Well, after getting sidetracked from my book what with classes and more classes, I’m finally back on track. I am currently taking an online class with ed2go.com that is helping me to get my story structured and outlined so I can get serious about completing my first draft by years end.
Just wanted to drop a short note to let everyone know I hope to keep everyone informed on what I learn and my progress.
btw, I just got my Bachelors in Creative Writing. I’m now working on my Masters. Yippy!
More later. 🙂
Ever heard the phrase “Something’s gotta give!” Well unfortunately this was it for me the past two months. I would like to report that while I haven’t made any progress on my novel, I have been writing. I wrote term papers for my english class in August, business editorials (for money) in the Edmond Outlook Magazine (check out the July and August issues, as well as September when it comes out), and a few short stories (which I hope to enter in a few contests this year). So I have been writing and learning. I went to a mini-conference sponsored by my local ACFW group, OKC Christian Fiction Writers, and learned quite a bit about the writing process.
I joined a few online writing loops after joining American Christian Fiction Writers, but I’ve found that it’s just not possible to keep up with all the emails and find time to write. So…something’s gotta give! I’m going to drop out of those loops and focus on my novel again.
Another semester at University of Central Oklahoma starts on Monday, and one of my writing classes will focus on finishing a novel. I’m glad. It just might be the impetus I need to finish my first novel.
Sure I have other writing endeavors I’d love to try out and explore, but…something’s gotta give, right?
For now, I plan to keep my part-time journalism job with Edmond Outlook and focus back on my novel. However, if I see my news articles interfering with my school work or writing my novel…well, something’s gotta give!
I’ll keep everyone posted on my progress as I have time. Actually, I’m really excited to see if I can get my novel done by years end. Can’t wait to see the process to completion. That’s one great thing about taking classes, they give you solid deadlines you can’t ignore like the ones you set for yourself.
I feel very embarrassed about this posting. Like when writing an old friend that you’ve neglected to write for a long time and feel guilty about not contacting. All good intentions have failed to keep you in touch with the one(s) you care about.
It’s been a month since I last posted, something I’ve neglected to do during the month of June. And yet, it was almost expected with all I had going on: a sixteen week class crammed into four, various writing group meetings and workshops, SoonerCon21, work deadlines, etc. Yet, does that really make up for not writing my postings here? Maybe, maybe not.
I hate getting all maudlin and guilty over things, so we’ll just move on, shall we?
I know the reason I haven’t posted is that this blog is about my progress with writing my first novel. Since I didn’t work on my novel this month, it only stands to reason why I haven’t posted.
Well, my first class this summer is over, although I have another online class this month. In addition, I still have my magazine articles to crank out and another writing conference planned for this month. However, it should definitely be a slower month, allowing me to get some writing done on my novel.
I don’t feel June was a waste, as far as my novel goes. I found myself learning some things in class that will be invaluable to continuing my book. So while I may not have written any further, the process continues despite the lack of words recorded.
At the end of May, I found myself floundering with planning and figuring out where my novel should go next; I had no idea where my plot was going or how it would end. I still don’t. However, I gained some tools in class to help me with this and I can’t wait to try it out.
For instance, in my Sci-Fi/Fantasy class we studied and practiced using the three-act structure to flesh out a short story, beginning, middle and end. Exploring the use of this basic structure cemented a process in my mind and helped me to overcome the obstacles I was encountering. I have to admit I work better with a plan or structured environment. This framework only helped me to get past my mental block and continue on.
When it came to critiquing, I could see how I had improved in my writing, which was a great encouragement. I wasn’t perfect, but I wasn’t hearing basic mistakes I had heard in past workshops. Now it was more about “voice” and “setting the tone” type comments.
Therefore, I may not have written anything more for my book, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t working on some important tools I’ll need to make it a success. Therefore, in a way I was working on my novel all along.
What I came away with this month is this…even if you aren’t writing that doesn’t mean you aren’t still pushing forward toward your goals. Without my class, I’m not sure I would be able to move on with my story. Even when you feel like you are standing still, you may find you actually have moved forward.
