Happy Friday in May from www.GailGaymerMartin.com  It’s spring in our new homeland of Sedona Arizona and flowers are everywhere. I had no idea our landscape had so many amazing colors and so many beautiful birds. In Michigan where I lived all my life until our recent move, I knew the flowers and birds popular in that part of the country, but here in Sedona, I’m seeing orioles, hummingbirds (by the droves) and even the Western Bluebird that is so beautiful.

You can probably see that I am happy. I am, but that’s not the only reason. After contacting my two major publishers, I have been able to request and receive reversions on  the rights of some of my book which means, they now belong to me rather than the publisher. Since I have been active writing for a small press, I also have the opportunity to rework my older novels are bring them back for a whole new audience.

One thing we learn as novelists and readers, who might also be interested to know, that  writing grows and changes with experience and practice. I have studied writing for years, grasping every new concept, honing my craft and trying to be the best writer I can be for the Lord who gave me the talent. It has been an adventure, and when I look now at my early writings, sometimes I cringe because I see ways in which I could have said something so much better. Now with the reversion, I can improve on that writing and make changes that will bring the books closer to the abilities I now have as the author of 76 published novels or novellas. I will never be sorry for my earlier books. The stories are often some of my favorites, but now I am able to make them even better with changes.

For novelists who have the opportunity for having your older novels revert back to you, do yourself a favor and study them to see in what way you can improve them. It will make your readers happy, especially the new ones who have never read the books.  So far I have  often used the same title with a new cover but I usually refer to those books as reissue so no one will buy the book who has already read them. Today I have many new readers than I had back in the 1990s and early 2000s. Almost 20 years have past and new readers spring up every day.  Next month, I hope to share with you some of the changes that I have made with the older books and the new techniques I have learned. Look for it next June.

For now you can look for two of my latest new releases, one a reissue: Love Comes to Butterfly Tree Inn and a new novella, Poppy Fields With You. Click on the title with link to read more about both.

Enjoy spring and I hope you take time to look at the flowers and birds. Blessings.

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Blessed Good Friday to you all from Gail Gaymer Martin at www.gailgaymermartin.com.

Today is a special day for Christians and since this happens to be my day to share a post on writing, I want to send a message of the joy of the Resurrection which we will once again experience on Easter Sunday.

I have been blessed to have been given an amazing career as a writer of Christian fiction, and in my days of creating stories that I hope will touch your hearts, I have learned so much about writing stories readers can enjoy.

Unless you are a seasoned writer, most people do not  understand the amount of detail and craft that goes into being a writer, and most people do not sell their first novel. I did, but not before it went through “refining fire.”

I knew nothing about writing fiction when I began to write. My first romance novel began with the death of the heroine’s husband, traveled through months of her grief, and on page 102 she met the hero. The book was rejected numerous times until I realized that a romance begins with the meeting of the hero and heroine within the first couple of pages. I also learned a story starts at the point of change—not the husband’s death, but the heroine’s new beginning. With the advice of a few kind writers who knew about writing fiction, I had to cut one-hundred glorious pages from my novel. That made all the difference, but by then the book had been rejected a number of times by most houses.

I had courageously continued to submit books and most of those were sitting on editors’ desks, waiting for rejection. In 1998, I had one new book and submitted it to Barbour Publishing. Within a few months, I heard from them. Though the editors felt that particular book would not work for their readership, they liked my voice and writing style. They asked if I had anything else. I thought of my first novel…just sitting there. I said sure I did and I would get it in the mail right away.

Right away meant doing some serious edits. At that time the completed book was seventy-five thousand words. Barbour accepts only forty-five to fifty-five thousands word count, so I had some serious cutting to do. I had learned so much more about writing by then, and I went through the manuscript tightening the story by removing useless dialogue and scenes that did not move the story forward. I cut a sub-plot and tightened my language. When I’d reached the right page count, I mailed the book in. Within eleven days, SEASONS sold to Barbour Publishing and I became a published author.

