My Writing Life

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Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

I have been writing fiction for a very long time and I love it. It is my favorite thing to do. However, it takes a very long time to make any money as a fiction writer. Yes, I have a completed historical fiction novel, but only the first draft is completed. I am working on revising/editing it, but time is another problem I struggle with.

As a homeschool mom with one remaining child/student, I spend every morning working with my child, which means I don’t get to do any writing related items until the afternoon. So, roughly three hours a day, then it’s time to make dinner. Then I may or may not have two hours to work on writing related items after dinner before I get too tired for my brain to focus on such tasks. So, on a good day, I get about five hours to work on writing related items.

What writing related items do I have to work on? Well, I have this blog, which I really enjoy writing posts for. As a writer, it is also suggested that I have a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, which means posting on all of these media sites daily. But I don’t. I have found that I am not very interested in social media, so I try to have a presence by connecting my blog posts to my Facebook writer page and Twitter accounts. At least that keeps me present there.

I have been writing for Almost an Author, a popular website for writers, for about a year now. I am one of the regular columnists for the site and am required to post four romance and four historical posts each year. This is not a huge commitment, but it is a commitment nonetheless. I am also a regular interview writer for Faith Filled Family Magazine and have been doing this for almost a year. I love the writing I do for both of these. However, none of these wonderful jobs offers a salary, but I am not willing to give them up. I enjoy them too much. Besides, they give me material for my portfolio.

Back to the part about homeschooling. Being a homeschool mom means being there for your child(ren) all day every day. This was an important decision my husband and I made seventeen years ago, and it was an important decision we haven’t regretted.  However, it can be quite challenging to live on one income in today’s world.

Therefore, I have entered a new writing world–the world of freelance writing. I have also taken my freelance editing skills with me, and have become active on a reputable freelance website, where I am applying for writing and editing jobs that I will actually get paid to do. However, the writing is not fiction. So I am learning and experiencing writing in the “real” (nonfiction) world. It’s very different and quite challenging as compared to my preferred fiction world, but I am finding it enjoyable so far. But, it is time consuming–time to look through the “want ads”, time to write proposals to apply for the jobs I am interested in and believe I am able to do, and then, time to do the jobs. So now, I am working with solid deadlines–no procrastinating is allowed or tolerated.

In conclusion, my writing life has changed once again. For now, I need to put most of my time into the freelance writing that will enable me to earn an income. That may mean that my fiction works, like my novel, will have to wait longer to meet the world. But, as in every part of my life to this point, I have always been one to do what needs to be done and to keep my priorities straight.

There are three more years, after this one, until my last child graduates, then I’ll have eight or nine hours a day to write. (At least that’s what I keep telling myself.)

Update on My Writing Journey

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may already know I finished the rough draft of my upcoming novel at the end of March of this year. I have begun revising and editing my novel and am currently working on chapter nine.

However, at the encouragement and urging of a writer friend, I wrote a proposal for my completed novel and revised and edited the first three chapters, added a query letter and sent it out to an agent. Then I tried to forget about it for the next sixty days. I also tried not to get my hopes up, as I know most writers receive many rejections before finally acquiring an agent and/or publisher.

I will say that I was surprised, when after just a week or two, I received a brief email from the agent’s assistant informing me that they had received my Book Proposal and would review it. I hadn’t expected that.

Then in early June there was an email in my inbox from the agent’s assistant. I was nervous about opening it, and after a brief pause, clicked to open it. As I read what was written, I took it as a rejection, felt hurt, posted on my Facebook Writer page that I had received my first rejection and gave myself twenty-four hours before writing or revising anything.

On June thirteenth, one of my closest writer friends was in the area and we met for lunch. At the time, she was preparing for her first published book to be released, so I printed a copy of my rejection email letter and took it along to show to her. She was glad that I had brought it because she had recently been to a writers’ conference where she attended a session about rejection letters.

