Wednesday, December 7, 2016

"What I Did On My Fall Vacation" or Getting Down To The Business Of Writing

The month of November was interesting. For this blog, I asked five relatively new writers to post about their writing journey. A big “thank you” to Joshua Curran, Robin Mason, Nancy Hallo, Laura Wood, and Deana Rogers.

So, if I wasn’t writing a blog post every Wednesday, what did I do with all that time? I’m here to report this side of the blog was equally interesting and productive. Hmm…this post is starting to feel like a “what I did on my November vacation” report.

The first Wednesday of the month I generally address the business of writing. Today I’m giving you a peek at how my writing business shakes out. I usually take on one major project to complete each month, but with the holidays just around the corner and a new year approaching, I hunkered down and put my fingers on the keyboard two to three hours a day in November. I map out my workload three months at a time so this was intentional. Here are the results of following my plan.

The Writing to Publish Series
I have been working on a series of handbooks for writers for a couple of years now. Since starting A Novel Creation, I’ve been asked by new writers how to get started in writing. I always start with, “You need a plan.” I’ve talked on the subject of building a business plan for your writing and I’ve blogged about it on both my blog and as a guest on others.

The first week of November I finished the manuscript for book one the series called Writing to Publish. [Working Title] The title of the first handbook in the series is Creating a Business Plan for Your Writing Career. It is designed to help writers develop a workable path to be successful with their writing. I sent the manuscript to Michele Matthews, a professional editor. In less than a week she completed her editing magic and returned the work to me. Creating a Business Plan for Your Writing Career is scheduled for release the first week in January 2017.

That first week in November, I also completed the second draft of book two for the Writing to Publish series. Book 2, titled Marketing You and Your Writing 101 guides writers as they enter the writing world and the marketing they need to consider early in the writing process. The draft is now with a beta reader who also happens to be a marketing guru. Once revisions have been made to that document, I’ll be sending it off to Michele for editing. The plan is for Marketing You and Your Writing 101 to be released the third week in January. Side Note: As I worked through this handbook, I also drafted a marketing plan for the Writing to Publish series.

During the month I completed the revised book three which I initially completed in October. I put that one away for a few weeks to mull it over. Soon, I’ll be looking for beta readers for the final book in the Writing to Publish series. This one is titled Writing with E’s. This handbook explores five habits successful writers must incorporate in their daily routines to meet their writing goals.

My granddaughter drew this picture of me.
I told you the work was intense!
WIP: My Latest Novel
During November I turned a 4,000 word synopsis into 50,208 words on my newest novel. That is an average of 1674 words per day for November. Note the word average. I did not write every day on my romantic suspense project. Some days I struggled to complete a sentence. Other days, I was on a roll and hammered out 5000 words before lunch.

Blogging 2017
There is a saying, “if you want something done, ask a busy person.” With that in mind, November proved to be the best time to outline A Novel Creation’s blog posts for January through March. This may sound easy, but each outlined post requires research, contacting guest writers, and putting enough down on paper to remember what I had in mind when it comes time to write.

Although I am dedicated to writing, this month was a bit more intense in that I have several works in the mill. I feel accomplished. I enjoyed the work. At the same time, I think I’ll go back to the practice of focusing on one main project each month.

What do your writing days look like? How do you organize your time? I would love to hear from you.

And don’t forget, when you make that New Year’s resolution to write a book in 2017, I’m here for you! Be on the watch for the Writing to Publish series in January. I’ll let you know when it’s available.





Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wrapped in Grace Giveaway

Today's post is the last in my "thankful for new writers" series. And this one comes with a giveaway!
I met author Deana Rogers at the Breathe Conference this past October. We talked about the paths we've taken on this journey of writing. By the end of the conference we were talking like old friends. I asked Deanna to share her story. I love the way she discovered the complexities of writing through this one seemingly simple project. If you live in the continental US and would like a chance to win a signed print copy of Deana's book, Wrapped in Grace, enter a comment below. You may also enter by sharing the post on your FB page with a comment or by Tweeting the link to this post using @WatersAuthor in your tweet.  All comments are welcome, but again, the giveaway is limited to the continental U.S. only. (Sorry)


An Answered Prayer by Deana Rogers

It was autumn, 2014; almost time to go back to the Breathe Conference for Christian writers in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I couldn’t believe that a whole year had passed and I had barely made headway on the whole platform idea. 

I’d first heard about platform building at Breathe 2013, and determined to make this writing life work, I spent countless hours during 2014 listening to tutorials in the library in an attempt to learn the foreign language of website building. It took so much time to build the website that I didn’t know when to write.

When I finally posted and got the word out, I did receive encouraging and heartfelt responses from a few readers. But I didn’t know the difference between a blog post and a 5-day in-depth study of the names of God, so I couldn’t post enough to keep anyone’s attention. 

Just before heading back to Grand Rapids for the conference, I made the decision to look for readers in a more focused way.

What if I could write something and give it away? Advent would be easy, I thought.  I love Christmas and the season has defined boundaries. I could start with pieces I’d already written, fit it around a four-week schedule, give it away at first, and have something more focused to blog about.

I had no idea how much work it would be, or how long it would take, or to be honest, what real editing even meant.  The biggest surprise was how much God would teach me about his story through the process.

