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Hey! Did You Hear That? It’s My VOICE.

If you ask an editor or agent to describe what they mean when they say “voice,” they’ll smile and shuffle their feet and politely say they can’t tell you. They simply know  it when they see it. Trust me on this one. I’ve met a few industry professionals at conferences and stalked my share of online events and twitter feeds and the question ALWAYS comes up. What do they mean when they want to like the voice?

I’m going to tell you.

Voice to a manuscript is like a personality for a person. <– this is the avid reader in me speaking.

The voice is the feeling of the book. It’s determined by the main point of view. The character who leads you through the essence of the story. Are they/the manuscript/personality likable? Congenial? Sympathetic? Does the voice match the content and does it draw the reader in?

In a romance, I don’t want the voice to be dreary and hopeless. Though that voice might be just what a post-apocalyptic manuscript needs to suck you into their world and engage you, that same voice in a romance would make the reader think “Shut.Up.” Likewise, a perky cheerleading outlook would make a steam punk seem flat out stupid. I wouldn’t want to read that. Would you?

So, I say, match your tone, your book’s personality, it’s voice to the genre. Then, let the voice carry the reader into the world you’ve created. Let them feel what your MC’s feeling, thinking. Let the reader connect with them on a personal, intimate level.

At some level, we’re all connected.

All people have been hurt, abandoned somehow at sometime, or betrayed, felt loved, unloved, hopeful, hopeless, hate etc. Your voice should reflect the emotion of the story and pull us in. As the story progresses, the character will go through changes, grow, and resolve to a new understanding of something or someone, maybe themselves.

Just like a real person. Just like you and I.

So, make sure the voice your using is likable, identifiable and then let it loose. Engage us, suck us in and make us feel the story.Find it, harness it, then tune it. Not obnoxious and extreme. Not mousy and bland. Personality, charm, charisma. Find the balance where readers connect.

That’s what voice is about.

Writer Wednesday Welcomes Patti Larsen!

Today, I am so excited. I’ve been waiting for w-e-e-ks to share my new friend with you all, though I’m sure many of you know her from her awesome twitter feed, blog and book(s)!

Welcome, Patti Larsen, one of my favorite tweeters and fabulous, lovely, delightful writer extraordinaire! Today she’s blogging for Musings on a topic close to all our hearts. Thank you Patti!


Journey of a Thousand Stumbles

When I volunteered to write this post for Julie Ann, I was excited.  She wanted me to explain my journey, how I made it to the culmination point of selling a book (insert a choir of angels singing Halleluiah!).  Easy-peasy! Right?

Hmmm… then I started thinking about my path and how I got here.  I often snicker at the label “over night success” and what it really means.  Not that it applies to me (yet!).  Still, the actual road to the success is often skipped over in favor of the exciting climax.  So, I thought I’d explore a bit of why I’m here, what got me to this place.  Maybe it will be of some help to someone who is on the same journey–or perhaps it is simply catharsis.

Writing is a calling.  I don’t think anyone who feels that pull doubts what I’m saying.  Non-writers who haven’t done it and say they’ve always wanted to have no idea.  You can’t say no to it.  It’s impossible to want to be and not be, at least in some capacity.  Without too much personal detail, I’ve gone from committed to dabbling so many times I can’t count.  My experience is punctuated by journalism, screenwriting and so much more.  I’ve given up over and over because of fear (other people’s that I accepted as my own) only to be drawn back and be re-immersed by this undeniable drive to create something.

I’ve gone through three abortive attempts to get an agent in which I knew nothing of the process and made an utter fool of myself, driving my writing passion into the ground.  I spent fifteen years in a job I was very good at but was sucked my soul dry just because I was afraid to take the leap.  I smothered my creativity in an attempt to shut it up, using food and lies and anger.

But nothing worked.  The core of the need remained.  That is how I found myself, two years ago, writing my first novel in a decade.  And loving every minute of it.  I’m not sure what is different.  I know my journey has led me to deeper understanding.  This time, the determination is focused.  I’m comprehending the process, not just of writing, but of getting my work out into the world.  I know I’m a good writer.  I know I have a talent for stringing words together in a way that people like to read.  That was never a doubt for me (at least, this time around).  But the big change I think is getting the game.  Doing the research.  Developing the platform.  Nurturing relationships with other writers.  The picture finally came into focus.

