Stillness

This is the first week that I have had nowhere to go. Recently I left the corporate world to embark on internship. While I wait for background checks and other red tapes to clear, I have a week to myself.
Life is so quiet.
After getting the kids to school, I clean. I take a break for homework (electives), clean some more, and glance at my WIP (so many ideas!). It finally dawned on me that I finally have time to read.

And it has been awesome!
I have read and reread so much great stuff. Reading is so important for a writer because it has the power to re-energize you. When I read a work that someone has put so much passion into, it makes me passionate about my own work. I feel supercharged to outline, write, and create.
And isn’t that passion what writing is all about.
How do you embrace the stillness in your life?

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Mid-January Goals

I am trying to get in the habit of writing (and posting) my monthly goals. Let’s see how it works out:)

Here are my mid-Jan. goals

1. Finish deep edits to Cycles. So I went through the numbered critiques from the editor and now I need to get on to the meaty things that will add (or take away) LOTS of words. My big deal goal is to finish this by the end of the month. My hope is to send this book back out to betas/CPs by early to mid-February and hopefully start querying by the end of February or beginning of March. (Whew!)

2. Write four blog posts for February. I am doing good on this project for my personal blog but really need to amp it up for the business blog.

What are your January goals?

Paper Bag Revisions

As I previously reported, I greatly failed at trying to revise 10 picture books and a New Adult Science Fiction novel. Thus, during the month of June, I am trying to rectify this.

The picture books have been revised and I am now preparing to query. Hooray – I think:)

While doing revisions on the science fiction novel, I wanted a way to organize my main character’s days. This is a very important plot point for the novel and I really needed a way to see this in a BIG way. Cue the paper bag revision.

As I don’t have butcher paper just lying around, I took a brown grocery bag and cut it halfway and spread it out. See the photo below:

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After cutting it, I made boxes and put in the chapters. For each chapter, I wrote the words “action” and “what day is this for the character.” Since I had an extra bit of paper left, I made little “family trees” for my major characters so I could keep track. This will help me greatly when writing the sequel:)

Here is another picture of my revision bag:

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It is my hope that my revision paper bag will aid me while I incorporate notes from my CPs and add a little more meat to my story.

What are some things you have created for your book revisions?

 

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Notes On Revision From Writer Ashley Farley

As I hammer through revisions on two projects, I wanted to share a fresh prospective.  I “met” writer Ashley Farley through February Write-A-Thon.  This was a Nanowrimo type contest hosted by Ashley.  Through encouragement from her and my fellow participants, I drafted the novel I am currently editing.  Ashley self published Saving Ben, which can be purchased via Amazon:

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What is your revision process?

I don’t consider myself in true revision mode until my third or fourth draft, when the major work is complete and all that’s left is the fine-tuning. Of course there is always plenty of fine-tuning to do—grammar corrections and sentence restructuring, fact checks and time-line verification.

I always take a little time—at least two weeks—away from my manuscript before I begin to revise. Taking this break helps clear my mind so that I can start my revisions with a fresh pair of eyes. When revising, I read through my manuscript multiple times, each time with a different element in mind. I consider adverb usage. I make sure my sentence structures are varied. I analyze dialogue. And when I finally feel like I’m close, I follow these three steps in this order:

1)      Change the font as it helps errors stand out.

2)      Have Alex read selected sections to me—Alex is the automated voice on my computer. For Mac owners, these controls can be set in system preferences: system preferences-system-diction and speech-text to speech. Alex is the best thing EVER.

3)      Print your manuscript and comb through the pages with a red marker the old fashioned way. Words look different on paper.

What were the lessons I learned (about writing and my process) from Saving Ben?

Truthfully, I learned the most about writing and my process from my first never-will-see-the-light-of-day novel Legend of a Rock Star. I had BIG ideas for that book—three different protagonists with multiple points of view, plot lines that jumped back and forth within a forty-year time span. I changed points of view several times—from first to third and back again. I learned so much about what NOT to do with Legend that writing Saving Ben was easy in comparison. Well . . . almost.

