Thursday, March 30, 2017

I'm delighted to share with you my latest release, a giant collection of writing prompts! The 1001 in the title is literal. There are precisely 1,001 prompts, covering 40 emotions, hundreds of "pivotal moments" and a few hundred character development questions.

Whether you need some inspiration to start a new project, delve deeper into an existing one, or simply add a no-pressure warm up to your routine, there's something here for you!

Throughout the month of April, I will be sharing 26 prompts from the book as part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Until then, Here's a description, and some images of the available formats.


1001 Evocative Prompts for Fiction Writers

Evocative /əˈväkədiv/ — Bringing strong images, memories, or feelings to mind.

Ideas, emotions, images, intriguing questions, perplexing dilemmas—these are the raw materials from which great stories are built.

1001 Evocative Prompts will stimulate your thinking wherever you are in your writing journey and get you writing today. It provides story starts and writing inspiration for a wide variety of genres by focusing on emotions, character development, and pivotal moments.

You can face a blank page with confidence when you use these prompts to warm up, beat writer’s block, develop and maintain a writing habit, change up your routine, start a new project, experiment in a new genre, deepen parts of an existing story, or overcome burnout.


What are you waiting for? Dig in and get writing right now!


This book comes in three formats to accommodate a variety of work styles.

For the budget conscious and on-the-go writer, use the economical e-book that can be loaded onto your phone, tablet or e-reader.

For the tactile writer on a budget, choose the condensed pocket edition paperback.

Sample of the pocket edition interior


For the longhand writer who wants to stay organized, choose the workbook edition.

Workbook interior -- 8" x 10" pages with room to write.



Add it on Goodreads

e-book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Apple iTunes / KoboSmashwords

Pocket paperback (5"x 8", 114 pp.) Amazon / Barnes and NobleCreateSpace

Workbook (8"x 10", 426 pp.) Amazon / Barnes and NobleCreateSpace



Wonder why writing prompts can be a helpful tool, no matter where you are in your writing journey? Check out my guest post, 5 Reasons to Write with Prompts!

Thursday, March 30, 2017 Laurel Garver
I'm delighted to share with you my latest release, a giant collection of writing prompts! The 1001 in the title is literal. There are precisely 1,001 prompts, covering 40 emotions, hundreds of "pivotal moments" and a few hundred character development questions.

Whether you need some inspiration to start a new project, delve deeper into an existing one, or simply add a no-pressure warm up to your routine, there's something here for you!

Throughout the month of April, I will be sharing 26 prompts from the book as part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Until then, Here's a description, and some images of the available formats.


1001 Evocative Prompts for Fiction Writers

Evocative /əˈväkədiv/ — Bringing strong images, memories, or feelings to mind.

Ideas, emotions, images, intriguing questions, perplexing dilemmas—these are the raw materials from which great stories are built.

1001 Evocative Prompts will stimulate your thinking wherever you are in your writing journey and get you writing today. It provides story starts and writing inspiration for a wide variety of genres by focusing on emotions, character development, and pivotal moments.

You can face a blank page with confidence when you use these prompts to warm up, beat writer’s block, develop and maintain a writing habit, change up your routine, start a new project, experiment in a new genre, deepen parts of an existing story, or overcome burnout.


What are you waiting for? Dig in and get writing right now!


This book comes in three formats to accommodate a variety of work styles.

For the budget conscious and on-the-go writer, use the economical e-book that can be loaded onto your phone, tablet or e-reader.

For the tactile writer on a budget, choose the condensed pocket edition paperback.

Sample of the pocket edition interior


For the longhand writer who wants to stay organized, choose the workbook edition.

Workbook interior -- 8" x 10" pages with room to write.



Add it on Goodreads

e-book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Apple iTunes / KoboSmashwords

Pocket paperback (5"x 8", 114 pp.) Amazon / Barnes and NobleCreateSpace

Workbook (8"x 10", 426 pp.) Amazon / Barnes and NobleCreateSpace



Wonder why writing prompts can be a helpful tool, no matter where you are in your writing journey? Check out my guest post, 5 Reasons to Write with Prompts!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Jot in its verb form means “to write something quickly.” In its noun form, it means “a very small amount.” Put them together and you have a brainstorming method that’s all about brevity and speed. You simply come up with as many ideas as you can quickly and record them.

