HARDSHIP & DEVOTION Facelift

To all those that have read or are wanting to read my first novel, Hardship & Devotion, it is currently going through another edit. After several comments regarding the story line being fascinating and the characters wonderful, there are enough errors that I’ve decided to fix the mistakes that my “editing” team supposedly fixed.  It wasn’t until it was already published that I realized how wrong I’d been in putting so much faith in an editing service. I WILL NEVER make that mistake again. I’m hoping that by end of this year, the newly refurbished novel will be available for all to read. I apologize to all those that have already read this piece and had to suffer through the errors. If it weren’t for honest reviewers, I probably wouldn’t have noticed the errors myself.

I’ll make sure and keep you updated. Also, I’ll be writing a post in regards to my first individual publishing story as well. This will give you all insight into the individual publishing process and the lessons I learned. There are many that were learned, aside from the editing service, and I wish to share them with you all. Individual publishing is a great thing for authors, but it’s important when going through an individual publishing company that you’re made aware of what to watch for.

For now, Happy Writing and Reading everyone!

Revising Creative Writing Works

While writing my second novel, Unexpected Choices, I am finding that revision is one part of completing a manuscript that I might despise more so than editing. After reading the majority of my novel I have found that the middle–you know, the important part of a novel–feels wrong and I do not like it one bit. I’ve decided that it would be best to change the story line a little and revise a hefty portion on my novel.

This has become a driving force that has me disliking writing and that is just something we cannot have. 🙂 I pulled out my old textbook to see if I could find any answers to the many questions that I’ve been having about this piece, and found a bit on revision that I not only found helpful, but might help any of you that might be having similar issues.

In The Practice of Creative Writing: A Guide for Students-2nd Edition, by Heather Sellers, it not only shared my feelings of dread that comes with revision, but also gave some good questions to ask when reading your first draft of any creative writing piece.

QUESTIONS TO ASK: Reading First Drafts of Creative Writing

Focus on these aspects of the piece to help the writer identify revision strategies.

  1. What images are most transporting? Where did you “see”?
  2. Are there sections where you were confused?
  3. Where are the places of greatest energy? Least energy?
  4. What is/are the essential tension(s) in the piece?
  5. What additional examples of tension does the writer employ (or do you employ)?
  6. What oppositions could be made more tense?
  7. Is the dialogue efficient, realistic, tense?
  8. What small and large insights does the piece offer or imply?
  9. What patterns can you find? Are there places pattern could be enhanced?
  10. What structure does this piece use? Are there any structural weaknesses?

While these questions are focussed on someone else reading your work, that does not mean that you cannot ask these questions yourself–of your own work. I’ve done this, and it’s helped me tremendously in discovering where the strengths and weaknesses were in my novel. I now know where I need to focus my revision. Of course revision might come in more than one draft, but it’s an important step before going into the editing portion of writing any creative writing piece.

I hope this can be helpful for you all as well.

HAPPY WRITING!

Looking to Try a Wack at Traditional Publishing? You’re Gonna Need an Agent.

Like some might already know, my first novel Hardship & Devotion, was published through an individual publishing company called, Trafford Publishing. http://www.trafford.com/ Though I had a great experience publishing individually, I am an author with the dream of becoming a Best Seller. From what I’ve researched, the only way to do that is to have an agent at your side.

I have decided to try the traditional publishing route for my second novel, Unexpected Choices. Since this decision, I’ve been spending a lot of time researching different agencies and have a list of the ones that I plan on writing a query to. The big question that I have though, is: How do I write a successful query that will help me get noticed?

While I was on twitter this morning, I found a link: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/how-i-got-my-agent-joanne-bischoff. It’s the story of how Joanne Bischoff got her agent. It is stories like Joanne’s that give me hope in being picked up by an agent one day, and I hope her story can give you that same feeling of hope as well.

Along with this article, there was a link that I found to be very resourceful: http://writerunboxed.com/2012/09/24/9-24/. Here, Chuck Sambuchine reveals “9 Frequently Asked Questions About Query.” It was really helpful to me, seeing they many of the questions were some of the same questions I’ve had since starting my research.

