TURN AN IDEA INTO A GREAT STORY!

Once again, Jane Friedman shares a guest post with innovative approaches to taking a basic (and seemingly trite or overused) idea and turning it into a captivating story. Read on:

https://janefriedman.com/develop-idea-great-story/

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BAN THE BLOCKS!

vintage books with cup of coffee,magnifying glass, free copy space

It’s all about the writing. Excuses don’t cut it if you are serious about your writing goals. Whining won’t get the words onto the paper. Taking your dog for a walk doesn’t take all day, and still leaves time for writing. Have an appointment midday? Instead of seeing that as breaking up your day and therefore an excuse for not writing, look at it as a gift – an opportunity to write early, refresh your creative juices, and go back to it with renewed writing spirit.

Typical Other Excuses:

“I don’t have time to meet my writing goals.” MAKE TIME! HOW COMMITTED ARE YOU?

“I keep getting interrupted.” SET GROUND RULES. LOCK YOURSELF IN A ROOM. GO SOMEPLACE (LIKE A LIBRARY) WHERE THE INTERRUPTIONS ARE ELIMINATED. JUST DO IT!

“I need to be inspired to write.” FIND WHAT INSPIRES YOU. MUSIC? ESSENTIAL OILS? CONNECTING PEN TO PAPER INSTEAD OF SITTING AT A COMPUTER SCREEN? IF YOU STILL AREN’T INSPIRED, JUST WRITE. ANYTHING! IT’S LIKE EXERCISING YOUR BODY – ONCE YOU GET PAST THAT CRITICAL FIRST 10-15 MINUTES, IT FLOWS.

“I don’t like what I’ve written.” SO SET IT ASIDE AND JUST KEEP WRITING. YOU CAN FIX OR DISCARD IT LATER! THE IMPORTANT THING IS TO MAINTAIN THE HABIT OF WRITING EVERY DAY. EVERY DAY. EVEN IF IT’S ONLY FOR A HALF HOUR. EVEN IF YOU PRODUCE GARBAGE. AGAIN WITH THE WORKOUT ANALOGY, YOU HAVE TO WORK THOSE MUSCLES TO SEE ANY RESULTS. YOU HAVE TO WORK THAT WRITING MUSCLE TO PRODUCE A STORY, A NOVEL, ANY WRITING.

Are you really, truly, not-just-an-excuse busy? EVEN THE BUSIEST PEOPLE CAN CARVE OUT TIME TO WRITE. THE BLOCKS OF TIME MAY BE SHORT. YOU NEED TO TRAIN YOURSELF TO GET RIGHT INTO IT AT THE APPOINTED TIME AND WRITE, FOR A HALF HOUR, FOR AN HOUR, WHATEVER YOU CAN MANAGE.

Long before I had the luxury of retirement and was trying both to write and to train for marathons and work full time, my weekday schedule looked like this:

  • 2:30 am – rise and shine, throw on exercise clothes, drive 1 ½ hours to the gym while listening to books on tape, run 7 miles on the treadmill and spend a half hour on weight work, shower, drive to work.
  • 6:30-7:30 am – write
  • 7:30-11:30 am – work
  • 11:30-12:00 – write or edit and eat lunch
  • 12:00-4:00 – work
  • 4:00-5:30 – drive 1 ½ hours home, listening to books on tape

As you can imagine, by the end of dinner I was done in for the day. Good thing, because I had to get to bed early so I could get up and repeat this 5 days per week. Weekends allowed a little more time for writing, but even writers need a life – so weekends included socializing, doing some kind of workout or hike with my dog and husband, and catching up on TV shows taped throughout the week.

My point is clear. Making time for writing is in your hands.

Time Flies

JUST DO IT!!

Posted in Blogs, Books, Goals, Personal Discipline, Reading, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

You’re Not Done Yet!

THE SECOND ACT NOVELIST (https://janefriedman.com/second-act-novelist-6-ways-prepare/)

I love this post on Jane Friedman’s blog–probably because I relate to it so completely. I spent many years whining about how I wished I could afford to stop working so I could write full time. Then reality hit, and I realized that would never happen, at least not until I could retire. That reality check lit a fire under my behind. Did I really want to wait ten years before I closed the book on my first published novel?

Read and relax

Absolutely not!

