Thursday, March 19, 2015

FROM THE SECOND-FLOOR #8

WRITER’S BLOCK Vs. SOURCE MATERIAL

Writer’s block can be deadly and even end a potential career.

Source material could also be toxic if the stories sought get fed improper information

What do the two have anything to do with one another? Everything.

Many writers set out and focus their material on one story. The source information highway can stop you cold when you learn it wasn’t true. Albeit driven to write about actual and current news or stories based on facts heard recently or years ago – source and effects are married together. If you learn your information is full of holes it can set you back on your heels. The block enters and you become baffled. Who can you trust? Where are the real facts?

You are not alone when a mental block stops you. The brain swims through a current of useless information, and none makes sense. You can’t put the pieces together. Your storyline becomes a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.

At times, no story or outline you begin to write can find a path. Each journey takes off in directions you didn’t give a thought or even understand. You jumble up and stop writing. While you seek a different approach, a new story, the words fail you.

To provide the mental block with accurate food for the brain, you must search for new ideas. You get frustrated when none of them stick. You look down at your idle fingers resting on the keyboard and wonder if they will ever move again?

Source material is one answer that always works when given a chance. What exactly is the source material? It’s not just facts, but the thread you weave into a story that makes it readable. Where do you find the sources? You don’t have to look far. In most cases, they are right in front of you or just down the block. The corner store, local gas station or big box retailer has all the material you’ll need to move from a blank space into the world of storytelling.

An enormous part of the source is characters? Where on earth do you find new characters? That too has an easy answer. You live, work and are surrounded by characters. Most of us pay little attention to a co-worker or clerk at a store. Next time you go out, forget shopping and become a watcher. I love to go to the mall and watch. Roam through the shops and listen. Ask about a product and seek help from a salesperson. Amazing what a little conversation brings out.

Most of us have relatives, friends, neighbors and co-works so learn to draw information each one has to offer. We forget we’re one of a kind, as are the people we know or meet along the way. Each person you know is a character. Everybody has a unique one-of-a-kind personality with unusual traits, quirks, mannerisms, unique speech patterns, and background history. Draw from here to create your next character. Learn to take the basics and then add twists and habits. Bring in or take out the good and bad and then adopt a second look. Not bad if you do this seriously.

So how does source material help get you out of writer block mud? 

Remember what got you there in the first place? You got stuck. Either the plot bogged down and went nowhere or your story had huge flaws. A story needs a life of its own, just like your characters. Did your story have a life? By that I mean did it have a before story? Did it just start or come from history of something terrible? Does it have an ending, not the one you end your story with – the ongoing ending that give your readers hope for more to come?

To help eliminate a blocked mind that many writers suffer, it helps while designing the creation to expand and outline the whole story. Start with a paragraph. It’s hard to do but very rewarding. Expand the paragraph on one or two pages. Stop here. You have story content, but now you need a list of characters. You have leads and sub leads, but what about the little character roles? You need a character list. Make one, even if you don’t use them all.

Now you have the idea of the story and a list of characters to generously place in and around the plot. What about the locations? Make a list. Where does the story begin? Where does it end? If your characters move around, where do they go? Stop.  Do you know each location well? Have you been there? It’s easier to write about what you know. If you haven’t been there, you need research and source material with descriptions.

These are all essential writer tools. It sounds easy. It isn’t as it sounds. What it does do is activate your mind. It takes you away from the blockage. You go on a journey. Make the trip busy and fun and when you get all the pieces together – start writing again. This time you have focus, direction and desire.

When and if you write real stories, check your sources, and then double-check them. When you think you’ve got it all covered, do another check with an entirely new source. Don’t trust the news for any truth whatsoever. Sadly, all our news media sources are owned by four or five companies, and each has a goal or mission that may be selfish and not in your best interest. They establish the truth to fit their objectives and needs, and when you write a true story you may find huge holes in stories found from the news media. I’m amazed at how many people rely on the news media for news, and I try never to use truthful events the news media tells to stand on its own. Double or triple check everything you hear or read. Research is fun, entertaining and quite educational.

Here's what you have at the end of the day. You gathered source material, outlined your story, know your characters, where the story takes place, where it ends and what happens in the middle. If you get bogged down, go to your lists. Focus on material you worked very hard to gather and then turn back to the computer.

