Monday, June 27, 2011

Emotional Stages of Writing a Novel

This video cracks me up! It is so true to form, I almost thought someone had intruded a dream of mine. Sometimes I have a few of these emotions going on at the same time be it overlapping stages or simultaneous projects.

One: The Idea
Two: Euphoria
Three: Reality
Four: Triumph
Five: Editing

The Editing stage on my first novel, The Shadow Catcher's Daughter, was quite an experience for me and included whittling it down by 5,000 words. But I did it thanks to the help of my fantastic critique partners and series collaborators Darlene Franklin and Susan Page Davis.  I've now received my content edits from my publisher (Heartsong Presents/Barbour Publishing) and have more to consider. I'm so grateful for the the critiques the first time around as they certainly had an influence on what I now have on my desk. This isn't my favorite part of the process for certain, but having another set of eyes helping me groom this work is necessary to make it shine.

I'm also in the Reality stage of other projects that I'm working on writing proposals for. This is the tricky part. I've already established my ideas, done extensive research, and written several chapters. But then comes the hard part for this mostly seat of the pants write a synopsis of the full novel.  And how do we do that if I haven't written the story yet my brain protests! So I have to take my beginning, and pull those thoughts of future chapters into some assemblance of order and begin to summarize them. It is like sizing up a huge mountain to see how I will scale it. Of course, the Reality stage also encompasses the actual hard work of writing the chapters and usually sets in about chapter 5 for me, but this planning stage is part of the strategy of getting it done. Referring to my synopsis keeps me on track so I'm glad that I've done it, and have found that it doesn't restrict my creativity, rather grounds it. 

The Idea. Always ideas. I am forever tucking them away, jotting them down so I don't lose them, and saving for when I have time to develop them.  And lately, I've had opportunities to submit based on an already developed concepts. One sample chapter for consideration based on 12 page guidelines, and two premises for novella proposals.

Euphoria and Triumph are akin to one another, but Triumph so much more satisfying. Although, as Euphoria urges me forward to give those ideas wings, once its all done I revisit Euphoria again with a grand celebration!

Rinse. Repeat.

What's your favorite stage of the novel writing process (or apply it to other writing projects)? You least favorite stage? What stage are you on now?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sticky Notes: Commas

"I have spent most of the day putting in a comma and the rest of the day taking it out."
— Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Two New Blogs

I'd like to mention two new blogs that I helped develop recently for my dear cousin and a friend.

Menagerie is a collection of original poetry, recipes, Pro Flash gaming reviews, photography, giveaways and much more. Enjoy!

Good Life Marketplace provides a directory of blogs and websites from around the world. Their colorful and economical ads are a great way to get noticed on the web. Check them out!

Friday, June 17, 2011

From a reluctant reader to a published author

 I used to have a hard time reading fiction because I always had my own stories swirling around in my head.  So I stuck to non-fiction as I enjoyed reading for information more than for entertainment. I did like  listening to my husband talk about the fiction he was reading like Frank Peretti's Piercing the Darkness, etc. and sometimes he would read passages aloud, which I enjoyed.  He started reading George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin and C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia to our boys when they were very small, and they loved it!  They also enjoyed a children's version of John Bunyon's Pilgrim's Progress (The Little Pilgrim's Progress).  These stories captivated me and I began weaving tales of my own for our sons while I convalesced after several surgeries that kept me bed ridden for weeks on end. My little boys snuggled up with me and I read them the tales I wrote. When I was better we continued to enjoy them and sometimes we would act them out.  They were enchanted. I still have this series of stories and have long wanted to get them published.  In fact, that is when I started dreaming of the possibility of becoming a published author. When my sons were older, the early stories we read were enjoyed again as they have reread some of them, attended an amazing play of Pilgrim's Progress, and have seen The Chronicle's of Narnia on the big screen.  But what amazes me is fond memories they hold, we all hold, of the stories I wrote for them.

A dozen years ago I borrowed a copy of Christian fiction from the library of my mother's church, Catherine Palmer's Finders Keepers. The Victorian house on the cover captured my attention since I have an interest in architecture and home design. I brought it home and was swept away into a wonderful new world and have been hooked on Christian fiction novels ever since. Catherine Palmer remains one of my favorites!

After reading the sequel to Finder's Keepers (Hide and Seek), I borrowed Lori Wick's historical series, The English Garden, set in regency England. Thus, my entrance into the realm of historical fiction. 