This is what I’m meant to be doing now.  Time to stop beating myself up for what could have been and acknowledge that the path was on purpose, that my experience made me a better writer, a better storyteller.  My old life taught me to be a businesswoman as well as a creator.  To have confidence in my ability to handle my career.  To see there is way more to being a writer than just putting words on a page.  I wasn’t ready then.  I am now.

I think my biggest success has been the choice not to give up on myself ever again.  Yes, I still get rejected.  But those rejections are a blessing.  A way for me to tweak my message until I get a yes.  To show me where I’m still learning and growing so I can focus on that.  I’ve discovered so much about my writing in the last year, even.  Things I do repeatedly that need to change.  Ways to tweak my work, to edit for more professionalism.  I also came to the understanding that there is more than one path.  Self-publishing while seeking an agent and courting small presses is a great deal of work, but worth it.  Treating my writing like a business as well as the passion it is has given me the edge I needed.

When I submitted The Ghost Boy of MacKenzie House to Terrilee Bulger at Acorn Press in September of this year, it was with the same positive attitude that I send out all my work.  No matter the outcome, I knew I gave my best and if that press wasn’t interested, I’d find another.  Much to my joy, however, it was a perfect fit.  And while it was an amazing thing, I didn’t run off with it.  I let myself experience the joy of it, then moved on.  Business is business.  Does it make the accomplishment any less?  Of course not.  But it does feed the flames and the desire for more.

Am I stopping here? No way.  There is so much more to explore.  No laurel resting.  More books to write and market.  An agent to wrangle.  The Big Six to court.  My plan is, after all, total world literary domination.

Why strive for anything less?

Patti Larsen is a novelist with a passion for paranormal, sci-fi and fantasy YA and middle grade fiction.  She is an independent filmmaker, singer/songwriter and inventor as well as an improv actor, a roller derby enthusiast (aka BoomBoom Bandita) and the creator of the Get Your Book Done writing program.  She lives on the East Coast of Canada with her very patient husband Scott and four massive cats.  Her self-published novel Cat City is available through Smashwords and www.lulu.comThe Ghost Boy of MacKenzie House (Acorn Press) is due for publication in the spring of 2012.

You can find her at http://.pattilarsen.blogspot.com, follow her on Twitter as @PattiLarsen or join her fanpage on Facebook: http://facebook.com/pattilarsenauthor

BLOOM Blog Tour Day 14: Lush Book Reviews

Welcome to my very first ever blog tour! *Squeeee!!!!* My debut novella BLOOM has officially launched the new Honey Creek imprint from Turquoise Morning Press as well as my Seeds of Love series. You’ll find me every day (Monday-Fridays) this month blogging about writing novellas, Honey Creek, my amazing new press and getting your foot in the publishing door, all around the web. Each day I’ll update where you can find me and I’ll be tracking comments. Let me know you stopped by dropping me a Hi there comment and you’re entered for a $10 Amazon gift card at the end of the month! We all need another book or two!  So stop by and say Hi!

Today’s stop on the BLOOM Blog Tour: Lush Book Reviews! <– Click here and visit me today!

WELCOME TO HONEY CREEK

Honey Creek, Ohio is a place where anything can happen. Nestled in the lush green of rolling Midwestern hills, crops, combines and crows pepper the landscape, but inside Honey Creek there’s a whole lot of mischief going on.

In January 2012, my debut novella, Bloom, will launch the Honey Creek line forTurquoise Morning Press. I’m planting Seeds of Lovein Honey Creek.

The Seeds of Love series will be sprinkled throughout the year.

I hope you’ll drop in and enjoy the bouquet.

Bloom by Julie Anne Lindsey

In a town filled with her past, she never expected to find her future…

Seven years ago Cynthia left Honey Creek with a broken heart. Three years ago Mitchell arrived with one.  Now Cynthia’s come home, and these two hardened hearts can’t stop arguing. If they’d only take a break long enough to find some common ground, they might be surprised to find love can grow anywhere.

