WisRWA Calendar

Apr 05
2019
WisRWA 2019 Write Touch Conference
Mark your calendars for the 2019 Write Touch Conference April 5-7, 2019 at the Milwaukee Hyatt in beautiful downtown Milwaukee. The conference will feature Maya Rodale as keynote speaker, and Lisa Cron as one of the headliners. Registration is now open.

Meeting Times

Oct 20
2018
Milwaukee
9am-11:30 at the Mayfair Mall (Garden Suites Community Room, lower level), Wausatosa

Goal, Motivation, Conflict

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Nov 07
2018
Green Bay
11:30-3 at 1951 West 1951 Bond Street in Green Bay

2019 Planning Meeting

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Nov 10
2018
Wausau
10-12:00 at Marathon County Library 300 North First Street in Wausau

2019 Planning Meeting

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Nov 17
2018
Milwaukee
9am-11:30 at the Mayfair Mall (Garden Suites Community Room, lower level), Wausatosa

2019 Planning Meeting

See the calendar tab for more details.

WisRWA Newsletter



Mia Jo Celeste

Creating a Hero or Heroine that Captivates Readers

A strong, vivid hero or heroine

I don’t know about you, but I read fiction for the characters and the adventure those characters go through. Like most readers, I want vivid heroes who draw me into their situations and, often when I don’t get into the main character, I put the book aside. But how do writers create those attention-grabbing heroes?

Here’s what some of my favorite writing experts have to say.

  1. First, don’t create a wimp. Follow Jack Bickham’s advice from 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes. “Fiction writers too often forget that interesting characters are almost always characters who are active—risk takers—highly motivated toward a goal. Many a story has been wrecked at the outset because the writers chose to write about the wrong kind of person—a character of the type we sometimes call a wimp.”
  2. In The Key: How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth, James N. Frey, a writing instructor and author, suggests that heroes have certain qualities that attract readers. Main characters must have courage. Either they start with it or they develop it along the way.
  3. Fictional heroes need to be clever and resourceful.
  4. Also, a compelling hero or heroine has a special talent. Something he or she can do better than anyone else in the story. We’re attracted to competence. We tend to pick doctors, mechanics, restaurant chefs and, yes, even fictional heroes because they perform a skill or set of skills exceptionally well.
  5. Like the previous examples, the heroine in our novels might use her unique talent to make a living and be proficient at her calling.
  6. An appealing hero is also a person who lives by his own rules. He strives to do what’s right in his mind even if others in the story don’t understand him.
  7. An effective main character is the focus of the action and the story. She must take the lead in whatever case she embraces.
  8. In Thanks, but This Isn’t For Us, Jessica Page Morrell, a best-selling author of many books on writing craft, echoes this. She says, “Heroes take charge, take responsibility, and take risks … they’re people of action who speak their minds, kick ass and take names, and, most important, who act when in real life we’d be cowering, or wetting our pants, or scrambling for an exit.”
  9. Further, she goes on to state, “Heroes dare to be wrong.”
  10. Equally important the large-and-in-charge heroine—at the center of the story, should be flawed. She or he has been wounded in the past. Perhaps he’s lost a loved one, been injured or lost his faith. He’s vulnerable and in need of healing. He has an event or a series of events in his past he’s got to work through. This brokenness fuels his current goals, makes him human and enables readers to identify with him.
  11. The hero has to grow and change throughout the story. Often, he strives to become less selfish or self-centered.
  12. She may even sacrifice herself for the good of others. Frey believes that the most compelling heroines motivated by idealism at some point in the story.
  13. Lastly, Frey suggests that the hero should be sexually potent. As Frey puts it, “Creating a mythic character without sexual energy is like bringing the burgers, the buns, and the charcoal to the barbecue, and leaving the matches at home.

I love reading stories that feature intriguing characters and I hope these tips will help you when you write your next tale. Also, if you’ve found the suggestions useful, I hope you’ll consider checking out the resources quoted in this article for further study.

  1. Sources
    Bickham, Jack M. 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes. Writers Digest Bks., U.S., 1998.
    Frey, James N. The Key: How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth. St. Martins Griffin, 2002.
    Morrell, Jessica Page. Thanks, but This Isnt for Us. Jeremy P. Tarcher, 2009.
    Image Source: Wikipedia

Mia Jo CelesteMia Jo Celeste comes from a family of writers and English teachers, so it was no surprise when she chose to pursue both careers. Recently, her novel Other Than became a double finalist in the 2018 Prism Contest in the Historical/ Steampunk and Best First Book Categories.

