Monday, January 31, 2011
Now, I’m trying to get motivated on writing the next few chapters. With school and work…I feel like someone has been beating my brain. Probably Jennifer trying to squeeze some ideas out of me…it’s all her fault.
I heard some great feedback from one of our readers on Friday. She pretty much said our book was awesome. She did say that we needed to have things flow a little better in a few of the chapters, and a few scenes all together could be cut. I’m going to print her out a copy of it this week, so she can go through and edit the grammar and punctuation.
Another one of our readers said that our idea was neat and innovative and that she had never read a story line like ours. I was happy that it was different. She will be finished with it by the end of the week hopefully.
Other than that…that’s the update of what has been going on. Enjoy.
Friday, January 28, 2011
I am so glad that we have the character analysis already done because that is what was the most time consuming last time. This time I feel that we will be more creative with the manuscript, I say this because during AOE, each individual chapter was laid out and carefully planned. I told Jennifer that with my newest book SOULS, I am just winging it...letting the creative juices flow. Believe it or not, I think that my m.s. is better for not planning.
Jennifer and I are both perfectionist and over achievers. Because of that we over think our ideas, layouts, and characters. We both want to achieve great things and in doing so, we won't let something leave our sight until its perfect. During AOE production, we spent months researching and developing our plans. During the writing process we were both so frustrated because we tried to stick to our guidelines, but I think it stunted our creativity. Sometimes the "characters" have a mind of their own and when we are forced to stick to a plan it limits the growth of a character and our creativity as a writer.
Needless to say, I am so psyched to start this new journey!
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Everyone knows that most men hate to read, but I have allowed a fellow male co-worker to read my manuscript. Afterwards, he was shocked and astonished. But, then he had tons of suggestions that I plan on making to my book, which will make it even better.
What I am really trying to say is, even though every author wants to hear that their book is the best thing ever written since twilight, it isn’t realistic. You can’t grow as an author if you have nothing but praise, especially when your book can be BETTER! Believe it.
Whenever you send out your manuscript for feedback, send it to reader’s that you see fit to give you criticism; someone who will be honestly blunt and shred it to pieces because that is exactly what you need. Don’t send it to the same type of person. What I mean is send it to people through all walks of life. Send it to random aged people; young, old, male, female, single, married, etc. Send it to a random group of trustworthy acquaintances that will give you the ideas, support, and criticism that will make you a better writer.
You might disagree with me on this topic—but it is all in our best interest. I don’t want someone to read my book if they are going to fill me with false hopes. I need the truth. And the truth is one out of every thousand manuscripts get published. It’s discouraging, but whoever said writing books was for the faint at heart? It’s for people, who are in it for the long haul, for better or worse, for published or unpublished.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
I have to admit there are at least a couple of agents who are at the top of my list and a few of them even represent some of my favorite authors (Stephanie Meyers, Laurell K Hamilton, Nora Roberts…*sighs* My girls.), which is super exciting. Not that I think I have half the talent that they do, but to even have the possibility of being under the same representation? It would be such an honor. But I can't think about that right now. What I need to focus on is preparing myself to reach that level so that all of this agent searching will mean something and be worthwhile. This is where the "practice" comes in to play.
Stacey and I have begun getting our feedback from our chosen readers and, while the feedback is in no way discouraging, it's obvious there are some things about Age of Eden that will have to be worked on. Some things relatively big and a lot of really small things that should be an easy-ish fix. Either way it goes, I'm starting to get anxious (in a good way) about fixing up the run on sentences and the POV (Point of View) issues, along with several other things that, with a little patience and perseverance, will be ironed out and perfected (or as close to perfect as two imperfect writers can get) to leave a working manuscript. I don't mind the work at all because I look at it as a learning step. The more I work on the book, mingle with the characters, and fix the mistakes, the more I learn about myself as an author and the more I learn about the book.