Where you’re working may dictate how you choose to record your jots. You can keep similarly themed jots on a journal page, store them in a memo program on your phone, or put jots on individual notecards.

Jots can be a wonderful precursor to any other brainstorming technique. Jotting is especially helpful for preparing to diagram (aka mind-map), a way of visually organizing ideas.

Jotting can be approached through a macro or micro approach, depending where you are in the process of writing. Generally, early in the process, you’ll need to jot broad ideas, and later, details.

Macro-level jotting exercises

Write as many possible answers to the following questions as fast as you can

  • Who is my main character, inside and out?
  • What is this story actually about? What's the themeatic thrust? (e.g. love, risk, healing, community, maturation, etc.) 
  • What is the nature of my hero’s journey? Away from what and toward what?
  • What other kinds of characters does this story need?
  • What events might happen in this story?
  • What elements does my setting need?
  • What possible outcomes or resolutions would fit this story?
  • How can I make this story unique?
  • What might this story be about thematically?
  • What do I need to research to make this story believable?

Micro-level jotting exercises

Tackle any of the questions below, focusing on unwritten parts of the story, places where you’re stuck, or revision problems. Generate as many possible ideas as you can quickly.

Characterization

  • What are my characters' their deepest wounds, beliefs, needs and fears?
  • What are their weaknesses, vices, pet peeves, and dislikes? 
  • What are their passions, dreams, core competencies, and interests?
  • What important past experiences have shaped them?
  • What key relationships have helped and/or harmed them?
  • How do secondary characters relate to primary ones?

Dialogue

  • How does my character sound? Formal or informal? Intellectual, moderately educated, street-smart, down-home, innocent/naive, or mentally challenged?
  • What key phrases does s/he use often? What colorful slang, expletives, or axioms does s/he use?
  • What words would s/he never use? 
  • What is the rhythm of his/her speech? Is it forceful, terse, rambling, melodic, hesitant, stuttering?
  • How dominant or passive is s/he in conversation?
  • How direct or indirect is s/he in expressing appreciation, affection, needs, wants, dissatisfaction or anger?
  • What methods does s/he use to persuade others? 

Plot

  • What is my protagonist’s ultimate goal? How might it change in the course of the story?
  • What natural obstacles might block my protagonist? 
  • What are unusual obstacles that might fit my story world?
  • What are obvious ways to overcome the obstacles? What are unusual or unexpected ways to overcome the obstacles?
  • How can I best harness relationships to drive the story actions?
  • What are the absolute worst things that could happen to this particular protagonist?
  • What solutions would create the most inner conflict for my protagonist?

Setting

  • What place would provide the most useful backdrop to my characters and plot?
  • What unique features of the setting shape my characters?
  • What unique features of my setting could provide catalysts for my plot?
  • What home environment would my character set up for him/herself?

Theme

  • What virtues will I advocate and reward? 
  • What vices will I criticize and punish? 
  • What symbols best illustrate my theme?
  • What other literature or films can I allude to that have elements that could support my theme?

Revisions

  • Where are my characters behaving in ways that seem to not fit the situation: overreacting, underreacting, or otherwise veering from a truly natural reaction?
  • Where do my characters seem boring? What aspects of their inner worlds and relationships could I play up in those scenes? 
  • What characters aren’t pulling their weight? How could I eliminate them or combine them with an existing character?
  • What plot elements feel out of the blue? How could I better prepare for them?
  • Where does the story feel rushed? Where could I add breathing room? Which relationship or plot point could be built in a quiet scene?
  • Where is the story dragging? What extraneous material could be cut to speed up the pacing? Where could a complication or crisis be added?
  • Where is the tension falling flat? What are some ways I can raise questions, raise stakes or raise conflict?

Post-jot processing

Sort your jots by topic, gathering related material. If you worked with notecards, simply separate jots into distinct piles. If you jotted on larger paper on into a device, you may wish to transfer the information as you sort it.  First identify the ideas that excite you most. Next determine which ideas might have potential. Finally, identify the clunkers.

Once you’ve pared down to the best ideas, continue developing them using one of the following brainstorming techniques. As needed, go back to the “has potential” pile.

How might you make use of jot brainstorming? What part of the story planning process is most challenging for you?

Thursday, March 23, 2017 Laurel Garver
Jot in its verb form means “to write something quickly.” In its noun form, it means “a very small amount.” Put them together and you have a brainstorming method that’s all about brevity and speed. You simply come up with as many ideas as you can quickly and record them.

Where you’re working may dictate how you choose to record your jots. You can keep similarly themed jots on a journal page, store them in a memo program on your phone, or put jots on individual notecards.

Jots can be a wonderful precursor to any other brainstorming technique. Jotting is especially helpful for preparing to diagram (aka mind-map), a way of visually organizing ideas.

Jotting can be approached through a macro or micro approach, depending where you are in the process of writing. Generally, early in the process, you’ll need to jot broad ideas, and later, details.

Macro-level jotting exercises

Write as many possible answers to the following questions as fast as you can

  • Who is my main character, inside and out?
  • What is this story actually about? What's the themeatic thrust? (e.g. love, risk, healing, community, maturation, etc.) 
  • What is the nature of my hero’s journey? Away from what and toward what?
  • What other kinds of characters does this story need?
  • What events might happen in this story?
  • What elements does my setting need?
  • What possible outcomes or resolutions would fit this story?
  • How can I make this story unique?
  • What might this story be about thematically?
  • What do I need to research to make this story believable?

Micro-level jotting exercises

Tackle any of the questions below, focusing on unwritten parts of the story, places where you’re stuck, or revision problems. Generate as many possible ideas as you can quickly.

Characterization

  • What are my characters' their deepest wounds, beliefs, needs and fears?
  • What are their weaknesses, vices, pet peeves, and dislikes? 
  • What are their passions, dreams, core competencies, and interests?
  • What important past experiences have shaped them?
  • What key relationships have helped and/or harmed them?
  • How do secondary characters relate to primary ones?

Dialogue

  • How does my character sound? Formal or informal? Intellectual, moderately educated, street-smart, down-home, innocent/naive, or mentally challenged?
  • What key phrases does s/he use often? What colorful slang, expletives, or axioms does s/he use?
  • What words would s/he never use? 
  • What is the rhythm of his/her speech? Is it forceful, terse, rambling, melodic, hesitant, stuttering?
  • How dominant or passive is s/he in conversation?
  • How direct or indirect is s/he in expressing appreciation, affection, needs, wants, dissatisfaction or anger?
  • What methods does s/he use to persuade others? 

Plot

  • What is my protagonist’s ultimate goal? How might it change in the course of the story?
  • What natural obstacles might block my protagonist? 
  • What are unusual obstacles that might fit my story world?
  • What are obvious ways to overcome the obstacles? What are unusual or unexpected ways to overcome the obstacles?
  • How can I best harness relationships to drive the story actions?
  • What are the absolute worst things that could happen to this particular protagonist?
  • What solutions would create the most inner conflict for my protagonist?

Setting

  • What place would provide the most useful backdrop to my characters and plot?
  • What unique features of the setting shape my characters?
  • What unique features of my setting could provide catalysts for my plot?
  • What home environment would my character set up for him/herself?

Theme

  • What virtues will I advocate and reward? 
  • What vices will I criticize and punish? 
  • What symbols best illustrate my theme?
  • What other literature or films can I allude to that have elements that could support my theme?

Revisions

  • Where are my characters behaving in ways that seem to not fit the situation: overreacting, underreacting, or otherwise veering from a truly natural reaction?
  • Where do my characters seem boring? What aspects of their inner worlds and relationships could I play up in those scenes? 
  • What characters aren’t pulling their weight? How could I eliminate them or combine them with an existing character?
  • What plot elements feel out of the blue? How could I better prepare for them?
  • Where does the story feel rushed? Where could I add breathing room? Which relationship or plot point could be built in a quiet scene?
  • Where is the story dragging? What extraneous material could be cut to speed up the pacing? Where could a complication or crisis be added?
  • Where is the tension falling flat? What are some ways I can raise questions, raise stakes or raise conflict?

Post-jot processing

Sort your jots by topic, gathering related material. If you worked with notecards, simply separate jots into distinct piles. If you jotted on larger paper on into a device, you may wish to transfer the information as you sort it.  First identify the ideas that excite you most. Next determine which ideas might have potential. Finally, identify the clunkers.

Once you’ve pared down to the best ideas, continue developing them using one of the following brainstorming techniques. As needed, go back to the “has potential” pile.

How might you make use of jot brainstorming? What part of the story planning process is most challenging for you?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Today's guest, Dusty Crabtree, shared with us last summer her experience of going indie after her small press publisher folded  (see that post HERE). Today she's here to talk about the long-awaited sequel the releases this month. Take it away, Dusty...

Angels and demons in Dusty's Shadow Eyes series 
I am super excited to finally release the next installment in the Shadow Eyes Series, Luminous Spirits! I apologize to anyone who read the first version of Shadow Eyes five years ago and who had to wait that long for the sequel. This book is dedicated to you. 

Tell us a little about your story and the story world you've created. 
Well, essentially, it’s a world where angels and demons exist around us in the form of light figures and dark shadows that vary in shape, size, texture, etc. Some of the shadows are just foggy masses, while others are dark silhouettes with human-like features. Check out the synopsis to Shadow Eyes for more details about the story.

What are some comparison titles of books or movies (or mashups of the two) similar to this novel? 
The Mortal Instruments series, The Evermore series, The Hush Hush series

Many authors find it was harder to write their second book than their first. Was that the case for you? Why or why not? 
Yes and no. Yes, because it was a challenge to make sure it was as intriguing and mysterious as the first one. From what I’ve heard so far, luckily, I think I’ve succeeded! But the plot details were difficult to get where I wanted them to be. The plot of the first book just fell together! However, writing the sequel was somewhat easier because as Shadow Eyes was my first novel, I was still basically learning how to write. The more you learn how to do something, the easier it is, right? So, the flow of writing was definitely easier for Luminous Spirits.

What is your favorite part of your artistic process? What is most difficult?
I love getting into the flow of writing. You know, where you sit for hours on end, so engrossed in the story that’s seamlessly unfolding from your mind that you get to the point where you’ve run out of water long ago, your throat is parched, and you really, really have to pee, but you don’t get up because you’re in the zone!

On the flipside, I don’t know if this would be considered part of the “artistic process,” but I’m not a fan promoting. It’s just so darn time-consuming! Also, with the increase of technology, with new social media sites going up every day, and with the market evolving, authors have to research and keep up with the different, successful methods people are using to promote. Marketing and promoting is a crazy world for an author!

How did you land on YA paranormal as your genre? 
I’ve always been a fan, even as a young child, of the magical and fantastic. But I wasn’t really into the types of fantasy stories that took place in other worlds. I loved to read and watch stories that took place in our world so that I could imagine it happening to me. I remember, after watching The Phantom Toll Booth as an 8-year-old, riding around my neighborhood and then coming back to my house, hoping there’d be a magic tollbooth in my living room. More recently when I really got back into reading for fun, the paranormal and urban fantasy reeled me in for the same reason. It’s fantastic and interesting but set in a real world so that you can easily imagine yourself in the story.

Who are your favorite authors and why? 
Top 3: 3) Becca Fitzpatrick (Hush Hush series) – I fell in love with her writing style and the way she weaves her stories so seamlessly.

2) Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games series) – I absolutely loved Hunger Games! I loved the crazy yet realistic and poignant world she created, as well as one of the best female protagonists ever.

