Tag Archives: Write a book

Trying to be more disciplined

I’m trying really hard to follow a stricter writing schedule. That means, in part, that I’m going to spit out a blog post once a week even if I have absolutely nothing of any substance to offer to the writing world.  haha.

Thankfully, this week, I have writing news.

I received my book back from the beta reader. In the name of full disclosure, the beta reader is a friend of mine. We met in college (both of us a little bit older than your average age college ladies, but that’s all I’m going to say about that) and we were both in the writing program.

I absolutely trust her with my “baby”, but I was still nervous handing it over.  I mean, I wanted…needed constructive criticism, but yet, part of me truly didn’t want it.  lol.

I know I had already had another friend with a writing background read it, but she had already been tuned into the story.  She had read parts of it during the construction, she was well acquainted with the dreams that drove this story in the beginning. My story was almost like a little sister who followed us around everywhere we went.

With my other writing friend, it was a completely new story…no preconceived notions, no bits of it that she had already read, no idea where it was all going. That was a little scarier – like letting a random stranger stay at your house and babysit your cat while you go on vacation scary. Who knew if kitty would still be there when you got home (or if your TV would be either, for that matter). Will your baby be returned to you unharmed?

OK…I’m overreacting. It wasn’t near that intimidating…maybe more like letting a new stylist cut your hair scary.hairdresser-1019806_960_720

In any event, she has offered me many helpful grammatical type corrections as well as questions that will make me think a little bit more about certain scenes. What can I do to make them stronger?

My first friend helped me to complete the story of my character’s life. She got me to think past the action of the book to where the character goes from there. My second friend is getting me back in the story to fine tune. Between the two of them, I already have a more complete work than I started with. And isn’t that the point of it all?

Now I just need to get on with the edits ~ Round Two! Or is it Round Three now?  Wait…Round Four?

 

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Maybe Outlines are Good?

I’m still working on coming up with a plot line for my Salem Witch Trial book.  I’m getting somewhere though…Faith, my character, is starting to come together a little bit.  I’m seeing a bit of her family dynamic, and how it is that she stumbles into the past.  I guess you could say I’m writing a bit of an…OUTLINE! Ugh! I’m really not an outline writer…I don’t want to have too much planned out because I like to let the story flow whatever direction it needs to go in and if I have an outline, I’ll be worrying about trying to fix a square peg into a round hole (if you will). I think that was a little of my problem with my first book.  Like, I knew one of my characters had to return to the story to meet his destiny, but I struggled for a long while trying to figure out how that was going to happen, after he walked out of the story earlier.

Before I go any further with anything even resembling an outline, I think I just need to start writing Faith’s story and let the characters lead the way.

But, I’m also still researching…I have a book called Writer’s Guide to Places, so I can get a little information about Salem. Certainly I can do internet research as well. I’m writing about a place I’ve never been, so I want to have a little information before I begin.

In other writing news

Well, maybe not writing news, but I’ve started doing book reviews for IndieReader. It might be a good resource for my first book, if I decide to go the self-publishing route. In the meantime, I’m helping fellow writers promote their books with reviews. It’s fun and I’m reading some books I wouldn’t necessarily seek out on my own. This is good for broadening my horizons as well as adding some publicity to other authors. My last review was a children’s book. I’ve always thought I might like to write children’s books, but I know I don’t have the skills to illustrate it, so I’ve never given it much more thought than that. Never say never!

Writers should read

“They” always say that writers should be voracious readers. I’ve been taking that to heart lately.  Right now, I’ve got four books I’m reading (in addition to the one I’m reviewing):

We Are Charleston – written about the Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church Tragedy here in Charleston.

Who Do You Think You Are? – for the budding Genealogist that I am. I had no idea that census records had to wait so long (75 years!) before they can be made public.  I never thought about the privacy issue. Now, like other long time genealogists, I’m not so patiently waiting for 2025 for the release of the 1950 census. I’ve sadly realized that the information I’m looking for about my grandmother might not be reflected in the census record.  She was 14 in 1940 and will be 24 in 1950…already married with children. I was hoping to document her time spent living with a family as a teen because she and her father didn’t see eye to eye. The census records will completely miss this.

Memoir Your Way  – in the same vein, I’m hoping this book can give me a head start on preserving some of the family stories and organizing photos.  It hasn’t been helpful for the latter, but I’m just getting to the chapters about writing the stories.

Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank – a book of short, humorous essays written about life in the south. These are perfect little bits to read during my lunch half-hour.

Meanwhile…

This is the look Ralphie is giving me because, dang it mom, we should be playing right now, not blogging!

bored Ralphie

He couldn’t care less that I’ve got self-imposed deadlines to keep! If he can guilt me out of my desk chair, he will happily do it. Do I look pitiful enough yet? No? Let me try again…you look away from me and back again and I’ll have something even better!

I better get to work before he DOES come up with something better. Poor little guy!

 

 

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Finished Book Continues Editing Process ~ New Book…Well…

I have a second beta reader who will be giving the book a read through.  Keep your fingers crossed that all goes well.

