Writing “And Then Came Life” Biofiction

Biography written as fiction, or “biofiction,” is a newly emerging genre in literary fiction. This genus tells other people’s stories complete with dialogue, characterization, plot and protagonist in fascinating and highly readable ways. Biofiction captures those wonderful tales grandparents relate to younger generations. It brings to life family anecdotes, neighborhood legends, even community or multi-family sagas.

During the five years my co-author, Glenn Greenstein, and I spent writing And Then Came Life, the telling of David Goldberg’s story became amazingly personal, moreso than any fiction I’ve written. Almost daily, as Glenn emailed additional snippets of David’s life, as he revealed more and more about the troubled youth growing to adulthood, I came to know our protagonist as a true friend. It was a rare privilege, indeed.

Through this biofiction work I became intimately acquainted with a young man I’d never met. While David had lived a life beyond my experience, beyond my understanding, I soon began relating to him. His desire for approval, though expressed in ways I’d never considered, was no different from my own longing. His want for genuine friendship and love, while sought in bars and dank bathhouses, was most similar to my own need sought through family and co-workers and church activities.

Sometimes, I confess, I was shocked at David’s antics. Frequently I was amused. More importantly, I realized the heart and soul of this young man deserved to be portrayed. The world would become a better place for having known David Goldberg and his journey to the Love and Truth for which he so desperately yearned. It became my holy mission to accomplish this telling.

As it was with the David Goldberg story, so it is with many – perhaps most – biofiction narratives. There are gems of inspiration buried in the lives of men and women all around us; nuggets of wisdom waiting to be discovered and revealed. It is for us, as authors, to ferret out these treasures and share them with humanity.

Writing biography as fiction gives authors wonderful platforms for relating true stories that inspire, that motivate, that stir readers to action. That was the goal Glenn and I sought through the telling of David’s story. We wanted our readers to see for themselves the hope and salvation that finally came to our hero. We wanted them to understand they, too, could grasp the same opportunity to change their lives forever.

Published in: on January 23, 2010 at 7:12 pm  Comments (5)  
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How Much Does a Cover Affect Sales?

According to agent and author Chip MacGregor, the 2nd most important factor in successful book sales is the cover, right after “high-concept book.”

Now the cover of our forthcoming novel, And Then Came Life, is approved and in production. Will it deliver sales? Will it resonate with bookstore browsers? How will this paperback book compete with thousands of other titles in the average brick-and-mortar store?

What do you think of this cover? Please leave your comment below.

Published in: on January 16, 2010 at 10:20 am  Leave a Comment  

Why should YOU write biofiction?

Biofiction – biography as fiction – tells other people’s stories in fascinating, highly readable ways. Biofiction captures those wonderful tales your grandparents told. Biofiction brings to life family anecdotes, neighborhood legends, even multi-generation sagas.

As a writer, biofiction gives you a wonderful platform for relating true stories that inspire, that motivate, that stir your readers to action. And it’s so easy. Your protagonist is already characterized, your plot is laid out before you, and much of your research is already completed or readily available at the prompting of a few probing questions.

What remains for you, then, is to turn narrative into dialogue, to show what your real-life characters tell, to capture the genuine emotion with which stories are told.

If you’ve not tried writing biofiction, I encourage you to do so. Not only is the process of creating your novel easier, in doing so you contribute character and richness to the fabric of your society.

Published in: on January 12, 2010 at 7:30 am  Leave a Comment  

5 Sources for Biofiction Novels

You’re already a practiced writer if you follow this blog. Getting your skills honed isn’t your focus right now. What you’re here to learn is writing the genre called “biofiction,” or telling true-life stories in dialogue format.

So how do you get started? Where do you find true-life stories worth telling? The sources are endless and require only a little digging.

  • My first biofiction novel, Without Spot or Wrinkle developed out of a friendship at church. As I got to know the couple whose story is told in those pages, I was intrigued by the man’s approach to ensuring he and his bride were following God’s leading in their marriage. The hoops he jumped through made for an interesting story; and the safeguards he put in place might be helpful to others approaching holy matrimony. Now 8 years later, the story is a free ebook on this blog (see blog post Oct. 23, 2009 – “Free Christian Romance Ebook.”
  • My second biofiction novel, And Then Came Life grew out of talking with the guy who cut my and my wife’s hair. It was a story he’d been wanting to tell for 20 years and had prayed for the right author to assist him
  • Now my mother wants me to write about her grandmother’s amazing pioneer life. There are a couple of incidents which might make for a good story, complete with romance, drama, devastation and rebuilding, but considerable research will be needed/

Where can you find biofiction stories: Here are 5 suggestions:

