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?

rawpixel-315198-unsplashFlaPhoto by rawpixel on Unsplash

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

 

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!

Horse Names, a Little Contest, and a Sneak Peek

Today I’m giving you a sneak peek into my WIP (work in progress). I am writing a historical romance story that takes place in the Old West, which of course, requires some research on my part.

Did you know that when cowboys went on a cattle drive they took a lot of extra horses along? They didn’t want to overtire the horses they rode when they often rode fourteen hours a day. Therefore the spare horses allowed them to change to fresh horses often.

Did you know the herd of extra horses was called the “remuda” which comes from a Spanish word “remonta” or “remount”. The remuda could be as large as 150 horses!

Did you know that it was generally the youngest cowboy in the group who was in charge of the remuda? Did you know that he was called the “Wrangler” which also comes from a Spanish word, “caballerango” or “one who cares for horses”?

Many cowboy terms came from the Spanish because the cowboy profession was started by the Spanish Vaqueros, Spanish and Native American Indians who were trained to watch over the cattle of Spanish missionaries.

The Wrangler’s job was not easy. He had to know each horse by name and was expected to know immediately if a horse was missing and to track it down.

Now that you have that information, a cattle drive takes place in my book and there will be a total of seventy-three horses in the remuda. Now, not all seventy-three horses’ names will appear in my book, but I did feel like I needed to name all seventy-three for my story information. I thought you might like to see the names I came up with, and no, they’re not necessarily original, and I’m sure you will recognize some of them from other literary works or movies — these will be some of the names that will not appear in my book. (Only a handful of the horses’ names will actually appear in my book.)

1.Sandy                   2. Pete                    3. Jack                    4. Janie                    5. Jax

6.Dusty                    7. Smokey             8. Goldie                9. Millie                 10. Paint

11.Lady                 12. Shadow           13. Cash                 14. Toby                  15. Misty

16.Lightning        17. Storm               18. Flash               19. Tillie                  20. Sal

21.Bonnet            22. Max                  23. Pumpkin         24. Tate                   25. Flapjack

26.Tramp            27. Jasper               28. Spade               29. Ruby                 30. Leo

31.Rusty              32. Sawdust           33. Dancer             34. Pearl                 35. Spirit

36.Rain                37. Phantom          38. Star                  39. Jupiter              40. Ebony

41.Windy            42. Scout                 43. Topper            44. Zeke                  45. Thunder

46.Midnight       47. Bessie                48. Drifter             49. Goblin              50. Ginger

51.Cinnamon     52. Lacey                53. Buster              54. Cloud                55. Hero

56.Legend           57. Lucky               58. Poncho             59. Chip                  60. Faith

61.Patches          62. Popcorn           63. Peace                64. Patience           65. Betsy

66.Skye                67. Ranger            68. Wildfire            69. Rebel                70. Willow

71.Sapphire       72. Biscuit             73. Daisy

Which of these is your favorite that you would like to see in my book?

Leave your answer in the comments by next Monday, March 5th at noon if you want your favorite horse name including in my story. The three names with the most votes will win and be included in my story and your name will appear in the acknowledgements for helping make the choices.

A Great Adventure at the Writer’s Conference

Well, I prayed about the Greater Philly Writer’s Conference for two weeks after I found out I would be going. I wanted to go with God, allowing Him to lead me and show me why He had provided for me to go, and boy, did He!

We arrived last Wednesday afternoon and by Thursday evening I was feeling a bit discouraged. I’ve never been real strong on patience in certain areas of my life — namely the areas that have to do with things I want, and I hadn’t seen any sign of why God had led me to the conference by Thursday evening. At least I didn’t think I did.

However, I did feel a need for time with God Thursday evening because, as mentioned above, I had been spending time with Him daily for two weeks prior to this, and Wednesday and Thursday had been so busy I hadn’t taken the time to spend in prayer and waiting for Him to speak to me. (No, He doesn’t speak to me in an audible voice, but I do receive His messages within my spirit, and not every time I pray.) So before going to sleep Thursday night, I sat in my bed and prayed and listened. He reminded me to trust Him.

