3 Questions Wednesday with Kristen Hogrefe

Author Kristen Hogrefe

Welcome back to 3 Questions Wednesday, Kristen Hogrefe! This is an exciting and very busy week for Kristen, as her third book in The Rogues Trilogy released yesterday! Congratulations, Kristen.

Let’s see how she answers our three questions—

Who is your favorite author?

Kristen: Limiting myself to just one is nearly impossible, because I enjoy so many genres, but I consider Elisabeth Elliot one of my spiritual mentors. Her books, including Keep a Quiet Heart and Let Me Be a Woman, are ones I re-read.

If you could write about anyone or anything fiction/nonfiction who or what would you write about?

Kristen: One day, I hope I’ll have the ability to research and write either a non-fiction or fictionalized account of my Uncle Billy’s story. I never met him, because he died in Colombia as a child, but through his childlike witness to the people group my missionary grandparents were reaching, many came to know Christ. My mom tells me that on his grave, a church was built. I think there’s a powerful story to tell, but I don’t know if I can do it justice. One day, I hope to be brave enough to try.

If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Kristen: I actually did have the opportunity to spend a full two weeks with a “character” from my book! At the very end of the story while Portia heals in Orvieto, she stays with an Italian woman named Maria who teaches her about Italian culture and serves as her guide. My real-life Italian friend and colleague Maria Constantine traveled with me to Italy so I could research the settings in The Reactionary. We spent several days in a lovely Air B&B in Orvieto. There, she taught me some Italian phrases and ultimately gifted me with a deep appreciation and love for Italy as we explored the city and surrounding areas. You can read more about some of our adventures on my blog at KristenHogrefe.com.


Kristen Hogrefe is an award-winning author and life-long learner. Her books include The Rogues trilogy and Wings of the Dawn trilogy, and she also enjoys speaking events that allow her to connect with students, readers, and other writers. A Florida girl at heart, she says yes to most adventures involving sunshine. Connect with her online at KristenHogrefe.com.

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The Reactionary

The Reactionary by Kristen Hogrefe

Three friends. One broken world. One chance to make it right.

Gath survived the satellite explosions, only to encounter one of Felix’s plague initiatives. Somehow, he must recover, re-unify what’s left of their leadership team—and help them find a reason to hope.

Luther devises a diplomatic distraction to buy Portia time for her international mission and him an opportunity to rescue his scientist-father, tricked into operating Felix’s labs. Will he lose them both anyway?

Portia resents that Darius lied about their father, and defying her brother now might secure a much-needed overseas ally. But liberty for all could cost her future with the man she loves and any chance of reuniting her fractured family.

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Four Beginner Mistakes that Kill a Good Plot

by Kristen Hogrefe

Between wedding preparation and inspiration from Marie Kondo, I’ve been enjoying the minimizing challenge to get rid of stuff and create space. One part of this adventure took me to a dresser drawer where I had stowed my first writing attempts from childhood. (Forgive me, Marie, but I couldn’t part with these.)

The reason for keeping them isn’t because they’re good. They’re hilariously awful, but they show how far my writing has come.

As I perused them, so many plot mistakes jumped off the page. Though beginner blunders, they can still creep into our stories and wreak havoc on our plots if we let them.

#1: Over-villainize the villain.

We get it. The bad guy is bad. However, the bad guy (or girl) must have a motivation for what drives him to villainy.

A recent case that still has people talking is the villain or anti-hero Thanos in the Avengers saga. He sincerely believes that wiping out half the population will make the world a better place and cure the resource problems. Twisted? Absolutely. But the audience has no doubt what’s driving this madman who considers himself a humanitarian at heart.

#2: Make the good guy too good.

The flip side of the villain coin is making the hero/heroine too perfect. I’ll never forget some feedback a friend gave me on a first draft. Although she liked my story, her one complaint was about the love interest.

“Kristen, he’s just too good. Give him a flaw. Give him something he has to struggle with or that annoys her. That’s real life. That’s real love.”

Let’s not fall into the mistake of transposing our own ideals on our characters. If we want readers to relate to them, they’re going to have baggage, personal demons, or a backstory that people find sympathetic.

#3: Dump the backstory at the beginning.

Speaking of backstory, I’m not sure why we writers sometimes feel the need to explain everything. The whole point of plot is to tease the reader to keep reading, to keep wondering.

When we start with backstory instead of action, we “tell” readers everything up front they want to know. As a result, they’re not interested in reading further and usually shelve the book.

#4: Bore with too much description.

This mistake is one that marked many of my adolescent attempts and one my writing students often make. On page one, they interrupt the action with a mirror-length description of their heroine. It usually reads something like this:

Amelia gazed in the mirror at her long blonde tresses that fell in gentle waves past her waist. Her fairness was the envy of every maiden in the kingdom.

She brushed a hand along her floor-length, velvety blue gown which matched her diamond-colored eyes and sighed contently at the vision she made.

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but if I had a coin for every time I’ve read something like this, I’d be booking a flight to another bucket-list destination today.