I was taught early on, listen, focus, and be aware of the story at all times. Every great novel or film has one thread in common, a sensational story. One of my best professors said it well – your work should be the story, story, and more story. If you tell it well, have a great beginning, a middle that can’t be put down, and an ending you drive your audience with urgency your work will be read and be successful.

How we reach, our audience is a mystery. We do the best we can, but this is a learning process. It’s ongoing and never ends. Each work is different and finds its gathering. We can hope to find a few who tell a few and soon your voice is read and heard by many. Even best-selling author’s struggle to find an audience for new work they write.

I wish all writers luck with their passion. A working writer deserves recognition. Promote your brothers and sisters of dare to share the word. Read unknown writers work. Learn from it and help promote them. They will return the favor.

I hope this helped – even if only one writer gets back on track and stays there I’ve done a job well done. Good luck all.

William Byron Hillman © 2015

NEW RELEASE – WITHIN AN INCH OF THE MOON – a romantic/suspense/contemporary fiction novel. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UT0V24E



Book Links:

Rollie Kemp Novels
Ghosts and Phantoms Part I: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0056WR6I6
Ghosts and Phantoms Part II http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0056WR7YE
Hoax – Prematurely Terminated
In editor’s hands – Looting

Romance/Suspense – Contemporary Fiction
Within an Inch of the Moon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UT0V24E
In development Veronique and Murray's Honeymoon

Doug Hamilton Mysteries
(Over a Cup of Caramelized Chocolate – Completing Final Draft)

Autobiography

Motion Picture Stories

Family/Youth Adventure
Quigley's Christmas Adventure http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ANVNQ6G
(Available in audio book soon)

My next feature film to direct is:
Quigley's Christmas Adventure
 (Sequel to the hit film Quigley)

Friday, December 12, 2014

FROM THE SCOND FLOOR #7

HOLD THE PRESS

You’ve heard all the suggestions and read book after book on the art of writing. Some say it’s just a bunch of words, and it’s no big deal.

Well, they are wrong, and it is a big deal. It’s a huge deal, but you need all the press you can muster up.

But, what if you can’t afford that PR?

What if you are just getting started? You’re a housewife or a dad with two jobs and a dream. You write in your spare time and hope someone finds it. How do they find you if you have no money for promotion?

It strikes my funny bone when I hear someone say you must have a great cover for your book AND - have your book professionally edited. You must hire a promotional company to assist you. Plan a party and invite all the right people, oh, and you can invite some friends too. Cater the party, so you look professional. Have flyers printed and hand them out. Notify local bookstores and create a book-signing event. Send copies of your book to important reviewers. Then, in your spare time give the book away free so others will appreciate your work.

HOLD THE PRESS

You just spent a lot of money you don’t have.

Remember, you are broke? You have two jobs to pay the rent and feed the family. There is no extra money in the wallet. All you have is the writer’s dream and your beloved manuscript or screenplay.

Okay, forget that other stuff, it’s too expensive and unaffordable. It’s out of your reach. The writer books say write a great query and send it to agents along with a sample of the work. What the book doesn’t tell you is agents are busy people. Agents are busy selling their client list to publishers, so most have no time to look for a new writer. If they are open to receive a query it better be good, short and to the point.

The writer books say this is the way. They don’t tell you only one in a thousand can write a great query. Few get a query to the right agent at the right time. The writer hopes the agent  is looking for a new client with the exact subject matter of your work. Give yourself some credit, those are not great odds.

I’m not saying it’s impossible to land an agent. I’m saying to be patient. It takes time, perhaps lots of time. But what if you don’t have all that time on your hands?

HOLD THE PRESS

Do you give up because there are too many hurdles? NO, and you are never to give up the dream. Quitting isn’t the answer.

Most writers begin their careers on a shoestring, broke and not able to do any of the above suggestions. Half of those didn’t buy the writer's books either. They found them in a library or peeked at the pages in a bookstore. You are not alone.

There are no secrets to writing a great work albeit a novel or screenplay. You can have years of success and still find it difficult to find an audience for the next one. It’s up to you to find ways to slip through the cracks with an agent, publisher or doing it via self-publishing.

