A Musical and a Funeral

A musical and a funeral. What, you might ask, could these two disparate experiences possibly have in common?

Well, they both set my writer’s senses humming.

First, my daughter and I saw the Stratford Festival’s brilliant, boisterous production of the musical comedy “Guys and Dolls.” Singing, dancing, highjinks, and hilarity, plus a touching tale of first love. We laughed, sang in the car after, and felt elated.

Two days later, my brother and I attended the funeral of my late mother’s cousin. A solemn requiem mass. Rites steeped in centuries-old ceremony. Family members shrouded in the silence of their grief. Consolation from the choir with Faure’s soaring Requiem. I’m not religious, but I was deeply moved by a phrase in the priest’s sermon: “Grief is the price we pay for love.”

What, then, is the common ground?

It’s this. One powerful force. Emotion. The joyous release of song and dance. Solemn communal respect for the fullness of a man’s life. Both experiences overflow with emotion.

There’s a crucial lesson here for writers. Our job is to plumb these deepest emotional wellsprings that nourish and bind the human family. Love and laughter. Love and grief. And the myriad of other emotions that infuse our lives.

Emotional connection is the literary gift you bestow on your reader. When characters in a story move us to pity or laughter or loathing or dread, or just the simple warmth of fellow-feeling, that’s what makes us care. The fine details of style drift past the reader like mist unless the hand of emotion reaches out to grab them and hold them.

The wise writer uses this knowledge. When I mentor writers, I sometimes use the word “manipulate.” Effective writing means you’re manipulating your reader. It’s not a trick. It’s anything but shallow. It is, instead, a bonding with humanity’s deepest consciousness. What moves us, imprints us. The evoking of emotion is what turns the writer’s craft into art.

Personal Mentoring to Help You Advance

There’s no satisfaction like finishing your book and knowing it’s really good – the kind of book that can attract a top agent and win an offer from a major publisher.

But moving forward on your own can be a challenge, so you may be finding yourself a little stuck. If going it alone is holding you back, here’s a way forward. Starting on September 19, I can be your personal mentor.

My Writing Mentor Program Logo

This is a 3-month program called My Writing Mentor. I designed it for a very small group: just ten people. The small group size lets me focus on you individually. You’ll get:

  • My in-depth analysis of 30 pages of your writing, sent whenever you’re ready, either during the program or up to a year after
  • Bi-weekly group calls from September 19 to December 12 in which I’ll lead discussions, answer your questions, and give on-the-spot coaching
  • Unlimited free access to my “Your Path to a Page-Turner” Program. (If you’ve already purchased it, you get a $100 discount!)
  • Access to my private Facebook group for ongoing support

Registration is now open. We start on September 19. Three months of personal mentoring, support, and progress. The cost is $1195, with a monthly payment plan option.

There are just ten places in this program; three are still available. Don’t miss out on one of them! Click here for all the details.

Grow as a writer. Dare to succeed.

All my best,
Barbara Kyle
P.S.  If you want, you can book a free 15-minute call with me to discuss the program. I’ll be happy to answer your questions. Email me at bkyle@barbarakyle.com to schedule a call.

Cherish Your Writer Comrades

Has this ever happened to you?

You’re at a party, telling a new acquaintance about a plot twist for your story, and they look at you with polite bewilderment, and perhaps a wince of boredom. But later, you tell a fellow writer about the same plot twist and they’re sincerely interested, even offer helpful suggestion.

Hmm, who would you rather hang out with?

Here’s my advice. Don’t expect non-writers (I call them civilians) to understand what you’re wrestling with as you hone your craft. They likely don’t get it. But other writers do. They know what you’re going through. The frustrations. The highs. The setbacks. The lows. The sheer joy in the work despite the lows. They get it.

It goes deeper. A civilian can wound you. It’s not intentional, but a tossed-off comment like “Are you still working on that book?” can be a dagger to your heart.

Your writer friends will never do that to you. We are your tribe. We care for each other.