Jesting aside, this example illustrates how description can both stop the action, and when combined with mistake #2, kill the reader’s interest.

Takeaway for Today

My goal here is not to discourage anyone. If anything, it’s to laugh at our beginner mistakes and even “thank them” (cue Marie Kondo) for what they have taught us.

In all seriousness, though, I do thank God for the gift of writing He’s given us and the creativity to write a plot that will entertain and speak truth to readers. When we work to avoid mistakes that will steal our writing’s effectiveness, we steward our gift well.

Writing Prompt: What beginner mistakes would you add to this list?

[Click to  Tweet:] A few beginner mistakes can kill a good plot and make readers put a book down. Learn how to avoid them and let your plot soar! 4 Beginner Mistakes that Kill a Good Plot via @InspiredPrompt with @kjhogrefe #amwriting #WritingLife


Author Kristen Hogrefe

Kristen Hogrefe is an award-winning author and life-long learner. Her books include The Rogues trilogy and Wings of the Dawn trilogy, and she also enjoys speaking events that allow her to connect with students, readers, and other writers. A Florida girl at heart, she says yes to most adventures involving sunshine. Connect with her online at KristenHogrefe.com.

Twitter
Facebook
Instagram
Website


The Reactionary by Kristen Hogrefe

The Reactionary by Kristen Hogrefe

Three friends. One broken world. One chance to make it right.

Gath survived the satellite explosions, only to encounter one of Felix’s plague initiatives. Somehow, he must recover, re-unify what’s left of their leadership team—and help them find a reason to hope.

Luther devises a diplomatic distraction to buy Portia time for her international mission and him an opportunity to rescue his scientist-father, tricked into operating Felix’s labs. Will he lose them both anyway?

Portia resents that Darius lied about their father, and defying her brother now might secure a much-needed overseas ally. But liberty for all could cost her future with the man she loves and any chance of reuniting her fractured family.

Release Week Book Sales

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Your First Draft Is Not Your Last Draft

by Fay Lamb

In my writing life and both as a freelance editor and an acquisition editor, I have discovered a disturbing trend among some new and not-so-new writers.

Self-publishing is not a bad thing if the author does it correctly. However, there is a generation of authors who have grown up without accountability for what they create. Some sit down at a computer, plunk out one draft of a story, and head off to publication. There are also some who send their first draft to a publisher. When they receive a rejection, the fault belongs to a “system.” They use that excuse to self-publish.

Say what you want about traditional publishers, but in most instances, they truly are the gatekeepers for an industry currently suffering from credibility issues brought on by mass self-publishing. Granted, there are authors who have studied the craft inside and out and write great manuscripts. Yet they can’t find a home in traditional publishing. The rejection has less to do with a lack of diligence on the author’s part and more to do with publishers’ trends. Those diligent authors who take the time to craft a story find new life in self-publishing by bucking those trends.

A first draft is never an author’s best friend. All it says to an author is, “I’ve taken the story from Point A to Point Z, and I have some bones to build upon.” The next draft, or drafts, however many it takes, puts flesh on those bones.

I’d like to share some very obvious clues that indicate to readers and to publishers that an author has not gotten beyond the first draft stage before submitting or publishing:

  • The author has not taken the time to get a command over the small stuff: spelling, grammar, punctuation, consistency in names, hair color, eye color, even the spelling of key locations. Editors see these mistakes as lazy writing. If an author isn’t keen on these areas, finding an editor, or even a critique group that can offer this support, is imperative.
  • The manuscript usually consists only of bones, taking the form of stilted dialogue. Description and deep point of view (POV) are lacking or lax. A story that engages uses effective dialogue to relay information without the reader knowing the information is being fed to them. Deep POV is the best tool to draw the reader into the story and connect them with the main characters.
  • Speaking of point of view: in a first draft, even the most prolific authors will inadvertently switch POVs within the scene. Revisions will correct this mistake. However, an omniscient point of view is a sign that an author has not studied the elements of fiction. POV should always be one character per scene, and the character with the most to win or to lose should always be the POV character for that scene.
  • Often in a first draft, the plot will lack escalating conflict. Instead, an author utilizes contrived conflict, bringing it in and resolving it quickly before introducing another issue. One reason a synopsis is requested by publishers is to determine how well an author introduces and sustains conflict. If conflict is weak or non-existent, the story isn’t ready for publication.
  • Then there’s that old but relevant cliché: show don’t tell. A first draft is littered with telling words or phrases that draw the reader away from the story. This is easily seen in the use of adverbial time phrases such as suddenly and immediately or when she turned … Other telling words have to do with the senses: she heard, he saw, he noticed, he realized, and a host of other similar actions that tell rather than show.

Don’t make the mistake of believing that a first draft or even a second draft will produce a story ready for publication. Take time to revise and edit, to look for the minor mistakes and to implement the elements of fiction that put flesh on those shaky bones and build up a healthy story that readers can enjoy.


