Using Real People as #Fictional #Characters – #ArtisticLicense and #TBT

Throwback Thursday to John F. Kennedy’s Presidency!  More on him a little later.

Artistic License

There is a fine line between real people as fictional characters adding an intriguing aspect to a novel versus causing it to crash and burn.  Artistic license needs to be applied with caution so readers do not expect a biography, but instead a fact-checked, interesting twist on the person.

My latest book is about a girl who can see spirits, and the school she attends has a faculty of famous dead people. On the one hand, the spirit version of the celebrity may be totally different than the living version of the person. I could make Abraham Lincoln an outgoing, busybody, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, I attempted to write each character in the voice everyone knows, but I then add an exaggeration here and there. [insert coy devil smiley]

John F. Kennedy as a Teacher in Spirit Form

John F. Kennedy is one of the teachers at Vita Post Mortem Academy.  In real life, he was quoted on many topics, but I particularly like the way his quotes show his open-mindedness.  Whether this is true or not, the Kennedy that teaches American Ghost Stories (a version of social studies) at Vita Post Mortem Academy acts as an insightful role model.

The first time Jules Winklevoss (the main character) meets JFK, he quotes himself, “The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were and ask “why not?”

Later in the novel, he begins class with the following written on the board, “Ask not what your school can do for you. Ask what you can do for your school. –John F. Kennedy” It’s artistic license, but in the vein of the living person.

The John F. Kennedy in spirit form is charming, well-spoken, gives advice freely, smug, and a bit of a prankster. Close enough?  I think so.

I may have put words in his mouth he never would have said, but the details around his death and family were fact-checked down to the weather in Texas on the day he died.

“If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.”

Art, in all its forms, is an important ingredient to our lives. Since I spend my day buried in finance facts and figures, I use novel writing as an outlet to be creative. It clears my mind of trivial annoyances.

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Check out the (after)life lessons pinterest page to see more quotes by John F. Kennedy.

Kindle Scout Campaign Update

Day 1 of the campaign to win a publishing contract at Amazon has been a success.  My book, The Light of Supremazia, #1 in the (after)life lessons series, was trending as “hot.”

Vote here: Kindle Scout Campaign for The Light of Supremazia

Author @alanasiegel quotes #JohnFKennedy “Art is a Form of Truth” Do you agree? #TBT see post here (Click to tweet)

Why is there a fine line when using real people as #fictional #characters ? Writer @alanasiegel has an opinion (Click to tweet)

Vote for @alanasiegel #KindleScout Campaign The Light of Supremazia here (Click to tweet)

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Launch on #KindleScout and a #CoverReveal

Beginning My Kindle Scout Journey

For over two years, I have been writing, scheming, and plotting my next book series. I am ready to announce the first book:

The Light of Supremazia, book #1 in the (after)life lessons series

The process was therapeutic. I worked through Juliandra Winklevoss’s highs and lows in a spirit-seeing world and at the same time built my own life in San Francisco, a magical wedding, two finance designations, and other small but meaningful achievements.

Writing this book has been an enjoyment and a distraction. It focused my attention on Vita Post Mortem Academy when I needed an escape. It gave me satisfaction when I spent months editing and then reread chapter one and felt the chills. It gave me a challenge when the plot didn’t align, but it also patted me on the back when a detail worked out just right.

I love this book for everything’s it’s given me, and I can’t wait to finally share it with others. I hope you can feel the love and passion I poured into it.

How Kindle Scout Works

For my new series, I am attempting something different. Perhaps it is because I live in the technology center of the universe, or maybe because I like to try difficult things, but either way, I decided to post my book on the Amazon crowdsourcing site, Kindle Scout.

On this page, readers are the scouts for the next great book. The Light of Supremazia will be posted on the site for 30 days for readers to vote as their favorite book. If it receives enough votes, Amazon will publish my book through their publishing house. So please, please vote!

Vote here: The Light of Supremazia Kindle Scout Page

Varying Opinions on Kindle Scout

As an author hoping to find hordes of adoring readers, I had to weigh the pros and cons of launching a campaign on Kindle Scout.  I found articles that berated Amazon for stealing the souls of authors by taking too large a percentage of sales and others that noted self-promotion is difficult and at least a Kindle Scout campaign gets your name out there.

I’m willing to give it a try. Writing is one of my favorite hobbies, but it’s not my day job. What do I have to lose? Plus, I’ve been through a book launch before. I’ve attempted to catch an agent’s attention, and I’ve self-published years and years of passionate writing. I’m willing to give this a shot. Here’s a few links to other’s opinions:

Amazon’s crowdsourced publishing program, Kindle Scout, is now open for voting

Amazon’s crowdsourced ‘Kindle Scout’ program picks first 10 digital books for publication

Cover Reveal for The Light of Supremazia

I would also like to officially reveal my creepy and stunning cover, designed by Kristin Centrella. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Kristin.

afterLIFE Lessons Book 1 - The Light of Supremazia

The blogosphere is chock full of kind and helpful authors and readers. I stumbled upon The Book Wars a few months back. It is an entertaining blog for heavy readers with book reviews and all your favorite top ten lists. One of my favorite themes they discuss is cover design. With everything at our fingertips, snap judgments occur more often than ever. Their posts forced me to be thoughtful when working with Kristin on a cover design. Here are some of the things we talked about as important aspects the cover art for my book:

  • Viewable in small format
  • Eye catching
  • Includes pop art
  • Fewer, bolder colors
  • Portrays the book
Some other useful sites:

Yes, We Really Do Judge Books by Their Covers

The Visual Factor: Judging a Book by Its Cover?