A source of deep satisfaction in my writing career comes from the bonds I’ve formed with other writers, especially those I’ve mentored. They’ve become my friends. You can see and read about a few of them in my latest Newsletter for Writers. Here’s the link: http://mailchi.mp/002ddf44e41b/news-from-barbara-kyle

Barbara Kyle and TK Thorne

With T.K. Thorne, who invited me as keynote speaker at the AWC conference in Birmingham, Alabama, an event that forged our friendship.

Robert Rotenberg and Barbara Kyle

Robert Rotenberg attended one of my Master Classes when we was writing his first novel. He’s now the bestselling author of five, and has become a good friend.

Barbara-Kyle-and-agent-Al-Zuckerman

Legendary agent Al Zuckerman, speaking at my “Crafting the Page-Turner” Symposium. Al has been my agent, mentor, and friend through the writing and publication of my ten novels.

 

All my best to you and your writing comrades!

Barbara Kyle

http://www.Barbarakyle.com

NEW: The “My Writing Mentor” Program

There’s no satisfaction like completing your book and celebrating, because you know it’s really good – the kind of book that can attract a top agent and win an offer from a major publisher.

But moving forward all alone can be a challenge. You may be finding yourself a little stuck. That’s perfectly normal. Writing is a solitary art, which means staying on track can be hard.

If going it alone is holding you back, let me tell you about a way forward. Starting September 19, I’m offering a new program in which I can be your personal mentor.

This is a 3-month program called The “My Writing Mentor” Program. I designed it for a very small group. There are just 10 places. Registration is now open. We start on September 19.

If you’re facing a writing roadblock, I can help you break through it. Or, if you’re progressing well and want to see if you can take your writing to the next level, I’ll help get you there. Maybe you’re somewhere in between, or maybe you’re at the very start of your writing journey, and know you could advance best with personal support.

Sound good? Three months of personal mentoring, support, and progress. You’ll find all the details on my website. https://www.barbarakyle.com/writing-mentor-program/

Grow as a writer. Dare to succeed.

All my best,

Barbara Kyle

The Creative Process: Finding Your Own Way

Story creation is a joy. But sometimes the process can lead us on a twisty path.

I’m at work on a new novel with the working title Fearful Symmetry. I say “new” but the idea for it came to me years ago. Sixteen years, to be exact.

At that time, I’d had a satisfying success with my thriller Beyond Recall, published (under my pen-name Stephen Kyle) by Warner Books, New York. They’d contracted me for two more books, so for the next one I offered a two-page concept featuring an idea I found quite thrilling. My agent loved the concept, and so did my editor at Warner. However, it turned out that another Warner author was bringing out a book that touched on the same theme, so my editor asked me to submit an alternative idea. I did so, and she liked it too, so I went on to write After Shock, which Warner released the following  year.

    Beyond Recall 2000    After Shock

 But that initial, thrilling concept never left me. It floated in the back of my mind for years, during which time I had eight more books published. Now, sixteen years later, I’m at work on bringing Fearful Symmetry to life.

As writers, we all have to find our own way along the path to creation, and sometimes it’s a lengthy journey. Even for the greatest. I recently read four books about how famous works of art were created. Because these books are so fascinating – and because your time may be a little freer for reading while summer is with us – I’d like to recommend them to you. Here they are:

The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventures of Les Miserables by David Bellos

victor-hugo-2This clever and engaging book is a biography not of the great writer Victor Hugo (above) but of his masterpiece, Les Misérables. Bellos traces the life of the 1,500-page novel from conception to publication. It took Hugo 17 years to write Les Miserables, from his first draft penned in Paris in 1845 when he was the honored “great man” of letters, to its completion in 1862 when he was an outcast living in exile on the island of Guernsey. There, he secured the publishing deal of the century.

We’ll Always Have Casablanca: The Life, Legend, and Afterlife of Hollywood’s Most Beloved Movie by Noah Isenberg
casablanca-1
The origins of this famous film lie in a 1940 stage play called Everybody Comes to Rick’s by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison. Their play was transformed by screenwriters Howard Koch and Julius and Philip Epstein into the screenplay that became the brilliant 1942 film. Isenberg details that transformation, and his book is full of fascinating details, some quite moving, such as the central role that refugees from Hitler’s Europe played in the production; nearly all of the cast of Casablanca were immigrants.

