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Dear Ms. Clamp:

Has anyone been successful at turning a journal into a novel?  I'd like to give it a try.  I have some interesting and true stories to tell and am wondering how I should get started.

Thank you.

Hi, Cherie!

Sure, I don't see why you can't. I don't know personally of anyone who has, but that's not saying it hasn't happened. Not every author talks about what inspired a particular novel, and there are plenty that have that disclaimer on the front, "based on real events."

So, feel free. Go for it.

Getting started is a matter of determining the goal of the book. If it's your life you're writing about, you'll have to imagine an ending that's satisfying. There's where the "novel" part comes in. It started out fact, but twisted in the middle---becoming more than simple real life.

The trick with turning fact into fiction is making sure you don't make people you know too recognizable. That's a quick way to a lawsuit. So, if your Uncle Bob is heavyset with a tight military haircut and is cranky, flip him around. Now he's Uncle Moe, who's skinny as a rail, with long hair and an earring. Same person INSIDE, but not very recognizable. And, too, his internal motivation is different. He might DO the same things as Uncle Bob, but for different reasons. Does that make sense?

Change the setting from a small town to a suburb of a large city. Again, everything changes when the setting does. Then, just start writing. :)

Does that help any? If you have any more questions, feel free to ask. Good luck with it!


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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