Editing tips: Narrator Intrusion

Today, I’ll be giving tips on how to show not tell. When I started writing, I thought you could come up with a great story idea, begin writing, probably run into a hitch or two along the way, but end up with a decent story that any publishing company would jump on, if you were […]

Ever After Author Odessa Gillespie Black Interview by Shelby Witzel

The first installment in the Cursed Series

The first installment in the Cursed Series

The first installment in the Cursed Series

I’m here to introduce acclaimed author Odessa Gillespie Black. I’d like to congratulate her on her recent release of Ever After (Cursed Series Book 1). It’s been a long time in the making, and as a teen reader, I’m glad to finally see something fresh and new hit the press. Without further adieu…

Me: Hi, Odessa. I know you’re busy, but I wanted to get in a few quick questions.

Odessa: No problem. I’m always glad to meet new people and discuss the loves of my life. (smiles)

Me: I’m going to jump right in if that’s okay. How did you come up with the idea for Ever After?

Odessa: Honestly, I feel like this is a tired answer, but I woke from a dream with the weirdest notion that I’d had a wonderful book idea. It took all day to remember what I’d actually dreamed and when it hit me, I wondered what I’d had for dinner the night before. They say if you eat pepperoni, you have some weird dreams. I hadn’t had pepperoni, but boy was the dream that I’d had a doozy. Normally, my dreams are real with people I know involved in situations that could really happen. This time it was different. I was a girl in a car driving with a few friends up to a creepy yet beautiful house. Once we were inside we were greeted by all these nice people, but at times they whispered to each other and gave us crazy looks. A really hot guy tries to get us to leave the house, but we are so fascinated with the house’s size we decide to stay the night. Over the length of the evening, we learn through listening to the butler and the maids that they want us gone. We try to figure out why and after a long night of searching dark hall ways, and encountering more and more house servants, we come upon a few of whom are see through. Ghosts. The dream sort of fades from there. I’m sure I probably dreamed an outcome, but I don’t remember it.


Me: Is this at all like Ever After?

Odessa: In ways, but it was an idea that after being carefully molded, switched up and added to, became something different entirely. It was a weird, unconscious brainstorming session that just happened to be a hit, at least with the local teens.

Me: So you have a bit of a local following?

Odessa: Somewhat. A lot of girls who graduated around the time the first copy of Ever After went to Kensington and was accepted fell in love with the Grace, Cole, and Allie love triangle from hell.


Me: So it’s got a love triangle base?

Odessa: It’s not your run-of-the-mill love triangle. That’s for sure. There’s a lot of love and a lot of hate working together to make a wonderfully romantic and scary story. At least in my opinion. I wrote something I’d never seen before. It’s sort of a mix of all things I love put together. Horror, romance, comedy, drama and action. There’s a little something in there for every reader.

Me: How do you feel about your characters? I guess writers get attached.

Odessa: I think writers are the only people of whom can be given the diagnosis of split personality disorder. It’s like the voices of the characters just scream to get out of your head and aren’t satisfied until you’ve written their views down on paper, or in my case the screen.

Me: What is your favorite line from the novel?

Odessa: Ooh. There are so many. I guess if I had to choose, it’d be a paragraph as Ava reads her will aloud on video camera to her family and friends. Her final words were, “I’ve oftentimes wondered if everything I’ve ever done in my life was a mistake, but in this final moment, as I leave this world and enter into the next life, I can rest knowing I’ve done at least one thing with precision. I leave all of my worldly possessions other than the aforementioned property to Allison Ainsley Knowles… Live life to the fullest, love like you’ve never loved before, and when you find something worth fighting for, don’t let anything come in your way.”

Me: That was one of my favorites, too. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. I can’t wait for book two. Do you know if there are any plans for it?

Odessa: A prequel to the novel called Ever Bound is due out early 2016, and Ever Tempted (Cursed Series Book 2) will release later in the year. Stay up to date on my Facebook Author Page. I’d love as many visitors as possible.

All in a Day’s Work

Boy am I ever happy I don’t have to type on one of these babies anymore. I used to when I was in school, granted it wasn’t this old, but it wasn’t too far off.

I’ve been working on novel paperwork all day. I don’t think people know all the behind-the-scenes work involved in publishing a novel. I can’t imagine what my publishers have to do if my paperwork for one novel takes over 15 hours to complete. I’ve answered so many questions, I think they must know my life story by now. But whatever it takes to get these novels to print and possibly to the big screen is what I’ll do.

I’m a hybrid author by choice. I like having the help with promotion and by having that help, the few titles I self-publish can be streamlined in with my professional works. I like the freedom, but sometimes the work involved can be overwhelming. I need more hours in the day. But in the end, it’s worth the time to search your novels and find them on other people’s sites. I love to hear how my work challenged, enlightened, or thrilled someone. There’s nothing more rewarding.