The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries by Emma Thompson

the-sense-and-sensibility-screenplay-and-diaries-1995

The multi-talented actor/writer Emma Thompson won a well-deserved Oscar for her screenplay that adapted the Jane Austen novel Sense and Sensibility, and she also starred in the beautiful 1995 film made from it, directed by Ang Lee. This marvelous book includes Thompson’s complete shooting script plus her astute diaries detailing the production of this film graced by some of the finest British actors, including the late Alan Rickman.

Leningrad: Siege and Symphony by Brian Moynahan

Dmitri_Shostakovich

The siege of Leningrad was the Nazis’ pitiless 900-day encirclement of the Soviet Union’s second city, from 1941 to 1944, in which hundreds of thousands of civilians starved to death. During that horror, a dedicated makeshift orchestra of emaciated musicians performed the newly created Seventh Symphony of Dmitri Shostakovich (above) for an audience of starving, but rapt, music lovers. This true story is an inspiring testament to the redemptive power of a great work of art.
May the creative process take you along the twisty, but oh-so-satisfying, journey to your finished book.

Grow as a writer. Dare to succeed.

All my best,
Barbara Kyle
www.BarbaraKyle.com
bkyle@barbarakyle.com

P.S. Want to learn how to write a book that leaves readers saying “I couldn’t put it down”? I’ll be your mentor with my online program Your Path to a Page-Turner. You’ll receive a wealth of materials – 23 videos, “Practice Like a Pro” exercises, and ongoing online guidance – in a program you can pursue at your own pace. Join me!

PageTurner_Program_banner

King Henry VIII, My Husband, and the Pissing Drunkard

Research is part of every writer’s work. Years ago, writing my first historical novel, I discovered an eye-opening research resource close to home. My husband.

The Queen’s Lady is set in England during the reign of King Henry VIII. Now, Henry and my husband share no similarity regarding tyrannical rule and beheaded wives – I married a thoughtful, peaceable man. He is, however, endowed with the standard issue male anatomy, and this helped my research. Here’s how.

In my first draft of the novel, I’d written a scene of a Midsummer Eve celebration in which boisterous revelers dance around bonfires, lovers steal kisses, and a drunk old man pisses as he staggers through the crowd. Wait a minute, I thought. Can a man do that – urinate while walking?

I took the problem to my husband. “Can a man do that?” I asked.

“I’ll go see,” he said, and walked out the door.

Thankfully, we lived on sixty rural acres, at the end of a dead-end road. Not a soul around.

Five minutes later he came back in. “Yup,” he reported.

You can see why I value this resource.

How about you? Any adventures in research?

 

Barbara Kyle

P.S. Write a book that agents and publishers can’t resist — one that leaves readers saying “I couldn’t put it down!” Learn how with my online program “Your Path to a Page-Turner.”

PageTurner_Facebook_banner

Wise Advice from a Legendary Agent

Years ago, when I was querying agents about my first novel, I read an interview with top agent Albert Zuckerman in which he was asked, “What’s the single most important piece of advice you’d give a new writer?” His answer was, “Be willing to work your ass off.” Aha, I thought (in my naiveté), he means the whirl of book launches, media interviews, and book tours.

Nope, he meant the actual writing.

I was thrilled to sign with Al. He has represented me through the publication of ten novels, and my book sales recently topped over half a million copies. (That’s Al with me, below, guest speaker at my Crafting the Page-Turner symposium.)

Barbara-Kyle-and-Al-Zuckerman

And how right he was: succeeding as a writer takes serious work.

But it’s exciting work, and the rewards are so very satisfying. Those rewards – representation by a well-connected agent, a book contract with a major publisher, and global book sales – are what I want for you.

Having worked in this business for years, I know what agents and publishers are looking for, what they want – and don’t want. What they always want, whatever the book’s genre or target audience, is a page-turner. A story that leaves readers saying, “I couldn’t put it down!”

