Tag Archives: February

First Comes Like

A guest post by Lisa Mangum.

Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix or shows that I’ve recorded on my DVR, which means that I’m not watching a lot of commercials (hooray!), but I caught one the other day for a dating site with the tagline: “First Comes Like.” As tags go, I thought it was pretty clever. Because before love comes along, there is like—in real life, and in fiction.

The idea of like was one of the sparks that I fanned into the story that became After Hello. I wanted to write a story that took place in one day and really focused on the 24-hours immediately after my two characters said “Hello.” How did they become friends? Why? At what point could that friendship turn into something more? Could I keep them together for a whole day without it being boring or weird? Those were intriguing questions to me, and then I thought about how much I loved the movie Before Sunrise, and I jumped right in.

And it was strange and awkward at first. But that was okay, because most first meetings between people are strange and awkward. Plus, I was getting to know Sam and Sara at the same time they were getting to know each other.

I realized pretty quickly that in order to pull off the story I had in mind, I needed to keep an eye on two things: what they SAID, and what they DID. Dialogue and action, those where going to be my two best tools to build the plot.

And really, isn’t that how most friendships start? We’re focused on learning more about the other person so we ask a lot of questions. We offer a lot of information. We make jokes; we tell stories. We talk for hours.

So that’s what I had Sam and Sara do. Spending the whole day together meant they were going to talk to each other—a lot. I worked on keeping the conversation natural but still interesting. Not only did they need to talk about PLOT stuff, but they needed to feel comfortable enough with each other so that they could talk about CHARACTER stuff.

I started their conversation with a blend of mystery and humor. Questions were asked, but answers were given in a roundabout way. Often Sam deflected. Sara sometimes made a joke, sometimes not. They had conversations with other people. I tried to parcel out the information in bits and pieces, not all at once. After all, even in real life, the best conversations feel organic, not an info-dump on page 1.

Real-life friendships also develop because of what the other person does. How do they behave in stressful situations? Are they nice to strangers? Do they lose their temper? I wanted to show Sam and Sara in a variety of situations so they could see each other in action.

When it comes to writing romance, remember one thing: first comes like. Your characters need to be likable so that we like them. That way when the characters fall in love, so will we.

Watch the After Hello book trailer:

About Lisa Mangum:
Author Photo Lisa Mangum FINALLisa Mangum attended the University of Utah, graduating with honors with a degree in English. A lifetime lover of books, she has worked in the publishing industry since 1997, editing works by several New York Times bestselling authors as well as debut novelists. She is currently the Managing Editor of Shadow Mountain Publishing.

Besides books, Lisa loves movies, sunsets, spending time with her family, and trips to Disneyland. She lives in Utah with her husband, Tracy. She is the author of four award-winning YA novels (The Hourglass Door trilogy and After Hello), a short story (“Sold Out”), and novella (“&”). She also edited One Horn to Rule Them All: A Purple Unicorn Anthology. 

You can find her on Twitter @LisaMangum or Facebook.com/lisamangum.

Do You Wanna Know What Love Is? Do You Want Me To Show You?

Some like it hot. Others just plain don’t like it, hot or cold. I could either be talking about oatmeal or love. Unfortunately, we couldn’t figure out a month’s worth of posts about oatmeal, so we opted for love.

But not just any old love. Complicated love. Confusing love. Forbidden love. Exhausting love. Unique love. Carnie love. Maybe not carnie love, but maybe someone should start talking about it, gosh darn it, because love is love! And while we have our individual experiences, we share one thing: we’ve all been touched by it. How we’ve been touched by it is a whole ‘nuther conversation.

But we’re about to have that conversation. How can you make love between two characters unique? Should you or should you not marry your cat? How do you reach outside your own experience to create unique, surprising love between characters? How can you get that guy to stop stalking you? We hope to answer most of these questions this month.

