Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Interview: Shonell Bacon

Today it is with great pleasure that I welcome author-and a woman of many talents-Shonell Bacon to my blog!

Welcome, Shon!

Tell us a little about yourself.

There’s so much I could say, LOL Here’s my short bio on Twitter: Author, blogger, coffee addict, editor, educator, journal/pen collector, podcaster, screenwriter, & Ph.D. student in Tech. Comm. & Rhetoric @ Texas Tech Univ. I’m a little bit of everything.

Tell us about your new book, Death at the Double Inkwell, and what inspired you to write it.

I actually started writing DDIW back in 2000 for a novel writing class I was taking in college. We had to pick a novel we wanted to study throughout the semester and then write the first three chapters to a novel within the same genre of the book we studied. I selected one of my favorite book, All Around the Town by Mary Higgins Clark, so by default, I had to write a mystery/suspense novel. At the beginning, all I had was the main character’s name and a few details – a marriage, a murder, an affair. And from that and with the help of the class, I started Death at the Double Inkwell, which is about twin mystery novelists who find their idyllic world turn upside down when a murder occurs close to home.

What other genres do you write in?

I have co-authored contemporary fiction, have published romance and erotica short stories. For the most part, I stay in the general women’s fiction category; however, I have written Christian romance as well. Overall, I like writing stories about broken women who are made whole through their journeys in life. I go where the character wants me to go and pick up the genre along the way.

You’re also an editor. What are some of the biggest mistakes you see in the manuscripts you edit?

Probably some of the same things I see in my own work after a very rough draft, LOL Here are the three big things I see in manuscripts while editing.

There was a moment last year when I received a lot of manuscripts that were true stories fictionalized, and the biggest issue with those types of ‘scripts is the writer relying too much on reality and forgetting the components of fiction. Although we do have conflicts in real life and we have dialogue and we have setting and we have all those other fictional components, we real life is pretty, well, BORING. If we tell a story, especially in novel length, exactly how it happened in real life, we could have a lot of dwell time in which readers would wander off and find something interesting to pique their interest. When you fictionalize the truth, you have to think about how to build up the tension, how to write dialogue that resonates with the story and with the characters.

Another issue I see a lot while editing occurs within dialogue. We’ve all heard the adage, “Write how people talk.” Yeah, well, no. We do want dialogue to be real, but not necessarily realistic because in real life we tend to go on and on sometimes with no rhyme or reason, and unless that’s part of a character’s personality or serves a purpose in the story, we don’t want that. We also don’t want dialogue that tells everything. When we say write dialogue that is real, we often mean to write dialogue that is real to the character you create and that is real to the story you are developing.

POV is another issue I see a lot while editing. A lot of people love writing in first person; they claim it makes them feel closer to the main character, which is cool. And I don’t have a problem with that though I often argue that a close third-person POV can be just as intimate as first person. The problem that often arises is that writers want to write in first person, but they want a story told in third-person omniscient, meaning they still want to tell you what all the other characters are thinking and doing when you can’t do that when stuck in one person’s mind.

What is your writing schedule like?

Lately, I would have to reply, “What writing schedule?” With school, I often don’t get to write too much except during November for NaNoWriMo and April for Script Frenzy. However, when I have a project that I want to get finished, I set myself a deadline and chart out my writing. I don’t write every day, have never really done that, but I do write enough so that the project gets done when I schedule to be completed.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’m a major plotter, much to some of my writing friends’ chagrin, LOL!

I love, I adore order and organization. I need structure prior to writing a story so that I can jump in and feel comfortable with the story. By the time I sit to plot out a story, I have already watched the story numerous times in my mind. I have created mental character dossiers, acted out scenes of the story, mentally edited and spliced scenes together and have it pretty much the way I want it. A lot of the stuff that is for other writers a part of the writing process is a part of my mental writing process. Once I have a story played out in my mind, I draft an outline, and then I begin writing the story. This does not mean the story is set in stone, however. More often than not, I meander all over the story and end up with something a lot deeper than I expected. But if I didn’t take the time to mentally write and outline the story, I wouldn’t feel comfortable enough to play and change and tweak the story in other ways once I set upon writing the story.

Can you tell us what you're working on now?

Well, RIGHT now, I’m not working on anything creatively. However, I do have two projects I’d like to finish and start sometime soon. In April, I began a screenplay and I’m about 100 pages into it. I want to finish that, cut and edit it to death, then start submitting it. I started writing screenplays again about three years ago and every year since, I’ve placed in a contest, and I’d like to finally place higher in a contest or get the actually “platinum” ring and get representation. In addition to the screenplay, I want to work on book two of the Double Inkwell series. I always had the thought of doing a series featuring Jovan and Cheyenne as amateur sleuths ala Jessica Fletcher in “Murder, She Wrote.” I have concepts for about five stories, and I already know which one I want to start on—just need to DO it.

Do you have a website or blog?

Sure do! My official website is http://shonbacon.com. I have a page on the site devoted solely to DDIW: http://shonbacon.com/ddiw/. On that page, I will be showcasing podcasts that feature excerpts of the book and my journey in writing and having the book published. Also, I will be showcasing commentaries about themes/topics that resonate in the book.

What good books have you read recently that you'd like to recommend?

Hmm, good books. This is difficult because all I’ve been reading lately are academic articles and textbooks! LOL I have had the opportunity to read a few books lately that I really enjoyed.

Bride of the Living Dead by Lynne Murray--a light, funny romantic comedy featuring a feisty full figure chick.

Whiskey Heart by Rachel L. Coyne--a short but poignant story about returning to your past to overcome the pain and emotions of that past.

Glorious By Bernice McFadden--a literary novel by my favorite author that left me deeply moved. I didn't know I could ever find a book that touched me the way McFadden's "Sugar" did, but with "Glorious," I did.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

1- Do not write to fit a trend; they come and go, and so will your work.

2- Write from the heart; if you don’t care about your work, no one else will either.

3- Study the writing craft; it’s great to write because you have the love of it, but at some point, you have to show people you are serious about growing as a writer, too.

4- Get into PR; no one is going to promote your work as hard as you do. Study the various ways, online and offline, that you can sell your work to your audience.

Thanks for stopping by, Shon! Click here to find out more about Shon and her books!

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