Anyway, after all the time I’ve put in today, I wanted to give Kensington Books, Lyrical Press, and Penguin Randomhouse a huge shout out. I can’t imagine all the work they put into a book let alone all the hundreds of titles they put out a year. I’m honored to be one of their authors. :)

Writing the Perfect Novel (Part 2)

How many times have you heard the term “Show, Don’t Tell?” When writing in first person pov, the best way to create a page-turner is to keep the reader engaged. When you use point of view filters, you set the reader outside of the story by telling them what is happening instead of letting them experience the moment for themselves. Statements such as “I felt,” “I heard,” or “I saw” pushes the reader out of the now and allows them a chance to be separated from the hero or heroine.

Wrong: I saw the door knob slowly turn. I heard the door creak as something slowly shoved it open. I felt like my heart was coming out of my chest when I saw there was no one there.

There are actually a few things wrong with this paragraph. Not only are pov filters dominant, the usage of the pov filters stops the author from using visceral responses, things that happen when a person is experiencing heightened emotion.

Right: The door knob jiggled left and right. As the door slowly swept open, the hinges creaked. My heart pounded out of my chest. No one was on the other side.

The last paragraph draws the reader straight into the narrator’s world. The reader will forget everything around him or her and experience the scenes in the novel with the narrator as if he or she was one in the same.

Below is a list, and though certainly not complete, it will give you an idea of words to look for when writing and especially editing your work.

  • I see or saw
  • I hear or heard
  • I think or thought
  • I touched
  • I wondered
  • I realized
  • I watched
  • I looked
  • I seem

You may have instances where a pov filter is needed, but for the most part there are few place for it in first person pov. You can look up a wide variety of visceral responses to replace these pov filters, but for good measure here is a list to start with.

  • Heart slamming against my chest
  • Stomach churning
  • Pulse racing like a staccato drum beat
  • Knees going spongy
  • Light headed, dizzy
  • Vision narrowing
  • Adrenaline surging

Writing the Perfect Novel

There are many things you could write about, but one thing I’ve learned is that there are areas in which I am not good at writing. I like to write about what I know and what would be fairly easy to research. Not to say that I recommend taking the easy road out, but when you write about what you know and have to do minor research, you take less chance of writing something an expert will pick through and find flaws. And there are experts everywhere.

Cover Art

When I take on writing a novel, I try to keep within my comfort zones, most times. Sometimes I venture out, but I make sure I research a few different accredited sites so that I don’t sound like a moron. Science fiction is where one could easily take a nose dive.

Modern technology advances like light speed, so make sure the site you research when taking on this genre of writing is up-to-date. If it was published in 1997, then, for the most part, the information you’ll find there is obsolete.

Historical romance has been the most interesting and easy to research that I’ve found yet. There are so many articles that will tell you what one would find in a barn, or inside a house, or outhouse that you can easily find what you need and base a really neat story around it.

I once read a romance novel set inside the Biltmore House in Asheville, NC, Maid to Match by Deanne Gist. Deeanne Gist’s knowledge of the house was such that I thought she either had lived there for years or had to have visited the Biltmore at least 30 times. Her execution and description was flawless. I read the book in a day and never felt so close to a character as I did her heroine. This was the result of awesome researching.

So if you decide to write outside of your knowledge base, be sure you’ve done the homework. There’s nothing like a poorly-researched novel to make a reader put the book down and never touch it again.

Ever After Webinar and Release Party

The first installment in the Cursed Series

The first installment in the Cursed Series

Ever After Webinar and Release Party is today at 4:30 PM. I’m so excited to talk to everyone. I had the amazing experience of talking to a lot of fans, friends and family this morning and am excited to carry the party on into midnight tonight. We’re going to be discussing the elements of acquiring a publishing company, the process of publishing a novel, and all the amusing things that happened in between. I can’t wait to see every one there. :)

Ever After’s Release

The first installment in the Cursed Series

The first installment in the Cursed Series

The first installment in the Cursed Series

As my family and I sit around the dinner table with a myriad of different electronics impatiently awaitng our download of Ever After (Cursed Series) http://www.amazon.com/After-Cursed-Odessa-Gillespie-Black-ebook/dp/B00QP3CZUO/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1427223322&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=Beautiful+Soul+Odessa+Gillespie+Black, the previous year comes to mind. This has been a rewarding road.

When #KensingtonBooks sent me the contract, I cried.

When I saw all the work involved, I almost cried. :) But I knew it would be the means to an amazing end. Or beginning.

And it has.

When Cora Graphics Cover Art released the cover, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was as if Cora had crawled in my head and tapped into the very soul of the novel. It was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen.

When the editing rounds started, I was a little overwhelmed, but one of Lyrical’s best freelance editors Penny-Jo Barber-Schwartz baby-stepped me through the process. We ended up with a professional grade novel.

I was suddenly so glad I hadn’t tried to self-publish it. I could have never done a better job than Kensington Books, Lyrical Press and Cora Graphics. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.