My book selected as a gift at New Media Film Festival

newmediafilmfestival-logo-press-downloadI’m so excited to announce that Radio Head was selected as a gift for the judges of the 2016 New Media Film Festival.

The only book included in the gift bags, the judges for the Film Festival represent HBOThe National Academy of of Television Arts and Sciences (the Emmy’s), Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), The Screen Actors Guild (SAG-Aftra), The Grammy awards, Marvel, and The Oscars.

About New Media Film Festival®

All Ages • All Cultures • All Media

For years, The New Media Film Festival has led the way in the pursuit of stories worth telling, the exploration of new media technologies, boundary pushing resulting in new distribution models. The New Media Film Festival embodies the transformative power of the cinematic arts and it reaches across cultural bridges to wed story and technology for everyone. What people are saying:

  • “The New Media Film Festival seemed like an outlier when it started in 2010, with their strange categories, web series, 3D storytelling, digital comics, now all of a sudden these phrases are the new normal. The NMFF is always looking to the future, challenging creators, the market and the audience to discover new storytelling. There are not many festivals pushing the limits – go NMFF!” ~ Nicholas Reed
  • “Festival worth the entry fee.” ~ Movie Maker Magazine
  • “Makes the cutting edge accessible” ~ Huffington Post
  • “Stories that exemplify the power of the cinematic arts to inspire and transform” ~ Hero Complex

Judges from

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Stepping into the spotlight – Interview with Victoria Theodore

I’m excited to announce that Mixtape Methodology published my interview with musician Victoria Theodore, featured in 20 Feet from Stardom. Here is an excerpt:

When Victoria Theodore began taking piano lessons just before her twelfth birthday, one of the first songs she learned was “Overjoyed,” the 1985 R&B single by Stevie Wonder. The song came naturally to her—as natural as the environmental percussion track in the hit’s background, layers of sound emanating from crickets and birds, ocean waves, and pebbles dropping into a pond. “I had just started studying piano,” Theodore recalls, “and since I’m a strong reader, I bought the sheet music and the album.”

They say those who wish to sing always find a song, but Theodore’s choice led the chanteuse to find her mentor. In 2007, Theodore joined Stevie Wonder’s world tour as keyboardist and background singer. She accompanied Wonder and other musical icons around the world, and performed for President Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth.

“Whenever I perform ‘Overjoyed’ with Stevie, I experience pure euphoria and magic. I think to myself, ‘I’m playing one of the most beautiful songs ever, with the man who composed it. Pretty amazing.’” The song is her personal anthem—her inspiration for creating music, and helping others to find their voice. As Ella Fitzgerald said, “I sing like I feel.”

Theodore’s debut album of original music, Grateful, was released on…

Continue reading at Mixtape Methodology.

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Getting Started in Writing – Class visit testimonial

writerI’d like to say a special thank you to all the writers who attended the Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network (BARN) inaugural “4th Thursday Roundtable.” We had a full house with every stripe of writer, from novelists to picture book writers, playwrights to poets. Thank you all for a wonderful evening! Author Anne Clermont and I spoke on the topic of Getting Started in Writing.
I’m especially touched by this testimonial which arrived in my email the morning after:

From Jennifer Hager, acclaimed book editor:

“Rebecca, you were fabulous last night!

Every segment you addressed was crystal clear and well-organized. You packed so much storytelling wisdom into a short space! I especially liked the fact that you included seemingly “obvious” things that we’d expect most writers to know, but then you hung other critical considerations on those branches. So for me, the whys of all the things you mentioned were answered–just by the way you presented them.

Once you started, your own passion for story took over. What I noticed was the strong, lively energy pouring out of you, and how you directed that energy to each person around the table. Your teaching presence reminded me of the velocity in your writing in Radio Head–nothing superfluous or unfocused, everything needed and carrying its message.

You are a good teacher!”

Are you interested in having me (and perhaps one of my author or editor friends!) visit your classroom or book group? Learn more.

