Monday, August 3, 2015

First Chapter Revisions and My Writing Journey

I'm pleased--more like ecstatic--to have a big project out of the way and submitted to my publisher. After three years of collecting for my "Missionary Stories" compilation, I can forget about it for the next three months or so while it goes through the review process. Phew!

So what's next? (There's always something, isn't there?) It's revision time for my Book of Mormon fiction sequel. (Another milestone in my journey!) It took one year to write the draft and make some revisions suggested by my critique group. Now I'm going through it again on my own. There's a few things I've learned from various classes or blogs, that I want to make sure I have included.

So far, I've only focused on that all-important first chapter. I like my first line as both a hook and a nod to a traumatic past experience. I believe I've given a good opening image of Karlinah's world. Some books start with a bang, but I agree with those who let us see the normal world and the main character's life briefly before we see them in a life or death situation, so that readers care what is happening to them. At least for my genre. I want the reader to connect with my MC. I also like where I started--hopefully close enough to the inciting event, where Karlinah makes decisions and goes in a new direction. Later, I'll need some beta reader feedback on this and so much more.

I was reminded that along with showing this Book of Mormon world and the character who lives in it, I need to show something that is flawed. This sets up the story to show what needs to be fixed in this world or with the character, something the reader can expect to see remedied at the end. Still thinking about that. I did go ahead and insert some hints at a theme, or the MC's inner conflict.

This time through, I will set up a spread sheet for me to identify things in each scene or sequel. (For more on the difference to these and the following terms, see this link to the snowflake guy.) My data will include the point of view (POV) character, the scene's goal, the character's goal, the conflict, the disaster, the setting, the motivation and reaction. For sequels, I need to list the POV character's reaction, her dilemma, and decision. If I can't ID these within a scene or sequel, I could add them, shift where the chapter ends so that it's in the right place, or scrap the scene. This data will help me see if I have all the needed elements and variation in things like having the setting in the same place for too many scenes in a row.

Revisions are eye-opening. Some parts are bound to become frustrating, but mostly I love how it makes a story better. Here we go!

 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Social Media (or lack of) for Authors

I don't have a Twitter account. I haven't worried about it since anything new takes time to learn, and takes away time from my writing. I haven't tried Instagram or some of the other sites either. Is that a big deal? You tell me. I accidently opened a Pinterest account and oddly--since I have never posted a board--I have some followers, but they are also ones that are Facebook friends, so what's the point? Perhaps when I get my book's cover image...

Maybe now is a good time for Twitter, before my debut book releases, but I'd like your input. So far, it's only been Facebook for me. That has been manageable and mostly fun. I have an author page separate from my personal page. I know to keep marketing posts to a minimum on my personal page, not to vent, etc. I agree with those "rules" and know there are times to sneak in a little marketing, but I'm not yet certain of my target audience. I expect the biggest share of that audience will be LDS women. If I find teens taking a big piece of that audience pie, it will probably be beneficial to join Twitter.

Do you find Twitter more of a complication or a connection? What media do you use to connect with authors or fans? Should I go for it now or wait and see?

Monday, July 20, 2015

From Journals to Facebook Posts - Finding Ways to Preserve Memories

This week people of the LDS faith remember the early pioneers who sacrificed to get to Utah's Salt Lake City valley. Many great, emotional stories are retold from that era, some of which have been made into movies. Where did these stories come from? Journals. If not for journals, details would be lost and forgotten or embellished over years of telling, like the size of the fish that got away.
Product Details Product Details

How are you preserving stories and memories? Get over the idea that you have nothing to say or that nobody cares, and consider it a duty. It can be anything from keeping a daily journal, a weekly half hour of jotting down some memories, or simply adding captions to those Facebook photos you keep posting. Use the date and location features, give a brief accounting of what is going on, and let the appropriate audience know something from your personal living history. That file of photos can also be used to spur memories that can be written down later. Talk to a tape recorder, if you prefer. Set up a weekly email question and answer session with your grandkids or ask questions to a grandparent, where you talk about those good ol' days. Print a copy for your records.

I don't consider myself "old" yet, but I can tell you that there's a lot of things from my life that I've already forgotten. It's a good thing I wrote a life history of my first thirty years and a summary of the rest. Find something that works for you and do it before the memory swims away forever! Someone will be thankful you did.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Storytelling and Permission to Publish

Imagine family members sitting around on couches or on the floor--hanging out and telling stories. Add popcorn and lemonade and you practically have a party. Someone shouts, "Have I got a good one for you!" or "I can to top that!" Story-telling can go to the competition level where we try to one-up the last story told. One person after another wants to share. Good times, right?

Some of you know that I have been collecting personal stories for two inspirational non-fiction books--one about missionaries and one about bishops. I've made good progress in wrapping up the missionary stories book for submission, but the detail of gaining permission has been a pain. Even though people tell a story and say I can use it for publication, I need to show proof to my publisher. Legalities are important these days. That important step is today's lesson.

It's time to put all the permissions granted together in one place. I scoured through emails from the past two years, finding some easily through the search engine and losing others that I needed to contact all over again. This is so not-the-fun-part of the project. At least I kept a spread sheet with contact information, dates, and more. This is vital for anyone who compiles outside stories, photos, sources, etc. I wish I had also made copies of the permission as I went along, instead of putting it into one document at the end. But, phew! That part is now done! I even have my Church Intellectual Property permissions for using LDS scriptures and Conference talk quotes.

What's left? I've started filling out the editorial and marketing forms, which give the publishing team ideas for a title and cover, list my bio, and tell the media other things about me. I'm going to have my computer's audio speaker feature read the manuscript back to me one last time as I view each page for errors. It'll take a week, maybe two. Then...ta da! I send it off.

Each writing projects has some non-writing details attached to it. Make sure to prepare in advance for those that require permissions so that things can go as smoothly as possible. Here's hoping the way I did it is adequate and not another author learning curve.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Six Month Countdown - My Safe Zone Before Publishing Panic?

6 ...5 ...4 ...3 ...2 ...1 ...
The countdown has begun! Six months until Secrets of the King's Daughter, my Book of Mormon fiction debut book, releases. I'm straddling the safe zone between excitement and panic, where it starts to feel real but I'm not in stress mode.

Before I'm too gung-ho on the book release, I really want to finish up my inspirational non-fiction, LDS Missionary Stories, and not have it nagging me. A few months ago I predicted it would take me a month to finish, but my fiction sequel took precedence. Now the time is right and that feels good.

Still within that "safe" zone, I enjoyed the occasion to watch Julie and Julia--the movie where Julie blogs about cooking every recipe from Julia Child's The Art of French Cooking. Loved the possible parallels to my life. Julie gets a little publicity and suddenly there are 65 messages for her to do interviews or to publish. Then she is crushed by one message that essentially means Julia Child hates her. The story cuts to rejection for Julia Child, who states that Houghton-Mifflin hates her and eight years of her life has turned out to be "something to do". She later is accepted by another publisher and sees success. Ah, the publishing roller-coaster! 

It's fun to dream, isn't it? For a couple hours, I reveled in the roller-coaster thrill alongside Julie, hoping for my own personal success. Today I'm feeling grateful that I can once again chip away at this one big project before it's time to dive into my book release checklist. I'll keep you posted on both those things if you'd like to join me on the ride. Bon appetite, I mean, "Enjoy!"