Writing: A Process

A writer is never done. Their task is never complete. Words can always use more polish and more finesse. However, sometimes polishing too much destroys the art.

Enough of the vagueness, right? 

This post is brief. 

At the Unicorn Writer’s Conference I attended several workshops about marketing your work. I’m putting what I learned into action. I have the next month of posts planned out.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday there will be a new post.

If I don’t have the time to write the whole post myself, I will find another article and put up a link to it. 

I will be setting up an ezine/newsletter as well as mailing list. Please contact me via the contact page if you would like to be notified of new posts.

3 Tips for better writing

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Unicorn Writer’s Conference: A Review

For those of you who write or read or do anything with words, going to a conference is a fantastic idea. This year’s Unicorn Writer’s Conference took place at St. Clement’s Castle. The conference started at 7:30 and, of course, I was running late. I had visions of me tumbling into the middle of the Keynote speaker’s address making an absolute fool of myself. When I pulled in I kept telling myself At least I’m not the last one. There was no need for me to be stressed out. The people who planned the event knew who they were planning for. The speaker didn’t speak until 8:30. I had plenty of time to make small talk with other writers and eat a delicious breakfast. The rest of the day was pretty much the same. This conference was well executed and although it was sold out it never felt like there was too much of a crowd.

Unicorn’s Writer Conference

The Morning:

Breakfast ran from 7:30 to 8:30 and then the keynote speaker: Andrew Gross  spoke about how even the most unlikely of people can become a writer. Listening to him speak and seeing other participants nod their heads in agreement helped me realize that no matter what walk of life you are in there are others who are just like you.

After the Keynote speaker I went to the first of several workshops. I went to Elaine Cunningham’s beyond elves and dragons, where again, I was pleasantly surprised by how cozy the atmosphere of the conference felt. Ms. Cunningham knows writers well and what she said affirmed what I was thinking. When writing fantasy the world is a character in and of itself.

After that I went to the editor’s panel;  it was helpful listening to them explain what they look for when deciding which books to buy. The biggest chunk of information I gleaned from them was that finding the best agent for your book is important.

Midday:

Lunch was another delicious meal and I got to sit with other writers and talk to them about what they were working on. I even got to meet Elle Daniels whose book He’s No Prince Charming got signed by the agent she met at last year’s conference. I’m hoping to convince her to write a guest post on the blog (shhh… I haven’t asked her yet).

As I pranced along to the next workshop I was amazed by how well the conference was planned. While in the next workshop  I noticed another tidbit repeated over and over “Make sure that above all else, you have a unique and powerful voice”. The two things I learned thus far were: find an agent who gets you and find your voice.

Prior to the event, I was struggling to understand what Writing Fiction for Dummies meant when it discussed style. After the conference I finally understood that style and voice were the same thing.

Wrap up:

As the day drew closer to night I found that my mind was working hard to digest all that I was learning. There were people of all ages there and I was surprised by how diverse a group it was. I think I need to hang out with writers more often. I attended several more workshops and another tidbit emerged. This too, was stated by more than one panelist/presenter- write the best novel possible.

Up until now writing has been a bit of a collision course for me. I’ve written stories, posted them on blogs and on amazon as ebooks. I’ve taken them down and said no more. I’ve walked away from writing only to be pulled back in because the stories won’t leave me alone. Yet, being plagued by stories and giving them a voice are two completely different things. Going to the conference helped me understand that writing is a process.

Conference Summary:

Depending on the type of story you want to write you may spend years creating it. Elle Daniels was able to write her story in a few months. As I talked with her I realized that Duchess of Dark Mercies needs to be shelved for a while. It has some flaws that need to be fixed but, also, it is the kind of book that needs years to become mature enough to be become more than idea.

Overall, I loved the conference and I highly recommend any and all writers attend them.

One other things I gleaned was that “Publishing a novel isn’t about the idea but about the execution of the idea.”  Katharine Sands.

 

The Lamb

This post is relevant for multiple reasons but maybe I should explain a little more.
It is Lent season and as a Christian this is the season where we pause and reflect on all that God has done for us. We also prepare our hearts for honoring the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. I have been reflecting on my Christian Faith a lot lately and it is amazing how much God has done for me in my life.
Jesus Christ is often compared to a lamb. Gentle, sweet and innocent.  These days most people don’t have daily interactions with farm animals and so that comparison can be hard to grasp.
I’ve been helping out at a local farm and they mainly have goats but the owner got a lamb from another farmer. This lamb is big but he can’t stand. He always has his head tilted to the right and it probably would have been better to just put him down. Except he has fire in him. He wants to live.
How odd must it be for him to have huge predators stand over him and lift him up and hold him steady while he gains strength in his legs. How odd must it be to be strapped in a sling and dangle in the air while your legs flay about but you can’t seem to get them under you. How it must be strange to be stuck on the ground when you are a prey animal and your life depends on you being able to flee. In the wild he would have been dead 2 days ago. Shouldn’t I let nature take its course?
Except that I feel this need to help him. I want to see him stand. I want to see him overcome his hurtles and I want to see him succeed. Why? I’m not an animal rights extremist. I have a lot of other things I need to get done. Better uses of my time.
In fact in my own life I feel a bit like him. I try to get my feet under me but every time I try I just can’t seem to get balanced. I fumble about and lay back down, exhausted. Sometimes I wonder how I’m still alive. Then one of my friends nudges me or helps me up and I try again. Like the lamb, I have fire in me and I know I will do great things; mainly because my friends keep telling me that I will.
My friends believe in me as I believe in the lamb. Yesterday, I spent several hours with him lifting him up, helping him find his feet and feeding him. During several points I thought he should just be put down. This isn’t worth it, what is the point? I’m not getting anything out of this. I have better things to do. Except he likes to sleep on my foot and by the end of our “therapy” sessions he was almost able to hold himself up. His front left leg is paralyzed, at least partially, and so he has to learn how to balance on three legs. I could go on and on about him but mainly I need to realize that he is in my life for a reason.
I hope he makes it. I hope that he will be someone’s pet and that he will be a strong little guy who will be able to jump and play one day.
I have a feeling that when Jesus Christ came down to earth and when He lived among us He had similar thoughts about us. We are injured and hurting; we are alone in the world, at times, and we feel battered and bruised, but we also have our God who is with us. He helps us stand and carries us when we cannot walk. He feeds us and keeps us safe. God loves us just as we are. We cannot offer Him anything and yet He helps us.

Developing Duchess of Dark Mercies

I’m at that point where a writer has to push past the wall, that insurmountable wall that threatens to force the brave soul to retreat lest they die under the weight the questions of the unknown. With Duchess of Dark Mercies I’ve had to re-write it multiple times. The shape of the characters and the plot and the whole story itself is evolving and changing.

You see, change is good. I went to a writer’s group on Saturday and I was so glad I went. It opened my eyes to the fact that there are people out there who want to gather and share what they’ve created. In addition to that there are people out there who want to help others succeed.

The biggest thing I find myself contemplating is the fact that there is no rush to create a good story. C.S. Lewis took about ten years to write the first Chronicles of Narnia book and so I know that Duchess of Dark Mercies will become more than a draft. It just take perseverance.

I was born to be a novelist. My best friend and I would go out in the woods and pretend to be fairy tale princesses. We both read book after book of lovely stories and we both grew up writing as well as imagining. 

She is a published author and a journalist. I am so proud of her. She has accomplished so much in life and I am excited to see where her next book goes. I am so thankful God blessed me with such an amazing friend. He keeps on blessing me with amazing friends and I am so lucky that I have them in my life.

 

As I write Duchess of Dark Mercies I find myself wondering about many things. I tend to be self reflective and as I write I realize that this story needs to be told. How best to tell it? Am I doing justice to my characters? What exactly do I need to write; to say? I like to plan things out and I like stability- sometimes it doesn’t seem like it but I can tell you that I get stuck planning the book and then I run into an issue I don’t know how to resolve and so I retrace my footsteps back to the beginning and the story changes. Which is why I need a writer’s group and why I need to find other writers who can help me stay focused; so that I can write the best version of Duchess of Dark Mercies.

The key to it all is structure.

 

If Networking Scares You, Put on the Matchmaker’s Cap

So good to know. I went to a writer’s group because I knew I needed to network out and guess what? It was awesome hanging out with fellow writers! They were all great.

Live to Write - Write to Live

Do you cringe when someone suggests that you get out and ‘network’ with other writers, business owners, or creative types?

Networking can be intimidating, I know. As an introvert who excels at listening, networking can give me butterflies if I think it’s all about me and my business and needing to say the right thing to the right person.

I’ve found a trick that helps with the anxiety. I put on a matchmaker’s cap. I go to an event with the intent to focus on others instead of myself.

Here’s what it entails: focusing on learning about a person and his/her needs and then seeing if I can connect that person with the ‘right match’ by the end of the evening.

If you do this, people will learn about you and your experience. And if can connect two individuals with specific needs to the person they are looking for, they’ll…

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