Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pet Peeves!! I have quite a few pet peeves. I can’t stand overly poetic descriptions of weather, scene settings and characters. When I’m read a novel and come to an entire page of description I find it excruciating to read and will in all likelihood put that book down. I find it annoying when a writer has to describe every little thing in great detail so nothing stands out. Another pet peeve one is writing in the passive voice. It makes the writing boring and removed. For example: The Bloody Mary is being drunk. This is dead space. Much better to write, “Gina drinks the Bloody Mary in one gulp.” The active voice makes the words more exciting and clarifies who is doing the action. Too often writers fall into the passive voice and soon the story comes to a screeching halt. I also get peeved when a writer has to mention what the character is thinking about and what's about to happen and how this pertains to his/her past. This dumping of the stream of consciousness detracts from the story. It’s much better to show than to tell. Here are a few other pet peeves: Too many metaphors. Repetition with words. Too many curse/swear words so they have no impact I saved the worst one for last: coincidences. I can’t stand contrived coincidences. I hate it when Uncle Guido shows up near the end of the novel to take care of the ‘situation’ or when the newspaper falls into the characters hand with a photo that provides a key piece of information to solve the mystery. Maybe you think it’s just luck. I don’t think so. It’s just lazy storytelling. Coincidences do happen in real life, but in a novel if it isn’t organic then it simply doesn’t work. These contrived coincidences are highly improbably and the events are simply disguised as happenstance. Destiny doesn’t happen this way. When coincidences in a story don’t ring true the reader will feel duped especially when they are used as major plot point. It breaks the unwritten contract with the reader. Thank you for the opportunity to discuss my journey with you. I hope you enjoy reading The Bloody Mary Club and come away with an appreciation of all things financial!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Writing for the times: incorporating present day issues into works of fiction. It is always challenging incorporating present day issues into work of fiction. Real life events - those things we read about in newspapers and magazines – are a great source of information for me. Using real live events from the financial market gives my stories the detail and accuracy that readers would expect. I think it makes my stories more relevant and realistic. I like using the storylines “ripped from the headline’ because it works especially well with financial thrillers. The more my plot lines are based in reality or pulled from real life, the better my story. Although I write fiction, using present day issues frames the story. There’s a real art to mixing fact and fiction. One of the dangers in referring to financial specifics ( such as stock prices, names of actual stocks, names of actual banks, etc) is that through mergers, bankruptcy and other financial calamities, it can quickly date you work. When I first wrote the Bloody Mary Club script, I referred to certain stocks during the investment club meetings, in reality, some had become became out dated. For example, Disney bought out Marvel Entertainment --- so any mention of Marvel as a good stock to buy would immediately dated my book and the astute reader would pick up on this. With the rush of internet stocks coming public in past five years, ( Google, Face Book , Ebay, etc.) I had to update the stocks that I mentioned in the novel so there was a current frame of reference. However, with attention to detail I find that blending of fact and fiction isn’t so hard once you get the hang of it. I think using real-life events in fiction is a good thing; however, using real people could lead to legal issues. Think about the movie ‘Forrest Gump’ with all the real live events that were used for great fictional purpose. I am sure the producers had to face a mountain of the legal issues before filming. When writing about Wall Street, my plots are fiction but the details are very real. As a former stock broker with Dean Witter, I was on Wall Street when Black Monday occurred and I have from that era and am in tune with all the scandals that have followed. Of course I’m going include all those juicy details in my novel. How could I pass up the inspiration that I found working with zealous brokers, arrogant private wealth managers and off the wall clients? The missteps in the financial market cause real harm to hard working people. Banks fail. Bonds go bust. Stocks zoom up then drop like a rock. Mix in greed, betrayal and insider trading and it makes for interesting stories. Wall Street misdeeds start with criminal behavior of Enron and WorldCom in the early 90’s and goes right up to Morgan Stanley’s recent Facebook IPO debacle. The financial field is ripe with epic stories waiting to be told. I’d spin a story starting with a bad IPO, then figure out interesting characters, and soon I come up with a plot and timeline. For example, the idea of an IPO gone bad with sympathetic characters caught up in the offering could be a great story because of the human element involved in the high stakes financial transaction. When my radar is out, ideas are everywhere. This is my world and I love to write what I know Many of my plot ideas come to me while reading the Wall Street Journal and Forbes magazine. With all the Wall Street scandals, no wonder the small investor is scared. The financial calamities over the past few years has caused the stock market to lose many long-term investors who helped create the double digit annuals stock gains that created enormous wealth in the 1990’s. Investors today do not know where to invest their money.