Category Archives: Writing Process

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One of my favorite things about reading is that I get to use my imagination to see the characters, places, and events that happen in a story. One of the main things to help me decide if I am interested in reading a story is if I can visualize some part of it. Perhaps it is set in a place I’ve always loved, or I am curious to visit? Perhaps the main character has curly hair, like me, so I already feel a connection,… you get the idea.

As a writer, using pinterest helps me to compile pics of different people, places, things, and animals which I then combine to create the characters, scenes, and props in the story. Plus, before I started using Scrivener, it was a very fast way to go back and double-check if the horse is supposed to white, roan, or dapple 75 pages later! Now that I am using Scrivener, I simply pull the best from pinterest into my chapters.

So without further ado – welcome to the pinterest page for King.

I have boards like;

  • Music to inspire – featuring music from that time played with traditional instruments, nice to listen to while writing or reading
  • Characters – a collection of pics used to create each character
  • Connection to Now – there are many connections between ancient Babylon and now (Bagdad, ISIS, current events etc,..)
  • Neighborhood Finds – Scenes from around the palace, Ishtar Gate, Hanging Gardens etc,..
  • My Style – snippets of accessories and fashion for different characters
  • Favorite Places and Spaces – pics combined to create fictional locations in the book
  • Everyday Things – collection of artifacts that would have been used during the story
  • Books to read – other great books that inspire my writing

Explore, enjoy and happy pinning 😉

How do you use pinterest?

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Guest Blog – Aaron Gansky – Ten Story Building Techniques

What an honor to have novelist, teacher, and writing mentor Aaron Gansky share his wisdom on the process of story building. He is the author of The Bargain, The Hand of Adonai, (a YA Fantasy series), and two books on the craft of fiction; Firsts in Fiction: First Lines and Write to Be Heard (with Diane Sherlock). To find out more about his books go here.

Aaron is also the co-host of an informative, well-produced and  unique podcast called Firsts in Fiction. In this episode he is joined by Alton Gansky and his co-host Steve McLain. Listen here as they discuss Ten Story Building Techniques. You can also see their notes and subscribe to be reminded when new podcasts are available.

Some highlights for me as I listened;

  1. Recognizing ideas as they come – an awareness of an idea that leads to a “what-is” question, which then leads to more “what-if” questions = you might be on to something.
  2. Outlining vs. Discovery writing
  3. Originality is 3 deep – the first answer that comes to mind when asking why, and even the second answer should usually be discarded in favor of digging deep and finding an original answer.

Simply-Harris-Compressed14Stay tuned for a review of the audio version of Aaron’s latest novel,  The Bargain (available for free) including my perspective as voice-over talent.

Question

How do you recognize ideas as they come? Or are you where I am lately which is having more ideas than time to write?

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10 story building techniques to help find your next story from Firsts in Fiction Tweet this

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Discovery in writing

His HandsThere is a moment in writing – several hopefully – where the reader gets to discover something for themselves. “I love the moment where people realize that there is a twist,” Jennifer Nettles shares about her latest song, His Hands, sung as a duet with Brandy Clark.

Even in songwriting, there are moments for the listener to discover what the song is really about, especially the way Jennifer Nettles writes them. She is a prolific and gifted song writer who knows how to lead the listener through the experience of being touched by a song. It is the kind of thing that separates a good writer from a great one. “Discover” for yourself and listen to His Hands here!

Discovery is vital to any great writing because it invites the reader to participate in the story. One of the challenges as a writer is giving the reader the space to explore and discover for themselves. Discovery also often involves a deeper layer of meaning, there is the surface level that everyone gets, and then there is the deeper layer that only those who work for it understand. Listen to Jennifer explain what it is like to be on stage when the audience “gets it”. When they realize that there is more to the song than what they originally assumed it was about.

I have learned much about writing through listening to good music, especially from Jennifer Nettles who has been one of my favorites since I had the pleasure to work with her as her career began. Not only teaching me about how to invite readers into the story, but also character development, and what it means to have a voice. More to come on those… Thanks Jennifer!

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Five Min Party – take 1

vs85_15[NOTE: I’m incorporating a new writing challenge called Five Min Friday. Each week a topic is given to inspire a 5 min blog post. This week the topic is ‘messenger’. I’m adding the challenge of using each of the inspiration words for the book only. I think it will be a cool way for me to think about the book in different ways and for readers to learn more about the characters and story.]