It was a challenge, and I didn’t have much life outside of work and writing, but my first novel, Autumn Colors was published in 2011.

I was so thrilled, I got right to work on book number two, In Her Mother’s Shoes. I guess I was on a roll, because that one didn’t take four years to write! It was published in 2012.

I stalled a bit after that. Well, that’s not entirely true. I wrote one novel, Transition, which–after negative feedback from a few trusted sources, I discarded. Instead, I went to work on Star Catching. That one was released in November 2016. During the years between In Her Mother’s Shoes and Star Catching, I retired – a little sooner and a little lower on cash flow than I originally planned but, well, life happens, and I must say I love retirement.

I took a few months off from writing after Star Catching came out, but I’m now hard at work on–and very excited about–a new novel, as yet unnamed.

My point is this: few writer wannabes have the luxury of writing full time unless they have either a blockbuster book that gives them big cash or if they happen to be independently wealthy. That doesn’t mean your writing dreams are dead. It means it’s harder while you are working, but you can plan for that golden era when you retire and have that luxury to do exactly that.

It’s worth the wait, especially if you plan for it!

https://janefriedman.com/second-act-novelist-6-ways-prepare/

Posted in Autumn Colors, Blogs, Books, Budgets, Dreams, Goals, In Her Mother's Shoes, Star Catching, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Muslim Women’s Day, let’s just remember they’re human too.

Source: On Muslim Women’s Day, let’s just remember they’re human too.

I felt this was an important post to share, given the limited information and misconceptions among many Americans.

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Insight Updates on E-book Sales

Once again, I’d like to refer you to a post on Jane Friedman’s blog site, with an update on the status of e-book sales she posted last year:

https://janefriedman.com/myth-print/

 

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Helpful E-book Publishing Info

Jane Friedman’s latest blog provided useful information about the process for publishing an e-book:

https://janefriedman.com/how-to-publish-an-ebook/

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FISHING FOR FEEDBACK

I often have multiple projects going at the same time. Generally, though, one keeps rising to the top, the one I want to be perfect from the first paragraph.

The opening page of a novel can make or break a request by an agent to read more. That page must have impact. Power.

It hasn’t been my strong suit, historically. So I’m looking for “a little help from my friends.” I’m posting here the opening page of my as-yet-unnamed novel. If you started reading a book with this opening, would you want to continue on?

PROLOGUE

Kuwait/Saudi Arabia Border—1991 

My Arabic was rudimentary. I understood it better than I spoke it, although even that was rough. But the most flawless Arabic wouldn’t have made this conversation with Samar easy. It was even harder than I expected.

We had just made love. It wasn’t the first time. I never meant for this to happen.

When we first arrived in Saudi Arabia during the military build-up, I had two things on my mind. Make that three things. First was surviving the war to come. Second was concluding my military commitment, preferably alive and fully intact. And last, but far from least, marrying my fiancé, Emily.

Emily and I had been a couple since our freshman year of college. We were a good match, because we had so much in common and shared so many interests. In particular, family was important to us. We defined success as doing something we enjoyed that mattered to society. Our friends joked about us, saying we sounded more like a sixties couple than one that came of age in the glitzy, yuppies decade.

But Samar stirred my soul.

“They will kill me,” Samar said quietly, eyes averted. “My brothers. I have dishonored them. They will have no choice.”

“They don’t have to know,” I replied, so naïve, so self-centered. I had not considered the clash of cultures. Had not thought about what this meant for a Saudi Arabian woman.

“They will know.” She turned away from me. “They may already know.”

“Then come to America.”

“They will not let me. And even if they agreed, the process takes so long. Years.”

I tried to turn her back to face me. She resisted.

“Then I will tell them I want to marry you.” Those words choked out. What about Emily? But how could I abandon Samar? How could I allow her to be stoned to death because of me? Because of our love? How did we get here?

“They will not allow it. You are American. You are Christian.” Silence. “I am dead,” she added quietly.

What could I do? How could I prevent a tragedy? One for which I was responsible? I had never felt so powerless.

I welcome your honest assessments. Remember, negatives won’t hurt my feelings – they will help make this better. Positives, of course, are welcome, too – I’m human, after all!

Thank you in advance!

Dawn

Posted in Agents, Books, critiques, Manuscripts, Women's Fiction, YA/NA | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments