Friday, March 16, 2012

Writers on Writing: Carolyn J. Rose

Books That Inspired Me: A Story Is A Promise by Bill Johnson

Several years ago a writer friend mentioned Bill Johnson’s A Story is a Promise, describing it as “the missing link” needed to take her work to the next level.

It’s in my nature and background—25 years as a TV news producer—to be suspicious of claims about product benefits. But I didn’t want my friend to get to the next level without me, so how could I not check out that book?

I bought a copy and plowed through it, underlining, highlighting, and making notes in the margin about the human need for stories in order for people to feel engaged by and connected to life, for them to feel that living has meaning and purpose. Readers, Johnson contends, gravitate toward stories that promise to meet their particular needs—to experience, in a fictional world, things like redemption, justice, courage, love, and honor.

If the author’s promise is kept and the reader’s need is met, he said, then readers would want to re-experience that story.

And maybe, I thought, they’d want others to experience it, too. That might create the word-of-mouth ripple effect all writers long for. That might give a book staying power.

Since I read Johnson’s book, I’ve put more effort into thinking about the core human needs of the characters I create, how they’ll seek to fulfill those needs, and the way in which those needs will be met—or not—in the course of the plot. I’ve given more thought to how story (what the novel is about on a deep thematic level) and plot (actions and events) weave together and support each other. It’s tough, because I’m more of a seat-of-the-pants writer than a planner.

Have I reached that next level? I don’t know. Maybe. The novels I’ve written since I read Johnson’s book are selling better than previous ones. And last month a reader told me she read one of my novels twice. So thank you, Bill Johnson, for writing A Story is a Promise.

Link to A Story is a Promise


Carolyn J. Rose is the author of a number of novels, including recent indie titles A Place of Forgetting , An Uncertain Refuge, and No Substitute for Murder. She grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor. She lives in Vancouver, Washington, and her interests are reading, gardening, and not cooking.


This blog appeared at

Posted by Kathleen Valentine

Kathleen's bio on Amazon.

Reposted by permission of Carolyn J Rose.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Diana Gabaldon Interview on Author's Road

Too often science and art are classed as two different worlds, distinct from one another.

We are pleased to introduce you to someone who doesn’t recognize this distinction, but rather sees these endeavors as two sides of the same coin. And she has the credentials to assert this since she’s both an accomplished scientist and a successful novelist of the bestselling Outlander series and the Lord John series.

In this intriguing and lively interview, Diana Gabaldon shares her understanding of how the artistic process and the scientific process are similar, and how crafting a novel is like solving a scientific riddle.

But that’s not all that Diana offers in this amazing interview. She also does something that no other writer we’ve spoken with has attempted: she demonstrates how a written scene is crafted, reshaped and refined into a fine literary image. It’s a magical scene that writers and artists, and no doubt scientists, will find illuminating.

Each of Diana’s many novels and novellas her multiple genres, and her insights about writing are some of the most unique we’ve encountered as we’ve traveled the Authors Road. We believe you’ll find her interview an inspiration, whether you’re a writer, a reader, or simply a lover of clear thinking.

George & Salli

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Putting Into Practice the Essential Elements of Storytelling

To set a character into a world where their desire for redemption or courage or healing or understanding is tested cues an audience to pay attention to a story’s promise. As plot obstacles grow larger and strike characters with more force, they compel deeper revelations about what drives characters to resolve what’s at stake.

In this workshop, you’ll learn how storytelling is a promise and how to uphold this important commitment to your story readers; create a powerful dramatic truth for your characters; and to create and transfer narrative te to your readers.

Without these elements, a novel risks being an account of events, and not a powerful story that compels readers to keep turning the pages.

This workshop is designed to help both beginning novelists and writers who have felt 'stuck' at learning a deeper sense of the craft of writing a novel.

Cost of workshop, $50. It will be held in West Linn. Email Bill at bjscript at to register or for details.

Date: Sunday, March 18th; Time: 3-8 pm