1) Neil Shusterman (Unwind series) – I mean, seriously…can this guy be any more amazing? The way he is able to write so many different characters and give each one, even minor ones, a unique voice just blows me away! Add to that the amazingly sick and twisted yet intriguing world he created with the Unwind series and he has become my favorite author. I even use a lot of excerpts from his books as examples in my creative writing class.

What special challenges did you face making your story stand out from others in the genre? 
Honestly, I think my challenges are because of my story and its unique genre. The YA urban fantasy/paranormal genre is a pretty big one that has a very diverse audience. My series is unique, however, in that it has a spiritual twist or undertone if you will. It’s not an overtly Christian series – it’s a little too racy for that and never actually refers to anything religious (other than demons and angels, of course). But I do try to approach Iris’s world and how she copes with life with a Christian worldview in mind, or even just a moral mindset. My stories ride the line between spiritual/moral and edgy/gritty. I love this and really feel there is a need and desire for this middle-ground, but it also creates some challenges when trying to promote and get reviewers since it’s such a unique sub-genre.

What was the best investment you ever made in your writing? 
Money-wise? Not sure yet. Time-wise…going back and entirely revising Shadow Eyes before republishing it after Musa Publishing went under. Being my first book, it had some flaws. After having worked on the sequel with an awesome editor, I learned so much that I wanted to apply to my first book. Once I had the chance to make those changes instead of just automatically republishing, I went for it! And I’m so glad I did!

image credit: melcandea for Morguefile

About the Author


Dusty Crabtree loves a good story, but she also loves young people. These two loves are evident in all parts of her life. She has been a high school English teacher since 2006 and a creative writing teacher since 2014. She's also been a youth sponsor at her local church for as long as she’s been teaching. She feels very blessed with the amazing opportunities she has to develop meaningful relationships with teens on a daily basis. With her love of reading in the mix, becoming an author of young adult books was just a natural development of those two passions in her life. She lives with her husband, Clayton, in Yukon, Oklahoma, where they often serve their community as foster parents.

Connect with Dusty: blog / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

About the Book


Luminous Spirits
genre: YA urban fantasy

Old habits die hard. Old enemies, even harder.

Iris must now perfect her newfound abilities in order to help her shadow-oppressed family and friends, but more importantly, she must prepare for an impending fight with her most hated adversary. After the arrival of a new mean girl who seems to have history with Iris’s boyfriend, Iris quickly figures out that she is anything but the typical mean girl. She not only creates havoc and conflict among Iris and her friends, but her presence also means that Iris’s inevitable confrontation with her enemy may, in fact, be closer than she thought.

If Iris can figure out why the new girl is there and what her enemy is planning, she’ll at least be one step ahead of their game. But will she be ready when the time comes to face her biggest challenge yet? Or will they succeed in tearing Iris apart before she even has the chance?

Amazon (ebook or print)



Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway



What challenges have you had with series, sequels, or new projects?
Thursday, March 16, 2017 Laurel Garver
Today's guest, Dusty Crabtree, shared with us last summer her experience of going indie after her small press publisher folded  (see that post HERE). Today she's here to talk about the long-awaited sequel the releases this month. Take it away, Dusty...

Angels and demons in Dusty's Shadow Eyes series 
I am super excited to finally release the next installment in the Shadow Eyes Series, Luminous Spirits! I apologize to anyone who read the first version of Shadow Eyes five years ago and who had to wait that long for the sequel. This book is dedicated to you. 

Tell us a little about your story and the story world you've created. 
Well, essentially, it’s a world where angels and demons exist around us in the form of light figures and dark shadows that vary in shape, size, texture, etc. Some of the shadows are just foggy masses, while others are dark silhouettes with human-like features. Check out the synopsis to Shadow Eyes for more details about the story.