My entire point in writing this blog post is to, as the boy scouts always say, "Always be prepared." We must be prepared to work for what we want, be prepared to learn things about ourselves and our writing that we never knew before, and we need to be prepared for what could be. Yes, our book isn't quite as finished as we'd hoped. Yes, we're still learning about ourselves and our craft. And, yes, we are making plans for the future agent of our dreams. But all of this makes for an interesting ride. And nothing is really worth having if you didn't have to work for it. So, I'm going to keep on keeping on with the knowledge that no matter what we have to work through, no matter how long it takes, we are going to finish our book completely, query it, and find someone out there to take a chance on us. We're going to do this thing and then it will be time to plan and practice for our next journey. I'm looking forward to it.
Monday, January 24, 2011
This specific professor always inspired me from a literary perspective. He was an accomplished writer, who’d been published in numerous educational magazines and journals. Who had also wrote several books on philosophy and politics, a well respected man. But that isn’t the reason why I gained so much from him.
He taught me to always carry a notepad with me because you never know when you will come up with a good idea for a book, journal, or article. He told me a story about him driving home to Nashville (over an hour away). He was driving late at night coming home from one of his classes. During this period he was listening to the radio, no doubt Western’s own WKYU public broadcast. Anyway, during this period he initiated a thought in his mind that started to broil in his brain. He pulled over on the side of the road, too distracted to drive. He pulled out a notepad and eagerly started to jot down his argument to his internal dispute. He sat alone, in the dark for over two hours scribbling down random ramblings. Those random ramblings ended up in a notorious magazine, which he got PAID for…. a chunk of money! So, in other words no idea is a bad idea but most importantly is that you have the tools when you need them so that you can come back to that idea or dispute and finish it.
The other valuable lesson that he taught me is to consider your audience, so you can cater to the wants of your reader. After sending out our first book to our reader’s, I have realized that I have never really pinpointed my audience. I am torn between adult and YA, already some of our audience is confused about who we are intending this book for….which is looking more with YA, but we have adult scenes in some of it, which makes me want to dive back into the whole thing to fix it all. The other novel that I have been writing on, I know who my audience is, so I have no conflict about what my intentions are.
Some of my greatest works I have ever completed included an essay that was about the reason why I love school lunch. I was forced to read it in front of my entire elementary school. My second major literary accomplishment was in sixth grade, I wrote an essay in regards to child abuse prevention month, titled “Kids are Worth It.” I was forced to read it downtown on our square here in Bowling Green, in front of the mayor and an audience of about 200 people. It scared me to death. Then when I went to high school, I was a journalist and an editor of our school paper. I loved writing then and I love writing even more now. My relationship with writing has become a journey with a happy ending. Even if I never get published, I live to write as I write to live.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
It seems so unbelievable that it is finally complete. We began this journey on September 20th, 2010. Four months and one day to successfully write a novel, call me crazy but that is AWESOME. Of course we will have to make changes but I am just super psyched that it's finally completed.
Now, I am going to breathe and start writing on my other novel....
Thursday, January 20, 2011
I've been thinking a lot for the last few days about what it means to be a writer, at least from my viewpoint. As far as I can tell so far there are several key elements. It takes talent, patience, a basic understanding of grammar and punctuation, a decent sized vocabulary, and a writer that is receptive to criticism and in touch with their humble side. Actually, I think that last bit is one of the most important elements. You can have exceptional writing skills and a brilliant imagination, but there comes a time in a lot of writer's lives when they are faced with sending their writing out to be read by very carefully picked, trusted readers. Now, when you send it out, you might think to yourself, "This is awesome! They are going to love this!" Of course, you wait anxiously for your first response, checking your email a hundred times a day, and cursing your internet provider when all you find in your inbox is spam. But then, something amazing happens. You hear that pivotal *ding* and right there on your screen is your first response from a reader. The excitement builds up in your gut, your heart races, and your hands shake as you open it up, just knowing they're going to sing your praises and tell you you're going to be the next J.K. Rowling.