As I thought about how the word “messenger” relates to the book, (click here to learn about the book), I realized that the sign that the actual story itself comes from is a messenger! King Nebuchadnezzar himself wrote his story which was duplicated  and posted all over Babylon and the surrounding territories. That sign then became Daniel chapter 4, which in turn became this story, (along with several other sources confirming its validity). King’s letter even begins, “to all the people, nations, and languages of the world…” There were no phones, billboards, TV or radio, and definitely no Facebook, e-mail, or Internet in 560 B.C. so his written words being duplicated and posted all over the kingdom was the means of communicating his message to everyone.

The most amazing part is that his message is still relevant today!

Amazing how a message from 560 B.C. is still relevant today! Tweet This

 

 

#BRMCWC

ChristianWriters_Logo_2014_withDateI’m still recovering from the whirlwind, drinking-from-the-fire-hydrant, otherwise known as Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. There is still much to process, I haven’t even looked over my notes, received my Dad’s, or the audio recordings of all the courses neither of us were able to attend. Yet, there is already a clear take away, two actually, settling in.

The first is simply a word, albeit an important one. IMAGINATION.

Not just my imagination either, but more important – the reader’s imagination. I’m seeing that one of the best things about story regardless of format is that the ‘consumer’ of the story interacts by using their imagination. In a written or audio story they often know more about what is going on in the character’s heads and hearts but they need to use their imagination to piece together what everything looks, feels, and smells like. In a movie they know what things look like but need their imagination to piece together what character’s think and feel. Either way, their imagination is a critical component of the story, so I need to write with them in mind, not just the story itself.

The other take-away is that the craft, skill, art, and talent of story telling is just as important as the story itself. If you want your story to actually be heard, there is attention to the craft of storytelling that needs to be applied. This isn’t new information, I’ve been taking writing and creative writing classes since I was a child. But there is a new level of freedom in knowing that editing and re-writing is a part of writing, and that the pressure to get it finished needs to come under the desire to make it the best I can possibly make it. So bring it on, edit number four – now it is time to apply what I learned, and make this the best I can.

Always interesting to see what others came away with as well – feel free to share

Point of View

It started with realizing this was how I was approaching my revision

everyone-has-their-own-point-of-view_258994-600x

So, I went back to the drawing board and re-evaluated the basics

Point_of_View_Flow_Chart

Which looks more like this in my brain

point-of-view

While this is helpful for many, it is not for me!

Then it dawned on me that perhaps I need a new point of view ON point of view.

So, I did this

364

And it hit me.

No charts, procedures, or complicated formulas.

Writing is simply a strange blend of getting out of myself and letting the story grow and be naturally while also being very much aware of myself as I’m weaving each thread of the story with the others. It is like painting, except with words instead of color.

For me writing is simultaneously losing and finding myself. Much like the kingdom actually 🙂

So now what?

Yesterday marked the two-year anniversary of when I completed the story. Many people have been asking now what? When can I read it? (Thank you by the way, I so appreciate it) To answer that requires a bit more than a new date. First of all, I realized that it is LOTR long, and that makes for a harder sell. I also realized that it is a perfect length for a trilogy, how convenient, since trilogies are quite popular. First I edited it into a trilogy, and worked on titles, covers, and the ever important inter weaving of each book into the others. Thus King – the series was born.

Then, I finally had some people read it, with critiques and edits, I submitted a chapter into a contest, and continued to learn, read, go to workshops and edit more. During that process I came face to face with the lovely challenge of not only telling the story but telling it in the best way possible. Particularly I realized how much better it could be if I changed the POV (point of view) of king from first person to third AND changed the POV of his granddaughter Eanna from third to first. It completely shakes up the story, giving the reader a glimpse into what was previously unseen, it allows the reader to be more deeply engaged with the story, and to come to conclusions themselves. Ultimately it goes much deeper in the proverbial “show don’t tell”. I’m also learning that there is a genre called speculative fiction, that seems to much better define the style and vibe, rather than historical fiction.

So now what? Now, I’m in my fourth, yes, fourth re-write of book one at the moment, and have been for some time. Since I’m not yet able to write full-time, food must still be procured as well as heat, water, and a roof 😉 I’ve let go of a time line, even of the idea of time. My goals now revolve entirely on quality. It was a hard pill to swallow at first, but I’d rather take the extra time to do what I’ve already spent years working on ‘right’ rather then just get it ‘done’. I’m seeing, that much like most of life, it truly is more about the journey at least as much if not more than the destination. It’s good though, it’s a labor of love and like babies it’ll be ready when it’s done 😉

Lastly, I just want to say THANK YOU again to all of you for your continued interest and checking in with how things are going. It really is like a ‘baby’ to me, yet unlike a pregnant woman, the rest of the world can’t see that I’m preparing to give birth to something. So it means a LOT when I’m asked how it’s going and when it will be finished.