What are some comparison titles of books or movies (or mashups of the two) similar to this novel? 
The Mortal Instruments series, The Evermore series, The Hush Hush series

Many authors find it was harder to write their second book than their first. Was that the case for you? Why or why not? 
Yes and no. Yes, because it was a challenge to make sure it was as intriguing and mysterious as the first one. From what I’ve heard so far, luckily, I think I’ve succeeded! But the plot details were difficult to get where I wanted them to be. The plot of the first book just fell together! However, writing the sequel was somewhat easier because as Shadow Eyes was my first novel, I was still basically learning how to write. The more you learn how to do something, the easier it is, right? So, the flow of writing was definitely easier for Luminous Spirits.

What is your favorite part of your artistic process? What is most difficult?
I love getting into the flow of writing. You know, where you sit for hours on end, so engrossed in the story that’s seamlessly unfolding from your mind that you get to the point where you’ve run out of water long ago, your throat is parched, and you really, really have to pee, but you don’t get up because you’re in the zone!

On the flipside, I don’t know if this would be considered part of the “artistic process,” but I’m not a fan promoting. It’s just so darn time-consuming! Also, with the increase of technology, with new social media sites going up every day, and with the market evolving, authors have to research and keep up with the different, successful methods people are using to promote. Marketing and promoting is a crazy world for an author!

How did you land on YA paranormal as your genre? 
I’ve always been a fan, even as a young child, of the magical and fantastic. But I wasn’t really into the types of fantasy stories that took place in other worlds. I loved to read and watch stories that took place in our world so that I could imagine it happening to me. I remember, after watching The Phantom Toll Booth as an 8-year-old, riding around my neighborhood and then coming back to my house, hoping there’d be a magic tollbooth in my living room. More recently when I really got back into reading for fun, the paranormal and urban fantasy reeled me in for the same reason. It’s fantastic and interesting but set in a real world so that you can easily imagine yourself in the story.

Who are your favorite authors and why? 
Top 3: 3) Becca Fitzpatrick (Hush Hush series) – I fell in love with her writing style and the way she weaves her stories so seamlessly.

2) Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games series) – I absolutely loved Hunger Games! I loved the crazy yet realistic and poignant world she created, as well as one of the best female protagonists ever.

1) Neil Shusterman (Unwind series) – I mean, seriously…can this guy be any more amazing? The way he is able to write so many different characters and give each one, even minor ones, a unique voice just blows me away! Add to that the amazingly sick and twisted yet intriguing world he created with the Unwind series and he has become my favorite author. I even use a lot of excerpts from his books as examples in my creative writing class.

What special challenges did you face making your story stand out from others in the genre? 
Honestly, I think my challenges are because of my story and its unique genre. The YA urban fantasy/paranormal genre is a pretty big one that has a very diverse audience. My series is unique, however, in that it has a spiritual twist or undertone if you will. It’s not an overtly Christian series – it’s a little too racy for that and never actually refers to anything religious (other than demons and angels, of course). But I do try to approach Iris’s world and how she copes with life with a Christian worldview in mind, or even just a moral mindset. My stories ride the line between spiritual/moral and edgy/gritty. I love this and really feel there is a need and desire for this middle-ground, but it also creates some challenges when trying to promote and get reviewers since it’s such a unique sub-genre.

What was the best investment you ever made in your writing? 
Money-wise? Not sure yet. Time-wise…going back and entirely revising Shadow Eyes before republishing it after Musa Publishing went under. Being my first book, it had some flaws. After having worked on the sequel with an awesome editor, I learned so much that I wanted to apply to my first book. Once I had the chance to make those changes instead of just automatically republishing, I went for it! And I’m so glad I did!

image credit: melcandea for Morguefile

About the Author


Dusty Crabtree loves a good story, but she also loves young people. These two loves are evident in all parts of her life. She has been a high school English teacher since 2006 and a creative writing teacher since 2014. She's also been a youth sponsor at her local church for as long as she’s been teaching. She feels very blessed with the amazing opportunities she has to develop meaningful relationships with teens on a daily basis. With her love of reading in the mix, becoming an author of young adult books was just a natural development of those two passions in her life. She lives with her husband, Clayton, in Yukon, Oklahoma, where they often serve their community as foster parents.

Connect with Dusty: blog / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

About the Book


Luminous Spirits
genre: YA urban fantasy

Old habits die hard. Old enemies, even harder.