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From fact to feeling: Adding emotional tension

In fiction, one truth prevails: emotional tension turns pages. A beautifully executed and thoroughly researched story comes across as ho-hum and put-down-able if the characters do not share authentic feelings with the reader, regardless of whether those feelings are fear, love, or rage. Conversely, a loosely plotted, implausible story can be absorbed enthusiastically in a number of hours because the emotional tension is held from page to page. A heart-wrenching book receives high praise from readers because it “stayed with them,” they felt a part of the protagonist’s journey, because they shared all the highs and lows along the way.
frostSo how do we craft a beautiful story AND weave in authentic feelings? Here are a few of my favorite tips. These only scrape the surface, however. Please share your tips in the comments below!
One absolute rule: NEVER say how a character feels. NEVER. If you ever type, “she felt,” or “he felt,” just stop right there and search your heart. If you are thinking about how a character feels or should feel, you aren’t selling it to your reader.
Key words: SEARCH YOUR HEART. As Robert Frost pointed out, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” We must do the dirty business of feeling on behalf of our characters, in order to make those feelings appear on the page. Let them do things and say things that are truly brave, and deeply vulnerable, maybe beyond our own capacity. Let them be heroic in their willingness to give of their hearts.
In order to show how a character is feeling, remember that in real life, approximately 60% of our messages to others are in the form of nonverbal cues. Keep this in mind–show the reader how the character is feeling by their nonverbal behaviors. Then, fill in the final 40% with truly vulnerable dialogue, words the character can only share with the person causing the feelings, be they mad, sad, or glad. What a character is willing to say to one character and not others reveals so much about their relationship, and deepens the characterization.
We must allow our characters to be honest, at least with the reader, if they can’t be with themselves. For example, when a character is hiding from his own feelings, let the reader know better, let the reader see how he really feels, so the reader can keep turning pages to see if a light comes on for the character. Readers WANT the character to grow, and to improve self awareness.
Happy writing. Keep me posted on your progress, and please share your tips for revealing emotions in characters. Let’s connect on Twitter @TheRJLacko

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Story Prompt Monday: Try Writing a Poem

poems inside

I have an energetic, expressive friend who writes cozy mysteries. Her critique partner/ruthless editor happens to be a poet. My friend cherishes this incongruity between them, because who better understands the economy of words than a poet? She says that if clarity is indeed king, and if there is a simpler, more direct way of telling her story, a poet is sure to light the path. (See how I used a poetic metaphor to describe that?)

So, dear writer friends, I pose this challenge to you: write a poem. There are poems inside of you that paper can’t handle. I’m sure of it.

Here are a few ideas for structure to help nudge you to action:

  • Identify a theme
  • Create a symbolic meaning for the secrets of your heart
  • Play with language devices: similes, metaphors, alliteration (Read this awesome PDF about poetic devices. You may find these techniques improve your fiction voice)
  • Mirror a rhythm or stanza structure of a favorite poem
  • Rhyme. Make up your own words! If it’s good enough for Dr. Seuss…
  • Choose a narrator and protagonist for your poem. Have the imagined narrator ask your protagonist five questions. What are his or her answers? Build to a climax
  • How many voices are in your poem?
  • Revise. Which line should be your opening hook?

Post your poem in the comments below! Follow me on Twitter at @TheRJLacko. I love to chat with writers.

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Author Interview: Lisette Brodey & her multi-genre adventures

If you’ve spent much time mingling with indie writers on Twitter, you’ve likely crossed paths with my good friend Lisette Brodey, author of six novels. She been an inspiration to many of us on our writing journey. Lisette has a huge circle of reader and writer friends who she cheers on, educates, and promotes. Lisette has lived a bi-coastal life, working in the entertainment industry in New York City, and Los Angeles. She studied drama at Pace University, so you know she knows a thing or two about creating dynamic scenes and characters. Lisette hosts guest bloggers and interview fellow authors on a weekly basis at her Writer’s Chateau. (I am among the lucky ones! Read all about my visit to the Writer’s Chateau here.)