It just keeps getting better,…

1st – There was the moment the idea to write the book came to me – wow 🙂

2nd – I began doing research and was amazed at how much information there is. I found myself getting lost in the history and culture of Babylon circa 550ish BC. Plus it was a great ‘excuse’ to go to NY to explore The Metropolitan Museum of Art and see everything in living color with my little sister 🙂

3rd – Then I began writing. There is nothing else like it – hours would go by in a blink. I’ve never had my own personal movie play in my head before like this. That’s how the writing has been, I ‘see’ it in my head and just write when I see and hear. LOVE

4th – Editing begins and I realize it’s like making a house a home. That unique experience of balancing form, function, and style – of creating an entire world within a world. I adore editing!

5th – Then there was pinterest! Just imagine how awesome it is when creating a book? Now everyone else can get a sneak peek into what I’m ‘seeing’ in my head!  For example this is part of what Chaka, Daniel’s horse, looks like. Oh how I love pinterest for the book – follow it HERE!

Big News

Soooo, the big news is that the book is finished!!! Being written that is. And wow did it end in a way I never could have imagined!

I’d been in 21 days of fasting and prayer, with my church, and we were nearing the end, which meant the big and rather intimidating (for me) 3 days of no food at all, Thursday – Saturday. Thursday I was praying and strongly sensed I needed to thank God that the book was finished, but it wasn’t? Then, I remembered how God says a thing before he does it. Oh, I see what is happening here, nice! So, I thanked Him all day long. Later that same day, the feathers that I had put in my hair last May, to ‘get into character’ finally came out? I sorta ‘knew’ when I put them in that the feathers were going to stay until I finished the book, so I took it as a big fat confirmation!

Friday night, I was at church praying with everyone, and I strongly sensed that I was to clear my schedule, drop everything, and write until I finished the book. I even told the woman next to me what I was going to do. She encouraged me, because of course, she had already written and published a book herself! And with 500 some chairs she could have sat in, she sat next to me!?

Saturday morning, I wasn’t even awake 30 minutes before I began writing. At 4 o’clock, 8 some hours later, I was still going! I finally took a break to take my dog to the river for a walk. Amazing, by the way, what you can accomplish when you don’t eat? Nothing to buy, prepare, consume, or clean up – if only we didn’t need food to live, cie la vie :). When we returned, I immediately started writing again and continued another 5 hours or so. 13 hours in all and a truly supernatural 14,000 words in one day??!!  For some perspective here, I usually write 2 hours a day and get around 1000 words. So, 14,000 words in 13 hours is nothing but GOD!

The best part however, is that the ending is so much cooler, beautiful and awesome than I ever could have thought, imagined, or dreamed up myself. God is truly the ultimate creator!!  Even creativity and imagination were created by Him! I laughed, I cried, and I just let it keep pouring out!

So, Monday I began the fascinating work of editing a 159,000 word manuscript, and I love it! It feels like making a house a home, or finishing a painting, decorating a cake,.. anything where you add in the flourishes, and rearrange here and there, so everything fits just so.

I’m lining up some great ‘field trips’ as well, which I’ll be sharing more on soon! Truffle hunting and more falconry are in my near future 🙂

There it is

Another example of how this writing thing works happened last night. As I began writing this morning I was reminded of how cool it was.

Yesterday I was writing a scene involving a rock and a head, and I was right in the middle of the action when I had to switch gears and leave it.  All day long I pondered the scene and how it would happen, not having a great deal of experience with rocks colliding with heads, I wasn’t sure if the way I was ‘seeing’ it in my head was realistic?

Many hours later I showed up at church and Pastor ended up sharing a story that is well-known by many, which also happens to involve a rock and a head, David and Goliath, how ‘convenient.’ 😉 During the telling he ended up talking about the exact precise dilemma I was having!? What do rocks do when they hit heads?  Apparently, normally they bounce off and the make a big knot in the head. But, that isn’t what happened with David and Goliath and it’s not exactly how I was seeing it in the story. But then, I was forgetting that there are two kinds of realistic. There is realistic in the natural and realistic in the supernatural. And the supernatural was clearly at work with David and Goliath, just as it is clearly at work in much of this story… it amazes me how quickly I forget that?

So, God ‘showed’ me how it’s supposed to go last night at church, through the ‘random’ telling of that particular story on that particular day. And that’s how it’s been all the way through the writing of this book. Any need or question I have, any information I seek, …. I just open my eyes, ears, and mind and before long, … there it is.

So cool!

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