When you go to the movies or watch a great one on TV what is the first thing you notice? What grabs you holds you and keeps you until the last frame? That’s what makes a good book or movie, the hook, the sell, the beginning of something wonderful? How do you find them? Where are they and how do you get them to use?

The answer is every great story, and the idea is right in front of your nose. You just have to look and think about it. Is the genre important? It is, but not how you think. It’s important if you know a lot about the subject.

Let’s say you are a cop. What do you know best? Probably crime or police procedures. Use these as a gift, and you will be surprised to discover an endless supply of stories. You will find one compelling enough to write about, and then maybe dozens will follow.

Regardless of the occupation you come from or are in, you will learn a subject can build from any theme or genre. Again, it isn’t the genre that makes great work – it’s the writer who knows the genre well enough to write about it. If you can tell a good story, I strongly believe you can write one.

Like sitting around the campfire telling scary tales. If they are great, all eyes are upon you. If you try to convince others you know about something, you know nothing about – they will know.

HOLD THE PRESS

Does that mean you can’t write about a genre where you know nothing? NO. You have to do substantial research, and if you are good at it, you will find a way to write it.

Approaching an agent is tough. Not impossible, just crazy difficult. Some can write a great query and not a great book while others fail at a compelling query and have written a sensational book. It’s potluck finding an agent who likes your voice. I suggest while you look for the agent you also explore other ways to market and sell you work.

Money helps buy things but if you can’t afford it, you can’t buy it. That  means you do it yourself, and yes it can be easily accomplished. You can use your photos to create a super book cover. You can write a short synopsis about your work – short meaning one little paragraph. You may have to re-write it fifty times before it feels right, but it will be worth it.

You can self publish with Amazon and CreateSpace and do it yourself with a little research. You can learn how to put the book into book form and how to create a format for Amazon and the best part all this information is free and available to you.

DON’T HOLD THE PRESS

Build a list of people who might consider looking at your book. If you promote other unknown or new writers, they will return the favor. Social media are great and free. Blogs are free as are Tweets and Facebook releases. Look for free things and you will find many are free and so are sending emails requesting help. Don’t hold back anything. If it takes more time to get it done, give it.

At the end of the day, you will have a book, education, and enormous growth for your future works.

What if the book isn’t good or has too many errors?  That’s ok too. We would all love to be perfect, write the perfect novel or screenplay and have a hit on our hands. We can dream, or we can do. Doing is fun and the only way to learn how is to improve. There is a handful of writers who hit it right away, but most don’t. It’s ok. You’re in good company.

I’ve read dozens of books with lots of grammar errors and misspelled words. The best part is if the story is great all the mistakes in the world won't spoil it for the reader. If the reader loves, the genre you write your book in you will find many who appreciate it. The only way to improve is to continue to write. The more books you complete, the better they become. I read and write every day. I post reviews on books I’ve read and try my best to promote other writers whenever I can. We are a small group numbering in the thousands and if we learn to help one another – half our battle has been won.

Love the word and share as many of them as you can put together.

William Byron Hillman © 2014

My new IAN page is: http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/william-byron-hillman.html

On Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@QuigleyMovie
Website: http://www.williamhillman.com
Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/williamhillman
Twitter Page http://www.twitter.com/@authorwhillman
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BillHillman1

Just released:
HOAX – Prematurely Terminated a thriller
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KUZY7AY

Book Links:
Dream Searcher http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EC19DJW
Let's Sue ‘Em http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009M9E790
Veronique and Murray: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0071F05MU
Zebra's Rock and Me http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004PL08LM
Quigley's Christmas Adventure http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ANVNQ6G
In development Veronique and Murray's Honeymoon

Rollie Kemp Novels
Ghosts and Phantoms Part I: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0056WR6I6
Ghosts and Phantoms Part IIhttp://www.amazon.com/dp/B0056WR7YE
APRIL: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008G50NLM
Bad Rap: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DNIHCYI
Hoax – Prematurely Terminated
In editor’s hands - Looting

COMING IN JANUARY 2015 – AN INCH BENEATH THE MOON

My next planned film is:
Quigley's Christmas Adventure
www.quigley2.com
(Sequel to the hit film Quigley)

Monday, October 20, 2014

FROM THE SECOND FLOOR #6

PROMOTE SOMEONE ELSE

I have always been a firm believer in helping others achieve their goal. Amazing things happen when you pay forward and assist others travelling along the same road you are on.