That’s why I created my new online program “Your Path to a Page-Turner.” It has become a game-changer for many:

The ‘Your Path to a Page-Turner’ program is magnificent! It is most definitely helping me grow as a writer. I love your tips. One of them really caused a shift in me.” – Jacqui Gajewski

“There is so much I took away from the program. I will definitely keep going back to the videos until I can recite them verbatim 🙂– Vince Santoro

“I’m learning so much from the program. Once I started the exercises, it was like a dam burst. I got over my fear of starting and just wrote and wrote.– Susan Leeming

The Your Path to a Page-Turner Program has one purpose: to give you the practical, in-depth information you need to write a richly engaging story that can attract a major publisher.

I’ll be your mentor to guide you, but you are the hero of this story. The word “hero” in the classic literary sense means someone who’s on a challenging quest, and from it learns something profound. And the word “mentor” in the classic literary sense means someone who prepares the hero to embark on that quest. Your desire to perfect your craft as a writer is a meaningful quest. In fact, I consider it a noble calling, because humanity lives by its stories. And nothing makes me happier than empowering an emerging writer to create a wonderful book.

Sign up today for the “Your Path to a Page-Turner” Program and let it open the doors to your success.

All my best,
Barbara Kyle

Purple Prose vs. the Real Deal

I spoke by Skype recently to a very gifted writer I’m mentoring, and he told me his previous attempts at fiction were an embarrassment of “purple prose,” the phrase writers use for overblown, overwritten language. He had, he said, cured himself of that failing. I told him his purge of purpleness was a fine goal.

But then I told him he might have gone too far.

By hacking out all the overwritten material, he had inadvertently cauterized his story’s lifeblood: the characters’ private thoughts and feelings. What I call their “Inscape.” He had reduced his characters to just actions. He’d left out the thing that readers crave to know: the “why.” The motivation.

Lady-Writing

Inscape is the only way a reader can get to know a character intimately. It’s the only map for discovering a character’s truest heart. Not what they say. Not even what they do on the surface of their lives. Inscape, instead, lays bare the person’s hidden self: their secret longings, their darkest fears, their private joys. Their deepest self.

Getting there, though, is a process. Writing is not a science, it’s an art. And sometimes we find our way to art by overdoing, by overwriting, by being overblown. Because that’s how we dig deep, how we plumb our characters’ most profound desires and fears.

Only by hauling up loads of ore can we sift and refine, and thereby find nuggets of gold.

So I say to thee, “Go forth and overwrite.” Then, my friends, wisely refine.

All my best,
Barbara

P.S. Set out on the path to success as a writer with my exciting new online program “Your Path to a Page-Turner”.

PageTurner_Program_banner

Common Problem, Easy Fix

If you’re a writer, you delight in words. Word patterns. Word play. Word power. The love of words is in our DNA.

Words are also the most basic tool you have in creating a story. The wise writer chooses words very carefully.

Mentoring a writer recently, I pointed out that his use of Latinate words tended to weaken his prose. He asked what I meant by “Latinate,” and when I explained, he got it immediately and was eager to revise. So, let me share the concept with you, because it’s such an easy weakness to fix.

Latinate words are English words that have their origin in Latin. For centuries, Latin was the language of the educated classes (the clergy and lawyers), so people who wanted to sound educated used Latinate words. The habit persists to this day, and usually for the same reason: the wish to sound cultured. But Latinate words seldom have the power and clarity of ordinary, everyday English words – Anglo-Saxon words.

Latinate: He descended the stairs and exited his abode where he encountered the female who resided in the neighboring domicile. Observing her magnificent physique as she passed him, he contemplated his aspiration to engage her in conversation, and in supplementary acts.

Anglo-Saxon: He went downstairs and left his house where he came upon the woman who lived next door. Gazing at her buxom form as she passed him, he thought about how much he wanted to talk to her, and more.

George Orwell, author of Nineteen-Eighty-Four, and a master of robust, plain English, said: “A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.”

So, be sincere to be clear. And, always, enjoy your love affair with words!

PageTurner_Program_banner

Take advantage of the low introductory price for my new online program, “Your Path to a Page-Turner.” You’ll learn how to create a book that excites agents and publishers and thrills readers. Sign up now – the low, introductory price disappears next week.