As I read these books I imagined writing stories like these of my own. It wasn't long before I started to write historical fiction for myself. Since then I've filled dozens of notebooks full of my stories. Although early on I had explored the publishing market for my children's stories, I never moved forward because I lacked the confidence to do anything with my writing. I knew absolutely nothing about the craft of writing, especially fiction for adults.  I was in the habit of writing freely to get my ideas down on paper, mostly in narrative form. Then I started toying with dialogue as I had seen in the novels I read. Reading fiction was the only education I had on how to write it.  Then one day I discovered some websites that talked about how to write fiction.  I also found author websites and began to learn more about them and how they got their start in publishing.  I couldn't afford to purchase writing books, but I absorbed everything I could learn from the internet. These were my first steps toward pursuing my goal of becoming published. 

My book!
Since then, I have worked hard at networking and have joined the national organization for Christian writers, American Christian Fiction Authors, joined a local writing group in my state, and have and attended writing conferences. I've continued to work on my craft making a habit of learning something new every day. I've met authors on line and in person, found a writing mentor, and joined a critique group, and writing loops online, and have learned about the publishing industry.  And, of course, I have continued to write, and write, and write...and am happy to say that now I know how to write correctly! This year I signed with a literary agent, have signed two book contracts, and continue to work on other projects. After all of these years I look forward to my first novel releasing in January 2012 and my second in May 2012. So that's my story of how I went from a reluctant reader to becoming a published author!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Writer's Tool Box

Every writer has a few special tools of the trade that help us in our writing and research endeavors. Here are a few of mine. . .

One of my new favs is EverNote. I heard about it on former Thomas Nelson Publishing CEO Mike Hyatt's Intentional Leadership blog where he has a series of articles on how to use EverNote. EverNote is a free download similar to Microsoft's OneNote. No more scribbling endless wordpad notes to self containing research notes, resources, links, research, and brainstorming ideas I'm gathering. Now I just open EverNote and scribble it down and it's all in one place. You can organize it anyway. And it automatically saves everything. Quick and easy!

Story Toolz has several useful tools for writers, but my favorite is their Progress Meter. You can set it up to track your word count and show the meter on your blog or personal home page if you like. It's a cool way to keep track of your writing goals and even share them with others if you'd like.

This is rather basic, but I cannot live with out my dictionary and thesaurus. The one I use, seems almost daily, is The dictionary provides definitions, word origin and history (helpful for historical writers), and sample usage. The thesaurus provides a comprehensive list of synonyms and antonyms. There is also a Visual Thesaurus feature which diagrams a network of alternative words. Another feature of the site is the reference area which gives  few encylopedia entries of the word in question. can be accessed online and you can also download their tool bar for easy access.

When I'm away from my Microsoft Word where I do most of my writing, but still have access to the internet I use Word Count Tool to keep track of how many words I'm writing. There is also word count software you can download with a free trial, but to register you must pay an annual fee. It might be worth it if you do not have access to the internet.

Another one of my favorite resources is Google Books. It is priceless! And very helpful for finding little know historical detail. Today at Colonial Quills, author and expert researcher Laurie Alice Eakes shares how to get the most from Google Books.

What are some of the helpful writing tools that you use?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday's Fortune: Reports from World of Publishing

Today I'm sharing some of the hidden treasure that I've found in my recent travels around the net. These treasures include new discoveries about the world of publishing.

Literary Agent Mary Keeley of the Books and Such Literary Agency reports observations from the publishing  industry in The Changing World of Publishing.

My own Literary Agent Chip MacGregor, President of MacGregor Literary sites ten things that he noticed at this year's Book Expo America in Blogging from BEA.

At Seekerville, Author Cara Putnam interviews Katie Bond of Thomas Nelson Publishing who shares valuable secrets on book Publicity and Promotion.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Attention to Detail in Miniature

As writers we carefully craft our words. This requires much creativity and diligence. As we chisel away at our prose, another artist uses crafts the pencil itself into another form of creativity.

Artis Dalton J. Paul Getty has a unique gift of creating miniature sculptures with pencils. The attention to detail, patience, and perseverance this incredible art form requires is hard to comprehend. His tools: tiny blades and needles. To spare his eyes he only works an hour or so per day and the completion of one sculpture may take one or two years to complete.

Just amazing, isn't it? You are, too. Let's use our own creativity and take a lesson from Mr. Getty to pace ourselves and persevere as we artfully craft our words in our own medium and allow our own original details reveal a beautiful and unique piece of art.