Then reality sets in…
"I think you've got a good start here, but I don't think it's good enough," you read. Wait. What? How is that possible? You might think to yourself. This is understandable after giving so many hours of blood sweat and tears, sacrificing family time, and forgoing sleep to transfer something that has been living and breathing inside your mind onto paper (or word processor) and bringing it to life for others to see and experience. It's also understandable that a writer might feel an intense need to protect and defend their creation from anyone who might treat it badly. However, this is the point where there is most likely one of two reactions. First, complete and utter heartbreak that your baby, this creature that you have spent months (possibly years) planning, writing, and editing, isn't good enough. It's devastating and hard to grasp, so you hug your injured manuscript to your chest and try to find your way out of the dark cloud that has appeared over your head.
Then there's reaction number 2. Anger and defensiveness. Denial and hostility. Because of course it's impossible that someone might not think you're writing is the best thing since sliced bread. The reader is wrong. Your book is outstanding and will get snatched up by the first agent you send it to, who of course is the biggest agent in the literary world. Said agent will get you signed to the biggest publishing house the world has ever known where you will receive a record breaking advance, and your book will shoot straight up to numero uno on the NY Times Best Sellers List. Screw your readers. You're right and he/she is wrong. The end. Nice knowing you.
Both of these reactions are completely irrational and yet, entirely rational considering they're based upon emotions, but this is where we learn what it means to be a writer. And this is also where I say, "Writer, meet Humble Pie." You will never please everybody, there is always going to be someone that doesn't understand what you wrote or why you wrote it, and there are going to be times when what you write isn't right (wow that's some awkward wording right there) and you are going to be called on it, whether it be by your chosen readers or maybe your future agent. The important thing is how you handle it. Don't let your confidence (which might be misconstrued as conceit or cockiness if you're not careful) get in the way of what is right for your book, because sometimes we have to admit when we're wrong. Sometimes it's not about us. It's about the words we write on the page every day. And don't we want them to be the best that they can be? So, be open to criticism and take it how it's meant to be taken, as an attempt to help you grow and learn about your craft. We never stop learning, whether as a first time author (like me and Stacey) or an old pro who has been in the business for decades (like my deeply regarded Mr. King), there is always something to be learned. As long as we're receptive to that, I think we'll do just fine.
(On a side note: I am so not finished with this topic. It will return at a later time. lol)
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
This has been the most gruesome procedure in the whole writing process. Tenses, grammar, sentence structure, it never is good enough. I don't even want to know how professionals tackle it and I am pretty sure that if I had to become a professional editor then I would go ahead and quit my job, to live like a hermit in the himalayas. This is just so repetitive. It's like Iv'e been reading the same thing over and over and over. Which technically I have. I'm hoping that this will be the last run through before we send it out.
It's sort of funny though. I told Jennifer that even after reading the script over a hundred times, I still find small stupid mistakes like skipping transitional words. I.E. a sentence that is suppose to say, "Jack and his dog walked up a hill" this is how I'm finding it, "Jack and walked up a hill." Completely missing two of the most important words in the sentence. But today I have a goal...to try and get through the next hundred pages and then 80 pages by tmw. Then it will be completed and we can send it out. Thank God.
The only relief I have had is working on my book called, "Souls." It's a fiction novel about death and the inner emotional struggles of a person (this sentence is very vague for safety of copyright infringement). I have had a lot of ideas about novels and I half way start them and then I come up with another plot and then I start writing on that one. I never get completely finished. This one though is like sci-fi verse young adult/adultish. It's a book that all ages can learn to appreciate. The only thing I don't have in it is romantic relationships. But who needs another Edward or Jacob when you have my character?
Also, why I'm just going on about random topics, I do hope that you all are appreciating the blogs we have posted so far. We have been putting a lot of thought into them. Not. But realistically, with our crazy schedules this just seems like the right thing to do considering they say that you should write something everyday. And sometimes I don't feel like writing. So, this is what I consider my creative outlet for the day. Toodles.
Monday, January 17, 2011
In our book, Age of Eden, it is completely bible related. Therefore, names that we have chosen are either of Hebrew origin or names that are derived from the bible itself. Of course, we had to thoroughly investigate each one of the character's names, finding the meaning before we ever completely decided.