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Sex With Strangers Book Fair Interview: Mia Jo Celeste

During the run of its 30th season premiere SEX WITH STRANGERS, Renaissance Theaterworks will shine a spotlight on Wisconsin authors. On Saturday, October 28th the company will host a Mini Book Fair in the Studio Theater lobby of the Broadway Theater Center from 3pm to 10pm featuring members of WisRWA. As an advance introduction to the authors, Renaissance asked them questions related to the various issues and conflicts presented in the play SEX WITH STRANGERS by Laura Eason. Here is the fifth interview of the series.

Brenda Nelson-DavisMia Jo Celeste
Dark Worlds Ripe for Redemption
Mia Jo Celeste is from a family of English teachers and authors. After fifteen years as an English for Language Learners teacher, she is trying her hand at writing. She has completed four fantasy novels, the first of which is published by Wild Rose Press. She lives in Milwaukee with her husband and sons.

 

RTW: In the play, the character Olivia partially blames the failure of her first book on her editor’s choice in covers. How important do you think covers are to a book’s success or failure?

Mia: I believe readers really do judge books by their covers and that a compelling cover can pique a potential buyer’s interest. When my publisher hooked me up with an artist, I sent her all kinds of pictures of period gowns. I wanted to have my heroine facing off evil in a to-die-for dress and that’s exactly what I got.

RTW: Have you ever received a bad review? If so, how did you handle it? Did it ever discourage you or make you question your worth as a writer?Other Than by Mia Jo Celeste

Mia: When I first started writing, I entered a lot of contests. I would stew over critical comments from judges. One fall I entered the same 25 pages in five contests. In one contest, the pages earned an incredibly low score. In two others, they received an average score and in two others they reached first or second place with almost perfect marks. I wondered how the exact same words could inspire such diverse results? I finally figured out that writing is art and readers’ reaction to art is subjective. Opinions vary. When I get any review, I remind myself—opinions will vary.

RTW: What would it mean to you to see your book for sale in an airport terminal shop?

Mia: I’m really looking forward to this experience. I hope it happens soon and for me it’ll be a measure of success. When it happens, my friends and followers should be prepared to see pictures and selfies of me with the book. No doubt, I’ll tweet and blog about it.

RTW: Do you let other people read your writing before you submit it to a publisher or an agent?

Mia: Yes. I believe that writing is communication and I regularly ask critique partners and readers for feedback to make sure my writing conveys the message I want to get across.

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Sex With Strangers Book Fair

WisRWA is teaming up with Renaissance Theaterworks in Milwaukee to host a mini book fair on October 28th in and around the performances of Renaissance Theaterworks’ production of Sex with Strangers.

From Renaissance Theaterworks website: “When frustrated forty-ish novelist, Olivia, meets fast-talking, twenty-something, blogger and memoirist, Ethan – known more for his sexual prowess than his prose – she worries that she will become just another chapter in his little black book. Their funny and passionate union blurs the lines between rewrites, romance and royalties – proving you can’t judge a book by its author. Sex with Strangers was one of America’s top ten most produced plays from 2014-2016. In addition to playwrighting, Laura Eason is also a producer/writer for the Emmy Award-winning Netflix series House of Cards.”

Eight WisRWA authors will take part in the signing, and we’ll have other WisRWA members on hand to answer any questions about WisRWA that we can.  The authors participating are:

Barbara M. Britton
Mia Jo Celeste
Sara Dahmen
Anna Durbin
Bobbi Groover
Mary Hughes
Nicolette Pierce
DC Thome

BookFairPoster[2]

 

Starting tomorrow, each week, we will feature a Q&A with one of the authors.
Sex with Strangers runs October 20-November 12, 2017 but WisRWA will only be there on October 28th.  Come support local theater and local authors!  For more information, visit Renaissance Theaterworks.

Hope to see you there!

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Book Launch Parties: The Hows and Whys

WisRWA members, Mia Jo Celeste, author of Other Than, and Barbara M.  Britton, author of Providence and Building Benjamin, will be talking about book launch parties (both actual and virtual) at the June WisRWA meeting in Milwaukee. Jennifer Rupp asked them a few questions about their first year as published authors.Brenda Nelson-Davis

 

Jen: Brenda and Barbara, you’ve both released your debut novels within the last twelve months. Did it come as a shock how involved you would have to be in the marketing of your own book?

Brenda: Yes. Although I’d heard a lot about marketing, taken some classes and been a blogger for years, I was surprised about the time and financial commitment. That said, I like marketing—something I never imagined I would.

