Friday, March 27, 2015

Interview with Samantha Fountain Mother of WriterPitch and AgentMatch

Today, I have an interview with Writer Samantha Fountain, mother/creator of WriterPitch and AgentMatch on Twitter. The WriterPitch site is fast becoming an Agent-Writer match-making site. Read on to know more about Samantha and her site.

Tell us a little about yourself? 
I grew up in a small midwest town out in the country, so cows and manure speaks of home to me :) My parents have been married for 43 years and I have one younger brother. My best friend is my four-year-old son, Wallace!

 Tell us something about your books? 
I like to write gritty, dark YA. I don’t feel stuck in that genre though and feel excited to expand out of my comfort zone. 

What are you working on now? 
I’m working on the sequel to THE DARK INTRUDER which is about a psychic teen that reveals a hometown tragedy by connecting to the missing. I like to compare it as THE LOVELY BONES meets IF I STAY.

Please share with us a writing tip that has helped you or a writing craft book.
I really enjoyed— On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. As far as a writing tip goes my biggest thing is that even if I feel I have nothing to write I push myself to sit down and try to squeak out a few words. I almost always have more to say than I thought!

What is WriterPitch?
WriterPitch is an online community that my brother, a web developer, helped me create after the success of AgentMatch on my blog. Our hope is this will be the place for writers to make industry friends, grow and possibly find representation. WriterPitch is expanding daily into becoming so much more than I expected. There’s so much this community offers all within one site. 

What made you start it? 
AgentMatch was a blast and I really didn’t want the party to stop. There is nothing like writers and the way they all reach out to support each other. WriterPitch is a tool that helps connect everyone.

Was it difficult to get agents to join WriterPitch?
The agents that are joining WriterPitch love this type of social tool, so they were eager to expand how they find clients. I always expected this wouldn’t be for every agent or every writer for that matter, so the agents that don’t want to join typically won’t because they like to stick to their own inbox.

More and more agents and writers are joining WriterPitch every day. How do you keep track of things on WriterPitch?
It’s a lot of work, but so worth it. My brother and I make a good team and we have a fairly good system going. WriterPitch is expanding and changing as we grow, so the system does change sporadically. 

How did AgentMatch on Twitter happen?
I dreamed up AgentMatch because Valentine’s Day was on the horizon and I thought, ‘Hey, what about a day for Agents and Writers to find love?” And then I made it happen ;)

Any WriterPitch or AgentMatch success story you want to share? 
There have been some. I’m still working on success story blog entries for my website, but I do have one up at the moment. Here’s the link - AgentMatch Success Story

How do you manage your writing, handling WriterPitch, as well as AgentMatch?
I don’t know,  lol! I have my four-year-old as well and he’s busy! I wouldn’t change anything though. I love my crazy, beautiful schedule. I do drink LOTS of coffee.

Author Bio 
Samantha Fountain is a young adult author who focuses most of her energy on the paranormal genre. That’s not to say there isn’t an insane amount of horror, romance, and suspense thrown in for good measure. Her debut novel is a fast paced paranormal tentatively titled, THE DARK INTRUDER. The sequel to The Dark Intruder will be complete late 2014. The final installment to the Charlotte Kane Trilogy is scheduled for 2015. Also keep an eye out for her twisted, edgy, suspense with a vengeful heroine in the works for 2016. Samantha’s full time job is most enjoyable. She spends her days with her four-year-old, Wallace. Nap and bedtime are Samantha’s allotted time to write…to create worlds both beautiful and mysterious. FYI, Samantha thinks whipped cream should be a table condiment. 

Samantha's Blog
Samantha on Twitter
Samantha on Facebook

If you all have any questions for Samantha, you can ask her in the comments section.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Reposting my first post - Bonding with a Literary Character

On March 22nd I will complete 5 years of blogging. Unbelievable, that five years have passed since I stepped into the world of Blogging. This is heavy duty nostalgia time for me. I still remember my first post and the nervousness and anxiety I felt. The eager wait for comments. I don't know why I feel like re-posting my first post today.

Though writing is largely a solitary activity, the writer literally lives on an island, scrawling away on sheets, or, typing furiously, isolated from family and friends for long and painful stretches of time, it’s also one activity that connects writers with a vast number of people (readers) instantly.

Our books act as the bridge that link us to people who bring their unique sensibilities to our work. I agree with another writer who said “books like water will find their own level.” Books are open to interpretations any which way. The characters that we have nurtured inside our feverish minds find other dimensions when they meet the readers.

Different readers glean different nuggets of wisdom from a literary character/book, depending on their personal perception. Whatever the reason for the bond between book\protagonist and the reader, the important aspect is that an emotional connection has been forged. A literary kindred spirit discovered. A relationship formed. These connections between reader and character are the barometers of the real success of a book. Not the number of copies sold, nor the clutch of awards won. Readers after all are the best critics, and their appreciation the real award.