After reading my rejection letter, she was really excited. She said, “This is not a rejection!” She proceeded to tell me there are three types of rejections: 1) a form letter; 2) a flat “no” with no other information; or 3) you simply never hear back from them at all.

Well, my “rejection” letter was none of the above. My letter states that “there is much to recommend in your story, and we can see your writing talent.” Then they state two things they didn’t like about my story, and end with “Because of your talent, we’d be happy to see other projects from you in the future”. Therefore, my friend said, “you should be celebrating. This is not a rejection, and I’ve been told that if you really want to try to get in with an agent who sends you this kind of information, you can revise the story, changing the things they didn’t like, and after a year, resend it to them. Or since they are willing to look at another story you write, write another one and send it.”

Her excitement and enthusiasm were catching, and what she said made a lot of sense, so I felt a lot better about the letter.

What did I decide to do in regard to my writing?

I decided that I am not going to send anything to any agent again until I finish my revision and edits on this novel and get it edited by an editor. Then I will rewrite my synopsis and send a proposal out again. I’m hoping to finish it and send it before another year passes so I wouldn’t be sending it to the same agent. Besides, one of the two things the email stated that they didn’t like is one thing I am unwilling to change because I would have to start the story all over from a completely different character’s perspective and that would change the entire story.

One thing that you will find whenever I get this novel (and any future novels) published, if you choose to read them, is that I do not write formulaic romance. I don’t know why that should be a problem, when one of the things an agent or publisher always wants to know is “what makes your book different from the others in the genre”.

I’ll keep you posted on this writing journey I am on.

Thanks for reading!

What’s Going on with my WIP

I attended the Lancaster Christian Writers’ Super Saturday one-day writers’ conference the first Saturday of April this year. I’ve been a member of LCW for just about six years now and have attended their Super Saturday one-day conferences every year in that time period. I always enjoy the conference and have met and made lots of wonderful friends and valuable writing connections through this one-day event.

I thought last year’s conference was the best yet. Then I went this year, and this year’s conference topped last year’s! I attended a very informative session about how to market your book and I attended a session that I found would be extremely helpful as I edit my WIP.

So, what does all of this have to do with my WIP, which is what the title of this post is about?

Well, when I went to this year’s Super Saturday conference, I had completed my WIP and needed to begin the edits, but I decided to take my first chapter along and meet with one of the published authors that was offering one-on-one appointments, and it turned out to be the best one-on-one appointment I ever had.

But before I explain that, I need to take a small step back a few years first. I had made up my mind, not long after starting this WIP, that I was going to indie publish. Then, two years ago, I attended the Greater Philly Writers’ conference and had a one-on-one appointment where the person I met with was impressed with what I showed her of my WIP, and she encouraged me to try traditional publishing first. However, because my WIP was incomplete at that time, I couldn’t really do anything about it at that time. So, as time passed, I went back to my original plan to indie publish.

Now, return to this year and my explanation as to why this year’s one-on-one appointment was my best ever: this author loved my first chapter and she asked if I had begun to shop my manuscript around yet. When I said I hadn’t and that I was figuring I’d just indie publish, she encouraged me to try traditional publishing first. However, she didn’t stop there. She took the time to explain to me how to go about writing a good Book Proposal and suggested several agents and agencies to query. This all made me think, ‘wow, God must really want me to try traditional publishing first. This is the second time He made sure I was confronted about it, and this time, I was given direction.’

So, I prepared a Book Proposal, and I’ll tell you, I thought writing a Book Proposal is more difficult than writing my novel. However, I did it, and I have submitted it to the first agent. I decided not to send it to more than one at first. I really want to see what happens with this agent. If this one turns me down, then I will begin to submit it to a few agents simultaneously because I don’t want to waste too much time, either, but I have just begun my edits, so I don’t want to have to send my unedited WIP either.

As my WIP continues its journey into publication, I will keep you posted.

A Writing Update and Conference Highlights

I AM FINISHED with the rough draft of my first novel! Let the editing begin — yes, that is my next step.

LCW’s Super Saturday one day writers’ conference went very well, and there were quite a few new attendees, including quite a few young people and one twelve-year-old boy. What a great thing to see!

There was a keynote address and four sessions. I attended a session presented by J.P. Robinson, who gave an information packed session on marketing!

I attended a great session on how to use setting to create strong emotional impact and suspense, which will be a great help as I edit my novel because describing and using my setting are weaknesses of mine, although I have improved from the start to the finish. I also attended an in-depth session on plot and character that had a great exercise to help understand the importance of really knowing your characters. Both of these sessions were presented by Ronie Kendig.

I also had a one-on-one appointment with Rita Gerlach who also writes historical romantic fiction. She read the first scene of my novel and gave me suggestions for two minor adjustments to improve it, but she really liked it and encouraged me in my writing. She also offered some advice on publishing.

Once again, a very valuable, worthwhile one-day LCW Super Saturday Writers’ Conference — Thank You, Jeanette Windle!

Have You Ever Tried to Write Flash Fiction?

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I know I’ve talked about Flash Fiction here before, but today I want to speak to those of you who are writers. Have you ever tried to write Flash Fiction?

I used to think it would be quite difficult to write Flash Fiction in the genres that I write: my WIP is Historical Romance, however I also like to write Contemporary Romance. Most of the Flash Fiction I have seen and read has been Fantasy, Sci-Fi, or Speculative Fiction. However, if you’ve been reading my Flash Fiction Friday posts, you’ll see that it can be done with Contemporary Romance. The fact of the matter is Flash Fiction can be any genre.

I will reiterate the Flash Fiction guidelines once again. Depending on whose definition you read, Flash Fiction can be anywhere from less than 100 words to 1,500 words. However, many Flash Fiction writers prefer to write 300-500 words. Flash Fiction stories, as all stories, still require the story to have a beginning, middle, and end. (I have a friend who thinks every Flash Fiction story she reads could be turned into a full-length novel. And, she has a good point, if you like to read novel-length stories. I know that I could, most likely, turn all of my Flash Fiction stories into novellas or full-length novels, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to.) Flash Fiction serves a purpose. Just like the renewed popularity of Short Stories in today’s world, Flash Fiction is also very popular because many people don’t want to take the time to read novels anymore. However, that doesn’t mean they want to read an incomplete story that leaves them hanging at the end.

Therefore, that’s why it’s important that your Flash Fiction stories have a beginning, middle, and end; and the end has to feel complete and it needs to satisfy the reader. It needs to bring closure to the story and bring resolution to whatever conflict you created in the short piece.

So, if you’re a writer and you haven’t tried writing Flash Fiction, I challenge you to do so. Why? Because it will definitely help you improve your writing because it will challenge you to write a good complete story in few words. My first Flash Fiction Stories were between 1,000 and 1,500 words. The ones I am writing and posting on my Flash Fiction Friday posts right now are 790-800 words, and these sometimes take a while. I began one yesterday afternoon, thought I had it finished but wasn’t happy with the ending. I worked on it again last night and I’m still not happy with it, so I will work on it again today and maybe tomorrow and another day before I manage to create a 790-800 word complete story that I believe is the best I can do with the idea I have for this story.

Therefore, I will probably continue writing Flash Fiction of 790-800 words for a while yet, until it becomes easy for me to write a complete and satisfying story of that word count. Then, I’ll shoot for 500 words. (I did write one Flash Fiction story of 500 words that I recently entered in a contest that required no more than 500 words. My story made it through the first round of judging, but didn’t end up winning. So, I took it to a critique group, got some feedback on it, tweaked it based on comments from the group, and made it a better 500 word Flash Fiction story.)

