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How the Voice and Tone of a Story Can Make or Break an Author, by Elizabeth Mays

Today, I want to do something a little different. As you may have noticed, I have been spotlighting a number of authors this month to help promote self-published and independent books. I decided that I wanted to branch out and speak to a few bloggers I have met and get their perspective on books that they have read, or topics they have written about on their blogs. In today's spotlight, I am featuring Elizabeth Mays, who not only writes a blog about her life and other interesting topics, she is also a soon-to-be-published poet and writer who is working on her first novel.

Now, you might ask me why I would focus on a writer who is still working on her novel. Well, I wanted to get her name out into the world because I believe that she is talented, insightful, and has what it takes to be successful. As a school teacher, she has experience in story telling, but more than that, she understands how to write in different tones and voices, whether it's a character speaking, or a narration in a specific time period. This is an aspect that not all writer and authors understand. I believe that it is an important aspect of writing that shouldn't be overlooked.

I met Elizabeth when she asked me to write a guest blog for her Romance Themed week. I had so much fun reading her blog that I decided to get to know her . Aside from having a wonderful sense or humor (similar to mine), I like that Elizabeth is personable and down to earth. These are very good qualities for an author to have. As I have said before, if you can't talk about your books with a reader, who will?

So, without further delay, I introduce to you, Elizabeth Mays.

First of all, I’d like to thank Tabitha for this opportunity. I’m not published yet, and to be included in this author showcase is indeed a great honor! I’ve wanted to be an author since about the seventh grade, but it hasn’t been until the past couple of years that I’ve actively pursued it, and it’s paying off. Some of my poetry is being published in an anthology that will be out in the next couple of months. Unfortunately, I don’t have full details on that as of yet other than I know it is slated to go to press very soon.

It may be a small step, but it is indeed a step.

Now why on earth would I be talking about poetry when Tabitha and everyone else featured here are romance authors? Other than it’s the only work of mine that I can officially call published (or to be published), it’s also a big part of how I identify my voice. I am of the opinion that voice is a key factor in whether or not we as writers can become successful authors or not.

I’ve recently started dating a guy (the Pirate, if you follow my blog) who was telling me about an ex of his who wrote a book. Self-published it and everything, but according to him it was absolute garbage. As he told me the synopsis of it, I thought it sounded like an amazing story! It had great potential, and he admitted it had potential, but that it was completely unsuccessful because of execution and the vocabulary she used.

As an English teacher (that’s my “real job,” until I make the transition to author), I understand the importance of keeping your tone and voice appropriate for your audience. Of course, there’s no help for simply bad writing, which may have been the case of the Pirate’s ex, but it’s also possible that she took a story that was meant for a more advanced audience and wrote it at a level for a younger audience. The complexity of your plot must match the style with which you write it.

And that’s not even taking into account creating different voices for each character, or mastering a conversation between multiple characters. Plus how do you distinguish points of view, or flashbacks? Writing is a complicated business! Writing well, doubly so.

It’s taken me years to really hone this skill of voice. Four plus years writing a blog have helped me to finally master a conversational tone, and my poetry helps me to create effective imagery. As an added bonus, I really like alliteration, and in my opinion, it helps to give my writing a bit of a poetic feeling, which works really well given that my stories often include elements of classical mythology.

My current work, The Secrets of Seashells, features a young woman who is just finding out about her family’s dark secrets, one of which might explain why almost every man she encounters falls madly, deeply in love with her. Nera Attwater, the young woman in question, comes from a long line of Sirens, straight out of Greek mythology. After ten years away from home, she returns to find her father dead, her mother missing, and the only person who seems to know anything about the situation is an obnoxious fellow with secrets of his own.

In the writing of the story, I’ve included Sirens, Harpies, and a Gorgon from Greek mythology, as well as a Dragon librarian. His books are his hoard; imagine what happens if you lose a book…

It is set in modern times, so the tone and voice can’t be totally classical. It needs to still feel like a fantasy without feeling like something straight out of the Lord of the Rings. Thus, by incorporating some of the techniques of poetry writing in my descriptions of certain scenes, I attempt to bring a sense of the classical epic into my work, bringing a sense of the ancient myths into a modern piece.

Am I successful? Only time will tell. I’m about halfway through The Secrets of Seashells, and I have bits of my rough draft posted on Tablo if you’d care to read it and tell me if I’ve been successful in creating the tone and voice I was going for. If you like it, please stop by Something or Other Publishing (SOOP) and give it a quick vote. If I get enough votes, they’ll offer me a contract, and that would make my dream that much closer to reality.

Thanks again to Tabitha for giving me this amazing opportunity to share a bit of my journey with you all!

Bio: Elizabeth Mays is a high school English teacher by day and a blogger/author by night. You can read her blog, Just Add Tea, to follow her on her journey to become an author while balancing a job, a social life full of Tinder-fellas, and a recent diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome.

Contact Elizabeth Mays:

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