Tag Archives: writer

How Stories Influence Our Lives

How Stories Influence Our Lives

Stories are a collection of a person’s experience gathered together and bound into sweeping tales that others can identify with on a wide scale ranging from simple entertainment to life changing. If I were to ask you to think back to the first story that influenced you, what would it be? How did it affect you? What type of change came about from reading this story?

That is a lot of questions, but they are important ones. Stories can have a very powerful influence and as an author, I have to recognize that power. Everyone is familiar with non-fiction books that focus on self-awareness, self-improvement, and ways to make your life better, but what about the influence of fiction books designed for entertainment? How can they influence your life and make it better? More questions! Mm, I’m beginning to see a pattern here. Let’s see if I can give you some insight as to how just one story influenced my life over the years.

What is the first story that influenced me? 

This is an easy one for me. Many of my readers may have seen references to this story in several of my books. Which book had such an impact that almost half a century later I still refer back to it? It is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett that was published in serial format in 1910 and published in its completion in 1911. There are several reasons why this unusual children’s story had such an impact on me which I’ll explain below.

How did it affect me?

My dad read me this story for the first time. We have pictures of the two of us, sitting on the couch in the family room. Maybe that is a big part as to why it is so special to me. I can still hear his voice when I read it, feel his warmth next to me, and get lost in the magic of Mary Lennox, Colin, and Dickon. I’ve read that book every year since I learned to read. I could relate to Mary. I wasn’t very strong as a child. I was sick a lot and spent a fair amount of time in the hospital. I was also very quiet and loved to be outdoors, perhaps because of being sick. I fell in love with Dickon. His calm look at life and his love for animals reflected my own. I wanted to get lost in a magical secret garden on the moor and never come out. At times, I still do. This story captured my attention. I felt Mary’s anger and confusion. I realized that she was acting out because all she really wanted was to know that she was important and meant something to someone.

What type of change came about from reading it? 

A good part of the change that came from this story was the belief that there was a place for me out in the world. I wanted to write a story that held the same feelings, that gave the same hope, that this book gave to me. I wanted to capture the magic inside the pages and live it in my own life. It also gave me hope that one day I wouldn’t be sick anymore and I could run and play. As an adult, I look at Mary and Colin’s strength to overcome and Dickon’s gentle understanding of the world around him and know that I have those same qualities inside of me.

Was it just for entertainment?

I know that my dad read me the story for simple entertainment, but it was more than that to me. It was a connection to him, an understanding that life was filled with challenges, and the importance of family and friendship. It was a story that left me feeling strong and happy at the end. One that filled me with hope. When I think of this story, it is as if the characters are real, so for me it was more than entertainment.

How did it influence my life?

I can’t say that the book has made me who I am, but it has had an influence on who I’ve become and my own writing to a big degree. I want stories that are magical when you read them. I’m not talking paranormal magic, necessarily; but, magical in the way they make a reader feel when they are finished with a story. I try to see others in a positive light. Some people call me a Pollyanna. I’m good with that. I don’t mind looking at the world with rose-colored glasses on. One thing is for sure, The Secret Garden helped me decide on what types of books I enjoyed reading.

Did it make my life better?

Any book/story that has a positive effect on you makes your life better. The Secret Garden gave me an appreciation and love for reading that I might not have had otherwise. Reading is so important, yet it can also be one of the most difficult skills to learn how to do. I didn’t learn how to really read until I was in the sixth grade. It was very, very difficult for me to learn. The letters and the sounds just didn’t make sense. At times, I still have a lot of trouble. Because of it, reading was not something I enjoyed doing. It took a story that could capture my heart to make me want to learn to read. It also opened up millions of new worlds to me that I would have otherwise never known. So, yes, my life is much, much better because of a simple story about a little girl who lost everything and found herself living a new and magical life on an English moor.

I’d love to hear which story influenced you the most!

