As my speaking engagements finally wind down for the year, and I look longingly forward to a much-needed rest, I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be speaking TWICE at the Historical Novel Society Conference in Denver, June 22-24!
I’m on a panel about Victorian society with several really cool authors, including my friend Stephanie Carroll, whom I met at the 2015 HNS conference. We’ll talk about everything from fashion to mourning customs, and spiritualism to suffragists. It’s such a rich time period and we’re blessed to have authors representing both Victorian England and America.
I’m also conducting a Koffee Klatch – an informal session where people sit around and ask me questions – about being an indie author. This really is an ask-me-anything session. I’ll be candid about the good and the bad, talk money and marketing, and what really goes into being an indie (hint: a lot of hard work). So if you’re going to be there, come prepared with your questions!
Remember, you still have five chances to see me this year, as soon as tomorrow!
St. Louis Writers’ Guild
Nicole will be presenting on writing historical fiction
10 a.m. – noon
Kirkwood Community Center
St. Louis, Missouri
Indie Author Day
Nicole will be speaking and signing books at two events
St. Louis County Library, Thornhill Branch (12863 Willowyck Dr., 63146)
12:30 p.m. – Networking and light refreshments
1 p.m. – National Digital Gathering
2 p.m. – Local Panel
St. Louis Public Library, downtown location (1301 Olive St.)
4 – 6 p.m.
Q&A and book selling/signing
Missouri Romance Writers Association (MORWA) Nicole will be speaking on working with a publicity company
October 15 (rescheduled date)
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis County Library – Oak Bend Branch
Nicole will be presenting on Victoria Woodhull
And after that, I am crawling under a pile of blankets and resting for a few months! But you know me, my idea of resting is reading and learning. But more on that in another blog post…
Just wanted to drop you all of quick note to say if you live in the St. Louis area, please come by the Lit in Lou literary festival and see me speak about place and character in historical fiction. I’m a three-author panel, so I don’t know what the exact questions will be we’re likely to talk about research, setting and putting readers in a historical context. The schedule for the day is still a little fluid, but here are all the details I have:
Event: Place & Character in Historical Fiction
Date:October 11, 2014
Location: University City Library (Library 1)
Hope to see at least a few of you there!
I’m excited because there are a lot of other panels I want to attend, both as a reader and a writer. I’ll report back after if there’s anything I think you guys would be interested in knowing or if anything particularly cool happens.
By the time you read this, I’ll be on a plane somewhere over the Rocky Mountains headed toward Hedgebrook for my week-long Master Class with author Deborah Harkness. I won’t have Internet while I’m there and they’ve asked us not to blog or do social media (so that we get the full writer’s retreat experience), so there won’t be a post on March 10. Hopefully, sometime later that week I’ll be able to do one on my experiences, but if not, I’ll tell you all about it on March 17.
In the meantime, sit back, relax and enjoy part two of my ramble on how acting classes made me a better writer. Here’s part one in case you missed it.
3) Blocking – As on stage, the characters in a book don’t stay in one place, nor do they just stand around with nothing to do while they talk. The movement on stage is known as blocking. When I write, I’m the director of the play. I see the scene in my head as if it were on stage or film and I give my characters very particular tasks while they’re talking, from unpacking a chest to practicing swordplay. The direction they turn, how fast they approach another character, even their facial expressions are carefully choreographed based on my experiences on stage. Some people say you can give your characters too obvious of blocking, and I think that’s true. It’s all about how you write it. You can’t just say. “Jane crossed over to the box,” like you would in a stage direction. In a book, the motivation has to come through. “Jane stomped over to the chest and threw open the lid,” gives you the idea that Jane is angry, presumably with whomever else is in the scene. It gets her where you need her to go, but accomplishes more than just that.
4) Dialogue – All those years of memorizing lines and reciting dialogue have given me a keen ear for what sounds real in dialogue and what doesn’t. Many people advocate reading your dialogue out loud so that you know how it would sound if actually spoken. This is a great exercise that comes straight from the “table reads” or “cold reads” that actors do. The first time a cast approaches a script, they all sit down together and just read their parts, with no attempt to “act.” Nothing else is required because it gives them a sense of how they will work together and how their interactions might change the meaning of a line. It also gives them a basis to think on as they are rehearsing and developing their characters.
Delivering countless lines and monologues has also given me the ability to hear with my inner ear how a character would say something, as opposed to how I would naturally say it, which comes in very handy when writing. One of my speech writing teachers in graduate school said it’s a skill you either have or don’t, but I think it can be developed by studying the dialogue of plays, and more importantly, delivering it. Once you’ve had to “become” a character, words and all, you retain a bit of that ability to tap into that alter ego in your head, making your dialogue a bit more true to life.
5) Confidence – This may seem like a strange one, but acting experience is the reason I’ve had the guts to be interviewed live in person and online and have given workshops in front of crowds at conferences. Standing up in front of people is hard, no matter who you are or how many words you’ve put down on the page. But, getting out in front of your fans is a necessary part of promoting yourself and your books. Whether you’re doing a reading, Q&A or just signing books, someday you’re going to have your own audience, and being practiced will lessen the stress of such an event.
If you have kids who are interested in writing or show a talent for it, one of the best things you can do is encourage them to take acting classes. Even if they don’t go into writing, it will prepare them for so much of adult life, giving them critical thinking skills, poise and a sense of worth. Heck, even if you’re an adult, it’s not too late to start. Join a community theater or see if your local community college needs actors. Take acting classes at your community center. You’ll be surprised how differently you look at your writing afterwards, and you’ll be more confident, too.
Have you ever taken acting classes or studied acting methods to learn how to write? What were your experiences? If not, what do you think of the idea of acting being a good training ground for writers?