Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We All Scream for Ice Cream with Guest Blogger Steff Deschenes

Win a signed copy of The Ice Cream Theory today at the Book Boost with author Steff Deschenes.

Here's what she had to say about Finding Your Voice and Use it Loudly...

I'm always a little leery hearing or reading about writer's talking about writing. I believe the greatest art - in all of the beautiful and various forms it takes - tumbles out of an artist naturally. It isn't some contrived, overanalyzed, over-manipulated piece that was dictated by another person's say-so. So, it's a bizarre concept for me to hear writers tell other writers how they should be doing their craft.

What worked for them, what works for them, may not pertain to me. Or you.

Everybody finds there own way. This is true for everything in life, including writing. It's my belief that most advice that's given should be taken with a grain of salt. Or at least deconstructed and digested to later pick apart and see what might apply to you to help enhance or further build upon the foundation you've already created for your a writing style.

Discussing writing when you're a writer is inevitable. People are hungry for knowledge they think you possess simply because you've had a modicum of success stringing words together in a manner that's advantageous to you.

So for me, the best thing I can suggest to other writers - suggest, not tell - is to find their literary voice. Absolutely everything else is irrelevant until you can define yourself through a voice that's going to be yours and yours alone. Your voice is your identity within the literary world.

To me, that's the secret to exceptional and unique writing.

Writing is nothing more than the stringing together of words. It's in the manipulating of those words - the syntax, the diction, the punctuation - where one's literary voice begins to emerge. If you love asterisks, or intentionally misspell the same word, or use numbers to set off your paragraphs - if that's your thing - then do it. Do it! Allow yourself to embrace your quirky writing style!

It's what’s going to set you apart from other writers.

And it’s what’s going to get you recognized by readers, too. When you’ve comfortably settled into your writing voice, it doesn’t matter what you’re writing about – the death of a loved one or sparkly, pink bubbles – your style is going to shine through and the piece will be uniquely yours bringing an entirely new dimension of depth, strength, and relatability.

Once you’ve found your literary voice, I think it’s incredibly important to nurture and nourish it as well. And I honestly can’t think of a better way to do that then to read (I can’t stress enough how much reading and writing really do go hand in hand). Reading other people’s words encourages my own individual voice and allows me to refocus my attention on my own work.

When I was in eighth grade, my literary voice was recognized for the first time. My teacher told me “editors and publishers will try and change this about you. Don’t let them. This is your voice.”

And it’s because, even back then, I was writing like I was speaking: conversational, fragmented, and sometimes tangentially.

My lack of indenting, incomplete sentences, and obsession with having parenthetical side conversations annoys some people tremendously. For most, it's been much appreciated as it's a refreshing approach to writing; a change from the typical and overly-structured works being mass-produced by young or new writers who haven't found their place in the literary world yet.

It’s my voice. And writing is my art. And I should be able to tell a tale using whatever words I want in whatever order I want however I want.

And that's the best thing I can encourage other writers to do.

To find their voice.

And then use it loudly.

A Note from the Book Boost: Great advice. I'm one of those writers who is obsessed with using the magical "ellipses" in my writing. So...please tell us more about your book...

The Ice Cream Theory is a charming, tongue-in-cheek exploration of the parallels between human personalities and ice cream flavors. Utilizing humor and satire, it brings together anecdotes with broader-reaching social commentary to help others recognize the wisdom and joy inherent in a beloved dessert. In the same way people have ice-cream preferences, people also have people preferences. Like ice cream flavors, social preferences shift based on age, experience, even mood. There are exotic flavors that one craves when feeling daring, comforting flavors to fall back on, flavors long-enjoyed that eventually wear out their welcome, and those unique flavors that require an acquired taste. Like people, no ice cream flavor is perfect every single time, and it’s in this realization that the crux of the theory lies.


“ . . . So, in this Theory, just as it is traditionally in Neapolitan ice cream, there are three flavors that everyone falls under; you’re either: a chocolate person, a vanilla person, or anything that’s not one of those two.

Everybody plays a different role in everyone else’s life. People who I love have been people my friends couldn’t stand. As previously mentioned, the boys I’ve been on dates with are probably going to see me a little differently than my parents see me. As it is with the Theory. I like chocolate more than I like vanilla. I find chocolate to be comforting and sincere, while I find vanilla to be mainstream and too straightforward. The people I love or get along with the best generally tend to be comforting and sincere, like how I feel about chocolate. Whereas the people I’ve butted heads with over the years have been very conservative and no-nonsense folks, like, in my opinion, vanilla.

Anyway, what I consider characteristics of a “chocolate” type of person may be different than what you consider. Maybe you hate chocolate, maybe you think it’s too overbearing. Maybe you like the honesty of a simple vanilla.

It’s all speculation according to your own life, your own trials and tribulations, your own personal experiences.

Again, this Ice Cream Theory is just a platform. Take it and run with it, by all means.”

Want More Steff?

Visit her websites here:

Buy your copy of her book today! Click here!

Contest Time:
Leave a question or comment for Steff to be eligible to win a signed copy of The Ice Cream Theory. Winner posted in about a week in the Recent Winners box on the right hand column of this blog. Check back to see if you've won and to claim your prize!


PoCoKat said...

Awesome theory! Would love to win a copy of your book.

littleone AT shaw DoT ca

TheWaldos said...

Gotta find out what flavor I am! Good stuff.

--JC Waldo

Robert C Roman said...

Thanks for putting all that in words. I couldn't agree more that writing is a very personal form of art, and what works for one person won't work for another. There is no 'silver bullet' trick that will suddenly turn you into uber-writer.

That said, there are some things that aspiring writers need to do. Most of them are time consuming. Some of them are painful. Fortunately few of them are both. As you said, they need to read. Another thing they need to do is write. With all the 'comment on blogs, network, market yourself!' hype, some of them forget to do that. Finally, they need to get critiquing partners who know how to critique without being gratuitously hurtful.

Sorry, been thinking about this a lot; I might be on some panels talking about it at Philcon :-)