Barbara: Yes, definitely. Publishing has changed so much since I started my journey ten years ago. I knew I would have a hand in marketing my books, but I didn’t know I would be the driving force behind getting the word out about my novels.

 

Barbara M. BrittonJen: About how much time per week do you spend actively marketing, engaging in social media, updating your website, blogging, etc.?

Brenda: It varies. Usually I check Twitter and Facebook every couple of days and I’ve been trying to appear in cyberspace a couple of times a week, either on my blog or someone else’s. For me, it’s a lot like student teaching. Because so many tasks are new, they take longer to figure out and complete, but I’m sure that I’ll get faster and I’ll figure out which tasks are the most important to complete.

Barbara: I feel I do some sort of marketing every day because of social media. Certainly I am more involved right before, during, and after a release. With Pelican Book Group, I have an e-book release date that is different than my print release date. Twice the fun—and work. I would say my average is 5-10 hours a week.

 

Jen: Now that you’re a published author, do you write with more confidence?

Brenda: I hope the adage “practice makes perfect” works. Because I write more, I’m more comfortable writing and, God willing, my writing is getting better.

Barbara: Yes and no. I feel I have the basic craft of writing down pat, but doubts plague me as a published writer. I’m thinking my work isn’t good enough, or my success was a fluke. I have to silence those nasty voices and tell myself that I am writing solely for myself. If no one sees my book, that’s okay. I’ve enjoyed writing it and learning through my research.

 

To hear more from Brenda and Barbara, please join us at the Mayfair Mall (Garden Suites Community Room, Lower Level) on June 17 from 9-11:30 AM. It’s sure to be a great time.

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Promotion Thursday – March Edition

It’s Promotion Thursday for March.  See below for where you can find our WisRWA authors. WisRWA Heart

Barbara M. Britton will be a panelist at the WEMTA Author Fair on March 19, 2017 from 11:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.at the Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells. She will also be at the New Berlin Public Library on April 1st, 2017 from 10:00 AM –1:00 PM their Local Author Fair. She will be celebrating her print release of “Building Building: Naomi’s Journey.”

Lois Greiman will be signing books and giving a workshop called ‘Writing From the Heart’ at the Rosemount Writers’ Festival in Rosemount, MN on March 18th.

Mia Jo Celeste invited Laura Zats from Red Sofa Literary to her blog after meeting her at the Milwaukee area meeting in February. Check out her website to read it.

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Revisions: Tips to Polish Your WIP

RevisionsIt’s hard, yet it’s the difference between a sale and “not for us.”

James Michener once said, “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”

I think that’s where most of us are, which might be why many writing gurus like Anne Lamott encourage bad first drafts, but we won’t talk about those today. Instead, I’ll focus on revision. I’d like to share my top three tips.

First, put some time between your drafts. At least a few days. A week or a month or two might be better. Most of us fall in love with our stories and we need that infatuation to ebb, so we can read our work without the rosy-everything’s awesome glasses. A little time gives us the emotional distance to view work anew and figure out what’s missing and what might need to change.

Second, have someone else read your work before you upload or send it off to be discovered. Critique partners or first readers can catch story inconsistencies and areas that aren’t understandable in your work. They can tell you which characters they connect to or which one they really don’t understand. Also, they can spot spelling or grammar errors.

At a writer’s conference I attended a copy editor admitted that even she makes mistakes occasionally and when she does, she doesn’t let it bother her because she figures it takes an average of sixteen pairs of eyes to get a manuscript to published flawlessness. Your critique buddies can be one of those first sets of editing eyes. Also, one of the best things about having critique partner or group is that you can become great friends.

My third tip is to try for good or very good instead of perfect. Because being human, and not possessing sixteen sets of eyes yourself, a totally perfect scene or manuscript is unattainable. Too much revision may add hours to your tasks and if you’re like me—it’s a buzz kill. It ruins the fun. So, my advice—do the best you can, look your work over a few times and then stop. Good is good enough.

When I’m not writing, I’m teaching, and I fit the one of the instructor stereotypes. I ask my students to re-think their drafts and to revise more than once. Revision and re-evaluating life decisions are themes that frequently appear in my fiction.

Mia Jo Celesteby: Mia Jo Celeste

Mia Jo Celeste comes from a family of writers and English teachers, so it was no surprise that she decided to pursue both careers. She’s an adjunct instructor, who just published her first release, Other Than, your grandma’s Gothic romance gone uber.

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