maybe I do know how to write fanfiction. 
What would you do?