Now, the tables have turned. Let’s shine the spotlight on Lisette Brodey to learn more about her books, get tips on using social media to promote books, the ins and outs of e-book pricing, and the lowdown on what she’s working on!

Rebecca: Wow, you’ve written several books in a variety of genres, including Literary Fiction, Young Adult, Womens Fiction, and YA Paranormal. Can you tell us about this diverse approach to writing?

LisetteBrodeywriterLisette: I never set out to try multiple genres for the sake of it; I simply had stories I wanted to tell that fell into different genres. If pressed to claim a genre, I would choose literary fiction, as that is likely to describe what I plan to write in the future. For now.

No matter what the genre or no matter how serious the story, humor has and always will be a part of my writing. So, for that reason, I had to write at least one romantic comedy. Molly Hacker Is Too Picky! was a great deal of fun to write and has been well-received by readers, but I probably won’t write another book like it.

I wrote the Desert Series because I’ve had a lifelong interest in the paranormal. Not having written about any of it when I was a teen, as the saying goes: better late than never.

R: Is there a genre – or category – you’re curious about, but have never tried?

L: I would love to write a psychological thriller. If I ever find an idea that I’m passionate about, I just might do that, but I don’t foresee it in the near future.

R: I understand you have some news to share!

L: Yes, I do. From February 15th until the end of the month, The Desert Series ($4.99 for all three novels) will be reduced to the low price of $2.99 for the entire set. For members of Kindle Unlimited, you can read The Desert Series (and all of my novels) for free. Where to buy The Desert Series boxed set

R: Can you tell me about your latest boxed set, The Desert Series?

Desert_Series_Box_NB.pngL: The Desert Series is comprised of three novels: Mystical High, Desert Star, and Drawn Apart. A YA paranormal trilogy, this coming-of-age series takes place over a span of six years in a dying town called Mystekal in the Southern California desert.

While this is a paranormal series, I think of it more as “realistic paranormal.” There are no werewolves, vampires, or shapeshifters. There are teens, their families, and teachers who are all going through very real problems of their own when the paranormal steps in and complicates matters.

The books can be read as standalone novels. There are no cliffhangers at the end of the first two novels. However, because it is a series, a reader will derive the most insight and satisfaction by reading all three books, as some of the stories do go on.

Many issues and themes are covered in the books such as: abandonment, bullying, mental illness, loss, divorce, dating, jealousy, miracles, friendship, soul mates, true love, and much more. There are also different paranormal elements in each book.

That’s the very short version. For readers interested in knowing more, a full synopsis of each novel (or the series as a whole) is available on Amazon.com.

R: I’d like to learn more about the characters in The Desert Series, and why you like them.

L: River Dalworth has been a favorite to write and a favorite of readers. We first meet him in Mystical High when he is fourteen. While he derives great pleasure in the role of obnoxious little brother to Jessie, he’s much more than that. Having read the entire dictionary at a young age, his vocabulary is far more advanced than most (only when he wants it to be), and he’s knowledgeable about subjects that many people don’t even know exist. River is a talented artist who possesses paranormal gifts. He’s witty and funny, but he’s not as great being on the receiving end of all that he dishes out.

Larsen Davis, a gay black teen who is bullied at home by his alcoholic single mother, is another favorite. In Desert Star, he and River become the best of friends. Also introduced in Desert Star is the Martelli family from Jersey City, NJ. They come from a very different culture yet they experience things in Mystekal that rival all of the craziness they’ve known in Jersey City. Avalon Martelli, a vintage clothing freak and an artist with the gift of sight, has learned to be tough, but she’s an honest and compassionate friend.

In the last book, Drawn Apart, all of the characters I’ve mentioned play a role. A new character, Stephanie Lambert, is Avalon’s best friend. A self-described hopeless romantic, poetry geek, and a true believer in soul mates and past lives, Stephanie is in an accident and falls into a coma only weeks before graduation.

Those are just a few of the characters that I really love. Now that the series is published, I miss spending time with each and every one of them.