Writing Prompt: Rewrite the following short paragraph, utilizing some of the points discussed above to create a second draft:

Paula heard a noise that made the hair stand up on the back of her neck. Immediately, she turned and peered out the window. What she saw terrified her.


Click to Tweet: “In most instances, traditional publishers truly are the gatekeepers for an industry currently suffering from credibility issues brought on by mass self-publishing.” Your First Draft Is Not Your Last Draft via @InspiredPrompt and @FayLamb.

Who’s Driving the Story?

by Fay Lamb

As the Tactical Editor, I use the analogy of a car to describe the elements of fiction. So, when I saw this topic, I couldn’t resist writing about it.

For me, it’s not just the “who” driving the story but the “what.”

In my car analogy, I explain that plot is the vehicle that drives the story. Without a main plot, the author isn’t going anywhere at all. The road upon which the plot vehicle travels is the genre. So, of course, the plot vehicle must be equipped for the journey with devices like suspense or mystery, full-on terror, or maybe a scenic route with bumps in the road. The main plot drives the road from Point A to Point Z. Minor plots are all intersecting roads, but make no mistake, all intersecting roads lead to Point Z.

Conflict is the fuel for the vehicle. If the plot vehicle isn’t filled with the proper fuel, the story is going to sputter and halt, and the readers are going to get out and walk away. Conflict must build in each scene until its resolution at the end of the story. A reader must, therefore, measure the amount of fuel necessary to reach the end of the journey, taking into account those scenes in which more conflict—or fuel—is needed.

Then there are the actual drivers. These are each character with a point of view (POV)—one POV per scene and in most stories, no more than three POVs per book. A character takes the wheel for the scenes that belong to him or to her and moves the story forward as the conflict puts up roadblocks to prevent the character from reaching the desired destination.

When the journey has been reached and the conflict has been emptied from the tank, the characters will get out of the journey and start a well-earned vacation.


Writing Prompt: Start a story, using the photograph above. Remember that the vehicle drives the story. The driver is the POV character. Why is the car parked in that location? Who was driving it? What happened to them?


Click to Tweet: “If the plot vehicle isn’t filled with the proper fuel, the story is going to sputter and halt, and the readers are going to get out and walk away.” Who’s Driving the Story? Via @InspiredPrompt and @FayLamb #amwriting #MondayMotivation

Time to Write with Tammy & Lisa Mayer

Tammy Trail wrote her first story in sixth grade. It won a prize and she was hooked. After life slowed down a bit, she began to dabble with writing a full-fledged novel. A contributor to Inspired Prompts since 2014, the learning still continues.

So, how does she make time to write?

Working a full-time job left me little time to write. Then my hours changed. I now work a mid-shift from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. There’s very little time before I need to get out the door.

After work, there is dinner, household chores, and sometimes Grandma time with my two grandsons. It’s a dilemma that I have yet to overcome.

This next year will be different. I usually never set resolutions for the new year. However, I do set goals. My BIG goal for next year is to go to bed early in order to get up earlier to exercise and write. This will be a huge struggle for me, but I am determined!

Prayers for your efforts, Tammy. May 2019 be the year of your break through!


Lisa R. Mayer has anxiety and OCD and is a proud mental health warrior. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her husband, Rich, and her fur-baby, Scooby, catching up on her reading list, watching her favorite shows and movies, bike-riding, traveling, and going on adventures. You can learn more at www.lisarmayer.com, or follow her on Twitter @LisaRMayer2019, Instagram at author_lisa_r_mayer_2019, or on Facebook at Author-Lisa R Mayer.


Like many of you, when I look back on my life… I realize I’ve always been a writer. If I don’t write, it’s like part of me is missing. But it’s more than that. I would dare argue that making time for writing is akin to making time to becoming a better person.

Writing, just like being a better person, involves editing. We work to be a better person by editing our thoughts and actions, chipping away as a sculptor would marble until we find the best version of ourselves underneath. And we edit our writing in the same way until we find the story—our story—that is bursting out of our hearts.

All of us know why we write… because our story must be told. Not only the story of our characters, but the story of our lives, the things we’ve been through and learned. We pour a little bit of ourselves into our characters and hope that their best parts will become part of us, too. We hope that we’ll make the right decisions. We hope our books will touch lives.

I’ve learned the importance of editing as both a person and writer. I edit through my foot-in-mouth moments when all I can do is apologize. I edit when I was told the first chapters of my book were boring. I edit when I need to focus on my mental health. And I edit even when it means tearing my book apart for what feels like the hundredth time. In real life and writing… editing is hope that things can and will get better. We just can’t give up.

And that is why I never stop writing. But I also never stop editing.

Click to Tweet: All of us know why we write… because our story must be told. Not only the story of our characters, but the story of our lives, the things we’ve been through and learned. Lisa R. Mayer via @InspiredPrompt #amwriting #amediting #WritersLife

Writing Prompt: Imagine your best day. Write about it: where are you, and what are you doing? (Keep it G-rated, please!)