What we found easiest was also putting a face to a name. Literally. Jennifer and I went through hundreds of pictures of celebrity faces that fit the characters that we had invented in our heads. We did a whole mock profile of each of the characters including their talents, clothing, weapons (if necessary), specializations, and their role in the book.
Whenever we did our outline of the book it was so much easier writing it, knowing the "people" (faces) that would be in those designated scenes.
If you ever get stuck on a characters attributes or personality, find a picture that reminds you of that person. Knowing what a person looks like when writing is the easiest way to describe a character accurately. Quit wasting your time, unless you can clearly see a picture in your head of the character, then go character searching...get your character identity down.
Because if you don't know who or what your character looks like, then the reader will definitely be confused on your character's identity.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
I'm probably going to sound like a broken record right now, but I've been reading Stephen King's "On Writing" and it's been a revelation, seriously. I'm not saying that all of the crap loads of "How to write" books are worth the paper they're printed on, but in this particular instance, I have to say Mr. King is absolutely brilliant. He talks about practically everything I've been worrying over for the past however many years I've been actively pursuing writing the next great American novel.
It's not that he has written rules and suggestions that I haven't all ready heard/read before, but he brings the "how to's" of writing down to a level that isn't so complicated it makes me want to pull out my hair and run screaming into rush hour traffic. That's not to say he dumbs it down, but his writing style makes it seems like he's having a long conversation with his readers and I respond really well to his methods. Then there's the profound statement he makes. For instance:
"Talent renders the whole idea of rehearsal meaningless; when you find something at which you are talented, you do it (whatever it is) until your fingers bleed or your eyes are ready to fall out of your head. Even when no one is listening (or reading, or watching), every outing is a bravura performance, because you as the creator are happy."
To that I say, three cheers for Mr. King! This is exactly how I feel about writing. It's what I was meant to do. It's what I think about when I first wake up in the morning and sometimes--when my brain isn't taken hostage by random invasions of vampire aliens from mars--what I dream about at night. I'm not saying I will ever be the best right in the world, but I do think the literary world is where I belong. Now…if I can just get a foot through the door I'll be all good.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
I am constantly; painting model cars or painting new art for the bedroom, decorating and rearranging items in my house, making pot holders, scrapbooking, or cooking. I would even consider having a marathon of your favorite TV show a legit outlet. All of which are fantastic ways to get release.
Not to mention reading, staying current with other authors. I’d say that is a lot of author’s pitfalls. They don’t stay up to date with other literary ideas and current material. Weekly, if not daily, I read a book from an author, not necessarily in my genre but more or less to get the writing styles and ideas that are popular. Every week I check out the Sunday paper. I always look at the best sellers list. Most of the time, out of the top ten books, I have already read over half of the bestsellers.
Go on random book sprees. I have two big book cases. Naturally, I have filled them up with books I love but also with books that I have never read and that I intend on reading. I have random books from Anne Rice, Stephen King, John Grisham, Danielle Steele, J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, Laurell K. Hamilton, Richelle Mead, P.C. and Kristen Cast, V.C Andrews, Nicholas Sparks, Charlotte Bronte, James Patterson, Cassandra Clare, J.R. Ward, and of course some of my personal favorites from Jane Austen. Just obtain a mixture of different types and from different genres that allow you to understand and respect literature from the past and present.
I think that if I didn’t enjoy reading so much, then I would have never have attempted to become an author. It’s hard work and it isn’t for the faint at heart. It’s for the hard core, stubborn headed, never give up trying kind of people. Because it is already pre-destined, that the first publisher who reads our book is going to write a big FAT “No” on the manuscript. No problem. That just leaves more room for other literary agents. Even some of my favorite authors, sent out their books over a hundred times before anyone ever became interested in them. Now those authors are living high off the hog and writing full time for a living, which is every writers dream.
So as a writer, just remember that writing isn’t just about writing. It’s about having fun in other things, so that when you do write you can be innovative and prosper in your literary journey.
