Gender-Swapping: Some Writing Tricks for Taking on the Other Sex

GendersDuring my blog tour for Permanent Spring Showers (my last novel) I had an interesting question from a reader. It really inspired this post.

Here is the quote:

I always am amazed when a man writes from a woman’s perspective or a woman writes from a man’s perspective so convincingly. I was wondering how the author found writing from the opposite sex’s POV.

I don’t want to claim I’m an expert on this. That would be naive, because truly no one knows what it is like to walk in another’s shoes (or high heels), but I’ve experience doing this in my books and I have some tricks that work for me.

In my new book, I have a few female main characters (including one that has diary entries); and there is my book Megan which is entirely one afternoon in one woman’s life. So if you are thinking of writing a work where the “other” gender is the main POV, well, maybe my advice can help.

Oh yeah, and I’m the dude who wrote an entire book with Jane Austen as the main character… Again, not saying I know everything, but… come on! Jane Austen! That gives me some cred, right? I mean… freaking Jane Austen!?! Continue reading

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“The Beauty of Eccentrics” A Guest Post on The Crafty Cauldron (Book Tour Day 5)

Hey, Harry is reading!Okay, if the website The Craft Cauldron is not somehow related to Harry Potter and the Leaky Cauldron, I’m going to be disappointed. Back during the heyday of Pottermania I was a regular visitor to The Leaky Cauldron for all my Harry Potter news. I was even a devout follower of Pottercast (totally miss that podcast)… Okay, where was I?

It’s day five of my book tour for my new novel Permanent Spring Showers! Today I am on The Crafty Cauldron (which may or may not be Potter-related). One of the things that I think really make my book standout is the characters. Yeah, I’m pretty proud of them. They are unpredictable, strange, and wonderful, .

This guest post is entitled, “The Beauty of Eccentrics: The Characters in Permanent Spring Showers“. Here is an excerpt from the beginning:

To begin with, I’ve been known to hear voices.

I blame old time radio shows for this. When I was a young teenager, I was strangely addicted to them. The repeats used to play on this AM station in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Who knows? I may have been the only person in the whole listening area sitting by the radio with a ready tape deck, but I collected as many as I could. Jack Benny, Sherlock Holmes, Charlie McCarthy (a ventriloquist on the radio? How does that work?), I soon had a collection of shows filling up three tape cases.

I admit this is not something I readily told my friends then (like all awkward teenagers I did want to seem cool), but listening to those shows were almost more than just entertainment for me. In many ways they were each little lessons on finding original voices.

When I finally began to dare to dream of being a novelist, I know this time snuck its way into my own writing style. See, dialogue is always key for me in creation (sometimes it will be the foundation for an outline at the start of the writing process); and my characters, much like the ones on the old shows, speak to me.

You can read the entire post here, as well as enter for the giveaway and check out an excerpt from the novel.

This is the fifth entry in the tour. Yesterday, I gave an interview (here). This is the fourth guest post. The others are about passion (here), spring (here), and my advice to writers (here). Permanent Spring Showers

Just for the tour, the eBook of Permanent Spring Showers is on sale! It is on sale for only $1.99. So there is no better time to grab a copy! You can find it on amazon for Kindle here and for the NOOK here.

The Mad Man I Stole From (Part 1)

CarI needed money.

I had just moved out to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California. I was going to get my Master’s in writing and I had dreams of screenplays and television pilots, actresses calling me and pleading for a role in my latest projects. I also imagined myself wearing sunglasses a lot. The LA dream!

Now, I did have some savings before making the move. I had even set it up so my student loans would cover my student housing, but as the weeks turned into months I saw that savings stockpile dripping away thanks to food and a car loan, and maybe one too many trips to Disneyland.

My initial hope was to find work at a studio, but anything I would have gotten would have been so entry-level I’d be surprised if they even paid me a dime. I would be working for the experience and the contacts, probably a good decision for my career, just not for my livelihood. Plus, I had no idea how to make coffee. I assumed such a job would involve coffee.

