Repeating Ourselves Too Many Times in a Novel

Healing StonesOne thing I’ve learned while editing to a specific word count is to provide the information only once. Readers are smart; they’ll understand. If I have 300 words to tell a story, every word matters. I don’t need to say the car was blue twice.

Saying something once in a 300-word story is easy to do because I can see the entire story on one page. I can remember what I’ve said and how I’ve said it. It’s a little more difficult in a 130,000-word novel.

But it’s still important not to repeat things multiple times because readers who read fast or have great memories will remember. Even those with weaker superpowers will notice if you continue to tell them Sarah’s hair was naturally blonde but was dyed green. I know because I read book reviews on Amazon, and I’ve seen many readers complain about the number of times something is stated: How many times does she have to say his eyes were blue? I heard it the first ten times.

That’s an exaggeration, but you know what I mean. More complaints arise when a situation is overstated: I get it; he’s broke and he lost his job at the construction site because he was late two days in a row. Stop telling me that in every chapter!

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Do Writers Need Protection from their Failures and Successes to Continue to Write?

I recently watched a TED Talk video by Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert. It was called Your Elusive Creative Genius.

Gilbert discussed the impossible expectations placed on artists, particularly authors. She admits, her greatest accomplishment—the Eat, Pray, Love novel—is probably behind her, so how is she to go forward and continue to write?

She takes us on a trip back in history, when the people of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome believed spirits who lived within their walls visited artistic people. These invisible spirits assisted the writer, so the writer could not take full credit or all the criticism for the completed work.

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Lesley Crewe on Making a Film

Atlantic Books Today asked Lesley Crewe to share five things she learned while turning her novel, Relative Happiness, into a movie.

  1. Always answer “yes”, when someone calls you out of the blue and asks if you own the movie rights to your novel. The only reason I did, is because Jane Buss of the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia told me it was absolutely necessary, and I was not to sign a book contract without it. I was anxious to sign any book contract, and did it really matter if I had sole ownership of film rights? I mean it wasn’t like my novel would be made into a movie. That was ludicrous. It was my first book. Who the heck would want it? Turns out someone did. And because I listened to Jane’s advice, I didn’t have to share my movie earnings with anyone other than my agent.

To read the four other things she learned, visit Atlantic Books Today.

Twistmas Cover Stalls Edits

I wrote Twistmas – The Season of Love in the fall of 2012 with the intentions of releasing it for Christmas. That Christmas came and went like winter a storm, and the romance novel wasn’t published.

In the new year I promised myself I’d get it done and release it in the fall. Another failed attempt.

Here we are just ten days from Christmas 2013 and still Twistmas sits on my computer, unshared with any readers. So what is wrong? Obviously something is to have created this procrastination on my part.

I feel the story is well-written, engaging and entertaining, so that’s not the problem. I could use time as an excuse but…well, I’ve done other things and avoided editing Twistmas.

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Book Launch: Charlotte R. Mendel

Book LaunchOn Saturday October 19, 2013 between 11:00 am and 12:00 pm, Fernwood Publishing will launch Charlotte R. Mendel’s first novel, Turn Us Again, at the Elmsdale Public Library, Elmsdale, Nova Scotia.

Guests will be treated to a reading by the author, snacks and drinks. Fernwood representatives will be on hand in the lobby for anyone who wishes to purchase a signed copy of Turn Us Again.

This is Charlotte’s first book. Her writing has appeared in City Lights, the Tel Aviv supplement of The Jerusalem Post, The Breastfeeding Diaries, The Nashwaak Review, The Healing Touch of Horses and several other anthologies. She currently lives in Enfield, NS, with her family.

Summary: Called to his dying father’s bedside, Gabriel Golden’s life is turned upside down after receiving his mother’s journal. The journal chronicles his mother’s life in post-war Britain, her genteel upbringing and her eventual marriage to Gabriel’s father, a complicated man raised in an aggressive, Jewish family who drinks to escape financial worries. Gabriel is shocked as the novel reveals dark secrets about his parents’ relationship, shaking Gabriel’s preconceptions about his father — and himself.

Based on a true story and winner of the H.R. Percy Novel Prize and the Beacon Award for Social Justice, Turn Us Again is a powerful exploration of the dynamics within family relationships, enticing the reader to embark on a journey towards a more complex understanding of the issue of abuse.

Mendel, Charlotte R - Turn Us Again

Throw Away Kitten is Drafted

by Candy McMuddToday I wrote the final 2,000 words to Throw Away Kitten, a children’s book I’ll publish under the pen name Candy McMudd. As any writer knows, these moments are special. It’s time to celebrate. Another draft is completed.

Throw Away Kitten was inspired by my youngest son, the cat lover. He’s always preferred cats over dogs, but many of the chapter books he’s read are one-sided. The majority of the stories involving kittens have female lead characters whereas puppies have boy characters. Well, being a cat lover, that didn’t sit well with him, so he asked me to write a story about a boy who owed a kitten.

Throw Away Kitten was born.

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Book Title Drop in Novel

I read about someone doing this before, but never considered it. I thought it would feel forced. Then it happened so naturally that I had to leave it be. Leave it in my novel.

What am I talking about? Dropping book titles in a novel.

Have you done this? Have you mentioned a book title and/or author in one of your stories? Would you consider doing it? Have you read books where this has been done?

While writing Twistmas -The Season of Love during the summer of 2012, I did. Here’s the loosely edited paragraph in which a book gets mentioned:

Jan took a deep breath to calm her already frazzled nerves. As if this noise wasn’t bad enough, the overhead speakers blasted the same Christmas music she’d listened to for more than a month. She used to enjoy Silent Night, but the scene in front of her was far from it. Again, she wondered how Delanie had talked her into leaving her warm home and venturing out into the cold to endure this headache. She glanced at her watch: 7:18 pm. Under normal circumstances she’d be cosied up to a pillow on the chesterfield, enjoying a cup of tea and reading a book at this time, but tonight Deborah Hale and The Wizard’s Ward would have to wait for Santa Claus.

Of course, I had to use a local author. It only seemed right. It also had to be a book I’d read.

Now, while writing “Throw Away Kittens” I almost did it again. Except it didn’t feel natural, so I didn’t. But the thought was there. Charlie–the little guy in the story–walked into the kitchen to find his mother reading a book. I was about to mention the title, but there was no reason why Charlie would know this, so I left it out.

So have you? Will you? Have you considered it?

Throw Away Kitten