About S. E. Smith

S.E. Smith is a New York Times, USA TODAY, International, and Award-Winning Bestselling author of science fiction, romance, fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary works for adults, young adults, and children. She enjoys writing a wide variety of genres that pull her readers into worlds that take them away.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Is Reading eBooks the New Social Media for Children and Teens

Is Reading eBooks the New Social Media for Children and Teens

This past year, I discovered a new form of Social Media from a very unexpected source – my thirty-something year old son. I was sharing the new story I was writing, Dust: Before and After, with him and told him about uploading a chapter to Wattpad. He asked me if I had heard of . I hadn’t, of course. With a little guidance, he navigated me through the process of uploading Dust to it and explained that anyone who wanted to write a story could write one and upload. It is very similar to Wattpad, but these are a little more hardcore in the type of genres they write. Still, I felt that Dust would fit in the niche, and I excitedly check each day to the growing number of views.

What I found exciting was down at the bottom, there is a number that kept changing. It was readers chatting about the different stories. These are readers who follow the stories as they unfold and talk about them. The number of views for some of them were unbelievable, showing that this type of writing attracts the younger readers in large numbers. Reading is not a dying art, but an evolving one, just as the younger generation of readers is changing the way and type of genre they want to read.

I’m amazed that there is little discussion about the array of sites out there that are available. Sites like Wattpad and Royalroad are just two examples that give readers of all ages a new way of communicating. They are eBooks written by both novice writers who have a story and want to tell it, too far more experienced authors.

I have stories up on both of these sites and what I’ve found is that most of the readers are pre-teen and teenagers and that they talk… about the stories they are reading… a lot! They discuss the characters, the settings, the plots, and the dialogue. They are passionate, avid readers, and very vocal about their reflection on the stories. But most of all, they are talking with other readers from around the world! This type of reading is growing fast and I believe will become even more popular as these readers one day branch out and become writers. The biggest thing I really like is they are taking the time to discuss what they’ve read and share it with others, much like a Book Club does. So, if you were to ask me if reading eBooks is the new Social Media for children and teens, I’d have to say yes, it is. It is a growing, international Book Club that authors need to sit up and take a look at. If anything, it will grow in popularity. All I can say is: Yay, for Social Media interaction about books! I hope they keep it up. About S. E. Smith S.E. Smith is a New York Times, USA TODAY, International, and Award-Winning Bestselling author of science fiction, romance, fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary works for adults, young adults, and children. She enjoys writing a wide variety of genres that pull her readers into worlds that take them away.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Writing in the Young Adult Market

Writing in the Young Adult Market

Writing in the young adult market is different from writing in the adult market. While the young adult market has more disposable income, they also have more interests to spend it on. Regardless of the age, books hold a special place in a person’s life.

Ageless enjoyment: 

From a simple children’s tale of an epic adventure, a well-written story can capture the reader’s imagination and take them to worlds they would otherwise be unable to go to. The recent popularity of the Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Goosebumps, and Twilight series are just a few examples that prove the market is not just there for children and teens, but adults as well. Many of my favorite stories are children and young adult stories.

Reaching a Young Adult Market: 

In the past, reaching the young adult market has always come from the traditional publishers. As an Indie Author, I write and publish my own books through my own publishing company, this could easily be a daunting task to face. How can an Indie author break through into the YA market? I can tell you one thing; it isn’t going to happen overnight. If you were to research the series I mentioned above, you might be surprised to discover many were around for years before they were discovered. One of my favorite quotes is that the overnight success of the artist only took ten years to achieve.

I don’t expect my YA stories to be an overnight success. That doesn’t mean I would turn it down if they were, but I’m fairly grounded. I know that it will take time to build my name and reputation as an excellent author in the YA genre that can provide fascinating stories that teens and adults can relate to. It will also take time for my name to get out among the readers. I’m in this for the long haul. It was never my intention to write one book, sit back, and twiddle my thumbs before someone ‘magically’ discovers it. I will write more and more fascinating stories filled with action, adventure, suspense, and love while I wait for my overnight.

How Do I spread the Word?