One writing milestone I have to report is my debut as a Freelance Journalist in the July issue of Edmond Outlook magazine, a local Edmond, OK magazine. I have so psych’d to be published and have a job that utilizes my writing skills. Writing is writing, right? It’s great seeing my byline in print! I have four articles in the July issue. Find them on pages 18-20 and 24 of the online digital edition. While I’ve found myself enjoying doing news articles, I retain my ambitions to write one or more books. But it’s nice to get paid to do what I love!
Check out a great blog post I recently read. I think you will enjoy it as much as I did.
Sorry for not posting sooner! I’ve been very busy this month. June looks to be more of the same. More on this later. For now…
I’m reading Kinley MacGregor novels, aka Sherrilyn Kenyon, one of my favorite romance authors, trying to get more insight into how she constructs her stories. These being her earliest works, I expected what you usually find, an author’s first less than thrilling attempt at novel writing.
As a writer I was not only pleasantly surprised at how good she was from the beginning, I found myself extremely envious as well. There aren’t many authors who write so well from the beginning. Typically first novels show where the writer started and how far the writer has come in the learning process. This is what I expected, but far from what I found. Sherrilyn Kenyon is one of the rare ones who “bring it” from the beginning.
While her MacGregor novels aren’t as complex as her Dark Hunter series, they are just as exciting and entertaining, which proves you don’t have to get complex with your plot and subplots to write a good story. Kinley MacGregor provides situations that are rife with tension throughout her storyline. Once you master this (among other craft techniques) you can go on to write more spectacular, rich, and complex plots.
The MacGregor novels have raised my own goals and expectations for my own beginning works. I won’t expect so little or my first novels from here on out. Sometimes it takes a really great mentor to raise the bar in your thinking. Studying Kenyon’s novels has done just that for me. Thanks Sherrilyn.
I’d like to hear from others about who they study and learn from on their writing journeys. Please, feel free to share them here.
In learning the craft of writing, I find my self more and more distracted from my goals of completing my first novel. The distractions I have encountered this past few weeks include, all manner of writing books, organization meetings, Facebook, reading emails, web surfing, writing contests, as well as all of the daily chores we all have on our plates. While these are all worthy pursuits or necessary tasks in the writing life, it is very easy to put these first or tell ourselves we’ll write after finishing them.
I recently attended a new organization meeting, a charter group of the Association of Christian Fiction Writers called OKC Christian Fiction Writers. Lacy Williams was the speaker. She shared her insights into the process of writing a novel, and while we all know that everyone works differently, she had quite a few points to make that I have found common to my own way of writing. In addition, she gave some very good advice. I spoke to her afterwards and expressed my worry over the distractions I was facing. She reminded me that the best way to handle the writing life is to find a balance. Very good advice for anyone. Life is always best when there is balance.
Balance is crucial to any endevor, especially goals we set for ourselves. There will always be distractions in our lives. How we handle them is the most important thing. If we want to accomplish a goal, balance should be the first thing we think about, the first thing we deal with or plan.
Finding balance is difficult for me because I want to do everything. And not just everything, but everything right now. Becoming a writer is a priority goal for me. It is by far the hardest thing I’ve every tried to accomplish in my life. But it is also turning out to be the most fun I’ve ever had in my life as well. I love to learn, so it’s a pleasant surprise to find myself learning many new things, not just writing craft, on the way to obtaining my desired life.
Setting goals may come first, then planning a balanced schedule next. After that, I suggest the next important ingredient to be setting priorities. Actually this is vital to planning a balanced schedule. I have a long list of goals I want to accomplish. Prioritizing has to be used to plan and balance daily tasks in order to get to our goals.
What have you discovered on the way to gaining your goals? How do you handle the tasks necessary to get to your goals? How do you plan? What distractions do you deal with and how do you deal with them?
It was so nice to see the support and friendships forged between the people attending the conference. It was a great time of connection. I made some new friends and connected with my local writer’s group the Norman Galaxy of Writers. I went to their monthly meeting and learned so much. It was great!
Authors are a special group of people. They all dream of writing a bestselling novel, but they enjoy seeing others achieve the same dream and helping them to that end if possible. This not only happens in reality but in the virtual world as well.
