Sandra Cormier always loved the arts and aspired to be a famous painter one day. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that she stumbled into the world of writing and never left it.
Now a few books later, Sandra is hard at work on her mystery MALLET and is shopping a YA book to agents. We catch up with the Ontario writer in the below Q&A.
NG: Yours is an interesting path: you have a passion for horses, painting and graphic design, and photography. Where does writing fit into the mix?
SC: I don’t know if it was being a Gemini or a middle child, but I had always explored multiple avenues of creativity. My mother was a painter and a singer, but never pursued a career. My father was an accountant. The creative spark came from my mother, but my dad always knows how to turn a phrase. Continue reading →
This is a guest post by urban fantasy author and Book Country member Jamie Wyman (@BeeGirlBlue).
You can’t have a conversation about humor in fiction without bringing up Christopher Moore. With more than a dozen books to his credit, he’s had decades to perfect the craft of writing with deep stories with charming levity.
My first experience with Moore’s work was a few years back when someone handed me LAMB. It was advertised as the “Gospel according to Biff, Christ’s childhood pal”. Based on that alone, I was willing to give it a shot. Within the first chapter I’d laughed out loud at least five times. And it just got funnier. You might wonder how someone can take something like the New Testament and make it funny, but Moore pulled it off superbly.
Funny memoirs are hot right now: from David Sedaris to Tina Fey to Chelsea Handler to Bloggess, this is the age of the popular funny book. To get some tips on how to write humor, we turned to famous WireTap radio host and I’LL SEIZE THE DAY TOMORROW author Jonathan Goldstein, whom Sedaris calls “one of the funniest and most original writers I can think of.”
NG: I’LL SEIZE THE DAY TOMORROW is structured as a series of diary entries from the year before you turn forty. How did you go about writing it: did you actually put pen to paper every single week?
JG: A lot of the material in the book was drawn from the weekly column I do for The National Post, so that forces me to write each week. It’s an amazing gig that allows me to write about whatever I want, though I usually keep it to sandwiches, television, and candy. I’ve been writing it for over 5 years and, almost like an OCD thing, I’ve never failed to get one in, never missed a deadline. I number each one and the most recent one was #308.
NG: Your radio show, WireTap, is produced for the ear. How did you modify your writing for a reading audience?
JG: Writing for the radio is often about keeping people from turning the station or keeping them from giving more focus to whatever else they’re doing as they listen. You’re fighting for their attention, whereas writing for the page assumes having a person’s full attention as a part of the writer-reader agreement. This allows you to be more digressive and expansive–some might say more rich and literary, others, more arty and indulgent.
You’re new to the site. Perhaps you’ve already checked out our post about how to get started on Book Country, browsed through our FAQs, and you’ve checked out our video tutorials. You’ve given writing feedback to one project on Book Country and have uploaded your own. Now the waiting game begins. “How do I get people to read and review my book?” you wonder. There are several ways. Read on.
On Saturday, Book Country creator Molly Barton was a guest on NPR’s “On the Media” to talk about Book Country and the wonderful writers who are part of it. For the segment, she was joined by one of our titular members, Carl E. Reed, who shared his experience of the site with the “On the Media” audience.
We thought Carl’s appearance on national radio was a good time to catch up with what’s been going on in his writing life. Be sure to check out the NPR interview—embedded below for your convenience—and share your impressions with Carl later.
NG: You were our inaugural spotlight back in 2011. What’s new since we last chatted?
CR: I have a gained a television! And lost sixty pounds. I’m sure these two facts are in no way related. Or—dum-dum-da DUMMMM!—are they?
Infusing humor in your writing is a smart way to get readers to stick around. Who doesn’t enjoy good comic relief? Yet there is no recipe to make a book funny; “funny” is easy to spot but harder to recreate.
That’s why I decided to look at books I’ve read in the past month and study the strategies they’ve used to make me smile, chuckle, and even hoot with laughter.
Humor & Character
Humor can affect the way we perceive a character, appeal to our sympathies. WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE by Maria Semple is about a mother who retreats from the world. Kooky Bernadette is pretty hard to like at times, but her zaniness is steeped with so much humor that I couldn’t help but like her a little. To avoid interacting with other people, she hires a seventy-five-cent-per-hour virtual personal assistant from India to do her shopping for her and organize her life. Bernadette affectionately refers to the other mothers at her daughter’s school as gnats. She can spend hours fuming over the design of Seattle roads. Humor softens up Bernadette’s edges, brings out her humanity. It heightens her character in a way that is almost loveable. Bernadette has flaws but is not unsalvageable.
At Book Country, we really believe that in writing, there are no absolute rules. Since we want to become better writers via conversation and true engagement with other writers, we take pains to avoid being didactic about what writers should or shouldn’t do.
That said, Nevena and I do agree on one hard and fast rule:
Every writer should be reading David Sedaris, especially writers who want their work to be funny!
The Book Country Discussion Boards are where members can talk to each other about the craft of writing and the business of publishing. It’s a great place to start getting to know other Book Country members, and find all kinds of writing tools, tips, and food for thought.
But it’s much more than a writing resource: it’s where you can have real conversations with your fellow members—find encouragement, advice, or just have fun. The Discussion Boards are like the little cozy café where you can chat about anything from revision strategies to manuscript word count to just geeking out. Continue reading →
September seemed so far away when we set the challenge to write 53,000 words this summer. I wasn’t sure how many people would want to spend the best days of the year inside at their desks, toiling away on the work that must be written.
Some of us wrote 53,000 words. Some of us wrote half of that. Some of wrote more than 53,000. Some of us edited. Some of us went from piece to piece. Some of us tried things we hadn’t tried before. Some of us established a daily writing habit. Some of us wrote more than we ever had before. Everyone was an inspiration.