You can look forward to posts from all of your favorite bloggers, along with special guest posts by author Lisa Mangum, her talented filmmaker husband Tracy Mangum, Cthulhu convert and author Stephan McLeroy, aspiring author and illustrator Victoria Morris, and editor/hair god Joshua Essoe. Join us as we celebrate love and relentlessly pound the crap out of it this month!

SSWS Writing Scholarship: Should YOU Apply?

We’re taught in school to always ask the questions: who, what, when, where, why and how. Today, let’s start with why.

job_huntHave you ever wanted to have one-on-one conversations with experienced, best-selling authors and be able to ask them anything? Have you ever wanted to meet a New York editor, an acquiring editor for one of the most successful small presses in the nation, or find qualified indie editors? Have you ever felt like having a larger community of dedicated writers around you might help improve your writing skills and your writing career? Does the business side of writing–working with agents, contracts, hiring artists and editors, marketing, etc–seem a bit overwhelming at times? Could you use information from people who know what they’re doing to help in your writing career?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you NEED to apply to the Superstars Writing Seminar (SSWS) scholarship. Here’s the link: http://superstarswriting.com/scholarships/ Seriously, go look at it right now.

2010 SuperstarsOkay, as for the other questions. What is SSWS? The most amazing writing seminar you will ever attend. I’m not just saying that, and no, I’m not being paid to say that. I attended the first SSWS in 2010. If it was mediocre or repetitive, I’d have only gone once. I’ve been three times. I plan on attending again. It is worth every penny, but if you earn the scholarship, your tuition will be free. Here’s what it says on the website: “The only focus at Superstars is to teach you how to have a successful writing career by sharing how those at the top of the industry manage their careers.” Take a look at the past classes, and I can only tell you that each year somehow manages to get even better.

Superstars Presenters April 2010Who? Anyone who hasn’t attended SSWS in past years is eligible to apply for the scholarship. The instructors are Kevin J. Anderson, James A. Owen, Rebecca Moesta, David Farland, and Eric Flint. To list their credentials would take the rest of this post. Guests include Toni Weisskopf (Baen books), Christine Monroe (the US Manager for Self-Publishing and Author Relations at Kobo), Todd McCaffrey, and Jody Lynn Nye. Again, I can’t list all their credentials. It’s just too much. Nope, I’m not done throwing out names. Past and recurring attendees include our very own David Carrico (author of 1636: The Devil’s Opera) and Brad R. Torgersen (multiple award nominee and winner) This is what Brad had to say, “This is not a craft class nor is it a critique workshop. It’s a no-holds-barred crash-course in how to perform and conduct yourself as a professional fiction author.” There are more quotes where those came from and you can find them on youtube, too.

When? The scholarship application is due by November 22nd. That’s this Saturday! The seminar will happen in February. colorado springsThat’s the perfect time so you’re somewhat recovered from Christmas, have your tax refund on its way, and are in need of a short vacation. The exact date for 2015 is February 5-7th.

Where? Apply to the scholarship from the website, but give yourself time to write a short essay and get a couple of referrals. The people involved in making this opportunity take it seriously. They want to give it to you, but you have to show that you really want it and are willing to do the work. The seminar takes place in beautiful Colorado Springs, Colorado. It’s a great place to visit, and airfare is reasonable.

unikarkadan2How? For the full story on how this scholarship came to exist, I encourage you to read the introduction to One Horn to Rule Them All: A Purple Unicorn Anthology. It still gives me a warm feeling every time I scan over the story again. Once the idea took root to fund a scholarship so aspiring writers could attend SSWS, people pitched in. The cover artist, the publisher, the editor, and the famous and not-so-famous writers all volunteered time and work for the sake of helping other writers find their dream. And even though SSWS attendees were competing with one another for slots in the book, we cheered each other on, critiqued stories to help one another, and as often happens with this group, we did all we could to help our writing friends succeed. opportunity knocksThat is a rare camaraderie to have with a group this size, but it’s there and it’s precious.

In conclusion: If you’re serious about writing, take the time, do the work, and apply for this scholarship. Hurry! You’ve only got a few days to change the rest of your life. Opportunity is banging at the door.