When I was, younger I thought there was no way to help others when you are struggling to reach the same goal. There wasn’t time to help someone else.

I was wrong. One of my studio story editors taught me a few lessons. Help others write a good script, and it helps you grow inside and out.

When I started writing novels, I decided to help others whenever I could, and it has paid off in spades.

You can sell thousands of books and still be on an island all by yourself. Or you can read as many books from unknown authors as you can and then review them – encourage the writer and help when you can.

Promoting someone else is a gift we all have, but most seldom use or choose not to lift a finger to help another writer find his or her audience. I believe when you help others you are also helping the goal you seek to reach.

First I acknowledge I love to read all different genres. I read children’s book with the same enthusiasm I do a thriller. I do have favorites, but never allow those to stop me from looking at the work of others. I thoroughly enjoy finding a raw talent writing his or her first book. Maybe the book was written several years ago, and few noticed it. The writer got discouraged and stopped writing. I read the book and see as well as feel the excitement the author had when the words hit the page. Some grammar mistakes have never stopped me from enjoying the story as I remember only too well being told the story is what counts. I remember being drilled with tiny and constant thoughts that repeated over and over – the story, story, and then the story.

Admittedly I make many mistakes in the grammar department. I can blame it on as many others as I can think of and yet I know it’s me and only me. I’ve hired editors. I’ve re-edited and stepped away from the work. When I return, I discover more reasons to edit some more. When it reaches the print stage along comes a reader or two (perhaps more), and they see the errors of my way. Sadly most of these critics didn’t see, feel or read the story. The grammar spoiled it for them, and I do understand how some can get lost with a mistake. I see it in films all the time – a visual mistake can pull your attention away from the screen for a moment. The other side of this issue is, a good film with some small mistakes is still a good film. It goes on to make money and win awards and everyone forgets about the mistakes.

When a book is printed this happens as well, but sadly a few bad reviews pointing out the mistakes and saying nothing about the story can crush a writer and the spirit of putting words to the page.

I read a book as though I’m on a treasure hunt. I can skip over missing commas, periods, quotation marks and misused words if the story is there. When I find a great story I get lost within all the grammar errors are forgotten, and I silently applaud the writer for a job well done. Later I’ll read a review of that same book and see several terrible reviews that tear the book apart over the grammar errors. Most of these reviews say nothing of the story or the hard work that went into putting all those words on the page. Many reviews written are by non-writers, and the labor of putting words to the page gets lost. My heart breaks easily when this happens. I know how hard it is to write a book. It takes lots of time and thought. A manuscript is truly a labor of love. Writing a screenplay is tedious and visual. Maybe script writing is shorter and harder to write. A novel takes time, weeks, months and even years to complete. The work of a writer is never easy. A careless critic demanding perfect grammar can destroy an author's pride. The work of a storyteller can easily shatter. Once the enthusiasm has been bruised a million wonderful words lovingly placed on each page gets ignored and the whole of a great story missed.

When I find a great story I talk about it. I help promote it and encourage other writers to do the same. I tell everyone who will listen when you promote another writer, that writer and his, and her friends will promote back. Every ten books you promote to help others the number explodes becoming a hundred helping you back. It’s as though a pyramid as been created just for you even though you started it by caring enough to say something good and encouraging to a struggling author.

I recently read a book by an author living in the UK. The book was a year old, and I’d never heard of it. I devoured the pages with the enthusiasm of a hungry child wanting another cookie. The book being well received in the U.K. had not been discovered here. I loved it, wrote a 5-star review and now look for other books by the author. The book title is “The Doll’s House” by Louise Phillips. I seek ways to help promote her name and this book in the U.S. just to let other writers know how something quite different can spark the mind and the imagination.

Louise Phillips isn’t the only writer I promote because my list is long and grows daily. I watch what other writers do to promote not only their books, but also the books of others. When you pay attention to a successful promotion, you see how it works. As an example check out the success of Russell Blake, Jinx Schwartz, Emmy Swain, R.S. Guthrie, Martin Crosbie, Tony Dunbar, Don Mize, Shayne Leighton, T.G. Brown, Nancy Lee Parish or Deborah Brown. There is a whole list of other successful writers, young, older, male and female who know how to put different genres on page. The above list includes thrillers, mysteries, children’s books, fantasy, vampire, and drama. Each of these writers has written reviews and done promotion for other writers. What goes around comes around.