When I first arrived in LA I did my best to get to know each of the professors (thinking that each was a possible contact to someone in the industry who might want a young, ambitious writer like me). One professor was quite fond of me since I recognized her from an episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. I even owned a copy of that episode and she was thrilled to see she was listed on the back of it as a guest star. After that she gave me a series of odd little jobs, including once transporting some of her sculptures (she was an artist as well) in the back seat of my car. One of the statues was of an angel fallen to the earth surrounded by little rocks. I still occasionally find some of those little rocks in my car.

After eating dinner at her house with some of my fellow students (she was always having us over), she told me about this man she knew. Eccentric, she called him, a real character (“You would like him.”) and he owned a car company.

“A car company?” That idea floored me. How does someone just own a car company? Was he Henry freaking Ford?

“Well, the brand,” she explained noticing the expression on my face. “He is an entrepreneur and he is trying to start it up. He needs a writer. Are you interested?” Continue reading

Visiting Austen: Introducing My New Novel A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM

A Jane Austen DaydreamA JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM is published by Madison Street Publishing and can be purchased in print and as an eBook for only $3.99 via amazon.com here.  

I went to England to find Jane Austen.

To be honest, I also went to find Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, George Elliot, John Keats, William Shakespeare (or whoever wrote his plays), J.R.R. Tolkien, and Winnie-the-Pooh.

(Winnie-the-Pooh? Yeah, with some research, I figured out where the real 100-Acre Woods is located and spent a day wandering the fields, visiting Roo’s Sandy Place, sitting at the Enchanted Place, finding the north pole, playing poohstick on the actual poohstick bridge. As a kid who has fond memories growing up with A.A. Milne’s classic books, I was in children literature heaven. It is a magical and natural place, please don’t tell Disney!)

That was me at age 23, Scott the explorer, the new college grad, future “bestselling” author (in my mind), chasing down the legends, my heroes. I’m not sure what lofty goals I had, per se, in making the six-week solo trip to England. I mean, I wasn’t expecting any “haunting” encounters or secret treasures to discover, but it was a voyage I needed to take. I needed to escape the confines of my small West Michigan world, and chase down the locations that made my heroes… well… heroes. Continue reading

My Online Literary Experiment: Okay, Am I Stupid?

Deep breath…

So a few weeks ago I got called out by a writer/editor/publishing professional on Twitter questioning my goals and my thoughts behind this experiment of mine, Permanent Spring Showers. My little book inspired by Dickens.

Twitter, in its limited word span, can make things seem harsher than the writer may actually have meant it to sound (I did feel like he was condescending) but it threw me a curve.

Was I jarred? Yeah, I was jarred. I still am jarred.

I also like the word “jarred,” but let’s continue.

Basically, his argument was broken down into this point:

What publisher would publish or consider a book that people were getting for free?

Before other bloggers and writers take to my twitter site (@sdsouthard) to find the guy and twitter attack, let me say that about two-years ago I would have agreed with him. Yeah, I was in that camp then because I was trained in writing grad school to think of the publishing world in that black-and-white way. Heck, every book on writing and publishing would agree with him!

But the fact is that while this argument once made sense to me, it is not that way today. The world has changed, I have changed. Continue reading

My Online Literary Experiment: Cheat! Cheat! Cheat!

In today’s update around the writing of Permanent Spring Showers I must throw myself upon the mercy of the court… I mean, my readers. The mercy of my readers

Yes, I had done something I had promised not to do around the creation of this book. How big a deal this is truly is your own to decide, but who said making a book was easy? And when you consider how many plots and characters I am juggling with Permanent Spring Showers, well it’s not…

Okay, I am just rattling off excuses now. Let’s move forward to the updates and my guilt.

Cheat!

Some of the more careful readers might have already caught this mistake. (Did you? Have you been giggling at me behind my back?)

