Brooklyn Book Festival – SAVE THE DATE!

The fifth anniversary of the Brooklyn Book Festival will take place on Sunday, September 12, with an all-star literary lineup, including Salman Rushdie, Mary Gaitskill, Colson Whitehead, Paul Auster, Rosanne Cash, Paul Krugman, Gary Shteyngart, Francine Prose, Dennis Lehane, Jonathan Lethem, Pete Hamill, Jennifer Egan, Russell Banks, Michael Connelly, John Hodgman, Kristen Schaal, Thurston Moore, Sam Lipsyte, Sloane Crosley, Sandra Rodriguez and Paul Harding and many, many more, as well as Children’s and Young Adult Lit stars like Rebecca Stead, Sara Shepard, Jacqueline Woodson, and Jon Scieszka. The Festival is a free, literary celebration featuring more than 200 national and international authors in readings and panel discussions. Always diverse, thought-provoking and lively, this premier literary event welcomes more than 30,000 attendees from around the world. The Brooklyn Book Festival is an initiative of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn Tourism, and the Brooklyn Literary Council.
The Brooklyn Book Festival is expanding this year to include three days of special literary events that “bookend” the Festival—September 10, 11 and 12. Look for unique and fun Brooklyn Book Festival BOOKEND EVENTS in partnership with BAM, Bell House, The Brooklyn Kitchen, Brooklyn Public Library, Greenlight Bookstore, Littlefield, St. Ann’s Warehouse, PEN American Center, Irondale Center, powerHouse Books, Debut Lit, WORD, Light Industry, Triple Canopy, Mainspring Collective…and more partners and more info about events coming soon!
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Guest Blogger ~ Rachel Hauck

Rachel Hauck is a multi-published author living in sunny central Florida with her husband, Tony, a pastor. They have two ornery pets. She is a graduate of Ohio State University and a huge Buckeyes football fan. Rachel serves the writing community as a member of the Advisory Board of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).
Brainstorming & Up the Tension
Last year while visiting with Ane Mulligan, we brainstormed her work-in-progress.
Her story centered around two women and a wonderful supporting cast.
As we discussed one of the main characters, I asked Ane, “Tell me about her husband? What’s his issue?”
“Oh, well, he really doesn’t have one.”
“Give him a problem. All characters need a problem.”
Ane took my advice, gave the husband a problem and it added depth to the heroine’s story.
It sounds kind of simple to say, “All characters need a problem,” but it’s so easy to forget.
While writing The Sweet By and By with country artist Sara Evans, I created a secondary character, Lillabeth, who worked in the protagonist, Jade’s, vintage shop.
Initially the teen was to be a sounding board, someone Jade could talk to and tell her story. Lillabeth was cute and sweet, but kind of boring.
My editor asked me to give Lillabeth an issue to deal with⎯ a secret, a want, a problem.
As I worked out her story, it hit me. Every character has a problem.
Here’s how it changed my story. Lillabeth went from a lively, basketball playing teen who came to work on time and empathized with Jade to a worried young woman who quit the basketball team and asked Jade to let her work as much as possible. Money became a part of Lillabeth’s dialog whenever she was on the page.
Why? She’d wrecked her friend’s car and didn’t want her parents to know. She needed money to pay for the repairs.
Not a big issue right? Wouldn’t knock the literary world on it’s ear, but it did change the way my secondary character filled the page.
She was more interesting and impacting to my heroine. After awhile, Jade confronted her and learned the truth.
This problem rounded out the story and added a texture that made the story more interesting and fun to read.
Writing Lillabeth’s scenes and dialog became more engaging to me.
Take a step back from your work. Do you have secondary characters with no goal other than round out the protagonist life?
Even a receptionist at your hero’s office can have a problem. Every morning he walks in the lobby and greets Betty. Great if all she says to him is “Hello, have a nice day.”
But what if Betty quits greeting him with any life in her voice? What if her roots are growing out in her hair. Does he notice she’s lost a lot of weight? Or gained weight? Has she gone from a cheerful disposition to one of sadness?
Finally, the protagonist asks her, “Is everything okay?”
And her story floods out.
We like a hero who cares about others. Especially when things in his life aren’t going well. But we also take advantage of a minor secondary character to add texture and layers to the story.
My mom used to needlepoint. After she’d popped the needed and thread through a thousand tiny holes to make a picture, she back stitched the design with black thread so the image became clear and distinct.
Giving every character a problem in a story is like backstitching. It’s a technique, a texture, that enables the main characters and story stand out.
Considering if your secondary character needs a problem:
1. Evaluate the role of your secondary characters. When in a scene with your protagonist do they have significant dialog? Then they need a problem. Walk on characters like the mailman or UPS driver don’t need a problem.
2. Are you struggling with tension when your protagonist is talking to a secondary character? In Ane’s story, she was struggling with her protagonist when she was in a home setting. I suggested giving her husband a problems and it raised the level of tension.
3. The story feels flat. Every morning your protagonist walks into his office building and says “Hi” to the receptionist. By the time you’ve finished the book, he’s said hi to her thirty times. Give her a problem.
4. Perhaps you’re really good at giving your characters problems. Consider creating a character without problems but who acts as comic relief. She’s always doing something crazy or suggesting a wild adventures to the protagonist.
5. When you find yourself not caring about a secondary character. Eliminate him from the story or give him a problem
Hope these humble tips help. Happy writing.
Jade Fitzgerald left the pain of her past in the dust when she headed out for college a decade ago. Now she’s thriving in her career and glowing in the light of Max Benson’s love.
But then Jade’s hippie mother, Beryl Hill, arrives in Whisper Hollow, Tennessee, for Jade’s wedding along with Willow, her wild younger sister. Their arrival forces Jade to throw open the dark closets of her past–the insecurity of living with a restless, wandering mother, the silence of her absent father, and the heart-ripping pain of first-love’s rejection.
Turns out Beryl has a secret of her own. She needs reconciliation with her oldest daughter before illness takes her life. In the final days leading to the wedding, Jade meets the One who shows her that the past has no hold on her future. With a little grace, they’ll meet in the middle, maybe even before that sweet by and by.

