All posts by stephaniepqw

The Chronicler’s Safari

treasure_mapWhat happens when a writer feels empty? I’m not talking about writer’s block, or the times I can’t think of what a character should say or do next. I mean empty…like when there are no stories left in me.

This happens on occasions when I’ve been pushing really hard and have just completed a project, attended a book event, and participated in a panel for young writers all within a very  short time frame. In short I’m spent and I feel as I have been wrung dry of every story idea. If I were to sit in front of the computer nothing would happen, except maybe a game of solitaire or two.

It’s during times like these I am presented with a couple of choices: I can either sit in front of the television and become a vegetable or I can go on a story safari. It is often tempting to plant myself before the ‘one-eyed monster’ (as my mother called it), but the better, more exciting choice is to go on the hunt. So I pack my gear and head out into the story wilderness.

You might ask where that would be and what gear I need. I’ll start by listing the vital pieces of equipment needed on such a quest. My rucksack is filled with a digital camera for still photos and video and a digital recorder (a smartphone can be substituted for both of these items). I also carry a writing tablet, sketch pad, a couple of pencils (soft lead, of course), a bottle of water, and a protein bar.

The territory I cover is vast: the mall, the park, the movie theater, fast food restaurants, and these are just a few of the places I explore. When I get there I observe the denizen in their natural habitat. I make note of how they talk, the way they interact, and what they wear. I pay close attention to how they address or ignore their elders, especially how they whine and wheedle to get what they want. Without fail I come home with new story ideas.

Do I only go on safari when I’m empty? Absolutely not! I go out often because you ever know when a new idea will strike. Have my fans ever spotted me on one of my treks? As a matter of fact they have. They will often ask if I saw what just happened and will that be in one of my books. My answer is always: You never know what lurks in the heart and mind of a writer…the pages will tell the tale.

Writing is Not for the Timid, BUT…it May Be for Kids

Today I returned home from a weekend book festival. With the economy the way it is, sales weren’t the best but I learned an invaluable lesson. I met other authors like myself. Some of them even write for Teens and ‘Tweens. We talked about each others’ books and writing process. We bought and sold our wares from and to each other. We even compared out displays and marketing strategies. But this is not the lesson I’m talking about.

As I was setting up my table, a woman entered the room with several children and went about stacking books and putting up upright banners. One of the banners was double sided displaying a picture of two of her children – one of each side. At first my assumption was that this woman had written a couple of books and placed their pictures on the covers. But after watching her for a while I realized my assumptions were totally incorrect.

What I learned was that the children were the authors – ages 10 and 15. They started writing for different reasons and their books are written for the child and ‘Tween audience. Oh my gosh…and you should have seen them working the attendees. They were inviting the passersby to the booth, pitching their books, and doing a fantabulous (one of their words) job of it, too.

Later that day one of their siblings came to my table to purchase a book. We were having a very serious discussion about book marketing, promotions, and the importance of having a ‘clean’ manuscript. Some of her responses confused me. For clarification I asked her which of her siblings’ books she was referring to. Stacie (not her real name) said, “I’m talking about my own book. My mommie says I’m not old enough, yet. She says that I can’t publish until after my birthday next month. Then I’ll be 8.”

Needless to say, I just about fell off my chair. Stacie told me the premise of the book and I must say it’s a really good one. But I can’t share it. I’ve been sworn to secrecy. Honestly, watching these kids pitch and more than hold their own inviting the attendees to purchase their books was mind blowing. They have taught me a thing or four. And trust me, it wasn’t about their being cute! I think my days of whining about how difficult things are have come to an end.

kosi eneli madu eneliTake a look at their books, very serious authors.

 

 

 

I have definitely learned quite a bit this weekend thanks to the Eneli family. What about you?     –Stephanie Jefferson

Inspiration!

cloud formationAs an author, I am often asked, “What inspires you to write?” The answer to that is both simple and complex. I am motivated by many things. It could be something as small as an insect crawling on the ground, a cloud formation, or an emotion that was aroused within me.

As many of you may know, the PRINCESS KANDAKE series was inspired by my granddaughter. She wanted to be a princess and because I really have no tolerance for the messages of the typical princess stories, I felt compelled to create a totally different kind of princess. A story where the people are not surprised by the strength of her character or her determination and independence. But this is a post about inspiration, let me get back to that.

I recently watched a movie on television called The Magic of Belle Isle. I highly recommend it. The plot was fairly straightforward and well-acted about a struggling author and recently divorced mom. It was beautiful! It called to the story within me! It begged for me to write.

There have been many movies, books, or situations that have had this effect upon me. I am not sure how to explain it other than to say that something awakens within me and a story is born. It’s like a feeling of the fantastic, a yearning that must be expressed, the groaning of something yet to be given birth. In simpler terms, my creativity has been quickened and I must write, yet again.

The story I develop must be one that has appeal for my audience: action, struggles, light romance. This is not an easy thing to do. In everything I write, I must consider the age of my audience, being careful not to take them any farther than they are truly ready to go. And because my readers are savvy, intelligent beings, I include a tiny bit of life’s wisdom for them to chew on. I add something they can take away from the story that they can apply to their lives. This is regardless of whether the tale takes place in modern day, the ancient past, or far in the future. Honestly, sometimes that bit of wisdom is what can inspire a story.

So now I am writing a story about one of the characters in my PRINCESS KANDAKE series. I am not quite sure where it is leading, but I will follow wherever the character takes me and tell the story he lays before me. But I will tell you a tiny secret…the inspiration for this story is supporting others while building a life of your own and what that looks like when romance enters the picture.

Stephanie Jefferson is the author ‘Tween action/adventure series, PRINCESS KANDAKE. When she isn’t researching a new book (aka people watching) she’s hanging 20010002out with her favorite people or enjoying some new craft. You can find out more about Stephanie Jefferson on her Website, Blog, or on Facebook