As mistakes go it is not a big one, I get that, but it is jarring enough to take a reader out of the little dramatic universe I am creating. And while I do consider Steve an unreliable narrator in a few ways, he is not unreliable enough to make that big a mistake. He does have a watch. Continue reading

The Art of the Blog: Getting Personal

Blogs are always started with the best intention. A writer feels they have something to share, something that could enrich a reader out there in the stratosphere of the internet.

The funny thing is you see this a lot around the newly published, both self-published and professionally published. Did I say “a lot” in that last sentence? Good, because I meant to say “a lot.” And usually on these newly minted blogs there will be a few posts about their book, their experience writing it, and a few helpful suggestions and then… nothing. The internet is littered with the remains of these kinds of websites, something akin to a field after a rock concert. The party is done, but no one bothered to clean up the mess from the show.

Frankly, what the beginning blogger doesn’t realize is that it takes guts and stamina to write a true blog and to build a readership for it. A blog is more than a marketing tool, it is a new writing platform (and in my opinion could become its own powerful writing medium right alongside writing for plays, books, television, etc.), and if you don’t see it as such, you won’t be able to use it to its full potential. Yes, you can fill it up with advice and your opinion, but for people to come back again and again, there has to be something in your blog that is not available anywhere else on the internet…

I’m talking about you, by the way.

Continue reading

My Online Literary Experiment: Half of the Writing Hurdles

This Friday, when I post chapter 13, I will pass the halfway mark in my book. With that publication I will exceed 175 pages in the book, mapping out a book that will roughly be about 350 pages in length.

Those are the numbers, but they hardly express the emotional and wear and tear of the process to get to this point.

Recently, I had someone on Twitter ask me how many drafts I create of a chapter before I post it. It’s a great question and in a typical book, I would have numerous drafts of a book. There is the initial draft of a first draft when I do what I basically need to do; the other drafts are as it is updated to fit the rest of the book that is coming together; and finally the master drafts as the book is melded together into one beautiful whole.

Yet in Permanent Spring Showers that is not how it works out. I move forward, because the book moves forward. So I can only hope that the work when completed as a whole will feel like a complete whole by the end. Right now, I’m feeling really confident. That is probably the main gift reaching the halfway mark has given me. Continue reading

My Online Literary Experiment: Emotions Run Amuck

I’m an emotional writer.

What that means is I “feel” a book into existence. That’s not to say logic doesn’t have a place at the table (I wouldn’t have realistic motives, character sketches, or even an outline without Mr. Logic), it’s just that he is not at the front of the table. He is somewhere in the back of the room and if he raises his hand he might not be seen.

Yes, logic has to shout to get my attention a lot when I write.

It’s just for me to accomplish writing something I consider “true” I have to experience it emotionally as the reader will, maybe even more. If you read something that makes you cry, chances are I wailed before you. If I make you laugh, chances are I laughed as well (maybe even out loud with a slight loss of breath).

However, there is one important problem with being an emotional writer, it is that a work while in progress is more than simply words on paper, it is emotional dynamite for me, and it can affect my mood and my perception while working in the book or even while thinking of it outside of it. It is always there, like a powder keg ready to be lit. Continue reading

My Online Literary Experiment: An Introduction

I want to do something dangerous.

Yes, I want to do something fraught with peril. Something that could literally make or break this little writing blog. Something that will put my ego (no matter how minor it is) on the line.

When I started this blog my goal was to get my writing voice back (I explain what I mean a lot more in this recent editorial here), and after seven months and 190 entries I feel I have done much of the repair work needed. In other words, I am happy with where I am creatively and I trust myself again to create.

My brain is back on.

Yes, I have confidence in my ability again, it has returned, but now I want to be tested. And if you stick around this blog you will see the result of this experiment I am giving myself… and like I said this could make or break the site and that confidence I have worked so hard in over 500 pages of editorials to bring back over this year. Continue reading