As I mentioned above, my overnight success may be years in the making. I am excited that a movie production company has asked for the script of Voyage of the Defiance: Breaking Free. But, as I also mentioned, I won’t be sitting back waiting by the phone for their call. I understand it takes time to make a decision about whether a script is worth a second glance, much less sinking possibly millions of dollars into it. I’ve written another YA book called Dust: Before and After that has me just as excited, and have plans for the second book in the Breaking Free series: Capture of the Defiance to be released this fall. In the meantime, I promote my books through Social Media, paid advertising, word of mouth, conventions, book signings, and more. I participate in online Fan Fiction sites where readers get to read other work I’ve done and learn about my writing style. Most of all, I continue to improve my craft.

Writing in the Young Adult market is just like anything else, it is being consistent and persistent. Write fantastic stories that get readers talking, keep a presence online, and keep writing. Your overnight will come; it just may take a while.

About S. E. Smith 

S.E. Smith is a New York Times, USA TODAY, International, and Award-Winning Bestselling author of science fiction, romance, fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary works for adults, young adults, and children. She enjoys writing a wide variety of genres that pull her readers into worlds that take them away.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Where Do the Characters Come From?

Where Do the Characters Come From?

I am often asked where my characters come from. The answer is simple – everywhere! Now, this doesn’t really answer the question, but I’ll give you some examples to help you understand that the characters really can come from anywhere. So, open your mind, put on your thinking cap, and see how many places you can discover the next character for your story!

Characters from Real Life: Sometimes characters are modeled after real people. In my children’s book, The Troll King of Wildland: The Adventures of Juliana, the lead character is Juliana. This is the story of an amazing little girl who is given a necklace by one of her grandmothers. Unbeknownst to Juliana, her two dogs, Kula and Cocoa, and her new ferret, Reba, are actually enchanted guards from the world of Wildland.

In real life, there really are a Juliana, Kula, Cocoa, and Reba. I was talking with Juliana’s father, Nathan, another real figure in the story, who asked me where I got my ideas from. I told him I could hear a name and pretty much create a story around it. I could tell he didn’t believe me, LOL, which is okay, most people don’t. His response was “So, if I give you the names of my two dogs, Kula and Cocoa, you could write a story about them?” He asked me in a somewhat skeptical tone.

When I started creating a story on the phone, he stopped me and told me that they also had a ferret and asked if I could include Reba. Before I knew it, he gave me Juliana’s name. I asked him some questions about her to get a feel for her character and told him I would write a story about her and her pets, but I needed to finish the story I was working on first. Shortly after our conversation, I sent him a copy of The Troll King of Wildland: The Adventures of Juliana. It is the magical story of a young girl who travels to Wildland to save the King of Wildland who has been kidnapped by the Troll King. Action, adventure, and many surprise twists, including an unlikely ending take the reader on a surprising journey.

Fictitious Characters Need to Be Real: In many of my other stories, the characters may be fictitious, but they all contain elements of people I have met during my life. In Voyage of the Defiance: Breaking Free series, Makayla reminds me a lot of myself at that age. I remember the turmoil of being a teenager, trying to find my place in the world. Her friendships, her relationship with her grandfather, and her desire to have her mom a part of her life makes her real to readers because we have all been there. Most of us have lived through the high school drama, the confrontations, the young love, and the need to find some sense of calm in a world that always seems a bit overwhelming.

Other times, my ideas come from a song, or in the case of Dust, from a workshop I was in. I was sitting in a large, crowded room listening to a speaker talking about the China market. He mentioned superheroes and the image of Dust rose in my mind with such intensity that I began writing his story right there. It was such a powerful tale with a main character that enthralled me! How would I react if I was in his situation? What would I do if I found I was changing? Dust became that superhero who didn’t know he was a hero and one that was still evolving.

The Essence of a Story: Characters are the heart of the story, they should be as 3-D in the story as they are in real life. So, the next time you are looking for the perfect characters, take a look around you and you might just find that they were there all the time! Who knows, if you look in the mirror, that character just might be you!

About S. E. Smith

S.E. Smith is a New York Times, USA TODAY, International, and Award-Winning Bestselling author of science fiction, romance, fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary works for adults, young adults, and children. She enjoys writing a wide variety of genres that pull her readers into worlds that take them away.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail