Friday, November 28, 2008

The Benefit of Archiving

You've probably heard it over and over again that one should set their masterpiece aside for a patch, then come back to it after a break for editing. The thing you don't hear, though, is that beginner writers will probably have to repeat this process over and over again.


Because, unless you've educated yourself abundantly on the craft of fiction writing before you typed in that initial draft, there will likely be way too much to fix in a single pass through. It's scary, really. And unless you can come back to it each time with renewed optimism and the needed drive to improve, those passes may do more harm than good.'s time, and for many of us, lots of it, that is needed between editing rounds to truly improve your prose without editing passion right out of it.

How do I know this?

Because I've lived it. In the first two to three years that I took up writing, I did exactly that. I took short breaks between editing rounds of my initial story that was written before I ever read one single writerly self-help book, and in so doing, I edited all the passion I had for the story right out of it. It got to the point that I couldn't stand opening the ANB (the story titled A New Beginning) document, let alone picking up a printed sheet containing any clumping of words from any portion of the story that I had initially poured my heart and soul into. How sad is that?

But there is hope.

I went on to write two more stories through another couple of years. Every once in awhile I'd take a break on them and click on the ANB file, tinker a little, till I felt it was no use once more. Feel defeated. Pine over what should have been a wonderful story that I just knew meant something, but that I still didn't have the strength to fix. Concede that I needed more time, and headed back into the current story I was working on.

Now, this past week, after the loooongest break ever from ANB, months in fact, that included a lot of turmoil in my personal life, I finally overcame my roadblock with ANB. And to my surprise, the story wasn't near as bad as I had believed it to be. Through those little tinkering sessions, I actually did improve much of my prose, at least to me I did.

This past week I've re-edited ANB from start to finish. I modified wording, beefed up the external and internal conflict, quickened the pace, delved deeper into my characters, laughed, cringed, cried with my characters all over again, and managed to strip 2,338 flabby words and phrases from it, so that it now sits at 58,077 words, in target for the publishing house and line I've always been aiming it toward since I started dreaming of publication. Wow, what a mouthful of a sentence. Eh? Yes, I am Canadian, but you'll only find the word once in my manuscript, and I won't tell you who speaks it. In fact, if I ever get this book published, and the "eh" remains, I think it might make for a great book give-away contest. Writers never stop dreaming.

Anywho. I'm just so relieved to have gotten through ANB fully once more, and feeling positive about it, that in my heart, even if this baby still isn't of publishing standards, I know the passion is back in it for me! And that's just the greatest feeling.

So, if you're like me and struggling with a story you know deep down you love, but can't stand looking at anymore, try archiving it. Write something else, study the craft, dabble back at it when you feel called, then slip back into the new story when you're fed up again, live your REAL life, experience the ups and downs of reality, grow in the relationships with your loved ones, then when that still small voice calls you back to it with a vengeance. Be ready. It's exhilarating to feel the passion once more!



28 days left in this year to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy American Thanksgiving!

I wish you all a wonderful start to your Thanksgiving Weekend!

May you find time to reflect on the Blessings you've received in the past year, and the Blessings you've been an instrument in delivering to others.

May God Continue To Bless Us All!!


29 days left this year to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fitting it all in.

I'm Canadian, so I'm not in the mad frenzy of preparing for the American Thanksgiving weekend that fast approaches. However, I realize that many of my blog readers are living that frenzied lifestyle now, and will be for several weeks more as the Christmas rush gets underway both here and abroad. I think the American way has seeped over the boarder some to our advantage, though. Since our Thanksgiving is celebrated mid October, we have several extra weeks to spread the Christmas to-do list over, and thus maybe we aren't quite as rushed as our American friends.

So, my question today, is how do you fit it all in? The Thanksgiving celebration, Christmas shopping, celebrating, sharing, giving, and work, be it writing or otherwise. What method of fulfilling this madness do you live by to discover the New Year with satisfaction and joy, not guilt, despair, and exhaustion?

Praying for a Peace to fall on us all,


32 days left this year to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Friday, November 21, 2008

NaNo -- Oh, no-no!!

Time to confess. My attempt at the NaNo challenge this year is awash. I've done precious little, as my attention and time has been called elsewhere. Life as a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend had other ideas for me this month. That's okay, though, I am still working through The Unlikely One, but at the moment it is cluttering up my brain instead of occupying bits and bytes on my computer. It will fill those memory stores soon, though, just not in time to log progress in NaNo land. Perhaps next year will work more like last year did for me.

Anyone else out there who attempted NaNoWriMo this year? How are you all doing with the 2008 challenge?



35 days left this year to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Seven Random Bookish Things--My first meme tag

I was tagged by Kalea to come up with Seven Random Bookish Things, so here it goes:

1. My all time favourite book and movie (the four-hour edition) is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin.

2. I always have at least two, but usually three books on the go. A novel (usually a Christian romance), a book on the craft of writing, and/or a self-help, motivational type of book.

3. In high school I plotted stories, what at the time I had envisioned as movie scripts, in shorthand. They're stored in my hope chest on steno pads, but I can't read any of them now. Talk about encryption!

4. I can only write in silence. No radio, no background noise from kids. Nadda. Funny, considering I'm generally a multi-tasker.

5. I'm a very slow reader. I generally don't skim, but read every single word. I retain a lot this way, but it's certainly costly time wise.

6. I'm horrible at remembering to return books to libraries, and as a result I don't often utilize those facilities anymore.

7. I have a difficult time letting go of a book I like. Whether it has repeat read value or not, I tend to hold on to it. Imagine how cluttered my bookshelves are, and how many we have in our home. No, I'm not telling.

Okay, that's my seven random bookish things, now for the rules and to tag another seven blogs.

Who shall I tag to hopefully discover seven bookish things from them?

Jillian @ Sleep Is Not Required (I think I know what kind of books Jillian's going to be referring to.)
Emma @ Emma Eldon Blogspot
Becky @ Becky Melby's Blogspot
Wendy @ Wendalyn Loves to Write
Bonnie @ Fiction Matters
Sue @ Sue Mason's Blog
Jessica @ BookingIt

I look forward to reading all the wonderful bookish things divulged through this meme.



42 days left this year to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Book Giveaway today!

As I wait to make the draw at noon, I wanted to direct any Steeple Hill lovers over to Seekerville's post today. An informative, warm interview with Senior editor, Melissa Endlich, is posted, along with some great pictures.

This is a great opportunity to learn more of what Steeple Hill lines are looking for in an author and story. And Melissa is interacting within the comment section, too. So, if you have questions, you may just be lucky enough to get them answered.

WINNER DRAWN: Congratulations, Carrie T., you won a copy of Patti Lacy's An Irishwoman's Tale.



43 days left this year to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Visiting Writer's Rest Today

Hey, All:

I'm posting on Writer's Rest today. Come visit me for Writer's Wisdom Wednesday.

Comments over there in today's Writer's Rest post will also count toward the book giveaway I'm hosting here. But only if you let me know you're interested in it in your comment, and leave a way of my getting hold of you if you should win. (See side bar for book giveawy information if needed.)



44 days left this year to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Omit Redundancy and You'll Liven the Prose

It's true.

In my humble opinion, you can turn a bland piece of writing into one of interest by taking the time to come up with alternate words for those that tend to become repetitive. Varying the length of your sentences, adding detail, and presenting your ideas in a closer POV and active way will also improve your writing.

The only reasons authors should be repetitive with words is 1) to create pieces for early readers as a teaching tool, and 2) to make something stand out. And it will only stand out if it's an oddity, right?

Consider the following sample:

This morning I woke up and started the coffee pot brewing. Then I set to work on the girls' lunches and started breakfast. I started a pot of cream of wheat simmering on the stove. Nothing better than a good hot cereal on a cold morning to start the day. Right? (Consider all the "started" and derivative of it in that passage and the similarity in sentence lengths.)

Now, lets read the same basic info arranged a little differently.

This morning I woke up and started the coffee pot brewing. I set to work on the girls' lunches and thought about what to prepare for breakfast while still half asleep. The chill in the air led me to look out the window. Pellet-like snow crashed onto my already snow-covered porch. Hugging myself, I decided a pot of hot cereal seemed an appropriate choice. Cream of wheat would warm them from the inside out. Right?

This isn't stellar in the least, but I think you can see that just by reworking the words, varying the sentence lengths, and adding in a little more detail with a closer POV, the read seems less bland. At least to me it does.

If you find a piece of your writing feels stagnant, consider narrowing in on what's the same in it. Sentence structure? Repetitive words? POV Distance? Passive? Try to shake things up, vary it, and see if it comes to life that way.



45 days left to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Life's Detours and Blessings & Book Giveaway is back!

It's been a week since I last posted. In that week I finally completed the wallpaper stripping and painting of our living room, celebrated our youngest daughter's eleventh birthday with a slumber party, wrote a short piece that clarifies what I see in festive trimmings, and discovered that getting up in front of a group of adults to lead adult education isn't near as nerve-racking as the anticipation of doing so felt. Wow, I guess I did accomplish a few things, after all.

And here I was worried that I wasn't doing enough to keep up with my NaNoWriMo responsibilities, and my blogging. It's true as they say, you can't do it all, but I'm blessed to have accomplished all that I did. It's good to be back blogging and writing The Unlikely One, though. So here is a picture of my newly painted living room. Yahoo, it's finished. Well, not totally. I still have to cut, stain and varnish the new oak window trim. But I'll do that over a bit of time as well.

Other Blessings for me:

I received the warmest compliment today when I opened my e-mail after the girls headed off to school. One might view the question "Did you write this piece?" as negative or positive feedback. But considering what followed in that e-mail I take it as a positive, and it gave me a real confidence boost and eagerness to get back to work on my next story, The Unlikely One.

Never before have I submitted anything to our Church Newsletter. I know, that seems really bad when I consider myself a writer-in-training. But the truth is that a few people at our church know what I've been studying for several years now, and so I continually worry that what I submit will dissapoint them greatly. It's that old "I'm not good enough yet, never will be" syndrom that's buried deep inside of me.

If you've studied the craft of fiction writing for as long as I have, or even half as long, I think it's natural that the writer assumes that there's certain expectations from those who have knowledge of what they've been doing. A real fear develops that we may not meet our friends' expectations in our attempts at writing and so we instead hoard our writing to protect our own self-esteem.

Many who know that I write, though, also know a few other things about me. Two of which are that I'm addicted to "stuff", seasonal trimmings included in over-abundance, and also that I seriously get riled when I smell injustice or misunderstanding prevailing. [I feel my heart pounding just thinking about a few of those sticky topics right now.] Anyway, our dear newsletter editor hit on one of my sticky points with her request for the November/December church newsletter submissions, and my need to explain my actions won out over my fear of not writing well enough. It would seem that she actually liked my piece, and what's even better is that in her response, she revealed what I aimed to show in that short compilation of words that I submitted.

There is no better feeling to a writer at any level than realizing that someone "got" what you were trying to creatively paint with your words. So, if you're reading this dear editor, Rebecca, I thank you. You made my day!!

On another note, I was tagged last week by Kalea to post seven random bookish things about me. I will follow through with this sometime this week. It should be a fun post, I hope.

For today, I offer to you readers, a similar question to what Rebecca posed to our congregation. [I'd offer the actual questions, but they went out in the recycle bin which in turn was dumped into the waste collector's bin this morning, unfortunately.] I'd love to hear your responses, and some day after the newsletter is released I'll post what I sent for submission in response to this topic. So you'll get my view on this, too, I promise!

How do you bring Christ into your way of celebrating Christmas?

BOOK GIVEAWAY Information:

In honour of my dear critique partner's book being next months ACFWBOOKCLUB selection, I will be drawing a name from the comments left this week until Thursday at noon to win a copy of Patti Lacy's An Irishwoman's Tale. Since the above question is especially interesting to me, I'll put two ballots in for each response given to it. I hope to hear lots of ways that we can bring Christ into the way we celebrate the Christmas season.



46 days left to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.