Remember if you love to read as you do write, it’s easy to create a list of your favorite writers. Watch how they do business, promotions and see why they help others.

Some writers only talk about their work while others talk about books, writers and great stories they just read.

When you read, your next book think about the story first. See how far you get into the book, the story and the characters without noticing other issues. Reading is fun. It’s an escape from the daily anger and trouble around the world. Movies take us away visually while a great book captures our heart and soul and takes us on the whole journey not a visual shortcut.

Grammar is important, and I’m not saying we should ignore it, but the story is what takes us on our journey and keeps us there to the last page. I’ve read thousands of books, probably the same amount of screenplays, and I always look for the story. I love to get sucked in on the first few pages and stay there. As a filmmaker, I am guilty of reading scripts that quickly take and imagination in the first five pages. By page 10, if I’m not immersed I pass and move on. I know many readers of novels feel the same way, but in the book the set up is quite different and the more you know, the more you want to read. It still all comes back to the story.

Two famous best selling authors I read recently and have enjoyed most of the books they have written make mistakes. I know they have editors and big publishing houses and then more editing – and yet in their last two books I’ve seen errors, typos, and misspelled words. Even with all the help they have, some typos were missed. Did it stop me from reading their book? The answer is no. Was I disappointed? Again the answer in no and the reason is the story. It got me, kept me and pleases my hungry appetite. My reason for bringing this up is so you won’t give up when someone catches a mistake and makes a big deal out of it.

Promote your book and then pick a few other works by authors you may or may not know about and promote their books. Write a review for books you like and for those you didn’t like. I do this all the time. I’ll read a book and while I don’t like the subject or style find it well written and worthy of saying a few nice things about it.

Promote someone else and watch what happens. Join groups that help writers and promote their work as they promote yours. Your audience will open up; your writer's voice enjoyed, and the books you write will find new homes.

For the love of writing and all those who put words to the page – hats off to you all.

William Byron Hillman © 2014

My new IAN page is: http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/william-byron-hillman.html

Just released:
HOAX – Prematurely Terminated a thriller
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KUZY7AY
 
On Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@QuigleyMovie
Website: http://www.williamhillman.com
Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/williamhillman
Twitter Page http://www.twitter.com/@whillman 
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BillHillman1

Book Links:
Dream Searcher http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EC19DJW
Let's Sue ‘Em http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009M9E790
Veronique and Murray: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0071F05MU
Zebra's Rock and Me http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004PL08LM
Quigley's Christmas Adventure http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ANVNQ6G
In development Veronique and Murray's Honeymoon

Rollie Kemp Novels
Ghosts and Phantoms Part I: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0056WR6I6
Ghosts and Phantoms Part II: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0056WR7YE
APRIL: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008G50NLM
Bad Rap: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DNIHCYI
Hoax – Prematurely Terminated
In editor’s hands - Looting

In editorial – Cheater

My next planned film is:
Quigley's Christmas Adventure
www.quigley2.com
(Sequel to the hit film Quigley)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

#5 FROM THE SECOND FLOOR


MY WRITER TOOL BAG

There isn’t a day goes by I don’t learn something new. So, for those of you of think you know everything – you don’t.

That said, I discovered a few tools lately, and they were right in front of me for a long time. I just didn’t look. We all know writers are stubborn by nature. We like to do things our way and only look for help as a last resort.

As a kid, I wrote short stories and edited the school newspaper. I knew things others didn’t, and that’s not always a great pair of shoes to walk in on a hot day at the beach. You create shortcuts and get in a lot of bad habits. I did get a lot of laughs and assumed I could write about anything. A big head can go a long way.

Then I grew up and relocated to Hollywood. The actors in me struggled but the writer – you know that “other guy” in my head thrived. I sold my first screenplay and remembered sharing with close friends how good and easy it was. What did I know? Aside from knowing everything, I assumed selling the next script would be just as easy as the first. My only excuse was – I was a kid who didn’t know any better. I was also wrong.