 Where to buy The Desert Series boxed set

R: What else have you written?

L: I have written Squalor, New Mexico (a 1970s coming-of-age novel shrouded in family secrets), Crooked Moon (a story about two childhood friends coming together after 23 years, having lived very different lives), and Molly Hacker Is Too Picky! (a romantic comedy). I have two short stories published in an anthology: Triptychs (Mind’s Eye Series, Book 3).

R: We have something in common: we both prefer writing scenes in order. Not everyone does. Can you tell why you prefer to write this way, and any benefits other writers may gain from trying it?

L: For me, it’s pretty simple. Today affects tomorrow but tomorrow can’t affect today. When you think about life, even the little things that happen each day often become a part of what happens the next day. So, for me, writing scenes out of order throws my brain out of order. While I don’t micro-plot my books, I do have a basic outline and I know what revelations will be made and how things will come together in the end. However, as each novel or story unfolds, I discover new nuances and new directions. Even the smallest of details often have a major impact on what comes next. For that reason, I can’t write the middle or the end before the beginning.

If I had a brilliant idea for a scene, it’s possible that I might write it out just to get it down before I lost my inspiration, but that would be the exception.

R: Writing books is clearly your passion! What do you enjoy the most about writing a novel? The least?

L: I always enjoy writing the second half of the book more than the first. I suppose that is because after carefully laying the foundation, it’s great fun to tie up the stories, let the readers know where the “bodies are buried,” and all of that good stuff. But really, my favorite part is writing any scene where I can slip into that creative zone, and like magic, the book feels like it is writing itself, and I’m merely a transcriptionist. My least favorite part is getting edits back and wanting to bang my head against a wall of nails. 

R: I’ve learned that I have to know my book’s ending before I begin, or I’ll write myself into a corner. Is it important for you to know the ending before you write a new novel? How about the title?

L: Yes! I need to know the ending, but as I mentioned earlier, that doesn’t mean that the ending can’t change or evolve as I go along. Despite the fact that I write in multiple genres, my books have one thing in common: I always have multiple story arcs that tie together in unexpected ways. That kind of book is pretty much impossible to write if I fly by the seat of my pants. And yes, I really like to know the title of the book. I didn’t figure out the title of Crooked Moon until I had written Chapter 4, but that is rare for me. Very.

R: Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

L: I hate the idea of a true “rough draft.” I really hate it. I strive to make my book as clean and error-free as possible when I type “The End.” That said, that’s impossible to do. But I strive for it all the same. Other authors have advised, “Don’t stop to edit; it ruins creativity!” My response is that I can do both. Naturally, if I’m writing a scene that is really working, no, I’m not going to stop and edit it. I’ll keep the creativity and the passion flowing until I’ve gotten it all down. But eventually, I’ll be ready to move on. And before I do so, that’s when I’ll go back and edit what I’ve already written.

R: When you read books for pleasure, what aspects do you like best? The least?

L: I don’t do well reading books with an excessive number of characters. I like reading stories that really grab me and that I don’t have to struggle to keep the characters or plot together in my head. I said earlier that I’d like to write a psychological thriller. I love reading them, too. But really, good writing draws me in no matter what the genre.

R: You’ve interviewed dozens of fellow authors on your fabulous website, Lisette’s Writer’s Chateau, including me! It was an exciting experience, and I especially enjoyed how much I bonded with other authors you’d invited to the chateau. Are your writing and creativity methods similar or dissimilar to your visiting authors?

L: I find it fascinating how some authors write with no outline, or, conversely, how some will micro plot a book. That said, the former is far more prevalent. If I were writing a book about a character who abandoned her life, jumped in a car, and took off for places unknown, who knows, I might experience life as that character does and not plot my book. There is no right or wrong, but decisions that writers make often depend on what they are writing.

Sometimes authors write about their experiences putting their work out there for public consumption before it is finished. Again, not the wrong thing to do, but not something I would do in a million years.