There are those that choose to continue publishing individually, but for me, I think seeing my novels on the shelves in stores around the world would be simply thrilling. If you’re in the same position, keep an eye out for more information as I am still researching and will be sharing it through this blog.

Have any questions you, yourself want answered?

It will help me to know what other questions you guys might have in regards to finding a literary agent, or anything regarding the traditional publishing process. I not only am doing the research for me, but I also want to do it for anyone else that will benefit from it. Feel free to post your questions and/or thoughts below. You can also ask about my experience with individual publishing as well.

HAPPY WRITING!

Creative Writing, Writing Habits, & Writing Rituals

In the process of finding myself, I found that the career path I had previously chosen for myself wasn’t what I wanted to do at all. In fact, I found that my mind had a hard time focusing on the homework, because I was busy lost inside my own head or still lost in the words I’d just read from a new novel I was reading. In the end, I found that my true passion was the written word. I decided to finish my Associates Degree in Medical Billing and Coding, but that I would return in the New Year and start on my Bachelors Degree in Creative Writing. Now that I’m enrolled and currently engaged in my classes, I’m finding that I made the right decision.

The textbook we use for my Introduction to Creative Writing, is called, The Practice of Creative Writing: A Guide for Students 2nd Edition, by Heather Sellers. Even if you aren’t a student studying to receive a degree in creative writing, I strongly suggest this book for those wanting to become an author regardless. After reading a few chapters into this text, I immediately thought about my blog and that I could help so many new or even established authors by the knowledge I receive in my studies.

One thing I’ve learned so far is that having a scheduled time of day, every day, to write is important.  In other words, I needed a writing habit in order to keep me focused long enough to actually get words on paper. I have found that the best time for me to write is either late at night or early in the morning. Today, for the first time, I tried writing early in the morning verses late at night. By doing this little test, I was able to sit and type out an entire chapter. I took time to read the last page of my novel in progress and then BAM! I started writing. I didn’t stop until my son woke up and at that point I was finishing up the last paragraph of my chapter.

Not only am I a fulltime student, I’m also a mother of two little ones under the age of five. It’s because of this that I need time away from others to truly focus and get myself into a good enough rhythm to allow my mind to get into the flow of my stories. With so many distractions, I wasn’t able to get much done in a days’ work, like I did this morning with just three hours of uninterrupted writing. I was even able to go back through and read how well I did. I had started this test thinking early writing would have been an awful idea, but I found that it was my best writing yet. Apparently my brain needs to have no distraction, which is only done when I’m not fully aware of my days’ happenings.

With this little test, I now know that my writing habit needs to be changed from late night or a few minutes here and there through the day, to writing a couple of hours in the early morning.

Aside from having a writing habit, I also learned that you should also set up a writing ritual as well. As Sellers states in the textbook mentioned above, “Rituals help us achieve and intensify focus. Writing rituals are the key to keeping your writing habit in place.” By keeping rituals in place, it will also help us writers stay focused, steer clear from procrastination, and avoid any unnecessary distractions.

So what is a ritual? From my understanding, a ritual is something you can use to trigger your brain to know that it’s time to write. The example Seller used was lighting a candle prior to writing. For myself, I have decided to plug my laptop in the kitchen at night. That way I can push the button to make a cup of coffee and then carry my laptop either to my bed or the couch with coffee in hand. These are my two favorite places to write. I don’t like locking myself up in my office. It makes me feel as though I’m shut out from the world. Even if I am the only one awake at 5 a.m., at least I know that because my kids aren’t out of their rooms and I can see their doors from my position on the couch.

I don’t know about any of you guys, but distractions are a big one for me. Who would have thought, me—someone who didn’t like getting up early to even workout—now finds that writing in the early a.m. is best for my creative brain? I was secretly hoping that I did better at night; however my results are proof enough for me, plus I’ll get to go to bed with my husband every night. I’m sure I will have my days where the words don’t flow as easily, but that’s part of being a creative writer. We still have to do what works out best for us in order to produce our work for all to read.

So now I ask you all, do you have a writing habit or ritual? How long do you think is the best time to write?

Work Cited:

Sellers, H. (2013). The Practice of Creative Writing: A Guide For Students (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford/St Martin’s.