Part of building an author platform includes socializing online. It is a way to get the word out that you exist, that you have something to say or offer to others in your online community. It’s how people connect and share information, and an opportunity to support others with similar goals.
That is why Guest Blogging is becoming so popular. Authors are able to help other authors to get the word out. This is basically “word of mouth” which everyone in marketing knows is a powerful thing in sales. It still is; it has simply taken a different form online. Social media, lovely term, is a shout out, a modern day soap box. It’s an opportunity to share your favorite authors and books with others who might enjoy the stories you enjoy.
So you can see why blogging, social media, and guest blogging are such powerful things when trying to market your novels.
Dan Case talked about these things and some techniques you can use to make money with online publishing and marketing tricks to maximize your sales. Some things I was already aware of, but he pointed out several techniques I had never thought about before (probably because I’m not a Marketer).
Dan will be speaking in Ft. Worth in June. The topic will be Blogging. Click here for details on time and place of meetings. Dan is speaking at the Saturday, June 9, 2012 meeting. The
There are also lots of articles online and in the Writer’s Market books that provide great instruction on building your platform. There are too many techniques to go into here. Suffice it to say, building a platform is very important if you want to get the word out about your novels. And these days, most publishers expect you to contribute to marketing your work in this manner.
I just found out that Steven James is speaking in California at the Writer’s Digest 2012 Conference West in October 2012. Wish I could go. But if anyone out there is able to, I highly suggest you hear him speak. He is certainly worth it!
I know I promised my next post would be on what I learned from the conference. Well, this is related, but not necessarily craft. I think this is something far more important for beginning writers, so I felt it was important to share what I’ve learned.Any goal no matter what it is has a higher chance of succeeding with a support system. I believe no one can achieve their dreams without the help of others. Everyone needs encouragement to keep going, to keep reaching for whatever they want to achieve.
So, what do you do when your family and friends don’t provide this needed support? For a writer, you are already fighting your own internal battle with doubts. I know this is my situation; although not all my family members are negative about my choice to become a writer. But the negativity from others is hard to overcome, and most often the negative comments hold more weight in our minds than the praise.
This leads me into my list of things I’m using to build my own support system. I know that it will help me to achieve my goals and make it much easier to achieve what I want.
Five ways to build a support system:
- Minimize the negative. If you have those who put you and your dreams down, avoid them. If they are family ask them to please not comment on your chosen profession. For me I’m finding some family members posting negative comments on Facebook. I’ve asked them to stop posting these negative comments with the proviso that if they don’t stop, I will take them off my friends list. Anyone who is on your list of negative people, NEVER, and I mean never share anything with them. Don’t read your latest writing. Don’t share any ideas you have or are working on. If they bring it up, change the subject. I’ve even had to excuse myself and either leave the room (the bathroom is a good excuse) or leave all together. If they persist, you can even tell them (nicely of course) that you don’t want to talk about it and that if they don’t stop asking you will have to leave. Be nice about it, but firm. This is your life, not everyone is going to agree with your choices. But that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them tear down your choices.
- Keep your supporters close. These people can be worth more than gold. If you have friends who keep you positive or encourage you to go farther than you thought you could, keep them close. Use them as much as possible.
- Join a writing group and/or critique group. There are a ton of opportunities to connect with others who are in the same situation you are and can provide a lot of encouragement as well as great feedback for development of your craft. Whether in a professional group or not, surround yourself with people who are doing what you are doing.
- Go back to school and take classes. I have taken classes that have started groups that continued on after the classes end. Connect with the teachers. They can give you good feedback and encouragement. They know what you’re going through, having gone through it themselves.
- Get spiritual encouragement. If this is something you feel God has called you to do, then pray! Ask God to encourage you. Pray every time you sit down to write. Pray every time you encounter negativity. Pray every time you feel down or discouraged. If God has called you to do something, He will equip you to do it. You can’t fail, unless you listen to the negativity and give up!
These are just a few I’ve come up with so far. I’m sure there are other things I could be doing to ensure my success. I plan to continue to search out more ideas because I think a support system is a big necessity if you want to be a writer.
If you have any ideas on this subject, please share. I really need all the support I can get! Thanks.