R: As authors, we often hear conflicting opinions about marketing as it relates to publishing. How did you figure out what works for you? Any advice about e-book pricing, book promotion, and social media usage?

L: Let me first tackle the subject of e-book pricing. I have spoken to countless authors about this and read numerous blogs by authors who have set out to find the answer once and for all. I don’t think there is any one answer. The millions of free books out there help to make it a very tough market for indie authors. As we all know, people are far more likely to pay for a good cup of coffee that took minutes to make, than to pay for a book that took a year or more to write and edit. For most writers, this is maddening. As well it should be.

Frustration aside, I have chosen to go for lower price points than some other people because I want to gain readers. What I do not care to do is give my book away for free. I often have promotions for 0.99, but that’s as low as I go. I work very hard on every book I write.

I’m often shocked when I see a fellow author’s book for a price tag I know that few people are going to pay. Usually, in these cases, it’s because they’re with a small publisher who wants to make money. But putting high prices on books is usually just a lose-lose proposition for both parties. Books need to find readers.

As for book promotion, I usually research the companies that have dedicated mailing lists for readers who are looking for deals in certain genres. I don’t care about companies who have purchased mailing lists, but companies who have had individual people sign up for a list because they actively read books and are looking for deals. I will not pay any promotion company based on their social media following. I am not condemning any company who offers this service; I’m strictly stating my own preferences.

As for using social media for promotion, I make sure that no more than 20% of what I post is about my work. For the most part, 90% of my social media efforts are on Twitter. I not only promote other authors when I can, but I also post content of interest on many subjects. And lastly, I interact with people. I can’t get to know everyone, but I do enjoy trading words with other human beings. What I will never do to promote is send anyone a direct message about my work or ask a new follower for any kind of favor. I will never spam another person by sending an unsolicited tweet with a link to my work. Needless to say, I don’t respond well when others do that to me. It’s not a good way to make oneself known. Just sayin’.

R: We hear you’re working on some juicy projects you haven’t told anyone about. Our ears are burning!

L: I want to share that I am currently working on my seventh novel which is literary fiction. I developed these characters when I was only seventeen years old in the form of an unfinished short story. Later, that unfinished story became a one-act play, then a two-act play. The time has come to turn it into a novel. It’s really interesting for me to write characters that I have known my entire adult life. Simultaneously, I’m working on a short story collection. I have four finished stories and write each one as I am inspired to do so.

Last, but not least, Rebecca, I would like to thank you for graciously hosting me on your site. Also, I would like to thank all of your visitors for reading my interview. To all who write: write on!

Lisette Brodey was born and raised in Pennsylvania. After high school, she moved to New York City where she attended Pace University and studied drama. After ten years in New York, several of them working in the radio industry, she moved to Los Angeles where she held various positions at Paramount Studios and CBS Studio Center. Back on the East Coast, she worked for many years as a freelance writer, specializing in PR and the entertainment industry. In 2010, she returned permanently to the Los Angeles area. Lisette hosts guest bloggers and interviews fellow authors on a weekly basis at her Writer’s Chateau.

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Where to buy The Desert Series boxed set

 

 

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My horror story was voted Best of Wordhaus!

best of wordhaus 2015OK, my mind is blown. THANK YOU for voting for my short story, Like Father, Like Son, to WIN The Best of Wordhaus 2015! Writing Horror was one of the craziest challenges I faced in 2015 was–a complete departure for me.

I am so thrilled and honored to have my story selected Best of Wordhaus in the Thriller/Horror category. My story now appears in Wordhaus’ Best Of Wordhaus anthology for 2015.

Click here for a list of the winners in all categories: Thriller/Horror, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and Romance, and find out how to purchase the Best of Wordhaus 2015 anthology. Congratulations to all the Best of Wordhaus writers, and big thanks to editor Emily Wenstrom and her team!

Like Horror? You can read Like Father, Like Son here!

Would you like to write for Wordhaus? Send your sagas of passion, your daring tales of suspense, chronicles of strange creatures from other dimensions. All stories must be under 2,500 words. Learn more.

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