To create a literary character that firmly entrenches itself into a reader’s mind is an extremely difficult task. A memorable literary character must appeal to each and every sense of the reader, not just tug, but play with their heartstrings, seduce them away from the million and one things clamouring for their attention, entice them into the world woven by the writer. Memorable literary characters leave strong traces of their presence inside a reader’s mind long after the book has been devoured. In the history of books there have been several such characters: Anna Karenina, Jane Eyre, Lata Mehra from Vikram Seth’s ‘ A Suitable Boy,’ Harry Potter to name just a few.

A character can achieve literary immortality if there is a strong sense of Empathy and Sympathy between the reader and the literary character. Because, when we empathize, or, sympathize with someone, albeit a literary character, concern for their well-being creeps in, a reluctant love develops. The warp and the weft of the reader’s life then entwines with the character’s. This ability of a character to attract the twin emotions mentioned earlier encourages the readers to be quasi participants rather than distant indifferent observers.

The character must invoke the feeling of oneness, there has to be a sense of similarity of experiences, similarity of emotions, of choices made, paths chosen, sacrifices done, between the reader and character. These aspects further cement the reader- character bond.

To create such characters is every writer’s dream. The character then becomes the voice of that generation of readers, a kind of a role model. There is a complete sense of identity between the reader and the literary character. “Hey that could be me, it’s is the story of my life,” the delighted reader nods his/her head. These characters are not only inspirational, they gently urge the readers to aspire for greater glories by acting as catalysts of change in the readers’ lives, and also, silently beckon the readers to visit them again and again. 

Isn’t this a measure of a successfully created character? Do you have any such memorable character that you completely bond with?

P.S. Let me tell you a secret. For the first few posts, I had not added any pictures because I did not know how to add pictures.

Here is the link to the first post.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Learning from book reviews

I do a lot of book reviews and let me tell you all something, there is so much to learn from doing reviews. After reading a book I mull over what I didn’t like in the book (in terms of story, characters, writer’s voice, antagonist, plot and the resolution). Once we know what we didn’t like in the books we read, it’s easy to cross-check if these are found in our own books and eliminate them.

Earlier, I would avoid reading many book reviews. Nowadays, I make it a point of reading a lot of them. I try to learn from the reviews I read.

It’s not easy for a writer to get objective about our own stories and writing. So, we depend on our critique partners and beta readers. I have added reviewers to that list. As some reviewers have a discerning eye they analyze the entire story under a literary microscope and tell the readers what worked in the story and what didn't. From these classic reviewers/reviews one can learn a lot.

Last year, I reviewed a book for the newspaper. I mentioned that the story was good, the characters had come to life and I also mentioned that the writing had slipped at places and the editing could have been better.

The writer whose book I reviewed has been asking me to let him know which are the places in which the writing has slipped, so that he can avoid repeating the same mistake in his future books. I have promised him I will let him know this week. This writer has been a classic example of learning from book reviews.

What do you all feel about learning from book reviews? Have you ever read a book review and analysed your story keeping the review in mind? Do you think book reviews (reviewing as well as reading a review) teach writers something?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

IWSG Post – When Mediocre Manuscripts Get Published

However busy I am, I always make it a point to post on the first Wednesday of every month for IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group), an online group of writers, is a place where we members freely talk of all our writing problems with other writers, without worries of being judged or sounding like grumbling, grouchy wordsmiths. We are confident that other writers grappling with similar issues and insecurities are facing the same situation. IWSG is a place where we can learn, grow, support and encourage each other to keep writing inspite of all the odds stacked against us.

Ninja Captain, Alex J Cavanaugh (the author of the Amazon Bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm and CassaFire and the upcoming Dragon of the Stars ) created this awesome and inspiring group. IWSG members post on the first Wednesday of the month. The IWSG website is a wonderful resource for writers.

As I do a lot of book reviews, this month I will talk of seeing mediocre manuscripts reaching the publishing goalpost ahead of the good ones. Quite a few of the manuscripts that reach my doorstep are filled with dull writing, insipid characters and a plot more obvious by its absence. And many of these books have been published by the big publishers.

Sometimes, I wonder how do such books get published. I also wonder how did the editors allow such manuscripts to reach the readers, without atleast a few rounds of revisions and heavy duty tweaking. I shudder to think of the condition of these manuscripts before they were published.

And when you see the good stories being published by the indie presses, you do feel bad for them. That is not to say that indie presses are bad, but it’s obvious that the writer would have been turned down by the big publishing houses before he/she took this route.

Have you all been through the same situation? Have you all wondered why some manuscripts that have no business being published reach the bookshelves ahead of their better counterparts? What’s your take on this scenario?