I’m 18,000 words into National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo. By the end of the month, I should have the first draft of Covers, a story of love and acceptance, ready for editing. Since this work in progress is my priority right now, I’m going to keep the blog posts short and funny.
Before we go down the funny road, I want to let you know that I have a new offering: a monthly newsletter containing updates and behind the scenes on Masks, Secrets, Covers or any other work as well as any contests and freebies. To sign up, enter your name and email address in the Subscribe To My Newsletter section in the sidebar on this page.
Cowboys Of A Different Breed
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Earlier this month, I read a young adult dystopian series. In the end, I felt cheated and foolish. I kept wondering why an author would want to do that to her readers and I can’t come up with an answer. I don’t think she did it on purpose. However, I did realize there were some lessons for me to learn as a writer.
The first two novels of the series were told by one first person narrator, but the last book had two first person narrators. I couldn’t tell whose point of view I was reading in the last book because the characters spoke the same way. I need to make sure I discover my characters as deeply as possible so that I can switch back and forth between multiple voices and/or POVs without confusing myself or my readers.
The main characters and their friends were easy to understand and care about. That’s why I kept reading. I wanted to see their development. Some of the antagonists were a little more difficult to understand because they lacked background. I struggle with this as a writer. How much do I want readers to understand where the antagonist is coming from? How much do I want them to empathize with him? My way around this is to make sure he acts destructively and hurts the protagonist.
Check the facts
In the information age, we all know a lot, but we can’t all be experts. So use that search button and double check the facts, especially if the plot hinges on those facts. I don’t want to start ranting about the major science blunders in the series, so I’ll move on to the lesson that can be extrapolated from this lesson.
Build a writing team
Build a writing team with a critic partner, a developmental editor, a proofreader, and a beta reader! Each of these roles should probably be held by a different person and each person should probably have a different background. So, hopefully, one of them will notice if my plot falls apart because it’s illogical, unsupported, the absolute opposite of reality, etc.
Take worldbuilding seriously
I majored in Comparative Religions and noticed something interesting about creation stories. They answer the questions of how the world was created, where it was created, who created it, what came before it. They also reveal the view and philosophy that the folks living in a shared religious and cultural tradition believe. Rarely, did they leave me with a question. Approaching worldbuilding as if it were a sacred revelation might be the way to avoid leaving readers with unanswered questions about the setting and the worldview that the characters are operating within.
Each book in a series needs to stand alone
A series can be linked by characters with each book being more like an episode within the series such as Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Series. Or it can be linked by an overarching plot like Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Chronicles. The Saxon Chronicles span ten novels, each with a different plot, and the overarching plot begins in the first novel and always becomes a secondary priority until the final novel.
I’m going to keep these things in mind because the last thing I want to do is upset my readers with poorly written novels.
What is your favorite series? What do you like about it most? I love hearing from you. Leave a comment.
By now, you’ve probably heard that Meghan Markle is pregnant. While I distinctly heard someone in my vicinity exclaim, “Ugh, that woman!”, I smiled at the news. Becoming a mother has been the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me.
Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Sussex is expecting a baby in the Spring of 2019. pic.twitter.com/Ut9C0RagLk
Some people look at having children as evidence of their love. Others as an expectation or obligation. Some a curse. Others as a life invent. And some as an opportunity to “make things right” which could mean anything from giving their children what they weren’t given as children, living through their children vicariously, or being the parent their parents weren’t. There are probably other reasons I can’t think of right now.
There are also as many ways of parenting as there are parents. I decided that what I needed to do as a parent was teach my child to be the best human being she could be. And to do that, I had to set the example. So it follows that I strive to become the best human being that I can be. (I’m aware that this is a lifelong pursuit.) I learned to accept that I am not perfect, to forgive myself for my mistakes, and to love myself in spite of my flaws. I try to remember that when a driver cuts me off, he might be a nice person having a bad day. I know that while I have a right to be angry, I don’t have the right to humiliate someone. Mostly, I’ve learned that we are all human. If I approach each person including myself with compassion and empathy, I become a better person and I make their lives better too.
Meghan Markle and all the expectant women out there have a lot to look forward to that has nothing to do with baby showers, epidurals, and the eventual pitter patter of tiny feet.
What’s the greatest thing you’ve learned since becoming a parent? I love hearing from you. Leave a comment.