Novel Journey Editorial Launches

I’ve been editing others for years as well as being edited myself, so launching Novel Journey Editorial feels like a natural progression.

I’m one of those people who enjoys the rewrite more than the first draft because this is where I can really make my work shine, with exactly the right word or turn of phrase.

Rates are reasonable and can be found HERE.

So, if you’re tired of close but no cigar with submitting your work to publishers, and you’re ready to take it to the next level send me an email. I’d love to work with you.

“With a few deft strokes of her red editing pen, Gina Holmes offers insight and clarity to an author’s work. Her keen eye and talent for maximizing the written word made my work shine!” Elizabeth Ludwig, Love Finds You in Calico, California.

Weddings, Wakes and Whitefish~ Sally John

Sally John is the author of sixteen novels, including the three popular series: The Other Way Home, In a Heartbeat, and The Beach House. Her stories run the gamut from small-town dynamics to Chicago emergency personnel to Pacific beach epiphanies. Initially inspired to write after penning a computer software manual, Sally has also published nonfiction articles, and she speaks at workshops and conferences about writing and family issues. Three-time finalist for The Christy Award, former teacher, and Illinois native, she lives in Southern California with her husband Tim. Writing fiction takes a backseat only to her cherished roles of wife, mom, mom-in-law, and grandma.
Weddings, Wakes, and Wisconsin Whitefish
How do you tell your editors—six weeks before a twice-extended deadline—that you no longer give a hoot whether your characters ever resolve their issues? That as a matter of fact, if they walked off into the sunset, you would laugh and laugh until your sides ached?
This had never happened to me before. For me, writing fiction is life and the rest is just details. I’d rather be writing fiction than doing almost anything else. The line between real life and make believe life has blurred to the point that “real life” is the one in my imagination. All that other business tends to be ho-hum or annoying.
Then my daughter got married.
My son’s wedding several years before hers did not affect me in the same way. A mother-daughter thing? Or the fact that his was on the beach and hers was traditional church and slew of attendants? I don’t know. Suffice it to say this one undid me.
The buildup to the wedding was not to blame. Elizabeth basically organized the event singlehandedly. My role was simple. I made two pre-wedding trips from California to Iowa and “mommied” her. Most days while she taught, I sat in her apartment, wrote, and did her laundry. The only interruptions were the UPS man’s knock and the cat’s attempts to walk across my keyboard.
So far, so good. As usual, my heart hummed along, recording moments and emotions to draw upon later for future stories. In the meantime, I slashed away at my heroine, ripping apart every support system she had. I took her to Vogler’s darkest cave. She made it through. She began her journey home, armed with lessons learned and determination to live them out. Then the unthinkable happened and she was truly crushed.
Ah. It was the perfect time to leave the story and enjoy the wedding. Afterwards, I could put her back together and carry her safely home, easy breezy.
The week of wedding festivities translated into an indescribable joy and I learned an important lesson: indescribable joy is not fodder for fiction.
Nope. Pain is. As are fear, anger, terror, uncertainty, sadness, and doubt.
Not only was every difficult thought and emotion missing from this wedding experience, they were annihilated from my being. I went home and grinned at my desk, not writing a word, remembering the ceremony, the family and friends, the laughter, the dinner, the luscious Midwest spring day, my husband in his tux, my glowing daughter and son-in-law, my precious granddaughters in their flower girl dresses.
I was satiated.
In the fifteen years that I’ve been immersed in writing fiction, nothing has stopped the process. Of course there have been intrusions and obstacles and delays, but life always fueled the work.
There was the season of two teenagers. The empty nest. My father’s last days and death. Our nephew’s cancer diagnosis. A significant marital struggle and healing. The cross-country move from Illinois to California. The wildfire that destroyed our house and every memento we had so recently and so carefully packed while pitching everything that didn’t matter. The loss of our twenty-seven year old nephew.
All of it carved within me a hole, a longing for something that is beyond words. And, as you fiction writers know, this is where story begins, in that place where there are no words.
I grinned for days on end. The writing floundered. Real, real life had poked its amazing essence into my imagination and I could scarcely remember my heroine’s name.
But I didn’t want to worry my editors. Reminding myself that the secret to writing success is showing up, I just showed up, day in and day out. I wrote junk. I deleted. I wrote some more junk. I recalled unpleasantness, like the taste of boiled whitefish in Wisconsin thirty-some years before and the endurance test not only of that meal but of sharing vacation time with my in-laws.
Eventually the wedding receded. My heroine once again tugged at my heartstrings. Real life got back to normal.
I think my editors had an inkling of what was to come. When I first told them about wedding plans, they laughed and offered to extend the deadline. God bless those wise women.
With the flash of a bullet, Sheridan Montgomery’s world ceased to exist.
Her husband, Eliot – the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela – may have physically survived the assassination attempt, but he would never be the same again. And Sheridan had accepted that neither would their marriage.
But when a man that Sheridan had hoped to never see again brings new information about her past, it spins her life down a side road—a path that makes her question everything she thought she knew about herself, her husband, and their life together.
Does a promise last forever when everything has changed? With honesty and grace, best-selling author Sally John tells a moving story about the unexpected detours our lives can take and the hope that it’s never too late to find our way back.
“A wonderful story about the twin truths that forgiveness is costly but love can meet the expense head-on. Sally John is an insightful, inspiring storyteller.”
-Susan Meissner, author of The Shape of Mercy