Gaining Confidence in the Craft: A Co-Authoring Experience

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“On every page, confidence fights with self-doubt. Every sentence is an act of faith. Why would anybody want to do it?”
― David Morrell

A few months ago, a good friend introduced to a wonderful man who had a fabulous story to tell. He claimed he was not a writer. His story captured my attention immediately. He wanted me to help him get his story in print. He quickly wrapped me up in his tale and a new venture began. The first draft is underway, and I am learning more about my writing and myself every day.

After some negotiation, I decided to take this story and together we are writing his paranormal memoirs. We mapped out the book, voice and characters. Ron tells me his tale and together we add to the Google document. He writes, I rewrite, taking out the redundant words and fixing grammatical errors. Together we blend style and story together.

Every team must learn to work together. Luckily, our learning curve was quick and easily mastered. One lesson I quickly understood was not to use feminine wording or fluffy adjectives. Ron is 100 % testosterone and has no place for fluffy female descriptions. This was a solid lesson in characterization for me. I quickly understood this man has a heart of a lion, but he is fierce on the outside. In order to relay those feelings, I wrote the passage using different tactics.  He has a enjoyable sense of humor, and together we have accomplished about 105 pages through give and take and compromise.

While main goal is the same, our jobs for the book are different. I focus on the writing process. I am concerned with things like pace, reader captivation, plot threads and characterization. I am meticulous about weaving the themes through the book and not dropping them like stitches in a knit scarf.  The mechanics of a good, solid, sellable novel is foremost in my mind. Over the last few months, my confidence is growing. The realization of what I thought I didn’t know is there, a tool in my writing toolbox, ready for me to use.

While writing the drafts of my first novel, I searched for answers. I created this book with the confidence of a first time parent. I felt unsteady and unsure of my craft. While I work with Ron, I notice my confidence growing.

While I focus on the book’s mechanics, Ron is the storyteller. He relays every detail and correct chronological order of things. I admire him for these traits; it is hard to relive eight plus years of your life.  We write, edit and cut details out of the story to keep it focused. I am excited to see this story grow before our eyes.

Every book in a writer’s library is a learning experience. The co-author experience gives me confidence. I still research and read endless blogs about writing, but I am finally beginning to feel like a writer.

This Blog Interruption is Brought to You By Major Edits~

Word BlockDid you ever feel like you were being pulled in several different directions? January has turned out to be an incredible fast month in the book department. I am working on manuscript review, author photo and cover art approval. I am simply overwhelmed.

The manuscript review is very challenging for many reasons. First, I am a perfectionist with a creative mind. This causes many problems on the technical side.  I have been reviewing the manuscript for two weeks and nothing satisfies me. I am overly critical and driving myself crazy trying to find the perfect words.

Second, I am frustrated at my “rookie”mistakes. How can I write something that changes POV and not catch it? Where did my usual detailed descriptions disappear? Some parts turned into tell instead of show. I am frustrated and upset and you know how well life goes when these emotions rule.

Did you know that your brain knows your manuscript so well, it will read it to you while you think you are reading the actual words? Yes, the manuscript sounds perfect in your brain, like you are watching it on film. That is exactly how my brain works. It all began in second grade. I remember it like it was yesterday…no maybe last week. Dick and Jane had the most wonderful time jumping over the fence until Mrs. Schimmel stopped me and told me to go back and read each word. Who needs simple prose like “Jane jumped over the fence?” I thought she should leap with great joy and show Dick he is not as cool as he thinks he is. I digress, I am now reading the book out loud to listen for any discrepancies. This exercise alerts me to hearing repeated words or missing words in the sentences.

On the positive side. My two test readers loved the book and both wanted to know more. They were very helpful writing opinions and letting me know what can be improved. I found this exercise to give me hope. I was most encouraged to learn neither one of them were historical fiction readers. I feel accomplished to have moved their interest to a new genre. I appreciate both their talents and honest opinions.

Staying on the subject of great news. I have been invited to speak about the Civil War using the characters in the book. It is a great exercise for the students to learn about the war that they won’t get from a textbook. I am delighted to share the story and help them understand there is two sides to every story.

I think the one thing I miss most this month is the opportunity to sit down and simply write. I now have a part-time job that takes me away from all of the writing I was doing before. I miss the blog and I miss writing for another website I had been working on. The creative writing as an everyday activity has defined me more than I realized. I miss creating new materials.

