Tag Archives: literary fiction

3 Things My Characters Taught Me

Not long ago, I submitted Hard Road Home, a literary novel, to Writer’s Digest Self-Published Awards Contest. Though I did not win, the judge who read my work had this to say:
“…HARD ROAD HOME is, like its title, a hard read, simply because of its subject matter. When Cas’s grandfather dies, her life rapidly falls apart into a spiral of abusive adults, alcohol, drugs, etc. It’s certainly intense material, and Walksfar writes about it vividly—I only can hope that much of it didn’t come out of direct experience, but the vividness of the writing did make me wonder about that. The character of Cas is certainly compelling; it’s difficult not to root for a character who doesn’t crumble under the weight of such torment and abuse.” (23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards)

In writing this book I drew from the experiences of children who had been subjected to horrendous abuse and still managed to overcome that adversity in order to pursue useful and, sometimes, heroic lives. The common denominator between those young people was that they never gave up; no matter how bad things seemed–they put on their big-girl pants and kept moving forward.
NoRoadSoLong

LESSON 1: Never give up!

My newest literary novel, Beyond the Silence, also tackles serious issues in our culture: domestic violence, marital rape, depression, anorexia, and the unjust loss of one’s children. In this book, Barb Hensen comes to realize that in order to live one has to have the courage to dream.
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LESSON 2: Find the courage to dream!

It isn’t only the protagonists in the literary novels that speak to me. In Run or Die, a mystery/thriller, Jaz Wheeler’s lover tells her that she needs to step beyond her current limiting circumstances.
aliciaDoSomethingGood

LESSON 3: Become all that you can be!

There you have it–some of the wisdom of my protagonists.

To check out the full array of novels, go to: http://www.amazon.com/Aya-Walksfar/e/B00CMVAKKK

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#Reviews: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

REVIEWS: The Good, Bad, and Ugly
Your opinion counts—especially with Independent Authors AKA #IndieAuthors—those of us who choose to write and to publish our own work. I read every review I receive, and I take them seriously. What the reader says matters to me.
What is even more important for the reader to understand is that reviews and word-of-mouth can make or break an Indie book. We swim, or drown, in an ocean of books. creeping fog on ocean
Between 600,000 and 1 million new books are published every year. With limited advertising budgets and no large house to create “buzz” for us, we have to depend on rankings, especially rankings on Amazon, to have our books placed far enough toward the top of the queue that readers who are randomly searching–say ‘mystery’–will happen upon our books. Two ways to get good rankings on Amazon is to either sell a lot of books every day and/or amass at least twenty-five 4 and 5 star reviews.
Unfortunately, Indie authors also face the terrible monsters of the deep. Beneath the choppy waters of the ocean of books lurk Review Trolls. Here is a rare photo of a Review Troll, note the wide open mouth getting ready to gobble up a Indie Author: Sea Monster Yawning
Review trolls are people who purchase a book, keep it a day or two and then return the book without reading it. That person can now post an Amazon VERIFIED purchase review. The reviews that trolls publish are always meant to wreck an author’s ratings. Like black hat hackers, review trolls are about unnecessary destruction. Their ratings, however, will pull down the ranking of the book that they attack unless that book has enough 4 and 5 star ratings to successfully counterbalance the trolls’ attacks.
With the challenges involved in getting very busy people to write and post reviews and fending off troll attacks, Indie authors face advertisers who won’t even consider their book for their publications and email blasts unless the book has at least ten 4 and 5 star reviews on AMAZON! They don’t count Barnes and Noble or Smashwords reviews. Everyone knows that advertising is one way to get your book in front of a larger audience. Classic chicken and egg situation. Advertising could result in more reviews, but you can’t advertise with the really good advertisers without ten reviews.
You see, a reader’s opinion really does matter, especially to an Indie author. The next time you finish a book, please consider zipping over to Amazon and quickly posting an honest review.
For me, and for many Indie authors who put in incredibly long hours, we thank you!
AMAZON REVIEW EXCERPTS FROM READERS:
STREET HARVEST (SPECIAL CRIMES TEAM, SECOND BOOK. ALL BOOKS IN THIS SERIES CAN BE READ OUT OF SEQUENCE) Pat Rummenie says:
Everyone with a social conscience who also loves a good mystery should read this well written book.
OLD WOMAN GONE (SPECIAL CRIMES TEAM, THIRD BOOK) Amazon Customer says:
The mixture of police procedures and Native American spiritualism are needed to solve the crime and rescue the two women. The author knows the setting well and uses it to enhance the story.
BACKLASH! (SPECIAL CRIMES TEAM, FOURTH BOOK) Coppercreek says:
I love crime novels, and this really hit the spot.
RUN OR DIE (STAND-ALONG MYSTERY/THRILLER) KtHack8 says:
I highly recommend this to anyone who wants a story about life and finding the will to overcome adversity.
RUN OR DIE (STAND-ALONE MYSTERY/THRILLER) Denise Gayl says:
Thought provoking about the injustices of bigotry and racism, and the ray of sunshine that there are people “out there” willing to accept, love, and help others even though their lifestyles are unlike their own. Well done.
HARD ROAD HOME (LITERARY, COMING-OF-AGE) pwindsinspirations says:
This story brought out emotions in me I had hidden away. I, too, was abused and afraid to tell anyone for fear of only making it worse for myself….. I liked how it took me from despair to triumph and the way the writer brought that about.
HARD ROAD HOME (LITERARY, COMING-OF-AGE) Denise Gayl says:
A very good read. As a mother of 2 girls, the subject matter is a bit difficult at times. But, in the end, it shows that young women pitted against adversity through no fault of their own can come back strong and live good lives. Is thought provoking and makes me realize there is much that needs to be done in this society to help young people thrive.
THIS is why I write! Thank you, Readers! YOU are my inspiration!
katrina leavereview