Finally, Marketing Blurb for my New Book:

Think it’s difficult to get into Harvard University? Try Vita Post Mortem Academy, a prestigious high school where John F. Kennedy teaches a class called American Ghosts stories, Albert Einstein grades science tests, and history’s most brilliant minds make up the rest of the teaching staff. Not a problem for Jules Winklevoss, one of the few who can see spirits.

Getting into school was a cakewalk, but Jules learns not all spirits are engaging and inspiring teachers. Fourteen years ago, Jules’s family thwarted an evil spirit’s rise to power. Now, the evil spirit wants revenge on all Winklevoss’s, beginning with Jules. As if evil spirit problems aren’t enough, add best friend drama, unattainable boy crushes, and homework to the mix, and needless to say, high school is going to be dreadful. Jules is determined to protect her family and keep herself alive, even if that means delving into the world of the dead.

NOW VOTE HERE!!! https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/1PMYID5KFXEY5

Author @alanasiegel believes #KindleScout , a #crowdsourcing site for #books , will be a success, do you? (Click to tweet)

What are the important aspects of #CoverArt for a #book ? See what author @alanasiegel thinks here (Click to tweet)

Do you like #author @alanasiegel ‘s concept for her #book The Light of Supremazia? Vote on #KindleScout here (Click to tweet)

Want to learn how to create these twitter size bites? Check out @Ava_Jae ‘s blog here Click here

Modern Day Books Need Add Ons

As I prepare to launch my next book series, I keep thinking about additional ways to enjoy the story. How many times have you read the details by J.K. Rowling about characters she didn’t mention at the end of the series? Or get excited because they brought the characters of Vampire Diaries to life in a tv series? Or sing along to a song from the Hunger Games movie on the radio?

Like a bag of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans or your very own Mocking Jay pin, I hope you enjoy Jules’s Vita Post Mortem Academy Class schedule!

Vita Post Mortem Acadedmy Class Schedule

The Light of Supremazia, book #1 in the (after)life lessons young adult, fantasy book series!

Check out the pinterest page: https://www.pinterest.com/alanasiegel/afterlife-lessons/

Check out the book trailer: https://youtu.be/ZfKnXA8oJBE

Writing a #Plot Summary and a #Marketing Blurb

I recently attended a webinar by @JordanRosenfeld about writing a plot summary for a manuscript through Writer’s Digest. What I liked about her presentation was the notion that a plot is formulaic. She suggested using a three act setup. Being more math-minded, it was something I understood. I liken it to being a baker versus a cook. I am much better at following an exact recipe for lemon poppy muffins rather than a pan with some fancy sauce and adding a pinch of salt and a handful of basil.

Case in point – My husband emailed me the article with a picture of J.K. Rowling’s hand-drawn spreadsheets to map out her plots with the subject line “this is something you would do.” He knows me well. I had already started a google spreadsheet mapping out my book.

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I have a good sense of pacing, but I like the way she mapped it out. I used a similar setup, stolen from Elizabeth Sims, to note the flow of the classic hero’s adventure. It worked well.

Writing a marketing blurb was a piece of cake after that.  (Pun intended!)  I simply used the section designated as “Act 1.” Feel free to let me know what you think.

Think it’s difficult to be accepted into Harvard? Imagine attending Vita Post Mortem Academy, where the spirit of John F. Kennedy teaches social studies and the spirit of Albert Einstein gives physics lectures. There’s no hope getting in if you can’t see spirits.

Jules believes in spirits. She doesn’t analyze their existence on a regular basis. She just accepts it as fact. Living in New York City, where anything is possible, how could she not believe in spirits? However, the summer before ninth grade, when her best friend, Johnny, dies, she finds herself yearning to see his spirit.

Johnny was prone to brushes with death due to mysterious accidents, but the ominous light and the girl who gave him a final shove on to the subway tracks puts doubt in Jules mind that his end was a freak incident.

The strange events are jarring, but the foundation of everything Jules knows is shaken when she finds out she’s adopted, and she’s forced to attend a special school in California run by the spirit of the biological grandmother she never met. Needless to say, high school is going to be overwhelming.

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To see more pics for this book, go to: https://www.pinterest.com/alanasiegel/afterlife-lessons/

Traveling Superheroes

Four plane rides, five diligence meetings, four states, six coffee catch-ups, and one Bat Mitzvah.  That’s how I spent my first week of December.  I was impressed.  Okay, so I wasn’t attacked by monsters, I wasn’t gallivanting around Rome, and I wasn’t traveling on a trireme, but we can’t all be demigods searching for the House of Hades like Percy Jackson’s friends aboard the Argo II.

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I did manage to find time to write a few more chapters of my next book series, Bone-Chilling.  As I approached the last few chapters, I noticed the characters suffer from time travel whiplash.  If you were able to see ghosts, like the main character, Juliandra Winklevoss, you would also have a hard time keeping track of which time period your teachers were from.

She knows one thing for certain, if they teach at Vida Post Mortem Academy, they must be superheroes.  President John F. Kennedy, Albert Einstein, William Shakespeare, Eleanor Roosevelt, are just a few of the spirits that make a translucent appearance.

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Dead or alive, historic or unknown, traveling or stationary, there are many different types of superheroes.  They can make sweeping changes or simply bring a smile to your face.  My mom forwarded this picture of one of my favorite dancers from So You Think You Can Dance, Twitch.  He is the king of optimistic superheroes.

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At the end of the day, one of my favorite reasons to travel is to see my rag-a-muffin cat, Zeus.  Named after a Greek God, he too, likes to dress the part.  Happy Holidays!

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