Thank you for patiently waiting for another post. I will get things going once I clear my plate of these important projects. During these times I am reminded of what my mother always told me. “God does not give you more than you can handle.” I agree, but God knows I am an overachiever and is testing how far I can go 🙂

Back to the editing board. I will remind myself  to enjoy this process, because I only get to write my first book once. Have a great week everyone!

 

Season of Waiting with Great Anticipation

images (2)I remember as a young child waiting for Santa and hoping for presents. The season leading up to the Christmas season was very exciting. It all changed when I had children of my own. During this season, I could not wait to see the excitement in my children’s eyes as they opened gifts with enthusiasm. I still love the holiday season. This season of waiting bubbling over with anticipation. Although I am excited about the holidays and thankful for our many blessings. I am even more excited for an email.

Oh, I get plenty of emails daily, but the email I cannot wait to see is the one that contains the edits to my novel. I sit here impatiently waiting for the fateful email to arrive. It is more exciting than anything Santa could put into my stocking. I cannot wait to jump back into the novel to polish and perfect it for you to read.

It is during this time, I feel like I am preparing a stage play. The script, actors, and audience are all preparing to work together to create a production. The script is going through the polishing process. To prepare the actors, I must learn how to act. Acting and public speaking lessons accomplished through Toastmasters. Toastmasters encourage its members to learn how to speak with confidence and professionalism. I will present my first speech in January. These speeches help me prepare me to actively talk about my platform and educate others about the Civil War. As I anxiously prepare my first speeches, I am verbally testing my written work. I found speeches are very challenging. Written work and verbal works sound different. Learning how to speak with animation in a speech is worlds apart from writing it into a scene.

Throughout all of this, I continue to market to get my name known. My author page needs a boost to reach more fans. We jumped out of the gate during the first month, but now I am working hard to keep a presence there. My blog is becoming harder to write, because I found I love talking about politics, but I do not want this blog to focus on this subject. I am contemplating using “Both sides of the story” theme on a different blog. Here I would go back to the beginning of US history and discuss the evolution of our politics. It would certainly involve research and an open mind. For now, I am tabling this idea, until edits are finished and my speeches are polished.

This time of year is full of anticipation. We anticipate seeing family and friends. We anticipate reliving the meaning of the season and its blessings in its most personal ways. This year I am anticipating all of this and so much more. They say hard work pays off. I anticipate good things for next year. I cannot wait to share a new year with all of you. I hope however you celebrate this season, it is full of everything you wish.

Through the Eyes of an Artist

Everyone sees the world differently. If you take two people in the same situation, they will see two very different things. The first may report exactly what he sees, listing specifics without detail. Giving what he saw little attention and no wonderment to the experience. The experience for him was  just a quick note and then its onto the rest of life.
While the second person reports so much more. He expertly details how the wind and grass dance together. This kind of person talks of specific colors accent or how a color “washes out” a person’s skin tone. Descriptions, often given with emotional detail. What makes these two so different? It is the developed artist’s eye.
Painters see color, depth and shading. They strive to recreate the beauty of their experiences. These types of artist see beauty with emotion. The emotion carries them forward to paint, draw or photograph what they see.  Painters desire is to capture the image to recreate the emotion they feel. They use color to stimulate emotion, theme to express feelings. Artists use images to speak to their world.
The thrill of the adventure is what the writer long to share. Writers craft focuses on experiencing the situation. It does not matter if it is a foggy desolate street or in the midst of battle with bullets whizzing past your head. You are there. As you read along with your character, you experience the action. Writer’s create storylines for the adventurer. They have a keen eye for creative fun.
Songwriters write to speak to your soul. Their words can soothe or torment, making you laugh or cry. Songwriters craft is directly connected to bring forth a flood of memories. Music transports you back to good times or bad. Music uncovers human feelings and emotion. If the songwriter does his job, you will remember the lyrics forever. Your brain remember the tune and sometimes it might get stuck there when you least expect it.
An artist’s eye is the creative touch that makes the world a beautiful place. Everyone has the creativity within him or her. Developing the “artist eye” takes time and practice. Think about it. How do you see the world? No. How do you really see the world. Take time to sit and watch. The word is really an amazing place to see.

