Blurb for The Divorced Not Dead Workshop
“That’s what you called it, Dorsey, and I love it …The Divorced Not Dead Workshop.”
– Pilar Vega
Divorced five years and recently dumped by boyfriend Theo, Dorsey Bing, smart, funny and a wee bit angsty, brainstorms about a dating workshop for divorced people. Too bad she’s an idea person with zero follow-through. That changes when her best friend, Pilar Vega, a feisty go-getter, chooses to set up the workshop, puts herself in charge and gets Dorsey to be her “gofer.”
Things are fine until Dorsey’s widowed stepfather Ralph, and his bride-to-be, Audrey, ask Dorsey to join their wedding cruise to Cabo, which is on the very same weekend as the workshop. Dorsey and Pilar decide to hold the workshop during the cruise. But do things ever really work out as planned. No. No, they don’t.
Complications arise with a startling mishap, rebellious attendees and a fraud accusation, the arrival of Audrey’s good-looking but wily nephew Finn, and the reappearance of Theo. Struggling through the turmoil, Dorsey must face her biggest challenge if she’s to win the love, and life, she’s always desired.
Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m basically a Texan, although I lived in L.A. for many years. I went to UT-Austin and later worked in the film industry. In L.A. I was a freelance script analyst, working primarily with HBO, and wrote a few screenplays (two optioned, none produced). But being a novelist has been my lifelong dream, and now that’s what I’m pursuing.
Tell us about your book. How did it get started?
It was a bolt out of the blue. I had turned one of my screenplays into a YA novel, then after three or four rejections from agents, I stowed it away in a drawer and deemed it a “good learning experience.” Some time later, I woke up with the title, the main character, a setting and a smidgen of a plot, which became THE DIVORCED NOT DEAD WORKSHOP. My mind tends go to comedy and I like romance, so it was a natural for me. I’ve been considering a new tag line: “Romance, comedy and divorce – now that’s a ménage a trios.” Makes me laugh. I might do it.
How do you create characters? I need to get the names first. I need a name that creates a mental image for me, a name I will enjoy over a long period of time since the character will be “living” with me. “Dorsey Bing” is a name that sang to me. It took a while for me to get the name, but when I did, I knew it was the right one. Then I imagined her physical and emotional being, her conscious attitudes about life, love, her past, her family, her career and financial status. Then as the story developed, I began to understand the deeper subconscious drives behind her nature.
What inspires and got you started writing?
I had been writing screenplays, which I enjoyed, but you don’t have much control unless you’re established and have a name in the biz, and even then, you often lose control of the storytelling. Plus, I’d always wanted to be a novelist. Much, much later, after reading (and loving) several novels by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Weiner and Sophie Kinsella, I realized my “voice” flowed toward romantic comedy/lighthearted women’s fiction/humorous contemporary romance.
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write? (music? drinks?)
It varies for me. I like quiet, so I’ve written in the reading (and writing) room at my local library. I often write sometimes on my laptop in bed (until my legs ache) and at my desk. I like to have coffee in the morning and water with lemon at night.
How do your get your ideas for writing?
I wish I knew. Like I said, the idea for THE DIVORCED NOT DEAD WORKSHOP came out of the blue. I woke up with it. I believe we all have certain thoughts and ideas that drift into consciousness, and if we pay attention, those ideas can be the seed for a story. In my novel, one of the main characters, Finn Woodall, tells Dorsey about a “deep think” session he had with a writer. Perhaps the questions Finn brings up are good ones for an author to ask herself about her own work.
What do you like to read?
Again, it varies. Favs are the authors I mentioned before, plus others in that vein. Recently I finished Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, which is certainly not romantic comedy, and I have a long list of TBR. I enjoy audio books when I’m on the road, particularly suspense like Coben, Child, Grisham and Catherine Coulter, and I hope to nibble on paranormal romance and NA in the near future.
What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing? Read and listen to books. Figure out the structure and how the author keeps your attention … or not.
Anything else you’d like to share? I have a quote I like from Nathaniel Hawthorne: Easy reading is damn hard writing. I’ve found it to be true, true, true. And in this “brave new world” of self-publishing, becoming visible is also “damn hard” so mutual support with other authors is really important… and fun, too.
A Few Screenwriting Tips for Novelists
by CeCe Osgood, author of
THE DIVORCED NOT DEAD WORKSHOP
Hello. First, I’d like to start off by thanking Denise for letting me be a guest blogger on The Pen & Muse. Next, I want to let know little bit about me. After college and graduate school, I started my working life in the film industry. For many years I was on the production side until I moved to LA and became a freelance script analyst, evaluating screenplays, novels, and non-fiction books (main client: HBO).