Friday, God made it crystal clear as to why He had led me to that conference — for more than I could have imagined. Prior to the conference, I had scheduled one-on-one appointments with just two people — a publisher and an editor. Thursday afternoon, I had asked about an appointment with an indie published author and was given one, so now I had three appointments scheduled for Friday.

First I met with the publisher; one sheet, synopsis of my novel, and first three chapters in my hand. I sat down and told her a bit about my story. (I still need a lot of work on giving a good pitch.) We talked about the fact that my main character is a Pony Express rider, but he’s twenty-five and Pony Express riders were preferred to be eighteen and under, and most were. I explained how my audience is adult women, therefore, my main character had to be over eighteen. She began to look at my chapters and noticed that I addressed the age issue right at the start, so she was satisfied with that.

As she continued to look through my paperwork, I became more nervous. Then she asked me if I had had an editor look at the story already. I told her I had not. Only my three critique groups had seen it and I had made changes based on many of their suggestions. She then told me that “my writing is good and clean, I use strong verbs, and I have no wasted words”. Now for the heartbreak — I told her the novel isn’t finished yet, and she said, “That’s a problem.” Bottom line: she would have taken my paperwork back to her boss if I had a completed manuscript, but since I don’t, she said her boss wouldn’t even look at it if he knew it wasn’t finished. I took a deep breath and asked if I could send it to her when it is finished. She pulled out a business card, handed it to me, and said, “Yes”. Just a few minutes later, I saw her in the bookstore and she patted my arm and said, “Keep doing what you’re doing.”

A little while after that I met with an editor. I gave him my first chapter, told him I’d like him to look at it and then answer some questions I had about editing. He began reading my chapter, pen in hand. When he got to the first page break, three-and-a-half pages into the chapter, he stopped and had not made a single mark on the pages. He looked at me and asked, “Do you want me to read the whole chapter?” I replied, “Not if you don’t think you have to.”

He didn’t read any farther. Instead he said, “Your writing is good and clean. You captured my attention right from the start. I knew your character was going to lie about his age. I knew what time frame and where, in the world, I was. When I got to the page break, you had built enough tension that I wanted to keep reading, but not because I had to as an editor. I simply wanted to as a reader.”

Can I just say that now I was over the moon with happiness? Next I attended an agent panel, where agents introduced themselves and the agencies they represent. Then we could ask questions. At the end I approached one of them and asked about appointments. She said she was open at that very moment and took me to a little lobby sitting area. We sat down and, because I had been caught off guard that this meeting was happening immediately, I completely forgot to “pitch my story”. I simply handed her my paperwork and told her a publisher was already interested and that the book wasn’t finished. She gave me her business card and had me write specific directions on the back of it. Basically, she told me to go home, write a book proposal and send it to the agency.

My one-on-one with the indie published author was not as much fun. I sat down and told her I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to talk to her about. I told her I had come to the conference intending to indie publish, but that God had led me in a different direction. She was a bit rude, and when I told her a publisher and agent were interested in my work, she said, “If a publisher is interested in your work, that tells me you have something good.” She advised me to go home and finish the book and said if I have a traditional publisher interested, I should try that before going indie.

In addition, we had the most powerful keynote speakers throughout the three-and-a-half days. Several things I heard from these speakers were: Trust God, Be Courageous, Obey God — Say “Yes” to His assignment for me; follow His leading in my writing. These messages challenged, encouraged and inspired me.

So, I left the conference full of excitement, amazement, and encouragement — praising God for opening so many doors, even though I know none of them are guarantees, I am so much farther then when I left for the conference. I left the conference with some information and ideas for writing more than just novel length books, and how to market my book using social media and other things. I also left the conference with some new friends who are wonderful people whom I will be continuing to keep in contact with, thanks to the wonders of current technology. I also left the conference with the knowledge that seeking God and following His leading is something I don’t want to stop doing, and the most surprising thing I left the conference with, is the fact that my plan is not God’s plan, and instead of indie publishing, I will be trying traditional publishing first.

Now I need to write, write, write! So, now I pray that God gives me the time to write, in addition to schooling my last school age son and taking care of my household.

What journey are you on?