Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What's your story? (And a free book giveaway!) By Brenda Janowitz

SCOT ON THE ROCKS
THANKS SO MUCH TO EVERYONE FOR ENTERING THE CONTEST!  WE HAD SO MANY GREAT ENTRIES THAT I DECIDED TO PICK TWO WINNERS!  DRUM ROLL PLEASE....  CONGRATS TO LAURA KAY AND DEBBIE H!  EMAIL ME TO CLAIM YOUR PRIZE.  AND THANK YOU AGAIN TO EVERYONE FOR COMMENTING.


One of the most common things that published authors get asked about is how we come up with ideas for our stories.  The other is how they can get free copies of our books.  Generally, I'm pretty open with the advice about writing, less so with free copies of my books, but today I'm doing a book giveaway!  Yippee!!  Deets are at the bottom of this blog post.

But back to the book ideas.  For me, it always starts with a tiny germ of the truth, and then I let my imagination run wild from there.

When I was invited to my ex-boyfriend’s wedding, my life slowly but surely began to resemble some of my favorite chick lit novels, and I said to myself, ‘I’ve just gotta start writing this stuff down…'

So, I did!  And it became my first novel, SCOT ON THE ROCKS, which is subtitled: How I survived my ex-boyfriend's wedding with my dignity ever-so-slightly intact.

JACK WITH A TWIST
When I finished SCOT ON THE ROCKS, I knew that Brooke’s story had to continue.  Since both she and her love interest Jack are lawyers, I thought it would be so much fun to pit them against each other in the courtroom… all while planning their fairy-tale wedding.  Thus, the idea for JACK WITH A TWIST was born!

But writing a book is more than just coming up with your idea.  You then have to write 300 pages, and for most writers, that's the rub.  I always say that everyone has at least one book in them, but most people will never sit down to actually write a full manuscript.

To get myself started, I took a writing class, which really armed me with the tools that I'd need to write a full length novel.  Lots of people can write, but you need to learn the rules if you want to actually write a book.  Most recently, I discovered Alex Sokoloff's Screenwriting Tricks for Authors, which has become my Bible, along with her blog, The Dark Salon.  I used to think I knew a lot about three act structure and how to structure a novel, but Alex breaks down three act structure even further-- into eight distinct sequences-- and just by reading her story breakdowns, I've learned more about story structure then I did in any of the classes I've ever taken before or any of the books I've read combined.

Are you one of those people who's got a book idea in you but just hasn't sat down to write it yet?  Post your book idea in the comments below and be entered to win a copy of my novel, JACK WITH A TWIST!  I'll select the winner on June 1st, so check back on this blog entry and I'll announce the winner here.  (Don't forget to leave me your email address or some way to contact you in case you are the lucky winner!)


I’m the author of Scot on the Rocks and Jack with a Twist.  My work’s also appeared in the New York Post and Publisher’s Weekly.  You can find me at brendajanowitz.com.

34 comments:

  1. A former high school couple end up living in the same apartment building in New York and it's 20 years later.
    Theresa N
    weceno(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  2. Brenda, I just checked out Alex's blog and your own article on 3 act structure. Great writing advice!

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  3. I love Alex's blog. She put me on the road to being a three-act and Hero's Journey junkie.

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  4. Life in NYC gives SO many ideas...the humor is my everyday commute is enough for a series!

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  5. I am personally not creative when it comes to stories like that, so i decided i will just read everyone else's books. As the blog is called i live by this. I am a reader, not a writer. one of my fav blogs. The book looks great and congrats on the new release. thanks for the giveaway and would love to win.

    christinebails@yahoo.com

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  6. Love how the idea for Scot on the Rocks came from your ex's wedding. That of course makes me want to read more right off! LOL. Love your other title and cover too! Great resources--thanks Brenda!

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  7. I've got too many book ideas in me - gack! I may need to start my own factory!

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  8. how fun. I have many ideas floating around for a story...I've actually sent off some of my children's books to publishers w/o any luck. But adult stuff is more fun to write. I have one now I'm working on about a women who so wants to hide her past it destroys her relationship with her daughter and her husband--everything she wanted--in order to hide her past from them.

    anovelreview(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  9. Weddings are an amazing source of material! Thanks to this post, I just remembered a story I may have to develop!!

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  10. Lauren, I feel that way, too! My brain is full of ideas. I hope I have enough time to get them all out (the ones worth writing anyway!). Fun post, Brenda! I love when art imitates life!