  1. Grandparents or elderly friends or relatives with interesting life stories. There’s richness in their tales. Talk with them, discover how they overcame certain situations (plot) and what inner resources (character) helped them succeed, or not. Even failure is worth recounting if it helps the next generation.
  2. Friends who’ve moved from one country to another. The wife of a friend immigrated illegally to the U.S. and became an American citizen. Now they’re missionaries to her home country.
  3. Neighbors who’ve survived terminal illnesses. Cancer survivors, especially,  are numerous and often the circumstances they overcame to live another day can encourage or inspire others.
  4. Biblical narratives. The Bible is full of fascinating life chronicles. While biblical accounts may be brief, it’s often not difficult to imagine the emotions, the fears, the thoughts of personalities. Several authors have successfully done this, calling it fiction rather than biofiction.
  5. Local residents with interesting hobbies. Some of your neighbors have offbeat hobbies and some can become the basis for a good story. How did your neighbor get into wood-carving or (list unusual hobbies). Did they inherit the interest or talent? What’s the story surrounding the hobby? How did it come to be? What’s the status today?

The key to all biofiction is discovering the heartbeat of the protagonist and conveying that to your readers. Real people always resonate with readers, especially when they become minor heroes.

Published in: on December 8, 2009 at 12:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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What is “Biofiction?”

Some on the World Wide Web write about a “new genre” of fiction called “biofiction.” Whether biofiction is truly a new genre and will become mainstream, as in “biography” or “mystery” or “suspense” remains to be seen.

Biographies have been with us since time began. Presumably, oral storytellers sitting around ancient campfires no doubt recounted the lives and times of notable figures. Greeks, Romans and other societies all told stories of their gods and their heroes.

The Bible, of course, is replete with stories from the lives of men and women God chose to lead and shape His kingdom on earth. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob and Joseph, Moses and Aaron, Elijah and Elisha, David, Solomon and more. Both the Old Testament and New insightfully recap significant points – some high and some low – in the lives of men and women contributing to what we now call “The Scriptures.”

Typically, biographies are related in narrative format.  “He or she was born here, lived there, did this or did that,” and so on. Interesting amalgamations of facts and information. Not, however, always interesting reading.

Enter 20th-century movie-making and “based on a true story” or “as told to the author” scenarios Voila! The art of telling true-life stories in more readable, faster-paced formats that strictly narration is born.

Biofiction is simply telling true stories in dialog-rich formats. Without Spot or Wrinkle (free ebook below), for instance, reads like a novel and tells the true story of a man and woman assigned to co-lead a Bible study at their church who fell in love and were married. I wrote the story from knowing the couple at the same church they attended, took notes on what I observed, then filled in details with conversations with them.

While the ebook ends with their wedding, today the real-life couple have been married more than 20 years, live in a different state from where they met, and have 3 grandchildren.

The soon-to-be-published biofiction novel, And Then Came Life, is about a young man growing up in dysfunctional family, discovering acceptance in homosexual relationships, then escaping the lifestyle through a miraculous and divine intervention. The story was written solely from emails the protagonist sent almost daily for more than 6 months.

Today “David Goldberg” is happily married, a father and a small business owner.

Biofiction stories are everywhere. A well-known Christian literary agent recently blogged about the plethora of memoirs and family sagas he receives. While he’s certain these budding authors are hopeful, he knows their stories have little to no commercial value.

If, however, those family stories are written as biofiction and crafted with plot, characterization, dialog, and POV, their commercial value increases immeasurably. Then those stories, dear to the hearts of passionate writers, might potentially see the light of an endcap in a local bookstore.

More importantly, those true stories about the lives of honest-to-goodness men and women might speak into our own lives.

Published in: on November 6, 2009 at 4:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Free Christian Romance Ebook

Without Spot or Wrinkle

Like reading about Christians finding romance God’s way? Like not paying for the read? This biofiction ebook tells the true story of one couple who thought they were through with romance, then discovered their Heavenly Father had other plans for their lives.

Download the free ebook here – free ebook – Without Spot or Wrinkle

Published in: on October 23, 2009 at 12:27 pm  Comments (1)  
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How to Score Endorsements

Getting endorsements for books by first-time or unknown authors is practically impossible. Just ask Glenn Greenstein and myself.

Fortunately, our co-authored book, And Then Came Life, is based on the true story of a young man who discovered freedom from homosexuality in the loving arms of Jesus Christ. And fortunately, the central figure of our book aired his story on The 700 Club more than 20 years ago.

All this to say one of the endorsements for our soon-to-be-published book is by the producer of that 700 Club program segment back in the last century.

Here’s what the producer has to say:

“To be honest, when I first produced and aired David Goldberg’s story 20 years ago for The 700 Club, I didn’t believe that any man could break free from homosexuality—and stay free.  I waited for the call that said he had fallen back…but it never came! Wrapped in the pages of his dark journey,  David speaks a message of HOPE to those struggling with “the lifestyle.”  His candid expose also gives rare insight to those “looking in” from the outside.  A masterful work.”