All my best,
Barbara Kyle

www.BarbaraKyle.com

Your Path to Writing a Page-Turner

Announcing!

I’m so excited to share this with you. My new online program “Your Path to a Page-Turner” is now live.

I designed this program to help you create the kind of book that excites agents and publishers and thrills readers. A page-turner. A book that leaves people saying, “I couldn’t put it down!”

Ready to Move from Emerging Writer to Published Author?

It’s not as hard as you might think.

There are no rules in writing. (Well, just this one: Thou shalt not bore.) Seriously, every rule that’s ever been made has been broken by some writer to good effect. But, while there are no rules in writing, there are principles that have shaped the art of storytelling for centuries. A rule says: “You must do this.” A principle says: “This works, and it has worked through all of remembered time.”

Those principles are what you’ll learn in the “Your Path to a Page-Turner” program.

The Path to Success

In my career as the author of ten novels with sales of over half a million books, I’ve faced every challenge you’re facing now. With the “Your Path to a Page-Turner” Program, I’ll be your mentor on the path toward success.

You’ll get:

  • My 23 new videos covering the essentials of creating a book that will excite agents and publishers and thrill readers – plus insider tips on navigating the publishing industry.
  • My unique “Practice Like a Pro” exercises to take your writing to the next level.
  • An invitation to join my private Facebook group, open only to participants in the program. Here, your program colleagues and I will support you on your writing journey and cheer you on.
  • Continuous, unlimited access to all the materials above.
  • A big saving with the special introductory price of just $125. Sign up soon, because this discounted price ends next week.

Want a preview? Here’s one of the program videos: Tips From a First Draft Survivor

So take advantage of the low introductory price and get started!

All my best,

Barbara Kyle

www.BarbaraKyle.com

Grow as a writer. Dare to succeed

I Know How You Feel. I’ve Been There.

In my career as an author, I’ve faced every challenge you’re facing now. Writing a compelling book takes serious work, but the rewards are so worth the effort.

Let me tell you a true story. Years ago, like every new writer trying to break in with their first novel, I sent queries to agents, then waited and hoped. One morning, I got a call from a New York literary agent who said she was so excited by the description of my book, she wanted to see the full manuscript immediately. Ecstatic, I sent it that very afternoon.

Soon after, I got her terse written reply: “Alas, the manuscript did not live up to my expectations.” Those were her exact words. I was devastated. Tears flowed. Then weeks of agonized self-doubt. Maybe I didn’t have what it took to be a writer. I was ready to give up.

Then, a few days later, that same query attracted legendary agent Albert Zuckerman of Writers House who has shepherded dozens of bestsellers. He, too, asked for the full manuscript. He read it – and loved it! He offered to represent me, I eagerly signed the contract, and within weeks Al sold the book to Audrey LaFehr at Penguin, who said it was the best historical novel she had ever read.

Amazing, isn’t it – from “alas” to “the best.” That book sold 75,000 copies and became the first in my seven-book Thornleigh Saga series. My sales have now topped over half a million books. So, I’m here to tell you that although the journey to write a book and get it published can hit you with heartbreaking moments, it can also bring joyful surprises. If you persevere, success can be yours.

Countdown to Launch!

PageTurner_Facebook_banner

I’m excited about this! My “Your Path to a Page-Turner” Program will launch at the end of April. We’re putting the finishing touches to the videos now, and I can’t wait to offer the whole program to you.

·       Be inspired and energized by my 23 new videos that cover the essentials of creating a story that will leave readers saying “I couldn’t put it down!” – and learn how to get it published

·       Take your writing to the next level with my unique “Practice Like a Pro” exercises

·       Join my private Facebook group, a new online community where your program colleagues and I will support you on your writing journey and cheer you on

·       Get my insider tips on how to navigate the world of agents and publishers, so your book can break through and make it to the top

I’ve created the “Your Path to a Page-Turner” Program to help you write a book that will excite agents and publishers and thrill readers. Full details coming here soon!

Grow as a writer. Dare to succeed.

Barbara Kyle

P.S. You’ll find helpful writing tips on my Facebook page “Barbara Kyle, Mentor to Writers.” If you visit it, please “like” it!