The new book I’m struggling with just a little bit.  I can’t come up with what I think is a believable plot.  You know…as believable as a witch/paranormal story line can be. I’ve done a little bit of free writing, but I think it might require more. What I’ve written so far sounds like a pre-teen book.  Which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not really where I want to go with the story.

Which is an interesting statement to make when I don’t have a clue what the plot line is or where I do want the story to go.

At first I thought I wanted to have my character be a journalism student who, for her investigative reporting class, decides she wants to dig around in the Salem Witch Trials and try to prove the women innocent.  But then it occurred to me, after reading another book about the trials, that perhaps there isn’t enough information out there to really confirm or deny anything with any amount of confidence ~ particularly for me, a writer who hasn’t really studied the trials and who doesn’t want to spend another year doing research this time around.  Plus, what would the conflict be?  Would the spirits of the accused be causing some kind of trouble? Would a living breathing person be trying to help or hinder her? Would all of that be interesting to read? It just seemed that I didn’t have the knowledge to breathe life into the story in that format.

So, now, I’m leaning more towards having the trials themselves be less of the focus of the book.  It would lean towards magical realism (as defined by Wikipedia: a story where magical or unreal elements play a natural part in an otherwise realistic environment). You know…witch…paranormal…all of that. Or maybe this would still be just standard fiction? Maybe chick lit? Any of those would give me more flexibility to run with the details.

I haven’t a clue right now, what those details might be.  But I’ll get there…the story just needs to roll around in my mind for a while…I need to toss ideas out in my free write, no matter how silly they seem.  Eventually, something will stick.  My character (whose name will be Faith) will eventually begin to take shape in my mind. She will come to me when she is ready and she will have a story to tell.

 

 

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The Search for Beta Readers

I think I’ve found a couple of people to be Beta Readers for my book. In my last post, I mentioned the Beta Reader website I found. Today I got an email from them that someone requested to read my book.

I also belong to City-Data where I can participate in various forums of interest. In one of the writing threads, someone said they would be happy to beta read for me.

Tonight I’ll reach out to both of them and we’ll get the ball rolling.  Which is exciting because I really want this book to see the light of day and I know it takes a lot of work for that to happen.  Hopefully, this will be a successful next step in getting onto bookstore shelves.

New Book

My new book isn’t much further than it was last time. I’ve done a little free-writing, but I need to work on coming up with more of a plot.

Genealogy

In other news, I was finally able to get a positive ID on a photo from my Grandma’s house. It felt like there was some kind of significance to the church, since they had it matted and framed.

Now that I’ve identified it, hopefully it will help me to find out what was so important to my family that they kept a framed picture of it all of these years.

After living in Charleston, SC all this time, you would think I was used to seeing buildings in almost the same condition they were in over 100 years ago. It never ceases to amaze me, though. After all the years that pass…weather events, wars, fire, and all other manner of natural disaster, some of these buildings manage to live through it all. It’s buildings like this that you can feel the history breathing in the walls. It’s almost like you can touch a window and touch the hand of someone else from an earlier time.

I love that connection to the past.

 

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And the Book Goes On…

I finally finished my first round of edits. My BFF/writing friend noted at the end of the manuscript that she didn’t want it to end there.  Partly because she liked the story and wanted to know more…and partly because it seemed unfinished to end it at the point where I chose to stop writing.

But my problem with continuing on was that the next part of her life would take just as much research as I put into the first part and, quite honestly, I don’t have it in me right now. To do justice to the second part of my character’s life will require I dive headlong into the Underground Railroad and the Abolitionists movement in the north.  If I continue on at the rate that the original manuscript took to create, I’ll be 60 before I finish the rest. (For reference purposes only, I turn 50 in April.) Now, please forget I said that…in fact, because I started counting backwards about a decade ago, I’m really only 29.  So, let’s go with that.

Anyhow, as a compromise, I wrote an Epilogue.  I’m pretty proud of it, honestly, and it will be a great outline to follow if I do get to the point where I circle back to write the rest of this character’s story.

The next step, near as I can figure, is a beta reader.  I’m in a little bit of a writer’s group black hole here in Charleston and I really want the book to have one more read through by someone outside of my circle. With a lack of local writing groups here, I have spread my search to the internet, and signed up at www.betareader.io.  I’ve uploaded my book in the hopes of getting readers interested in taking a look and telling me what they think. We’ll see what happens. I’m not sure how long to give it before I decide it did/didn’t work. I suppose if I even get one person to read it and give me some insight, I can say it worked. But how long do I wait if no one reads it before I move on to Beta Reader, Plan B?

While that manuscript percolates, I’ll be getting started on…you guessed it…THE NEXT GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL!

Hint: I’ve always been interested in the Salem Witch Trials. I’m not sure if I want to write a historical fiction story about the trials or if I want to do a more modern-day tale. I think my first step will be some free writing to try to get my head wrapped around what the story line should be. Wish me luck!

 

Final Word Count: 48,902

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Editing is Hard

I am finally digging into the edits for my book. I’ve started checking dates, correcting punctuation, and changing some vocabulary that perhaps my character wouldn’t use.