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  11. I work in news and get a lot of story ideas there. Right now I'm working on a murder mystery set at a TV station.
    Mybookviews@gmail.com

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  12. I have been toying with some children's book ideas - one about a girl who is trying to fit in, one about a beloved stuffed animal, and a non-fiction biography.

    These two books sound like great fun - I have added them to my (perpetually-growing) list of books I want to read!

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  13. I am not an author, but I have often thought about a book following a busy grad student who has no time for a social life.

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  14. I love reading about structure tools, Brenda, so I'll definitely check out Alex's blog/website and will post about your giveaway on FB right now! Hope your day is a great one ;).

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  15. Hi Brenda, I'm actually just following my friend Marilyn around where I saw her post on FB. I have no desire to be an author I love reading and reviewing wonderful stories.
    Deb

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  16. a woman falls in love with her best friend's ex husband.

    jeryl.marcus@gmail.com

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  17. Fun post, Brenda. Full of energy and inspiration!!

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  18. I have an idea for a childrens book that my husband and I were supposed to write together, but have yet to start. It's about a little boy who thinks he is a karate master. I also have always thought about writing a memoir of what it was like to grow up with my mother who suffers from mental illness. I don't think I have the skills to do either though, sadly.

    jaidahsmommy(at)comcast(dot)net

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  19. I have an idea for a murder/mystery that was based on a murder suicide that I am aware of.

    littleone AT shaw DOT ca

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  20. I have plans to take the short story that won me a scholarship into a full length novel.

    It's about the youngest daughter in a dysfunctional Spanish family who decides that she wants more than her current life has to offer.

    Although my part-time job has been offering some interesting ideas lately... ;)

    r.ocasio87@gmail

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  21. I have no imagination for storytelling at all. My son, however, could tell stories all day long.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

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  22. Hi, Brenda. Screenwriting Tricks for Authors sounds like a great book. I might have to get that one! Great blog post.

    Good luck to all who enter for a chance to win! Brenda's books are awesome ...

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  23. What if a young woman finds out after her father passed away that he was a spy and people were following her around because of something he had hidden.

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  24. Thanks for the book/blog suggestion!! Will be checking that out for sure. :)

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  25. All Cyndi wants in life is to be Michael's wife and his baby's mama but Michael thinks they should wait. Cyndi comes up with a plan to learn how to cook in order to get what she wants. After all, food is love.

    akagaoan.labirdie@gmail.com
    http://amusemenora.blogspot.com

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  26. Well, I`d like to write I startes sometimes but finished with little pages... so I am not sure if I can write or how.
    I used to write about things I live, like "How times have change" how difficult is to find a job nowadays, study study for what, salaries to laugh (or cry) how to "buy" or rent a flat then you have to live with others even if you are older than 30's... love: is like clothes change every season because is so difficult to find something real real...
    So this is what I like to write and read how a single woman can survive...
    Always waiting for the summer when worries can WAIT for the autumm...
    My name: Susana
    email: smdiazz33@hotmail.com
    Thanks for your adviced (and sorry if the english is not as good as I'd like to be)

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  27. wedding material would be a great subject...

    karenk
    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

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  28. I've had an idea for a child's picture book (although I can not illustrate) about a spider that my daughter has befriended although she hates spiders. Thanks for the giveaway! I love this blog by the way!

    Margaret
    singitm@hotmail

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  29. Two ideas, both coming of age stories. One about a young girl, looking for love, family drama, dating older and wrong men.
    The other a story of a young woman's coming out to her family and friends, and how they all react.

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  30. Well ,I only want to say awesome work. I love this one.

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  31. A story of a child meeting her parent for the first time after 55 years has passed. I did that..but still have not met in person just by phone. susan Leech garysue@dejazzd.com

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  32. Great post Brenda. I absolutely agree with you that ideas for novel come from a grain of truth and you get to make up the rest. Maybe have things turn out differently than they did in real life. My idea is about dating life in the city. A single girl who seems to have met a her real "prince charming" but as the novel unfolds she finds out her beau is more of a frog than a prince.

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  33. I have always wanted to write a memoir of sorts about being bullied growing up and overcoming the voices of the past.

    NOt sure if I am ready for the can of worms it'll open inside me though or ready to relive what I did.

    joelle.cottrell@gmail.com

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  34. I always think of a haunted house, that is located within a house. But I can never figure out how to start it or make it work.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

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