I also reviewed scripts for the Nicholl Fellowship, a screenplay competition sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. During this time, I wrote screenplays and had two optioned. But my childhood dream was to be a novelist, so when I moved back to Texas I fought my fears and finally finished my first novel. (Whoa… that’s a lot of alliteration.)
Due to my “indie” spirit and hereditary lack of patience, I chose the self-publishing path, and just over a month ago my romantic comedy, THE DIVORCED NOT DEAD WORKSHOP, debuted as a Kindle ebook on Amazon.
In regard to this posting, after noticing several screenwriting coaches are now conducting seminars for novelists, I thought I’d share a few tips from my own experience in screenwriting.
Tip One is what I call The Spielberg Opening.
Remember those first terrifying scenes in Jaws? From the opening moments, the tone is set and so is the genre. The chilling music and suspenseful visuals—bikini-clad girl swimming in the dark ocean, the unseen shark, the bloody attack—reveal that this movie is going to be one heck of a scary thrill ride.
Since a book doesn’t have an accompanying musical score to give added information about tone and genre, an author must rely on vivid language to create an exciting or appealing opening. (Of course, the book’s cover is also crucial because its colors, the images, font size and type reveal the tone and genre, but my focus here is on the book’s content.)
This is easy to see in thrillers, mysteries or fantasies where the story starts off with a murder or a body being discovered, or a monster/alien/zombie attack, and yet it also works for comedies and romances too.
Pardon my shameless self-promotion as I use an example from my own book. These first lines come from the main character, Dorsey Bing. “C’mon, we all know how much men suck these days,” I said, pausing to slurp down the last drops of my wine cooler. “Maybe this could help desuckify them.”
By using “suck” “slurp” and desuckify” I wanted to convey a comedic tone while hinting at the sassy and fun nature of my heroine. Hopefully I’ve achieved this, and the reader knows right away the novel has a great deal of comedy in it.
The opening (be it images or words) is of paramount importance in pulling the audience/reader into the story, which is why I wrote and re-wrote my first lines a gazillion times during the many drafts of my novel. And that’s another thing I learned from screenwriting. Expect many revisions. One comedy screenwriter told me his norm was well over a dozen drafts and polishes.
Tip Two concerns movement through time.
In linear story construction, events happen ABCDEFGHIJK, etc. but often a story is more dramatic when the author doesn’t present each step. Leaving out the ordinary or lesser details often created interest. Jumping from A to D or creating ACEIJK, will speed up the pace and keep the reader more involved … as long as the writing creates clear and strong mental pictures to eliminate any confusion.
This doesn’t necessarily apply to the early drafts. The ABCDEF construction is okay then because the plot and characters are coming to fruition. As a writer gets to know the story intimately in the later drafts, it gets easier to cut scenes which are less compelling or serve as filler. That way the storytelling becomes concise and more intriguing. Repetition, be it in scenes and dialogue, will kill interest.
Tip Three is the importance of concealing exposition.
This is essential because if it’s too obvious it can take the reader out of the story. A tried-and-true method in movies is to hide exposition in emotion, usually some kind of conflict, verbal combat or snappy back-and-forth dialogue.
Having people quarreling or bantering with each other allows the writer to slip in needed story information. Why? Because the emotion gets the top billing while the exposition is barely noticed until later when it’s needed to understand a plot point or character trait. Quieter emotions like worry or anticipation or even glee can serve this purpose too, although it may be harder to pull off.
Like backstory, exposition is vital in any novel. But it’s a lot like salt, too much and it ruins the dish. Sprinkle it in lightly and it brings out the flavor.
Thank for reading my guest blog. I hope you found interesting, and I welcome your comments.
THE DIVORCED NOT DEAD WORKSHOP is available now as a Kindle ebook on Amazon. All reviews are very much appreciated.
Blurb for THE DIVORCED NOT DEAD WORKSHOP
Divorced five years and recently dumped by her Brit boyfriend Theo, Dorsey Bing, smart, funny and a wee bit angsty, brainstorms about a dating workshop for divorced people. Too bad she’s an idea person with zero follow-through. That changes when her best friend, Pilar Vega, a feisty go-getter, sets up the workshop, puts herself in charge and gets Dorsey to be her “gofer.”
Then Dorsey’s widowed stepfather Ralph, and his bride-to-be, Audrey, ask Dorsey to join their wedding cruise to Cabo, which is on the very same weekend as the workshop. To solve the dilemma Dorsey and Pilar decide to hold the workshop during the cruise. But do things ever really work out as planned. No. No, they don’t.
Trouble comes calling with a startling mishap, rebellious workshop attendees, the arrival of Audrey’s good-looking but wily nephew Finn. Will romance bloom? Or will the surprise reappearance of Theo revive their relationship? Facing failure, humiliation and heartbreak, Dorsey must tackle her biggest challenge if she’s to win the love, and life, she’s always desired.