Nominated for Seven Things About Me Award

It has been a trying Saturday. You know, one of those days that starts out great and then progressively becomes more challenging.  I am happy to report, there is a bright spot in my day. When my phone made that familiar “bing”, signaling I have mail, WordPress sent me a message I was nominated for the “Seven Things About Me” Award.

Thank you for the nomination Keli ! http://kelihasablog.wordpress.com  My day is quickly getting brighter!

Seven things about Me!

1. I am getting married in 5 weeks to the best man God ever put into my life. He patiently puts up with all of my quirks. Lovingly edits my work. Encourages my writing and most of all wants me to be myself. I am blessed!

2. I love a wide variety of music. Trained as a French Horn player through school. I played in the Youth Symphony and Drum & Bugle Corps as a young adult. I grew up with my parents influence of music which included 60’s, 70’s,  and folk music. I grew up in the 80’s. I raised all of my children to play. I am working on the beginnings of a symphony. We have violin, trumpet, oboe and guitar.  I have dabbled in fife and dulcimer too.

3. I am one of the longest running volunteers at Heritage Hill State Park. I started with the park in 1982 and have trained four volunteers from birth. My children have all interpreted at the park sometime through their lives. I love dressing in period clothing and talking with visitors from around the world.

4. I am hopelessly optimistic. I can find the positive in any situation. Sometimes I don’t want to find it, but if I certainly could if I had too. I smile and do it as often as I can!

5. My first writing mentor is Suzi Zeller. She was a family friend of ours. When I was 12 years old, she encouraged me to write a story. It was about a horse who wanted to be the fastest ever.  Thank you Suzi for encouraging me. I haven’t stopped writing since.

6. I travel throughout the country on a weekly basis. My husband drives an 18-wheeler and I write. My office has the best views, always changing. It consists of a laptop and my supplies are stowed in the glove box. We are thinking about moving in a new printer soon.

7. I am a Social Butterfly! I know it contradicts the life of a writer, but I am one of those rare people who likes public speaking. I will start conversations in the strangest places. People give me energy and I am enriched by knowing them.

Rules:

1. Thank and link back to the person who nominated you.

2. List seven things about yourself  (Anything you would like to share)

3. Nominate seven other people.

My Nominations:

1. http://susankiernanlewis.com/2012/09/05/daily-creative-habits-of-the-rich-and-famous/

2. http://aayoung.wordpress.com/2012/09/08/saturday-is-a-form-of-heaven/

3. http://virginiaplantation.wordpress.com/2012/09/05/eyewitness-to-history/

4. http://littleboxofbooks.wordpress.com/2012/08/21/worth/

5. http://searchingforthehappiness.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/the-writer-inside-of-me/

6. http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com/2012/09/05/a-little-embarrassment-never-hurt-anyone-skydiving-video/

7. http://briansmithpld.com/2012/09/07/leadership-lessons-when-smoke-and-mirrors-just-wont-do/

Good luck to everyone ! I truly enjoy reading everyone’s work. It makes me think, smile and in general, simply makes my day better.

Life’s Little Detours

I apologize that I have been MIA during the last 6 weeks. I have admittedly been a little distracted. Two weeks ago, my Honey asked me to marry him!  I am giddy as a new bride. Wait! I am going to be a new bride. We are all very happy and busy planning a fall wedding.

Planning a wedding, finishing my first novel and keeping all other things in order, I am a trying to get back to life and all of my responsibilities.  I have to say I miss my writing community. During my absence, I have been reading about nominations for blogging awards and proud of everyone who announced their nominations. What a great accomplishment.

I started blogging last February as a way to promote my upcoming book and map my journey as a new writer. I struggle with trying to make it interesting and readable. I envy bloggers whose posts seem to drip effortlessly off their fingertips. Every post as interesting and funny as the last one.  I am amazed at how they make it look so easy. The last few months have been a great learning experience. I am grateful for all my readers, I love hearing your comments. I am learning a lot from you.

Today, in my email box, I found that I am nominated for the Versatile Blogger and Sunshine Award. I am honored! Am I doing that thing that I envy so much from other writers? I certainly hope so! I do not know where my blogs will bring me. I just hope that somewhere everyone who reads my posts is touched in a positive way. Until then, I will keep blogging, and being me. As the initial excitement of the last two weeks becomes normal, I am getting back to the book. My editor is waiting and my deadline is approaching. Wish me luck.

Thank you Wendy(searchingforthehappiness.wordpress.com) for the great nomination. Your support is very touching.