My lessons learned is continue to study and improve writing skills by honing the craft, listen to those who know the business, and understanding that tightening a novel can only make it better. Those lessons have reaped great rewards and blessings for me. Now 76 published novels and over 4 million books sold, I conclude that I finally know how to write a good book. It takes time, patience and tons of perseverance.

By improving the craft never ends. I continue to read and study writing techniques and find new ideas for ways to improve my work. Next month, I will cover what I have done when I’ve received the reversion of rights and can now republish my older books for readers who hadn’t read them years ago when they were published. My goal is to use what I have learned to this day and to make my old novels new and improved. I hope you look for this  blog on Revision of Rights.

 

(c) Gail Gaymer Martin 2017

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Welcome to the CAN Blog from Gail Gaymer Martin @ www.gailgaymermartin.com. Today I decided to talk about one way my writing has changed in the past few years. Although I wrote about places I knew, I didn’t worry about accuracy and often I used a fictitious location so I didn’t have to worry about accuracy.

Writing Fiction Using Real Locations

But over time, I learned if I want to write real, I needed to visit the location of my novel. While creating a fictitious location can be easier, I’ve found that fans love to read about real places since they often relate to them as a place they lived or visited. I’ve also learned real places offer bonuses as I researched.

 

Bonus 1 -Realistic Details

My writing is known for realistic characters and locations that bring my stories to life. For the last few years, I’ve used real towns for my novels. When I use a fictitious street or home description, I usually pattern it after one that is real. By researching real location, authors can take photos, note impressions, involve the senses and later can recall their reaction and experience. This can add reality to their novels. When I do Internet research, the photos and information also come to life.

Bonus 2 – Simulating Plot Ideas

While researching a town, authors can learn town history, sights, events and activities that help stimulate story ideas. Recently, I spent two days in the small town of Owosso. Though a lifelong resident of Michigan, I’ve never had reason to visit this mid-state town. My publisher, Love Inspired, enjoys stories set in rural areas and small towns, making Owosso perfect. This town has its own castle, built by a 1920s novelist, James Curwood, to use as his writing sanctuary.

With children in some of my novels, learning about Owosso’s three Playscape venues was a find. Two of these areas provide a kid’s splash pool, slides, swings, rock wall, rope brides, a pavilion and gazebo.  One Playscape is located at the DeVries Nature Conservatory and gives children opportunities to study nature in a hands-on activities. Owosso also has a sled hill for winter fun. The town has a Steam Railroading Institute, an art gallery, a conference center, sleigh museum, community actors and theater, numerous community festivals and events, and a nearby town that has a historic village.  People can roller skate, bowl and shop in a four street area, and the town is filled with restaurants and churches. All of these features triggered ideas for novels in the Lilac Circle Series.

Bonus 3 – Making Contacts

The Chamber of Commerce is the location of the woman who is in charge of all city events. She graciously took me on a tour of some of the cities features. We drove through residential areas where I located the street I called Lilac Circle, featuring characters from my series. We went to the nearby town of Corunna to visit their Playscape in McCurdy Park where characters will find Sled Hill, the historic village and the county Courthouse which is part of the first book, Unexpected Mommy, a 2015 release. Through my contact I learned about holiday events and their details, such as: Christmas, Easter egg hunt, 4th of July celebration and other unique city festivals and celebrations.

I also learned the local newspaper is privately owned and is open to carrying local articles that would interest the town’s residence. I am hopeful I can receive some press when my book series is released. Another contact was the Owosso Bookstore where they are interested in carrying my books when released. I offered to do a book signing.  These personal contacts provide individuals to call for answers to question not found through research.

Bonus 4 – Tax Deductible

The cost for a research trip is travel expenses which are tax deductible. The benefits are high: realism, idea stimulation, contacts and the ability to feel, taste, touch, smell, hear and see the location of your story.

Yes, you can fabricate a town, and you must if it’s speculative, but visiting a town is a far greater investment especially for contemporary fiction, as well as historical fiction which is heightened by walking the fields of Gettysburg, exploring a real plantation, seeing migrant workers and where they live. How can a writer imagine looking at Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower or riding in a gondola on the Grand Canal without experiencing it? I have, and so could you.

(c) Gail Gaymer Martin 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Good morning and welcome to the CAN Blog from Gail Gaymer Martin. As a novelist, I work hard to improve my writing no matter how many novels that are published. With over 70 published novels, I am excited to find a new idea or a new approach or technique that will make my stories better. I always enjoy sharing these ideas with other writers and even readers who then learn what writers go through to make a book enjoyable.

Today’s topic deals with  developing a theme in the novel that is natural and pertinent in the story and that fits a character, plot, setting or life lesson.

An Emerging Theme In Fiction

Many novelists want to leave the reader with a final thought or message as well as to entertain them with the story. Yet a theme cannot be forced into a novel. Instead it is moral, belief or value that seeps into the story on its own and emerges from the story to the reader.

Element of Theme

A good theme happens because it is intrinsic to the story. It’s a natural element that grows within it and often has to do with the convictions of one of the story’s main characters. It influences and/or creates conflicts within the novel so that it produces growth or failure of the character.

Themes are not always present at first, and they are not always what the character embraces. Look for things he avoids or ways in which he restrains himself. These are as important. As you develop your character’s needs, wants, goals, and struggles, keep track of what influences the character and how it affects him. As you review these factors, take note of the bigger picture. What do these influences affect in terms of life values, beliefs or morals. Does it make comments about forgiveness, acceptance, longing, compassion, wealth, honesty, awareness, hope, or love.

A Theme’s Purpose

Various story elements remain in a reader’s mind. It can be a character, a setting, a plot, or a life lesson or message that lingers. Everyone has values, morals and beliefs that they struggle with or deal with in their lives. These can cause them joy or grief depending on how their life grows or sinks. When a person fails something they value or believe in, they suffer. If they overstep their moral bounds, they can falter and doubt, fear retribution and sink into an abyss. Reading a story where a character overcomes, rebounds, and moves forward gives readers hope. If they fail, it can lift a reader who has survived a lapse in a belief or moral situation. They can feel forgiven or uplifted that they made it through the dark water. Themes teach, stimulate and connect with readers. This is their purpose.

Give Characters Strong Values and Beliefs

Looking at your own life, note what is important to you. Family? Job? Health? Generousness? Communication? Faith? What is it that molds your life and your actions? Give your characters these kids of strong, unshakeable truths. Use the plot to force these characters to protect these values, show these beliefs and morals in the life of your characters, demonstrate their problems when these truths are attacked or are weakened and the character fails. Through these convictions, the characters provide a focus, a message, a lesson that becomes a theme in the story.

Avoid Sermons

Human kind is imperfect. Everyone has flaws and weaknesses that they succumb to or learn to overcome and grow. Readers want to see these flaws and weaknesses in characters, and they learn from the ups and downs of men and woman in the novel. When a novelist steps into the story and breaks the natural flow of the story’s reality to make a point, to teach, to show the problem in a way that doesn’t fit the story line, then readers withdraw. A theme cannot be blatant or forced. As I said earlier, it must come from a naturalness within the character and the situations in the story. Help the reader see that all mankind is flawed and yet can still succeed and win over their failures. Show it through character action, dialogue and introspection and not through a harangue from the author to jam the theme down the reader’s throat.

Use setting to enhance theme

Sometimes a setting can bring the theme to life. Certainly the absurd opulence of the home in The Great Gatsby emphasizes waste and corruption of values. A barren plain can be a symbol of a life that is empty and unproductive. An island setting can emphasis the aloneness of life and the dependence people have on each other or the lack of it. A cozy village can stress the value of family or the simple life that connects people to others. A stormy sea or a winter setting can remind us of the power of nature and the finiteness of human life.

Use analogies or symbols

If you saw the movie The Great Gatsby, you cannot forget the billboard sign of the eyes looking down on the world of corruption and loss of morals. It’s almost as if God is sitting in judgment over the mass of humanity. Novels can also have motifs and symbols such as this to be a subtle emphasis of a novel’s theme. Certainly the ring in the Lord of the Rings provides an ever present symbol of evil in the world and the need to win over it, to let good remain and evil fail.