Friday, January 14, 2011
I don't proclaim to the world's greatest writer and I'm definitely not proficient in all of the ins and outs of grammar and punctuation—in fact, I've been having a mad love affair with commas for years, but I do know the difference between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd POV (Point of View).
My first attempt at writing a novel resulted in mass confusion, an inability to stay within the boundaries of just one character's mind, and a feeling of complete and utter failure due to a confusing bout of head hopping. I realized immediately that writing in 3rd person perspective was not as easy as it had originally looked. And I am by no means free of its clutches even now. As Stacey and I have moved forward with Age of Eden, particularly now that were are in the revision phase, it has become more obvious than ever that my many imperfections are still blatantly present in my brain. It's made me wonder if perhaps a change in POV is in order. I've never attempted to write a book featuring 1st person POV, but I've had friends who have attempted it and succeeded beautifully. So, how hard can it be, right?
Oh man…it's harder than you can possibly imagine.
Since finishing my last read of AoE, and seeing that Stacey is going forward with writing her independent book, I thought to myself, maybe now is the time to get back into my first novel as well and finished what I started. About five years ago, I began writing a book with the working title of "The Psychic Effect" or "Psychic" as it has affectionately been shortened to. I admit, I was on fire when I first starting planning and writing it, and the words just seemed to flow so easily because at that time I wasn't focused on POV or whose head I was writing from or that I was head hopping like a professional leap frog player. The story is what I was focused on, which isn't necessarily wrong, but in focusing on one thing I neglected the other.
That's why, I've decided to completely rewrite everything that I had written before and this time, I'm going to try my hand at 1st person POV. I'm going to say good bye to head hopping and confusion about POV. In other words, I'm going to be trading in one set of complications for another set entirely. But since when has being a writer even been easy? There's always something that needs conquering and there will always be imperfections that need to be smoothed out. And who knows, maybe writing in the 1st person won't turn out as well as when I wrote in 3rd, but the point is it never hurts to try something new.
I don't know if 3rd person POV is better than 1st, but I do know that no one ever gained success by refusing to step outside of the box and try something new, beyond the boundaries of their comfort zone. No guts no glory, right? I'm going to keep on keeping on until I find out one way or another, whether or not my decision to change POV has worked the way I want it to. Then and only then will I be able to say, from personal experience, which view is the right view for me. Wish me luck!
Thursday, January 13, 2011
This is a fairly recent picture of Me and Jen. Close ups aren’t too flattering, lol.
For the record, I started reading Jen’s edits this morning, I could definitely tell that she was nearly unconscious when she did the last few chapters. Nothing a little spell and check and a few grammar changes can’t fix. I was so excited to finally get it back for the last and final edit. Hopefully, I will be able to tackle it in the next few days and put a little spit and shine on it. Then we are sending our baby out into the world to be criticized and poked at.
Like Jennifer, I am very critical of our book. I am scared to death of what our readers will say. We put hundreds of hours into talking, writing, editing, researching, texting, driving, and brainstorming. Now, that it is almost completely finished, I am ready to work on something else. I actually have been in between our editing cycles but I have so many great ideas and I feel if we can get this one completely finished and published then the rest of the ideas will flow like a river.
When I started writing this book, I wrote as if I was writing a letter. I wrote quick and to the point. Jennifer is the QUEEN of details. Unlike her, I write just to get down my thoughts and then I have to back track and fill in the details. Which is fine but time consuming whenever I have so many ideas. After adding and editing, scene after scene, I can honestly say that my writing has improved greatly. I am currently writing a book, no sidekick involved :(. In doing so, I feel more motivated and descriptive then ever. I can literally write chapters about a person and never mention their physical attributes or their name and the reader can “see” and “understand” my character and their greatest personality traits. Which believe me, it’s harder than it looks.
Through this journey, I have also learned patience. Believe me, it isn’t a trait that I have come by lightly.
And the people who have supported us in making this dream come true, my Auntie Sharon (Jen’s Mom), Tyler (my husband), and definitely a big thank you to the rest of our loving family for being so supportive. We couldn’t have done any of this without your love and guidance.