I spent last week in New York City with my family. We played tourist together for four days. Despite the crazy heat and high humidity, we managed to grab the hop-on hop-off bus to tour Manhattan. Then, we got the bird’s eye view from the Empire State Building.
Restaurants were quite expensive, but we did find a grocery store a few blocks away from our hotel and we’re able to eat more affordably. Thank you Morton Williams Food Market.
We boarded a ferry and admired the State of Liberty from all sides. Until we approached the island from the boat ourselves, it had never occurred to me what a combination of fear, excitement and relief newcomers must have felt when they first saw her.
We sweated our way through some of Central Park, visited the impressive Cathedral of St John the Divine and admired the architecture of the buildings facing the Park.
Of course, we had to grab red velvet and chocolate cake from Magnolia Bakery.
And it wasn’t enough to see Times Square during the day time, so we went back in the evening. Interestingly, there’s so much digital advertisement that you can’t tell that it’s night time.
My touring time ended on Thursday night. I’ll have to go back because I didn’t get to see everything I wanted to. Plus, there are still so many libraries and museums to visit.
Friday morning, I joined my fellow writers. Writers tend to write alone. Maybe that’s why most of us are so social. We join associations, attend workshops, network at conferences and support each other online. And why not? We write to share our knowledge through non-fiction, our experiences through memoir, or our stories through fiction and poetry. We are people of the world. I love to meet new people, explore new places, and learn new things. Who doesn’t? I’m sure there’s a little bit of a writer in everyone.
The Writer’s Digest Annual Conference was great. I got to learn craft from Steven James, Jane K. Cleland, Whitney Davis, Jordan Rosenfeld, and Chuck Wendig. I also took some genre workshops and discovered some great speakers like Gabriela Pereira, Kim Van Alkemade, and Rachael Herron. Any writer will tell you that you need to know the business of writing as much as the art of it. So I sat in on lectures by Jennifer S. Wilkov and Carol Van Den Hende. If you think that’s enough, it’s not! I made some new friends: Gail Nastacia, Marti Mattia, Patricia Powell and Silas Archambault. Overall, the conference helped me grow as a writer and charge my writing batteries.
Time to work on novel number three.
Is there an event in your field that focuses and energizes you? Tell me about it. I love to hear from you.
The last modified date on my manuscript Stay was 2014. I was shocked when I saw that today. Three years have passed since the manuscript was professionally edited. Since then, I struggled with insecurities and also with illness. I sold my condo and moved. I switched jobs twice. I became a certified fitness instructor. I went back to university for a few writing classes. I made a small effort to find an agent. I wrote another novel and started a fourth and decided on the plot for a fifth. But mostly, I grew up.
During these three years, I would get upset thinking about how Stay sat on my computer ready for publishing, then I’d forget about it for while, and start the cycle all over again. But I’ve changed. And in the last few months, I understood that I’d get to publishing it when I was ready. I guess I’m ready now because I’ve been reading Joanna Penn’s blog, Creative Penn and downloaded one of her books. If you’ve never read her blog, she’s definitely worth the read. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve also organized myself based on her suggestions.
A couple of summer’s ago, I read a series by Erin McCarthy called True Believers. I was intrigued by some of the similarities between our stories. The friendships, the boyfriends, the parents and the one word titles. Later, I read a post about series and titling a series around a theme. It’s nothing new or earth moving but it did get me thinking about how to unify the Masks series. I still don’t have a title for the series but I did change Stay to Secrets. A major theme throughout the series is the hidden, unspoken parts of life and finding the courage to confront them.
I looked up some of the cover designer recommendations from Joanna Penn and chose a company. Last night, I went to the bookstore and found an 18 year old girl (Just the perfect age!) and asked which types of book covers she preferred. She liked the drawn covers, not the pictures. Unfortunately, she was the only girl there. One is not exactly a recommended sample size so I’ll have to keep up the survey. I’ve noticed that most of the young adult book covers either picture people or are drawn people or scenes. There are very few with only a title. So, I’m thinking as long as it’s not a title on a coloured background I can’t go wrong.
During the week, I wrote the back cover blurb. Today, I priced out professional reviews and found a proofreader.
So maybe, I’m ready to publish another novel, huh?
What bloggers and writers are your mentors? Leave me a comment. I love to hear from you.