Writing Flash Fiction helps you to write concisely and to not overuse certain words or be too wordy. Flash Fiction requires you to write less characters so that you can still create one or two characters that your readers will be able to relate to; characters that are believable and that your readers will want to root for.

If you decide to take the challenge and try your hand at Flash Fiction, let me know if you post a Flash Fiction story on your website. Post a link in the comments, and I’ll visit your site and read what you’ve come up with. It will be fun to encourage each other in improving our writing skills.

A New Writing Position

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Have you noticed the new button on my sidebar? It looks just like the one pictured above, and I’m so excited to share with you that I have been accepted to become a new columnist for the “Almost and Author” blog. It’s a blog that is really more like a website and it offers so much to writers — those just starting out as well as those who’ve been writing for a while. There are posts for every genre, posts on the writing craft, posts on grammar, and so much more. I will be writing four posts a year for the Historical genre and four posts a year for the Romance genre. Since my WIP is a Historical Romance, I am qualified to write for both genres that my one genre encompasses. My first post will appear at the beginning of March in the Romance genre.

If you’re a writer or are interested in becoming a writer, and you haven’t explored the A3 website, I encourage you to do so.  And I hope if you have an interest in writing  in the Romance genre, you’ll check out my March post on the A3 website. The “Almost and Author” website is on the following lists:

Writer’s Digest Top 101 Best

Websites for Writers

The Write Life Top 100 Best

And, we were just added to the 50 Best Writing Blogs in 2018

 

Writers’ Retreat

 

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Last Saturday, January 26, 2019, a writing friend opened her home, like she does a couple times a year, for a group of writing friends to spend the day writing in a place where we can write in quiet and without interruption.

We began the day with a devotion and a writing exercise to get our creative juices flowing. Then we separated into different rooms–different spaces to spend a couple hours writing. Lunch time we came together to eat and fellowship with one another, then we did another writing exercise to stir up our creativity again, followed by a few more hours of writing before saying our goodbyes.

I really appreciate the ladies who came up with the writing exercises and the instructions they gave us because those exercises really did get kick-start my creativity,  and gave me material for one of my upcoming novels as the second writing exercise was supposed to be written from one of our character’s perspectives. Since I am just about finished with my current WIP, I chose to write from the perspective of a character from an upcoming novel, and I thought the exercise lent itself very well to that particular character and story line.

The first writing exercise required us to pull a paper bag from a box, but NOT look inside. Instead, we were to put our hand in and feel what was in the bag. Then we were to write about either the experience of placing our hand into a bag without the knowledge of what it held. Or we could use just our sense of touch or other senses to try to determine what the bag held and write about what we thought was in the bag. After fifteen minutes, we could take turns reading what we wrote and sharing what was in our bags, to see how what we wrote applied (or didn’t apply) to what the bag held. (The picture at the top of this post is of the hostess’s kitten playing with one of the bags from this exercise. She made us all smile.)

It turned out that each bag held three items. I had determined one of my items quite accurately, one I guessed fairly closely, and one I had no idea. However, the rest of the group enjoyed what I had written.

The second writing exercise required us to draw an index card from two arrays of index cards–one labeled “Truth” and the other labeled “Dare”. Then we were to read what was on the other side of each card and write about the situation on the “Truth” card from our character’s perspective. Then we were to write whether or not our character would take the “Dare” on the “Dare” card and explain or show why the character would or would not take the dare based on that character’s perspective.

I enjoyed both exercises, but I think I actually enjoyed the second one a little more than the first one because I was able to really get into one of my character’s heads and now I have two very possible scenes for one of my upcoming novels.

During our free writing time, I would have loved to have had some time to work on my WIP. However, I first needed to write a Flash Fiction story for a contest I wanted to enter, so that ended up being the only writing project I was able to do because it was difficult to write what I wanted to write and fit it into the limited 500 word count. However, another writer friend encouraged me through it, and before the day was done, I had completed the story within the word count and am happy with it. (There will be a future post here on my blog, after I hear the contest results).