Today's special guest is Barbara Oliverio. A Readers' Favorite Award™ Winner, Barbara Oliverio is the daughter of Italian immigrants and grew up in North Central West Virginia with a love of reading and a passion for learning. Following a career path that included being a teacher, journalist, and marketer, she has lived as far away from home as Italy where she practiced her family's native tongue as well as took advantage of living near to other European countries to travel extensively. A rabid Pittsburgh Steeler fan, she lives with her husband, an equally committed New York Giants fan, in suburban Denver where off-football-season dinner conversation is calmer and is usually accompanied by a meal she cooks from one of her mother's treasured recipes. Other interests include New York Times crossword puzzles, good movies, and travel. She volunteers extensively for her parish and writes for its publications. She also teaches part-time for the St. Catherine of Siena Institute.
So You Wanna Write a Book
By Barbara Oliverio
Before I became a published author, when I was “just” a writer, I never really thought about my method. I just did what I did. Quite often at book events and signings now, however, I’m asked some variation of one question: “Just exactly how do you write a book?”
Hmm. It’s a headscratcher. I certainly don’t have THE magic formula, but I can share the steps I follow that seem to work for me.
Research your genre. Whether you are going to write mystery, paranormal, young adult or any other genre, you need to know what the genre looks and feels like so that you can know how to reach your target audience. I chose to write romantic comedy for my debut novel Love on the Back Burner, not because it is the only genre I read, but because it fit well with the story I wanted to tell. While preparing to write it, I must have read thousands of romances to understand the ebb and flow. I knew that I was going to concentrate on comedy and dialog, so I also watched romcom movies to study that dialog. Eventually, I could map out the rise and fall of a plot and it was ingrained in my head.
Interview your characters. I create a “persona” sheet for each of my characters. On it I give a physical description and list everything I know about them. I list their favorite colors, movies, books and tell what their hobbies and interests are. I write down where they went to school and have them tell me about their favorite memory. Usually, I also find a photo of a celebrity who the character would resemble. (In Love on the Lido Deck, I reviewed the web for photos of blonde actresses with extraordinary green eyes to base the character of Keira). Does all the information make it into the book? Probably not, but if I have a solid background on each character, I am better able to have them move through the story organically and stay in character.
Know how characters are related. I take a big sheet of paper and draw a circle with the name of my main character smack dab in the middle of it. Then I draw circles near her depicting the people that she is directly connected or related to. At that point, I draw straight lines from people who know each other directly, and dotted lines from people who only know “of” one another. What I end up with is a map that assures that one character can’t comment about someone they don’t know and upset the continuity of the story. You can do the same with index cards on a corkboard and different colors of yarn connecting them.
Outline – but don’t get stuck on it. I know. That sounds contradictory, but it works for me. I make a broad sweeping outline of the plot of the story because, after all, if you don’t know where you are going, you’ll never get there. I’m never afraid to let my characters lead me down a different path occasionally. They sometimes have better ideas than I do! I do reserve the right to reel them back and get them on my path if where they go doesn’t work. (Note: I do have some author friends who outline meticulously and others who don’t outline at all – I’m just telling you what works for me.)
Set a schedule. We’ve all seen the movies and seen the writers stricken by the muse. That’s the movies. In real life, writing is a task that needs to be scheduled. I give myself a number of words per day. (Usually, I go over that number). Even if you think you are blocked, and the words that you write look awful at the moment, you will have written SOMETHING. You can always delete and start again the next day, or edit, or save the bit for somewhere else.
I do all researching, etc., before I even write the first word in Chapter One. Folks are surprised when I tell them how quickly my writing flows, but I attribute it to all of the planning and research I do. I guess it’s a version of “measure twice, cut once” and I’m pretty sure that my little papa taught me that as I tagged along while he did projects around the house. Hey! Who knew that building a bookcase and building a book had so much in common!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Sharp-witted, always-organized Keira Graham has traded in her high tech career as a systems analyst for the whirlwind world of event planning. As she builds up her fledging business, she learns that her widowed mother has news of her own – she has a serious gentleman caller! Is Keira ready for mom’s new romance?
When she gets a game-changing opportunity to organize a major event on a luxury Caribbean cruise, Keira turns to best pal chef Alexandria D'Agostino to help recruit famous chefs who will offer classes for foodies looking for fun in the sun as they gain cooking know-how. The cruise becomes a rollicking adventure for Keira, her sassy assistant Juliet, the entire D'Agostino clan, Keira's mother and other surprise guests. And has Keira meet her match in charismatic Cruise Director Brennan McAllister, who could have something more than keeping everything shipshape on his mind?
I picked up the phone and punched in a number I would never forget.
“Maeve Graham,” answered the familiar voice.
“Mother, it’s me.” My mouth curled into a smile thinking of my mother probably just getting back from a charity breakfast, slipping off her impeccable heels to put on the comfy pink slippers I had knit for her when I was eight and going through my crafts phase.
“Keira, my sweet”—I heard the love in her voice— ”I was just thinking about you. Can you come over for tea and let me show you the new mare we’ve gotten in?”
My mother lived on the 35-acre estate that my father had inherited in tony horse country right outside the city. It was where I grew up, and the word home to me always conjured up the sounds of horses in the background. The stables were not as full as they once were, but she still had a number of our own horses as well as some that she boarded.
“Sorry, Mother, but I am slammed with work.”
“Oh.” I heard the disappointment in her voice. Then she brightened. “That’s okay, I’ll see you at the Witheroe wedding this weekend, won’t I?”
“Mother, you’ll see me there but as the event planner, remember? Not as a guest.” Although she had been the source of most of my first leads when I started my own event-planning service in Denver, my mother sometimes forgot that I was the hired help now.
“Of course, dear,” she paused.
“Mother, is something wrong?”
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Barbara will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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