My grandfather taught me you never give up when you know the direction you walk in is the right way. I was stubborn and grew thick skin. Rejection was a middle name, but I learned some great lessons along the way. Eventually, I found my niche and became a produced screenwriter. I also had to understand when you sell a script it doesn’t mean it will reach the big screen. Most don’t get their green light. I once again found tools right in front of me I hadn’t seen or used yet and when I did – everything changed.

Along the way, my agent kept telling me to write a novel or two and use some of the screen stories I had created for the base. It took years for me to listen to that advice. I didn’t know how to write a novel. There is a huge difference in-between the art of screenwriting and the compelling ability of completing a manuscript.

Sometimes you write a screenplay, sell it, and after the first, second, or third option runs out the script goes into turn-around. If the studio or production company that purchased, the script doesn’t exercise the final step to complete the purchase – the film rights return to the writer.

Unfortunately, the turnaround option happens quite frequently. I know many screenwriters who make a good living selling scripts that never get produced. It’s not what you want, but it pays the bills.

On one of those occasions, my agent reminded me again. If the studio readers liked the story and script well enough to talk the studio into putting up options money to obtain screen rights, the story must be good. He suggested I to turn it into a novel. He didn’t mention I should look for a few new tools to help me.

Now, after writing several published books I still seek tools to help me learn more. Like I said, you learn something every day if you pay attention. Some of my writer friends were joining groups and clubs to help find their audience. I joined a few, and then I found this one place called Author’s Marketing Club. I checked it out and found over 16,000 authors belonged to the club, so I joined.

I wanted more tools. My writer tool bag is full, but there is always room for more. As a screenwriter I know how to excite the reader, make a strong pitch and write a compelling script. I have sold or optioned over 30 scripts. It’s never easy, and my filing cabinets prove it. I’ve probably written several hundred scripts over the years, and we all know or can guess where most found their resting place – buried in one of my cabinets. What I needed was an author’s tool. I knew there was more than one tool, but you have to start at square one when you enter the tiger’s den with little knowledge of how to feed the hungry animals. I didn’t know how to find my audience, my author’s voice, or basic promotional tools every writer needs. These tools are completely difference than the ones I’ve used all my life. Screen vs. Book and therein lies the battle of confusion. In a screenplay, it is mostly showing a very little fine-tuned selected and tell. In the book, it is all tell, describe, and tell more. Once you find the handle and can tell the difference, you need new tools.

Now my writer tool bag has made more room for all the exciting gifts I am receiving from Authors Marketing Club. There is so much stuff offered you need time to digest all the potential help that is waiting to be explored. How to get reviews is one. They not only tell you what tools you need but provide the main tool to enhance your chances. They don’t get the reviews, but your manuscript and talent are given the basics and shows you how to get it done. They help with advertising, guide you through a book description, offer tidbits of how, where and when to promote, offer workshops for marketing, book writing, cover creation and more. Tools are what you find here that are almost impossible to find elsewhere. When you join as a Premium Member, you get a bag of tools, and many of them are priceless.

Now I know you’re asking – do I work for Authors Marketing Club? The answer is no. I discovered early in my career to helping other writers, filmmakers and actors. You help them, and they remember and will help you back. Sometimes the pay-forward takes years, but the memory is long and a wonderful tool – we never forget kindness or assistance. When you promote your book or help someone else just adding the hash-tag #amcbuzz to a tweet or Facebook announcement creates amazing things, and you get to watch them happen. Even if you belong to other clubs or groups, you help them, and they will help you. To help fill your writer's tool bag, I suggest you join the Authors Marketing Club http://www.authormarketingclub.com and become a Premium Member.

My Writer Tool Bag still has room to learn more, and I’m constantly making room for additional space. Remember – give a fellow writer a virtual hug and that small helping hand will reap untold rewards.

 Copyright © William Byron Hillman 2014

Just re-released with new cover and edits:

Ghosts and Phantoms 1 – the first Rollie Kemp Mystery

New Release:
HOAX – a Rollie Kemp Mystery #5
 

Book Links:
Quigley's Christmas Adventure http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ANVNQ6G
In editorial – Cheater
In development Veronique and Murray's Honeymoon

Rollie Kemp Novels
Ghosts and Phantoms Part I: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0056WR6I6
Ghosts and Phantoms Part II: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0056WR7YE
In development Con Job

My next planned film is:
Quigley's Christmas Adventure
www.quigley2.com
(Sequel to the hit film Quigley)

Monday, August 25, 2014

#4 FROM THE SECOND FLOOR

FROM THE SECOND FLOOR #4

Where do I get all those characters I write about?