SKETCH OF A MURDER, Special Crimes Team, is FREE. Run over and grab your copy! http://www.amazon.com/Sketch-Murder-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KU6AIPQ

To view my other titles go to: http://www.amazon.com/Aya-Walksfar/e/B00CMVAKKK

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WHAT IS REAL?

Novels represent the intersection between reality and fiction. What really happened? Is this novel a thinly disguised autobiography of the author? A biography of another person? Did those events actually occur?

Authors of literary fiction are more likely to be asked this question than authors of sci-fi, murder mysteries and fantasy. Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, the Qatar author of An Unlikely Goddess, was asked if the events of her novel actually happened to her. I, too, have been asked if my literary novels are autobiographical. Though we would like readers to focus on the issues in the story, such a question is truly a compliment. People have connected to the novel on a visceral level.

It was once said of the western writer Louis L’Amour that if he wrote of a stream in a certain place, the stream existed. The Law and Order series on television boasts of ripping their episodes from the headlines. In my mysteries, I use extensive research to present reality in a fictional milieu. In Street Harvest, I take the very real issues of human trafficking and the danger in which street children live constantly and blend it with fiction as a way of highlighting these current issues to allow people to connect on an emotional level.

Reading a powerful book can change our lives.

somewhere dif Good Intentions

Since I write to not only entertain, but to also enlighten and empower; and to ultimately make a positive impact on our world, it is important for people to emotionally connect with my work. I love hearing such comments as “I want Grandma Greene for my grandmother.” The greatest compliment I have ever received was from a young person who said Good Intentions helped him to deal with being adopted and to forgive the fabrications of his adoptive parents.

A good writer knows that verisimilitude–details that lend the appearance of being true or real; what has happened to real people–increases the authenticity, the believability of her work. As such, it provides a more satisfying read and, in some cases, tidbits of knowledge.

While the cities and mountains and issues are often ripped intact from real life, the protagonists, antagonists and other characters within the novel–the good people and the bad people–seldom resemble any one person, living or dead. An author gleans characteristics, traits, eccentricities, and manner of facing life from a wide variety of people then builds the character from specific ones that will allow the story to unfold in a logical and entertaining way. The reader is guaranteed to “see” Uncle Jack or Aunt Milly in at least one of the characters, and therefore more likely to connect on a visceral level with the novel. In the end, it always returns to the reader–what will enhance the experience of the novel for the reader? What will give the reader the most value for her/his time and money?

The fiction I most enjoy reading incorporates reality with fiction to provide entertainment, enlightenment, and empowerment. It is also the type of fiction that I write.

I have tackled the tough, and sadly all too real, subjects such as family secrets, homophobia, racial tensions, hate crimes, betrayal, loss, grief, pedophilia, rape, domestic violence, street kids, human trafficking and much more in both my literary and my mystery novels. Yet, in each novel I have shown how people can triumph over horrendous circumstances and rise to live worthy and good lives. Much of my inspiration comes from real people I have known; people I have admired. Those people were ordinary people who quietly lived extraordinary lives.

So, what is real? The reality is that authors draw from real life, whether we write sci-fi or literary novels. We take what’s real and shape it into a novel. We write of love and hate; joy and sorrow; triumph and despair.

Do you identify with the characters in novels? Would love to hear! Please, comment.

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Mohana’s An Unlikely Goddess (ebook) is on sale for $0.99! Go to http://www.amazon.com/An-Unlikely-Goddess-Mohanalakshmi-Rajakumar-ebook/dp/B00FVSP82Q

To see a list of my novels go to http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar

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