If they’ll let it, love will find a way to Bloom.

 

Stop Dancing on Egg Shells & Say It!

I have read about a million words in the past week, and no, that’s not a big exaggeration.  I finished Hex Hall, a paranormal YA, Delirium, a fantasy YA, and Nightshade, a paranormal YA. I also started an older Stephanie Plum novel I hadn’t gotten to yet, Self Editing for Fiction Writers, and I’ve read pages for twitter friends, pages from my crit group and am reading a manuscript from an agency sister today. This doesn’t include the number of times I’ve read and reread my own words. So, you see, a million words is pretty darn close.

I don’t want to think about how many a day that is.

I do want to think about what I’m gaining.

I’m learning great new phrases, word twists, metaphors and turns of phrase from my reading. I love picking up subtle descriptors in books that resonate and cling to my brain long after I’ve put the book away. It enhances my writing and varies my prose. It brings out another level in my stories and I love it.

The beta-ing is helping to hone my spying eye. I’m tuning in to bad habits and spotting them faster in my own writing. In fact, I’ve quit writing “that.” I just heard a collective gasp from my regular followers. “That” was a habit of mine for ages and I broke it. Now, I’m seeking out other habits, cleaning up wordy puddles and learning tons.

One thing I debated saying until now is this: Most “rules” are smoke and mirrors. They’re like powerful suggestions. They’re sometimes red flags to being an amateur. (Using extra words or repetitive details).  HOWEVER, I would like to point out something else. In the fancy hard cover, best sellers I adored…I saw lots of MC’s that “had been doing” or who “were doing.” I saw my share of dialogue tags with a smart little -ly on the end. They “said hotly,” or they simply “snarled” not said. I saw LOTS of italics in my YAs and lots of italicized thoughts everywhere. These are supposed to be “no-nos.”

Rule defenders will fight to the death defending their rules, but somewhere at least a few agents and editors would disagree about the weight of those rules because I wasn’t reading self pub or beta pages. Like I said, I read big, hard-backed, best sellers. The real deals and yeah, they broke the “rules.” I feel like it’s important to point this out because so many of my determined counterparts quiver in the face of the “rules.” They change the voice and pace of their work by eliminating all signs of the  dread “no-no’s” eviscerating any “rule breaker” which might keep them from publication.

Meh.

This aspiring says, rules are guideline. I firmly believe the key is to write from the heart. Scream it out in words. As long as they’re mostly real words, used correctly, spelled correctly and to the point of the matter. Tell the tale at hand with fervor, throw caution to the stifling rules. I mean, sometimes the MC really “had been screaming for hours.” She did. It’s alright not to rewrite the voice and pace so you can say she screamed all night. Heck, she was trapped, it’s morning. There’s no way to catch a time machine. “Her throat was raw. She’d been screaming all night.” Call it a spade and stop dancing on the egg shells.

Okay, now go ahead. Tell me the rules are for my benefit. I need to follow them at all costs. You might be right. I’m unpublished, what do  I know? Maybe at first you follow the rules, get published, and then hope the rules loosen as your sales increase. Maybe you gain freedom that way.

I’m no authority, but my heart and my gut say the rules work MOST of the time, but passion isn’t found in rules. Call me a rebel.

Thoughts?

IMM In My Mailbox & Mailbox Monday 2/12

I’ve read so much awesomeness in the last ten days, my head could pop off. AND now the lovely local library has delivered another title from my must read list! This week, to add to my growing and unfinished stash is Anna and the French Kiss!! HooHa!!

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she’s less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all . . . including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt.


In My Mailbox is a meme from the Story Siren designed to help book lovers unite, meet, greet and follow one another in our quests to find the next most awe inspiring, tear jerking, mesmerizing or just entertaining new tome.

Mailbox Monday is a meme hosted this month at Library of Clean Reads. This is one more incredible way to get to know one another, build your following and find great new sites to add to your dashboard.

What was in your mailbox this week?

Bloggers! Be sure to follow me if you like what you see. I always follow back!!  & I love making new bookish friends!

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