Ken Hulme, Senior Coordinating Producer, The 700 Club

Published in: on October 17, 2009 at 2:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Cover for “And Then Came Life”

Like most authors, Glenn [Greenstein] and I are delighted to have the cover of our first co-authored book, And Then Came Life, in hand and ready to show.

And Then Came Life
And Then Came Life

The final manuscript just cleared the copy editors and is being reviewed one last time by our editor. Then it’s off to page formatting and publishing. We had hoped the book would be in our hands by November, now that looks more like January.

Whatever timing is in God’s hands and we give Him glory for having led us thus far on this adventure.

Published in: on October 17, 2009 at 2:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Scoring Our Publisher

[Part 2 of How to Get Published}

Despairing of ever finding an agent or publisher for our book, And Then Came Life, Glenn and I nonetheless went back to work finishing the manuscript. More focus was needed, I’d learned, so I did that. Change this, correct that POV, clarify the characters. Thirteen months later a polished draft was finally ready for shopping around to publishers.

Skipping over query letters, except where required, we went straight to submitting book proposals. Do you know how much time it takes to write those? Publisher A wants the overview, the synopsis and the marketing plan presented this way. Publisher B wants the same information, but presented differently. And so on. Maybe print publishing – which currently finds itself in serious competition with ebook publishing – could become more attractive to authors by standardizing book proposal formats.

Then came the weeks of waiting. Watching the mailbox. Checking email multiple times daily. Calling the landline from the cell phone to ensure it was still working. Finally, a small publisher in the western U.S. made us an offer. Ecstatic, we contacted a couple of well-recommended agents. Conventional wisdom had said one can land an agent if one has a contract in hand. Right?

Not this time. Our book was too controversial. They weren’t sure they could sell it. We were unknowns competing with established authors. Other ‘reasons,’ as well.

Not to worry. The contract was good. We’d go it alone. Off went the manuscript to the editor. Only it seemed the editor assigned was using grammar software to ‘edit’ our book. Back to the publisher where another editor was assigned. Better this time. She gave good counsel, made intelligent recommendations, improved the book. Then a medical problem that prevented her working – completely.

Back to the publisher again. A third editor was assigned. Her first email was prompt and professional. We were back on track! Off went the manuscript again, then nothing. Confused and concerned, we emailed the editor-in-chief. A senior editor was promised.

The following week our senior editor emailed asking for the most recent manuscript and setting expectations on when we’d hear back from her. Under-promising and over-delivering, she sent the edited manuscript sooner than anticipated. Finally, we finished our final edits, prayed over the manuscript, and sent it back to the editor.

Next step – waiting for the cover design.

Published in: on October 17, 2009 at 2:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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How to Get Published: “And Then Came Life”

I realized the other day I’d not posted much here about the journey to publication for my second novel, And Then Came Life. This particular adventure is co-authored by my one-time hair stylist and now friend, Glenn Greenstein. It’s amazing how God brought us together.

In August 2004 my wife and I were new in the small ocean-side Florida town. So different from Phoenix just a week ago! She needed a hair stylist and I a barber. One day while walking a local strip mall, we saw in a hair salon window a Star of David with a Christian cross in the center. Messianic follower of Jesus Christ, we knew immediately.

Salon owner Glenn Greenstein was charming, outgoing, and an expert stylist for both men and women. We became instant clients and set about getting acquainted. It’s always more fun to enjoy the person to whom you trust your coifing.

A couple of months later Glenn asked whether I’d write a book he’d had in mind for more than 20 years. He described the project and suggested I go home and pray about it. I did just that. Two weeks later I told him I’d be his co-author.

The project seemed monumental. How does one combine the stories of 3 generations into 1 book? How does one capture the ambitions of grandparents, parents and children, along with their excesses and their failures? Nonetheless, Glenn was sure this was a project God had laid on his heart. Soon I began sensing the holy direction, as well.

Divinely emboldened, we plunged ahead. Almost daily, Glenn sent emails detailing the angst of the story. As his hurried keystroking became more familiar and as I added dialogue, the book began taking shape.

Three hurricanes later, my wife and I had enjoyed Florida long enough. We fled to the heartland of America, though still receiving Glenns’ emails and still adding dialogue. Perhaps a little uneasy that his book project might have taken wing, but saying he just wanted to review the progress, Glenn offered to fly out for a visit. The 2 days and 2 evening we spent together were extremely special times in all our lives.

By September 2006 the manuscript was sufficiently complete to begin shopping to agents and editors. I attended a writer’s conference in Dallas, only to come home discouraged. My presentations to potential buyers generated more confusion than interest, although one agent agreed to consider the book. Later, however, they declined to represent us.

Next step – finding our publisher.

Published in: on October 17, 2009 at 2:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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