Not knowing where to begin, I started here:

Father in Heaven,
 It is almost October. Here are my fingers and this keyboard and unlimited blank documents.
 Christmas changes me. Every year.
 I give this Advent project to you. I do not want to make things up just to meet a need or gain recognition for being a good writer. I want to nudge people to the manger so that you can change them like you change me. 
 The journey to Bethlehem is one of my favorite stories. Keep me focused. Point me in the right direction. As I write, steer my words into sentences and paragraphs that bring honor to your name.
 In Jesus’ name,
Amen

I think God answered that prayer. He didn’t just keep me focused; he captured my attention and my heart all over again with his ancient story and made it new.

Friends and family read and reread the early manuscripts and helped me shape the book into a much more organized and user-friendly book than I could have done alone.  My brilliantly talented nieces and daughter became my graphic design and photography team.

This Advent season, hundreds of people are reading and journaling through the book. I am overwhelmed by the goodness of God and they way he has entrusted us to tell his story.

Heavenly Father, as we write, steer our words into sentences and paragraphs that bring honor to your name. 


Deana Lynn Rogers loves Christmas, sunshine, her giant family, libraries, and walks at sunset with her husband Dale. She can’t get over the brilliance of God’s redemptive story and how he chooses to tell it through the lives of imperfect and ordinary people.  Deana and Dale live in Mesa, Arizona with any of their college-age children who happen to be passing through for a while. 



Deana’s first book, Wrappedin Grace: The Birth Story the Changes Everything, is available at deanalynnrogers.com  and on Amazon.com.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Journaling My Way through Writing....And Life by Laura Wood

I’ve kept a journal since I learned how to write. I find I can’t really understand my thoughts well until I’ve put them into words. I need a place where I can write all of my words out until my hand is cramped or my laptop battery gives up or my heart feels settled.

I have years’ worth of journals full of my thoughts and experiences in a box in my closet. The oldest one is a tiny green book with a broken, tarnished lock and a blurry picture of a tree in a meadow on the cover. I got it for Christmas in first grade. Looking back, I chuckle at the entries. “We had sloppy joes at school today. I like sloppy joes.”

I gave my daughter the pink one I wrote in when I was twelve-years-old. I thought she’d like to read what her mama wrote at her age. Mistake. It turns out I wrote some really cheesy stuff about the boy I liked. She and her siblings got some laughs out of that one.

Once when my husband and I were engaged, I took out a journal entry I’d written during a time we’d broken up. I was sad and pitiful. Apparently, I still ran into him from time to time after breaking up because I wrote, “When will Andrew Wood ever be out of my life?!” I read it to him. I judged from his reaction to my subsequent comment, “I guess never!” that he wasn’t as amused as I was.

There can be danger in writing everything down on paper. There’s a chance people will find it and read my private thoughts. Once in a great while, we get one of our friends to stay at our house and watch the pets while we travel. About halfway through every trip, there’s a moment where I wonder, “Is he up in my closet right now, dragging down that box and reading all of my innermost thoughts?” So far, I guess I’m safe.

All joking aside, I do live with the hope that someday some descendant of mine will want to know what life was like before the internet or before flying cars or whatever there is to come and will take the time to learn cursive and decipher my writing. I myself would love to have my great grandma’s journal. Unfortunately, she didn’t read or write, so I’m left with only her name. Maybe someday my great grandchildren will have a decent idea of who I was because of my words.

I think I’m a better writer because of all of the hours I have spent journaling over the years. I’m in the practice of putting my thoughts on paper. I have a decent feel for my voice as a writer. My husband is surprised that I can write as quickly as I do, but I think it’s just from all the practice over the years. It feels natural to pick up a pen and collect my thoughts. Also, writing in a journal helps me turn off the critical part of my brain that tells me what I’m writing is no good. I know it’s not for publishing, so I can write as I want without really worrying about what anyone else will say about it.

At times, I think maybe I should censor what I write, though, and leave out the parts where I’m less than stellar. Maybe I should leave a better impression for posterity. Then I catch myself. What’s the use of writing it down if I’m not going to be honest? I don’t have to tell every single thing, but I know I’m not a perfect mom and have certainly messed up my poor children in ways that will affect the family line. What if a descendant struggles with the same issues I do, and what if I have insight she doesn’t have that I can pass on through my words? Or what if just knowing someone else struggled with those things helps her connect the dots and understand herself.



In reality, the biggest reason I write in a journal is that I need someone to talk to. I need someone quiet and intuitive enough to sort through my thoughts and figure out what I should do next, and when I journal I discover that person is really me. I write and write and by doing so I systematically think through what’s been swirling around in my head all day or all week. Suddenly, somehow, I see a solution. If nothing else, I may at least come to some peace about it.

So here’s to journaling, to leaving a legacy, to putting myself out there, to figuring out what I need by writing out my thoughts. And now that I’ve done that, maybe I’ll go make some sloppy joes! I bet that would have made those lunch ladies happy.


Laura McKillip Wood raises kids, cares for a husband and a house, and writes. In her free time, she works in the academic office at Nebraska Christian College, a job that provides the calm amidst the storm of parenting three teens and preteens. She writes a monthly column for The Lookout magazine (lookoutmag.com) and blogs at lauramckillipwood.com.




So do you journal? What have you learned about yourself or your writing through journaling?