Iris must now perfect her newfound abilities in order to help her shadow-oppressed family and friends, but more importantly, she must prepare for an impending fight with her most hated adversary. After the arrival of a new mean girl who seems to have history with Iris’s boyfriend, Iris quickly figures out that she is anything but the typical mean girl. She not only creates havoc and conflict among Iris and her friends, but her presence also means that Iris’s inevitable confrontation with her enemy may, in fact, be closer than she thought.

If Iris can figure out why the new girl is there and what her enemy is planning, she’ll at least be one step ahead of their game. But will she be ready when the time comes to face her biggest challenge yet? Or will they succeed in tearing Iris apart before she even has the chance?

Amazon (ebook or print)



Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway



What challenges have you had with series, sequels, or new projects?

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Image by Charmaine Swart for morguefile
One of the most helpful things in researching Never Gone was attending a seminar on grief. The keynote speaker, Dr. Diane Langberg, discussed how grieving isn’t a linear process and it’s highly individual. The famous Kubler-Ross “phases of grief,” are often misinterpreted as a road map. Dr. Langberg said it’s helpful to re-label those “phases” as “faces.”

 Any bereaved person, whether terminally ill (the focus of Kubler-Ross’s work) or facing a job loss, divorce or death of a loved one, will cycle through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance at various times. Some steps may be skipped, some lingered over for extended periods. When grieving a death, the nature of that death will color the grief process. For example, in the case of a prolonged illness, some grieving happens prior to the death.

 I was particularly interested in exploring the immediate grief experience — those turbulent first weeks immediately after a death. Most grief fiction tends to enter the experience later and cover a longer time period than I do in Never Gone. My novel begins a few days after the protagonist loses her dad and the story covers approximately three weeks’ time. Danielle spends much of the story cycling through denial, anger, and bargaining. There are moments of depression and glimpses of what acceptance will look like when it fully flowers. Most of the deepest grief work is still to come for Dani, but the events of the novel prepare her to begin to earnestly do that work, rather than deny or flee from it.

Dani especially struggles with feelings of anger, in part because of her family history and culture, in part because she mistakenly believes that anger has no place in a life of faith. I hope this story will encourage kids growing up in a faith tradition that it’s okay to really wrestle with God in places of deep pain. One of Dani’s friends tells her, “I think God can handle it when we’re mad.” He goes on to point out that large chunks of scripture are at root complaints to God. The Psalmist and other saints of old give us models for talking (and hollering and crying) to our Creator honestly about our pain, which at root is an expression of faith that He hears, cares, comforts and makes things new.

(This post was originally written for the Rabble Writers blog, which has been suspended.)

Have your own experiences of grief borne out the idea that healing is not a linear process? What are the best stories you've read that involve a grieving character?
Thursday, March 09, 2017 Laurel Garver
Image by Charmaine Swart for morguefile
One of the most helpful things in researching Never Gone was attending a seminar on grief. The keynote speaker, Dr. Diane Langberg, discussed how grieving isn’t a linear process and it’s highly individual. The famous Kubler-Ross “phases of grief,” are often misinterpreted as a road map. Dr. Langberg said it’s helpful to re-label those “phases” as “faces.”

 Any bereaved person, whether terminally ill (the focus of Kubler-Ross’s work) or facing a job loss, divorce or death of a loved one, will cycle through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance at various times. Some steps may be skipped, some lingered over for extended periods. When grieving a death, the nature of that death will color the grief process. For example, in the case of a prolonged illness, some grieving happens prior to the death.

 I was particularly interested in exploring the immediate grief experience — those turbulent first weeks immediately after a death. Most grief fiction tends to enter the experience later and cover a longer time period than I do in Never Gone. My novel begins a few days after the protagonist loses her dad and the story covers approximately three weeks’ time. Danielle spends much of the story cycling through denial, anger, and bargaining. There are moments of depression and glimpses of what acceptance will look like when it fully flowers. Most of the deepest grief work is still to come for Dani, but the events of the novel prepare her to begin to earnestly do that work, rather than deny or flee from it.