I recently joined several writing groups like the Independent Author Network better known as #IAN1 for new members and those wishing to connect and spread their wings. They created a web page and new presence for me. The link to my new page is: http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/william-byron-hillman.html

I also joined several other groups that included Author Marketing Club where you can grab some unique information and help on an entirely different platform from IAN. The difference is amazing and thus the reason you join both not just one. Author Marketing Club helps with book covers, free book markets, reviews and more. They too have an hashtag #amcbuzz I add to Twitter and Facebook.

Interesting how you can add your site on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ or LinkedIn include your username and add these hashtags. Your audience goes right to things you've written, tweeted, posted or can see the books you have available, and read about them.

Right after joining came the questions, so I sat down and gave it some thought. I started hearing questions never asked before, lots of emails from fellow writers and new scribblers asking for details, and filmmakers wanting to know the how and why things happened as they do.

Looking back, I had a wonderful grandfather who taught me many things. I grew up in a totally dysfunctional family where learning and listening was painful at best. My parents were too busy with their lives to pay much attention to their kids. Grandpa, feeling the stress, would take me outside to get away from the commotion. In the beginning, he read to me. He didn't read children's books; he read novels and at times just the newspaper.

When I was old enough to read and write, grandpa would spend hours sharing a story from a book or reading what he had asked me to write. It was all gibberish, but he read every word and then we would talk about what I had written.

When I got older, he started telling me personal stories about his youth. He colored the trouble he ran into and detailed the vivid explanation of the travelling he did around the country. His memory was full of color and excitement, and I heard enough to fill hundreds of books. I questioned him about a few stories as they were hard to believe, but the more he spoke the more I realized my grandfather was an encyclopedia from the past. His street life stuff was what most people never talk about, and seldom share in their written experiences.

Today one of the first questions people ask is – where did I get the idea to write that book, TV script or motion picture screenplay? How do I come up with all the characters, the plots, the sub-stories and the background for my characters? I usually answer by explaining we all have a past to pull from, even if some of it is on the dark side, and that's where I get most of my material. When I feel tapped out, which seldom happens, I visit a local mall. Just buying a cup of coffee or tea and sitting in the middle of the food court can provide information you'd never get asking questions from strangers. It's an excellent source of material.

My dad was this mysterious guy who never talked about his youth. The only way I learned a little of who he was or what he may have done was to sneak into our dark dining room, hide under the table and listen to what he said to men visiting. My mom and grandpa always disappeared when dad got visitors, so I knew it was important stuff. Dad did some accounting for a crime boss named Al Capone. Al and my dad were never close friends because all I heard them talk about was business. Dad didn't mow people down or carry a gun that I knew of, he used his brains to move money around, start businesses and make investments. He helped them figure out how to loan money legitimately. Not everyone listened, and eventually big Al was caught cheating on his taxes. The IRS got him for tax evasion when law enforcement couldn't touch him for committed crimes. I heard some great material while hiding under that table.

When I decided I wanted to be a singer, turned actor, turned writer and then developed into a full blown filmmaker/author I met with people from all walks of life. One man in particular was my mechanic. I owned this old Mercedes Coupe and it needed special care and constant repairing. My mechanic was from Italy and a real character with endless stories just as my grandfather had been. One day my mechanic said his cousin had a great story that should be a movie. He said he'd make the repairs to my timing chain free if I listened to his cousin's story. Even back then the repairs where hundreds of dollars so I agreed to meet the cousin. This became one of the best meetings I ever attended. His name was John, and it turned out he was an active FBI Agent. I soon learned he had been a cop, worked for the CIA, became a Secret Service Agent for a "tour" as he called it, and then joined the bureau. John became a plethora of material, and more stories came right from some of his cases and arrested records. I learned the ins and outs of major crime investigations, and heard stories about crimes so off the charts I could never have thought about creating them for a story.