And now I’m on a page where the pivotal arc in my novel occurs. This is where one of my characters (not my main character) has a life changing experience.  Something that is going to affect him the rest of the way through the book – it’s the beginning of the end, so to speak (since we’re talking about the character who walks away and comes back later only to die of diphtheria. My friend/editor said the experience that begins this descent could be fleshed out a little more. She’s right.

So, now I have to figure out how to do that.

How do YOU do it?

Free-writing has worked for me in the past. If I start with the idea I need to elaborate on and just write without thinking too much about what I’m putting on paper, I can often come up with at least a nugget of an idea that I can then develop further.  But I feel there is only so much free-writing I can do when I’m trying to fit something into a historical period.  Like, I can’t just decide I’m adding aliens to the book and I have to be careful about references to “nowadays” things.  I know…free-writing is supposed to be just that and even if I DO write about aliens or iPads, they may just push my brain in an unexpected direction.

Actually, just writing that paragraph about how I can’t write about aliens has given me a couple of ideas!

So, I’m off to free-write through the aliens and twenty-first century technology to figure out what I need to add to this part of my story to help it ring true for readers.

Wish me luck!

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Book Edits and Other Distractions

As I mentioned, I went back home to Wisconsin in September to help Mom after her knee replacement surgery.  This was the second knee, so hopefully I’m done making caretaker visits for a while. This time around, it seemed more stressful for me.  This is becoming old hat for Mom, but there was a new wrinkle this time – her Greyhound, Stella, had a bad leg.  And when I say “bad leg” it’s the she’s-holding-it-up-in-the-air-refusing-to-use-it-even-to-balance-herself-when-she-pees variety of a bad leg. The first time I had to pick the 65 pound dog up off the kitchen floor because she slipped and couldn’t get back up, I got more intimately involved in her health care. No way am I going to just let this be when Mom is currently in no shape to pick her shoes up off the floor, let alone a tall, gangly, retired racing dog. (My bad knees weren’t happy about doing it, but she for sure couldn’t have.)  There was a Vet visit while I was there and then I encouraged a follow-up visit with an Orthopedic Vet. (We’ve since found out that Stella has bone cancer.)

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The above pic is Stella in healthier days, hogging the bed.

And naturally, while all of this was going on, Hurricane Florence was brewing in the Atlantic, scheduled to make landfall halfway through my visit. I was safe, but my husband and my fur babies were still in South Carolina and I was stressed and distracted (and short-tempered) because I felt guilty about not being there to help my husband prepare for the storm and evacuate if it had come to that. Fortunately, Charleston was spared, but it was hit or miss for the better part of a week.

I spent a fair amount of time comforting myself with food:

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The above gem is a Ponza Rotta from Jimmy’s Grotto. They are a-mazing! How can you not love pizza toppings inside a deep fried crust?!?!  Mom’s hand there almost doesn’t do it justice…it might be as long as her hand, but it’s puffed up full of deliciously greasy toppings.  I have a list of places I need to eat and things I need to get while I’m in Wisconsin because I can’t get them in South Carolina.  The Ponza is one of them. I also must get cheese curds (real, good, “squeeky cheese” curds), a kringle, Taco John’s, and Culver’s frozen custard (preferrably Bonfire Smores). Culvers will soon be opening a location near me, so soon I can feed that craving whenever I want.

So, yeah, I fed my stressed out self really well….

Genealogy 

On the plus side, my aunt, cousin and I were able to go visit with my aunt’s cousin (my second cousin?) where we learned more about our family tree.  There was a lot of information I already knew, but there was some very interesting new information as well.

Apparently, you can have a DNA test done by National Geographic. Their website states:

Discover the complete story of your ancestors’ journey from 200,000 years ago to today with National Geographic’s Genographic Project and our Ancestry DNA kit, Geno 2.0. 

National Geographic’s Genographic Project uses DNA analysis and cutting-edge technology to answer fundamental questions about where we originated and how our ancestors came to populate the Earth. 

To the best of what I understand (I’ll admit, I haven’t dug too far into it since I’ve been back home, although I plan to) this DNA test will show you where your DNA line comes from and they lead you through the earliest progression of your ancestors’ migration.  They will also tell you names of famous people in history that you share DNA with.  This is the most interesting part, because we share DNA with, among others, Abraham Lincoln, Queen Victoria, Ben Franklin, Napoleon, King Richard III and Jesse James (this thrills me to no end, because I’ve always had a fascination with gangsters).

Book Edits, Round One ~ Done

And, as promised, I got the edits back from my friend so I can get back to work on the next draft of my book.

Of course, I haven’t started yet.

But I have another work event coming up next week and I expect I’ll have some downtime to start digging in.

My Old Person Knees

My physical therapy and chiropractic care for my knees continues. The treatment goes till the first week of December, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but I go three times a week, so it commands a decent amount of my time. Slowly but surely, I am noticing my knees are feeling a little better, which is encouraging.

Fall TV Time!

And, of course, Fall TV is back from summer hiatus. The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon, Modern Family….oh, how I’ve missed you all! And I picked up a few new shows, like The Cool Kids and God Friended Me.

And now Hurricane Michael is churning in the Gulf….

 

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