Dani especially struggles with feelings of anger, in part because of her family history and culture, in part because she mistakenly believes that anger has no place in a life of faith. I hope this story will encourage kids growing up in a faith tradition that it’s okay to really wrestle with God in places of deep pain. One of Dani’s friends tells her, “I think God can handle it when we’re mad.” He goes on to point out that large chunks of scripture are at root complaints to God. The Psalmist and other saints of old give us models for talking (and hollering and crying) to our Creator honestly about our pain, which at root is an expression of faith that He hears, cares, comforts and makes things new.

(This post was originally written for the Rabble Writers blog, which has been suspended.)

Have your own experiences of grief borne out the idea that healing is not a linear process? What are the best stories you've read that involve a grieving character?

Thursday, March 02, 2017

A few summers ago, my hubby got into a low-speed collision that sent our car to the body shop. We are a one-car family, so this altered our routine significantly the few days we waited for rental car coverage to be approved. Even though we live a half mile from a transportation hub served by a dozen bus lines, we felt like our wings were clipped. Our usual five-minute drive to the pool suddenly turned into a 40-minute, two-bus trip, with a mile of walking thrown in. A quick cool-off became a major journey.

This got me thinking about plot complications. Some of my favorite books have gripping plots that start with a small inconvenience or missed connection.

That one small change ripples out.

It might delay or halt movement. It might place the characters at an out-of-routine place at an out-of-routine time. It might weaken them. Place them in greater danger. Test their mettle or their relationships.

Think about your daily routine, and what it might mean to change one thing. A middle-of-the-night, two-minute power outage might make your alarm clock reset itself. When morning comes and you oversleep, suddenly your very livelihood is at stake.

Here are some other contemporary setting ideas:
~No running water because of a system shut-down
~Street is blocked by fallen trees
~Car won't start
~Cell phone battery won't recharge anymore
~Transit union strike
~Computer virus
~Kid forgets his lunch or gym clothes

For you historic fic and fantasy writers:
~Horse is lamed or has colic
~Can't find dry firewood
~Canteen leaks
~Guard dog ate half the rations
~Tiny battle wound gets infected
~Fleas or bedbugs infest your clothes
~Servant has the flu

The possibilities are endless to jack up the tension in your story, starting from the very smallest inconvenience.

Have you ever tried the "change one thing" approach? What worked? What didn't?
Thursday, March 02, 2017 Laurel Garver
A few summers ago, my hubby got into a low-speed collision that sent our car to the body shop. We are a one-car family, so this altered our routine significantly the few days we waited for rental car coverage to be approved. Even though we live a half mile from a transportation hub served by a dozen bus lines, we felt like our wings were clipped. Our usual five-minute drive to the pool suddenly turned into a 40-minute, two-bus trip, with a mile of walking thrown in. A quick cool-off became a major journey.

This got me thinking about plot complications. Some of my favorite books have gripping plots that start with a small inconvenience or missed connection.

That one small change ripples out.

It might delay or halt movement. It might place the characters at an out-of-routine place at an out-of-routine time. It might weaken them. Place them in greater danger. Test their mettle or their relationships.

Think about your daily routine, and what it might mean to change one thing. A middle-of-the-night, two-minute power outage might make your alarm clock reset itself. When morning comes and you oversleep, suddenly your very livelihood is at stake.

Here are some other contemporary setting ideas:
~No running water because of a system shut-down
~Street is blocked by fallen trees
~Car won't start
~Cell phone battery won't recharge anymore
~Transit union strike
~Computer virus
~Kid forgets his lunch or gym clothes

For you historic fic and fantasy writers:
~Horse is lamed or has colic
~Can't find dry firewood
~Canteen leaks
~Guard dog ate half the rations
~Tiny battle wound gets infected
~Fleas or bedbugs infest your clothes
~Servant has the flu

The possibilities are endless to jack up the tension in your story, starting from the very smallest inconvenience.

Have you ever tried the "change one thing" approach? What worked? What didn't?