The biggest lesson I learned with Saving Ben is the value in hiring a professional editor, for a manuscript critique as well as the line edit. My editor, Patricia Peters, is simply amazing. Not only did she correct my grammar mistakes, she gave me her valuable perspective on my characters and plot as well. Writers should never consider self-publishing without hiring an editor. And there are plenty available online if you do your homework. Well worth the money!

What do I think is the most common mistake writers make when self editing?

Impatience is the writer’s biggest enemy. Many writers rush through their edits, and without bothering to hire an editor, they slap their manuscript up on Amazon for the world to see their grammar errors. Writing takes time. Unfortunately, our instant-gratification society pushes self-published authors to crank out as many books as they can possibly write. Rushing the process creates undeveloped plot lines and shallow characters. Rushing the process is responsible for self-publishing’s bad name.

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ashleyfarley

About Ashley Farley:

I wrote a novel, SAVING BEN, in honor of my brother, the boy I worshipped, the man I could not save. It’s not a memoir, but a story about the special bond between siblings.

I’m a wife and mother of two teenagers. I have lived in Richmond, Virginia, for seventeen years, a city I love for its history and traditions. Personal experience with my brother inspired me to become involved with the leadership symposium in my son’s school where I’ve helped bring in speakers to raise parents’ awareness of the alcohol and drug problems children face. When I’m not steering volunteer committees or working on my next novel, I can be found swimming laps or playing tennis.

 

 

 

 

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Letting Go

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In June of 2012 I wrote a book that was very close to my heart.

It was a story that was outlined the previous year and worked on via Nanowrimo 2011 but the story had been brewing for many years. I knew these characters. They spoke to me and I spoke to them. When I finished the book I was ecstatic and began the process of revisions and letting others read it.

And then I discovered it was a typical first book. Full of mistakes and the story just needed something more. I put it aside in February and began to write something fun while still trying to revise book number one. I would constantly make weekly goals and then monthly goals and then no goals.

Yes, as of April 1st I have officially tabled this project.

What does this mean? Does it mean I don’t love this book anymore. Does it mean that it will wither and day. Quite the contrary. It hit me last month that to make this story better – I need to let it go. I had held on to this story for so long that I never truly let it breathe. And I really need to find a way to give it a new life – thus I am taking a break from it.

I look forward to possibly coming back to my first book during the summer or during the fall. As for now, I have a Science Fiction book that has flowed together perfectly. I also have a picture book idea I’m working on during Campnanowrimo as well as multiple stickies full of book series ideas and outlines on my computer.

I have plenty to do – I just needed to learn what I had to let go of.

Falling In Love With Your Work (Why I Hate Mondays)

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I finished my second book and have outlined 3 more – I love the weekends!

My first book, truly showed me that I have “the goods.” Through writing this work, I proved to myself that I could craft ideas and experiences, put them on paper, and create something that I could be proud of. When I was writing and revising it, I approached each day like a kid glancing out the window for the ice cream truck – I could hardly wait.  I wanted to immerse myself in that world and see what the characters were saying.

In February, I started a new book.  Although in a completely different genre for me – I longed to be with the work more than the first one.  Whenever I put it away at night, I dreamed about it. Whenever I was at work, I would write down notes during my break period.  I was so possessive of it – not wanting anyone to touch the computer – I was really in love with that book.

That’s the best part of writing to me – falling in love with your work.  I believe you are doing a disservice to your WIP if you don’t immerse yourself in it at least once a week.  Allow it to carry you away, spend the time to hear it and watch how your writing takes off.  That’s why I love weekends – because it gives me at least one definite day where I can shut myself off from everyone and do that.

So that brings me back to why I hate Mondays. Mondays snap me back to reality. I like working, don’t get me wrong. I am grateful for my job and my house (really not trying to be living in a box). But I really miss my little worlds I create on the weekend; I miss how I felt like I had all the time in the world – until the alarm goes off Monday morning at 6am.

Reality can be a cruel thing at time.  My challenge to all writers this week is to find the time to fall in love with your work.  Also share in the comments how you keep the love alive during the week – that’s my struggle:)

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