And now, I am diving my head back into our book so we can finally get this thing finished completely and out the door. Love you all.
I was thinking I was tired as hell, fed up with reading Age of Eden for the umpteenth millionth time, and really wanted to bite the bullet and finish it up. I think we've really reached the point where in order to improve the book further we need some new eyes to tell us what works and what doesn't. There is still so much than can be done with, so much that NEEDS to be done to it, but Stacey and I have both read it so many times that I really feel like it's all starting to blur together.
So, what's the next step? Well, it's in my partner in crime's hands now. She's going to give it one more read through/edit and then it's going to be sent to each of our three carefully chosen readers. Can you say freak out time? I wonder if every aspiring or published author finds themselves in this situation. I'd say it's probably a pretty common thing, considering the majority of writers are harder on themselves than anyone else could be. I can't speak for anyone else, but I know that I am extremely picky and self conscious of my own writing. As cliché as it sounds, I'm definitely my own worst critic.
Since we've almost reached the point where it's time to at least start planning book 2, I wonder if it wouldn't be a good idea to start making a list of writing methods that both worked and didn't work while we were writing the first book. I really feel like we have both learned a lot about each other and our individual styles of writing. We've learned about organization, what editing technique works best, and how we organize our timing schedule. But, I have to wonder if our writing itself has grown. I'd like to think it has, but as I said before I am so critical of my own writing that I don't think I'm the best person to judge. Although, I can say that I am proud of what we've accomplished and I think Stacey's writing gets better and better every day.
Now, what to do next…I think coming up with a general outline for book 2 would be a good idea. But not today. Today, I just want to profit off of someone else's hard work for a while. J.R. Ward, here I come.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
2010 was a very challenging year. It was full of creative chemistry and fantastic ideas. We started our first literary journey at the beginning of September. It was frustrating, exciting, and all together fantastical. After a month of research we felt content enough to start writing.
As Jennifer said, it was very satisfying. Our first draft was completed a little less than two weeks. In October and November we focused on our first draft edits and then December and January were completely devoted to second draft edits. Besides ourselves, not one other soul on this planet has read our manuscript even with the begging comments from my husband and other family members. We started with an idea and then that idea has prospered into a huge life altering event. One book, became two, became three. Of course, the only one we have completed is the first one.
Now, that we are almost finished with second draft edits, we can turn it over to the experts. Hopefully we can start working on a few other ideas that we have. Being a duo has really opened up our communication methods. We live over an hour apart and I work fulltime and we both attend college fulltime. It is very challenging. So needless to say, yahoo messenger and our cell phones have become our best friends. We talk on the phone for hours every day and are constantly im'ing about our story lines or new ideas.
It has been a crazy journey but it has also been intense. Even though we have just begun, I feel like starting this blog is starting us on the right track for success. So adieu and thanks for joining.
Both Stacey and I have tried our hands at writing books in the past, but something has always gotten in the way. Whether it was lack on inspiration, writer's block, boredom, or disorganization, the truth remains that neither of us had completed a manuscript. Until now. Granted, it's not entirely finished enough to be sent off to be published just yet, it does have a beginning, a middle, and an end. That's something I have never accomplished before and it's beyond exciting.
So, now the questions are...what is this blog for? Why is it needed? What good does it do? Well, I'll tell you. This blog was created with intention of allowing me and Stacey the opportunity to get our thoughts out there and by out there I mean out of our heads. AS a writer, sometimes it gets so full inside our minds when there are countless characters, story archs, plotlines, and real life worries running around slamming against our creative walls. We need an outlet. Whether we post about our books, our future plans concerning querying and finding an agent, or publishing in general, this is where our rants and worries can be written down. It's like our own personal pencieve.
With this in mind, I'm looking forward to seeing what we can come up with. There are so many topics out there to explore and so much to be said about the literary world. I look at this as an adventure all its own, another road to travel on, and the ultimate release of mental tension. So, hello all, welcome to Our Pages Aren't Numbered, and get ready for two wild and crazy girls.