Two-year-olds begin to learn to resolve and reduce conflict when their mothers teach them that biting isn’t nice. But it’s an authors job to create and escalate conflict to uncomfortable degrees. Not quite biting level–maybe a notch below. Or there could be biting. The story will out.
So how do authors overcome a lifetime of social training to avoid conflict?
Eileen Cook to the rescue! Eileen is an author with a background as a therapist–specifically in conflict resolution. One of the sessions she will teach at the upcoming Chanticleer Author Conference—CAC17 is March 31st to April 2nd–will be her class The Perfect Storm: Character, Conflict and Motivation, which is a unique experience falling somewhere between marriage counseling and writing class. If you have a slightly rocky relationship you’d like to improve, or some characters whose relationships need to be smashed on the rocks to get your plot moving, either way, you will benefit from attending this class with Eileen Cook.
Also, not to be missed, is her class: Why Would You Say That? How to Improve Your Dialogue.
We asked our CAC17 special guest speakers a few questions to break the ice and introduce them to all of you who’ve already registered or are planning to register for CAC17. And Eileen was the first to jump in with her answers, below.
1. When did you know what you really wanted to be?
I always wanted to be a writer. My parents kept a homework assignment I did in second grade where instead of practicing sentences, I strung mine all together and the teacher wrote on the bottom: “Someday you’ll be an author.” It took me a while to get there— but now that homework sheet hangs in my office as proof of the power of those who believe in you and the idea of never giving up.
2. What was the biggest challenge you faced?
It’s often not the big challenges, but the small (seemingly endless) setbacks that I found wore me down. It’s hard to keep going in the face of rejection. It’s far easier to give up than to keep trying.
3. How do you define success?
My definition for success in writing is to continue to learn and grow as a writer and to never forget how truly fortunate I am to do this work. My goalposts for what I want to achieve keep changing- but I hope I always remember to find the joy in the process of creating and sharing stories.
4. How long did it take to achieve your success?
It depends on when you want to start the clock! I wanted to be a writer since I was young, but if we start the clock when I started to take the craft seriously, taking classes, writing on a regular basis, completing projects and submitting manuscripts it took about six years before I sold my first book.
5. What is the best advice you have ever received?
I took a class and the instructor pulled me aside and told me that I should be submitting my work- that I had talent. I stated that I didn’t know I would do if I was rejected. The instructor told me: “I hate to break this to you- but you’re already not published. The worst thing that will happen to you if you submit your work is that you STILL won’t be published.” That was a lightbulb moment for me- I realized that the worst thing that would happen is that someone would tell me no- but if I was unwilling to survive some no’s I would never get to a yes.
If you have not registered for CAC17 yet, what are you waiting for? Eileen Cook and more fantastic speakers (including yourself possibly, if you register before the schedule is full) will be sharing their experience and knowledge about writing books, selling books, and everything to do with being a successful author.
Eileen Cook is a multi-published author with her novels appearing in eight different languages. Her books have been optioned for film and TV. She spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. Her newest book, WITH MALICE, came out in June 2016. She’s an instructor/mentor with the Simon Fraser University Writer’s Studio Program.
You can read more about Eileen, her books, and the things that strike her as funny at www.eileencook.com. Eileen lives in Vancouver with her husband and two very naughty dogs and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else.
For fans of We Were Liars and The Girl on the Train comes a chilling, addictive psychological thriller about a teenage girl who cannot remember the last six weeks of her life.
Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron’s senior trip to Italy was supposed to be the adventure of a lifetime. And then the accident happened. Waking up in a hospital room, her leg in a cast, stitches in her face, and a big blank canvas where the last 6 weeks should be, Jill comes to discover she was involved in a fatal accident in her travels abroad. She was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident. Wondering not just what happened but what she did, Jill tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.
- Why Would You Say That? How to Improve Your Dialogue –Dialogue serves many purposes in a manuscript- it moves the plot forward, shows character, and can be used to increase conflict. This workshop will provide practical examples and prompts to help writers create dialogue that pulls in readers. It will also explore how what is not said can be as important (or more) than what characters say.
The Perfect Storm: Character, Conflict and Motivation –The challenge of keeping readers turning pages requires the perfect storm of characters, their conflicts and their motivations coming together. This workshop will explore how these different aspects worth together and how the writer can use each of them to amplify the others. Practical prompts and examples will help participants with their current manuscript as well as providing areas to consider when planning new works.