But the sign or symbol must be subtle and a meaningful part of the story. It must make sense. It might be a child’s rocking horse in a home where there are no children, reminding the reader that we were all children, or that somewhere in all of us a child still lives, or the loss of a child never leaves us. It depends on other elements of the novel to make the sign have meaning. Once the reader latches on to it—and on his own cognition and not being told—it serves the purpose of keeping the theme ever present in the story. The important thing to remember is that the sign must be a natural part of the story.

Whether you use symbols or setting, whether you allow the characters or plot to bring the theme to life, keep it real and natural, avoid author intrusion and let the theme grow on the reader without being forced. The lesson, message or thought can make an impact that will linger in readers’ minds longer than many other elements of your novel.

(c) Gail Gaymer Martin 2017

 

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Welcome to the Christian Author Network blog from Gail Gaymer Martin. Today I will be talking about ways to improvement elements of writing fiction. My experience comes from seventeen years of published fiction writing, and my pleasure is to share my expertise with you.

Today I will talk about keeping your novel moving forward so that readers are caught up in the story and don’t want to put it down.

Five Steps to Write Forward-Moving Scenes

 A scene is part of a chapter in a novel. Some authors write only in chapters and therefore have far more chapters than a typical book. A new scenes are used mainly to change the POV character, move a character to a new setting, and showing the passing of time. Each scene will connect to the story in a logical way by providing pertinent information about character, a conflict or to add a red herring in a suspense or even add a twist to a story. No matter the purpose, the new scene must move the story forward in a significant way.

  1. Before writing a scene decide what will happen in this scene to move the story forward. What is going to happen of significance or what new information will be shown in this scene. Will a major decision be made or will new conflict begin or a continuing conflict end? Will the scene foreshadow an upcoming situation or event? If the scene will only allow the characters to get to know each other better or to introduce backstory, eliminate it. Characters can get to know each other better while something significant is happening and backstory can be included in small pieces throughout the novel on a need to know basis only.
  1. The next step is to ask what the characters need to be in this scene and what will each accomplish during the scene. In what way will the character’s needs or desires create conflict or add tension? Conflict does not have to be blatant but can be reflected in the POV character’s introspection or shown through the response or action of a POV or non-POV character.
  1. Select the best setting for this scene, the location and time of day or season of the year. The setting can add or detract from a scene, so chose one that will enhance the purpose of the scene and the needs of the characters. Too many scenes are set in a car while the characters are driving or at a table in a restaurant or kitchen as they talk about situations. Be creative and use locations, time of day, weather, and seasons to enhance the scene and its purpose.
  1. Each scene will provide pertinent information, action and conflict to move the story forward, and it will be either be a scene or sequel. Dwight Swain’s definition of a scene is to provide interest and move the story forward with its structure being: Goal — conflict — disaster. A sequel is defined as a transition unit that links two scenes and focuses on the main character’s reaction to the previous scene and provides him motivation for the scene to come. The function is: To translate disaster into a goal, To telescope reality, and To control tempo. Therefore ask yourself “what must happen in this scene,” and then decide what is the strongest way to start the scene and then, what is the most effective way to end it. A scene ending with a hook keeps the reader reading. Writing the scene’s opening sentence can trigger your creativity and help you devise interest immediately.
  1. Though many novels write their novels providing all elements of fiction, such as: description, action and reaction beats, dialogue and introspection, some authors begin their scenes by writing the dialogue first. This keeps the scene on track moving the story forward. Then the author returns to the opening and adds the action, description and introspection. Writing a scene this way can help you to understand how a story is layered and it gives you time to put yourself into the characters so that their actions and thoughts can show their emotion and their growth.

Whichever method you use, these five steps can help you write scenes that are strong in purpose, deepen characterization, show change and growth, reveal emotion, and hook readers.

(c) Gail Gaymer Martin 2017

 

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