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).

Some Changes for a New Year

The holidays are over and a new year has begun, and most people are getting back into a normal routine. Every new year I take a look at this website and try to make improvements, therefore I have been working on cleaning up this website and I’m not quite finished. I’m getting rid of some old posts that were definitely not my best writing, but were probably the best I could do at the time. However, as I have learned more and worked harder and become an editor, I can now do a much better job at writing than I could at the beginning of last year. The more you do something and the more you learn, the better you get.

In addition, I have renewed my interest in Flash Fiction as it has become more popular, and I will be moving Tea and Poetry from Fridays to Tuesdays and reviving Flash Fiction Friday. Yes, that’s right, I will be doing my best to now have four posts a week. I know I slacked off and wasn’t even posting three posts a week for most of December, but that’s because the holiday season is quite busy, and I hadn’t gotten them scheduled ahead of time.

So the weekly lineup will be: Mondays will remain book reviews, writing related posts, and the occasional personal post or post from my soapbox; Tuesdays will be Tea and Poetry Tuesdays; Wednesdays will remain Wordless Wednesday; and Friday will be Flash Fiction Friday.

Flash Fiction is commonly known to be a story of any genre that is 1,500 words or less by most definitions, and many prefer 500 words or less. In my Flash Fiction I will do my best to keep it between 500 and 800 words to start, and as I get more comfortable and ideas start to flow, I may attempt to write no more than 500 words (eventually).

I really appreciate all of you who follow this blog and hope you will enjoy the changes for 2019. I welcome your comments about what you like as well as anything you might not like as much (as long as these comments are respectful).

Happy 2019!

The Value of my Critique Partners

I have been in several critique groups: some large, some small; some that meet weekly, some once a month, and some twice a month; as well as an online critique group. Why have I been a part of so many critique groups? Because I believe having a critique group is important because it helps you improve your writing and your story–to write the best story you can write even before an editor gets to work on it. It helps make the editor’s job easier, and helps me not have to pay as high of an editing fee as if I didn’t put all of this work into it first.

After participating in all of the groups above, I have finally settled into one group that I believe is the perfect fit for me. I have read other writers’ opinions about critique groups and have found that most of them say that two or three critique partners is the best size. That is what I have found. The critique group I am a part of meets twice a month and is just two other ladies and myself, although a gentleman does join us over the summer months.

I have found that this group is the perfect fit for me and works best for the following reasons: 1) too many voices giving feedback can set my head to spinning, but two or three voices make sense and are easier to sort through; 2) meeting with the same people and having them critique my work from start to finish allows them to become very familiar with my work, my writing — both my strengths and weaknesses, as well as my goals — what my story is really about–what I’m trying to say.

Because of those reasons my writing continues to improve because of their comments, suggestions, and encouragement. Just a few weeks ago, one of them said to me, I don’t like where you’re going with this. There are too many new characters, and you’ve gone astray from the main goal of your story. (Or something very similar to that.) I left critique group that day feeling a bit frustrated. I’ve been working on this manuscript for over two years already–I want to finish it and move on to the next story! I don’t want to spend years on every book I write. (But, at the same time, I want every book that I write to be the very best it can be.)

However, because I value the opinions of these critique partners and have built a good, trusting relationship with them, I had to contemplate what she said, and I did. I took a week or two to mull it over and came to realize she was right. As a historical romance writer who loves history, I was trying to include too much history, and if I continued on the current path, my book was going to be too long. She was also right that I had lost the main goal of my story.

Once I came to that realization, I had to go back to find where I had veered from the proper path–eight chapters ago! Ugh! Well, I printed everything from chapter 17 (where I was last on track) through chapter 25, and I started writing from the end of chapter 17 again with fresh eyes and fresh ideas. I am still going through the other eight chapters to see if there is anything I can salvage and keep in the story, which my critique partners also assured me that I can, and they pointed out what they liked that still kept to my story goal and made it interesting.

Now, in just a few short weeks, I am writing my new 21st chapter and I love the direction the story is now going–much closer to my intended goal, and my critique partners have assured me that they are loving the new chapters and that my writing is better, stronger, and helps them to relate to the characters so much more.

So, if you’re a fiction writer, and you don’t have a couple of critique partners that you trust and meet with regularly, I greatly encourage you to find some. It will do your writing and your confidence in your writing a world of good!