Tag Archives: Writing process

Looking for Representation

The book is finally ready to be sent out to agents in the hope that I will find someone who loves the story as much as I do. Certainly I expect there will be edits and I’m excited to take that next step. If we can make the story stronger, let’s do it.

I sent a query to an agent who is looking for historical women’s fiction and I hope she will be the perfect fit. I don’t know how long it might take to hear from her and I’m both thrilled and terrified at the same time. It brings back all of my self-conscious fears ~ what if the book just sucks?

To distract myself and stay out of my own head, I’m turning my efforts to Faith to get her story started.

Wish me luck!

 

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Next Round of Edits…done.

I finished the edits from my second (friend) reader.  She has me now thinking about how I want to end the book.  Like, I think I might need to add a few more chapters and cut the Epilogue down a bit.  Actually, both of my reader friends suggested I should add more and not end it where I chose to end it.

So, now, before I put the book back out to an unknown beta reader, I’m feeling like I need to revisit the story and do some revisions on the end.  Damn…and here I thought I was done.  HaHa!

I know, I know…all of you with published books out there are laughing hysterically at me right now.  You thought you were done?!  Are you nuts, lady?! I know…two rounds of edits isn’t really that much. And certainly, now that I’ve had two different people tell me a very similar feeling about the ending, it would seem I need to do something to make it stronger.

In my defense, my original plan had been to write a sequel where I was going to go deeper into the years covered by the Epilogue, so it felt like I was ending the story in the right place. But the more I thought about all of the additional research that would be involved in fleshing out the Epilogue into chapters, I decided that if I spend another couple of years doing that, this book might never see the light of day.

Plus I’ve got Faith waiting around for the chance to tell her story in my next book. She’s been starting to come together nicely and, while she’s waiting patiently right now, I don’t think she’s going to be willing to do that for another couple of years.  That’s asking too much of even the most understanding character.

So, I’ve decided the best way to handle this shortcoming is not with another complete book, just more added to the current one. I’ve gotta tell you, it’s a little bit of a let down to be going back to writing this book.  I love the characters and the story, but I was truly ready to set them loose on the world.  Like an 18-year-old kid you think is ready to go off to college and start making her way in the world (and move out of your house), only she decides she needs a gap year and plans to keep living at home, and working to save some money. Sure you love your kid, but you were so ready for her to leave the nest.

So, I’m officially in the gap year…hopefully just a gap couple of months.  HaHa!

Counting down the days…

 

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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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