If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our September Author Interviews--9/6 Kathleen Valenti, 9/13 David Burnsworth, 9/20 Jeri Westerson, 9/27 Frances Brody. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

September Saturday Guest Bloggers: 9/2--Anne Bannon, 9/9 WWK Bloggers, 9/16 Margaret S. Hamilton, 9/23 Kait Carson, and on 9/30 Trixie Stiletto.


“May 16, 2017 – The Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) today announced the finalists of the second annual Star Award, given to authors of published women’s fiction. Six finalists were chosen in two categories, General and Outstanding Debut. The winners of the Star Award will be announced at the WFWA Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 23, 2017.” In the general category, WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.
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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Backstory: My Best Day

by Julie Tollefson



My best day ever was the day my son was born.

Ho-hum. Not much of a story, is it? Unimaginative. Derivative. Pedestrian. And true.

It’s the backstory, though, the months and years leading up to that one event, that makes the day story-worthy. It’s the history of miscarriage and years of infertility. It’s the innumerable, invasive—and ultimately inconclusive—tests. It’s the questions and soul-searching: What if we never have a child of our own? It’s the surprise twist, after years of anguish and after losing hope that it will ever happen.

I was a happy pregnant woman. Morning sickness? Great! Weight gain? Bring it on. Baby kicking the you-know-what out of my bladder? How awesome is that!

I was also cautious and guarded and apprehensive. With our baby-making history a litany of setbacks and failures and disappointments, I couldn’t let myself be too happy, too optimistic, too accepting. That would be tempting fate.

We scheduled an early sonogram to be sure the baby was developing. I read mountains of books about pregnancy and childbirth (most of them scary). We scheduled several more sonograms. I dreaded every test result, and then celebrated when they were normal.

And then one of the test results wasn’t normal. I had borderline gestational diabetes. Suddenly, I was monitoring blood sugar several times a day and watching every bit of food that went into my body. I had weekly and then twice-a-week “non-stress tests” (what a misnomer!) at the end of the pregnancy to keep an eye on my health and the baby’s development. My doctor watched me and the baby closely.

In the full spectrum of things that can go wrong in pregnancies, this was minor. But given our history, the results of that test scared me enough to give up chocolate until the baby was born. Chocolate!

And then came my best day, that wonderful day 18 years ago this week, when my son was born. And he was perfect. A beautiful, happy, healthy baby boy.

Without the backstory, my best day is a birth announcement: wonderful and exciting, but lacking depth.

What makes the story more compelling is the backstory, the six-year history of trauma, heartache, and hope leading up to the moment the boyo was born. 

The same is true of fiction: What makes the story a story is not just the words on the page, but the words that don’t make it onto the page. All of my characters have their own mini-stories. Sometimes, their backstories are huge, important parts of the main story I’m trying to tell. For others, their backstories are private—just between me and them—but they help me understand how a character will act and react to unfolding events. 

All of my character backstories are important, even the ones readers never see. Through them, I know the pain and joy my characters have experienced. They make the character real, something more than a name on a page. They help me take a birth announcement and transform it into a story worth telling and—my ultimate goal—worth reading.

10 comments:

KM Rockwood said...

Backstory is important. As you say, some of it is kept between the author and the character. But some of it has to make its way into the story, and that can be tricky. We all know the Victorian novels which front-loaded backstory, and we all know that doesn't usually work today.

Congratulations to you and your son, both for the event 18 years ago and making it successfully to this "advanced" age of 18!

Warren Bull said...

I am convinced that the unwritten backstory makes what is written more compelling. In some of my short stories I know who the narrator is, where he or she is telling the story and who is listening to him or her. The only part on the page is who the narrator is.

Gloria Alden said...


Julie, my husband and I tried for years - not as long as you did - to have a child. We even went for testing. So when I finally got pregnant I was ecstatic. I didn't have any problems
with my pregnancy. Eventually, our first son, John was born and somehow the machine got stuck in open and within five years I had four children; two boys and two girls.

It's quite an adventure raising kids, isn't it, Julie. It sounds like yours went quite well.

I agree with backstories for all characters even those that are never told. I write backstories especially for my murderers. I want to understand why they would do what they do.

Julie Tollefson said...

I agree, Gloria - raising kids is an adventure! And there's always a new chapter. Just the time I got the hang of the boy as a baby, he turned into a toddler, and then a boy, and then a teenager. Now we're moving into adulthood and I'm so thrilled to see who he becomes!

Four babies in five years - wow!

Julie Tollefson said...

Thanks, KM!

The balance--how much to leave in and how much to leave out--is always a little tricky, isn't it? Every time I revise, I find bits and pieces that can either be left out completely or shifted around to slip more easily into the story.

Julie Tollefson said...

Warren - I completely agree. If I don't know my character that well, he or she falls flat in the storytelling.

Margaret Turkevich said...

I love backstory, but struggle to keep 95% of it in my freewriting and character notes, and not in the WIP. Congratulations on #18! In two more years, you will no longer be the mother of a teenager, which is a wonderful feeling.

Julie Tollefson said...

Oh, Margaret - It hardly seems like any time at all has passed since the day we brought him home from the hospital! But I'll admit, I enjoy being around the young man he's become!

Kait said...

Happy birthday, boyo. What a wonderful, heartwarming, story. Thank you for sharing. Oh, the backstory thing--I agree 100% ya gotta know at least two things about your characters the why of what really scares the bejeebers out of them and what their real wish is.

Julie Tollefson said...

Thanks, Kait!