John couldn't pick just one to start with because he had hundreds all recorded on approximately fifty audio tapes. Before we could pick just one story to begin with, John died from Lou Gehrig's disease. After giving his life a lot of thought, I rolled the whole idea into one character. I didn't use all of his background or name and kept it all original using only the parts that had helped him develop into such a crazy wonderful character. When the dust settled I had a new character I named Rollie Kemp. He came from a crime family but ran from it at an early age. He studied law, got married, divorced for various important reasons, and went into the police academy to try his hand at being a cop. The idea of busting bad guys instead of being one was appealing because his old man was a wiseguy. I couldn't make it that easy so Rollie's police career got interrupted by a drunk driver, so my character got a sensational settlement from an accident. I liked the fact he became well healed so whatever job I gave him wasn't for money. I also wanted him to get well enough to get around and be quick. Now that I had messed up his whole life my strong, muscular, attractive character needed to try something exciting, so he turned to acting. He wasn't about to become a great actor but had one hell of an explosive temper, and that got the attention of Drake Fargo. Pleased with the developments, I had two guys coming from entirely different backgrounds bucking heads. Drake is ex-CIA, FBI, Navy Seal and a Special Forces member. He got fed up with the system and started a superlative detective agency. Now all the studios and celebrities hired him and with the power of a couple of the computer keys he became the go-to guy for the rich and powerful. I wanted a big presence so I molded Rollie into a muscular six feet five inches of movie star handsome while Drake would be six feet eight or nine, and three hundred pounds of pure potential brutality. The two men couldn't maintain the same temperament so I gave Rollie a temper suited for anger management and messed with Drake so he could have a mixture, mild one moment and controlled-explosive the next.

When I wrote the first book Ghosts and Phantoms-I, there had to be more of the same problem. They were fun together, so I did a continuation of the original case in Ghosts and Phantoms II.
I realized Rollie was magnetic from reader responses, so he became the standout partner even though he didn't start having a clue how to hold a gun - bad enough shoot one. The third book APRIL changed all that. Rollie was force-fed into taking his first case without Drake and falling into a swirling pool of corruption, evil and death.

I took a break to write a few other books, but Rollie and Drake we only beginning their rollercoaster ride.

In the fourth Rollie Kemp Novel – BAD RAP – Rollie once again barrels right into the fire and stays there for the entire book. Why make the character have an easy time when it's more fun to keep him in constant trouble? Rollie thrives on trouble much like the real life character John did. What made John's engines churn are the same as what motivates Rollie – overcoming evil while staying righteous and towing the line. Sure a step over the line happens. It did with John as it does for all law enforcement officers, but the real guys always step back in resolution.

I remembered something John told me about a case he worked. He busted a drug dealer only to have that guy return years later with a vendetta grown completely out of proportion from being in prison with nothing else to think about. He came after John with vengeance and miraculously survival came in the form of a little unexpected help.

Keeping that I mind, I wrote book five – HOAX and gave it a sub-title Prematurely Terminated. Using a loose filament of John's experience, I took Rollie's youth and his troubled past, and brought it all together. While he does most of the work, Drake with his wounded foot new wife and pouty attitude gets totally involved. I wanted the bizarre to happen. The reader demanded to know more about the wild and crazy characters accumulated previously. I found a way to incorporate and bring some colorful characters back to life. Bits and pieces of the previous four books roll into an adventurous escapade. We travel around the world in trouble. Rollie not only has his hands full, but his personal life comes back to bite him once again.

Is Rollie done? Not a chance. He's just getting started, and I intend to pull from his confused and very complicated past to continue his journey. The Rollie Kemp mystery series will continue with the fun, the crazy and some dark moments to create a pause and enable the reader to think and recall incidents that answer questions from previous escapes and adventures.

Try pulling from the past for your book or screenplay. It's delicious fun.

William Byron Hillman © 2014


Just released:
HOAX – Prematurely Terminated a thriller
 
My next planned films are:
Quigley's Christmas Adventure
(Sequel to the hit film Quigley)


Book Links:
Quigley's Christmas Adventure http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ANVNQ6G
In development Veronique and Murray's Honeymoon

Rollie Kemp Novels
Ghosts and Phantoms Part I: http://tinyurl.com/6wxef7g
Ghosts and Phantoms Part II: http://tinyurl.com/d7mtspu
Hoax – Prematurely Terminated
In editorial – Cheater

Just released:
HOAX – Prematurely Terminated a thriller
 
My next planned films are:
Quigley's Christmas Adventure
(Sequel to the hit film Quigley)