Keep Me Accountable – A Dozen Days/NaNoWriMo

photo courtesy of http://www.bearcreekacres.com/blog/eggs

This is day 12 in one dozen days of Nanowrimo and I am at a little over 18,000 words.  Would you believe, I’m finding the “writing” part to be the hardest?  Am I not a writer? Isn’t this what we live for?

I suppose, but I found plotting the story to be much easier.

This is tough. I’m trying to tell myself that nothing worth having is ever easy. I’m reminding myself that this is what published authors face… Deadlines. Writing from a proposal. Adhering to the main idea/premise.

I’m telling myself that one day I will have a contract and a “real” deadline will be looming for me and I will have to produce.

As always, this experience forces me to learn new things about myself and my processes.

For instance, I’m realizing I should have nailed the Goal-Motivation-Conflict for each character better before I started the draft. I am using Christopher Vogler’s The Hero’s Journey as a guide and it has helped me see the story’s arc, but, I’m needing to revisit the whys and hows of my characters. It would be much easier to stop and do a GMC chart, but I’m forcing myself to write, write, write and worry about charts and graphs in the revision process that will start in December.

So, this has been all about me… how are you doing? What challenges have you faced this week?

Keep Me Accountable – Day 3 – Anything Goes

Anything goes in this challenge.

I’m making the rules and I think as long as we fill up a blank page, we will count toward our total word count. I keep thinking I can’t revise a blank page. I can’t revise a blank page.

I just added a scene to my current manuscript that I’d written several months ago. It’s a flirting scene between my Hero and Heroine. I will have to revise the scene to fit into the location and current situation of this book – because things have changed since I actually wrote the scene!  Again, this goes back to having something within the body of the book to simply work with. I’ve labeled it the Kitchen scene and inserted a page break so that I know it is separate from the rest of the book.

This may appear I’m cheating, but like I said at the beginning of this post – anything goes. Cheat away!  As long as you have something on the page – whether it’s a lot of telling, or it’s a scene you want to happen between the characters but don’t have a “place” for it yet, just put it in there! Add to your word count and be encouraged that you just wrote something!

So, here I am… I cheated. But my word count is now 2,702. I’m making progress toward that 80,000 goal!

HOORRAYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How are you doing? Cheated any?

Author Spotlight on Pam Hillman

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Debut Author Pam Hillman. Pam is an award-winning author and writes inspirational fiction set in the turbulent times of the American West and the Gilded Age.
Her debut book, Stealing Jake, won the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Genesis contest and was a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart contest. 
Pam lives in Mississippi with her husband and family.  
You can find Pam on Seekerville and catch up with Pam on her personal blog and website

   About the Book:

    When Livy O’Brien spies a young boy jostling a man walking along the boardwalk, she recognizes the act for what it is. After all, she used to be known as Light-fingered Livy. But that was before she put her past behind her and moved to the growing town of Chestnut, Illinois, where she’s helping to run an orphanage. Now she’ll do almost anything to protect the street kids like herself.
     
    Sheriff’s deputy Jake Russell had no idea what he was in for when he ran into Livy–literally–while chasing down a pickpocket. With a rash of robberies and a growing number of street kids in town–as well as a loan on the family farm that needs to be paid off–Jake doesn’t have time to pursue a girl. Still, he can’t seem to get Livy out of his mind. He wants to get to know her better . . . but Livy isn’t willing to trust any man, especially not a lawman.

 Read the prologue and first chapter:

Buy Stealing Jake at any of these fine retailers:
Amazon:
Barnes & Noble link:
Christian Book Distributers link:
Pam’s hosting a giveaway… and it’s a KINDLE giveaway!!!! Go to:
And make sure to enter for your chance to win!


And now for our interview! Welcome Pam! Thanks so much for sharing your journey with me today.
I understand part of your journey was entering many contests. Many of those you won! Congratulations! How did you decide which contests you wanted to enter?
Christy, I am the queen of contests. I thought I had a post in Seekerville outlining how to decide on contests, but I can’t find it. But there are lots of good posts there detailing which contests to enter, and about once a month we have a list of writing contests listed on Friday. And the comments section is a huge goldfield just waiting to be mined! A quick answer to your question is that most authors just starting out need to enter for feedback. As your scores improve, you’ll become more specific on which contests to enter. When you start finalling, you enter based on who the finalist judges are, usually agents and editors you’d like to work with.
You mentioned in previous interviews and on your website about dealing with rejection. That’s a real obstacle no matter where an author is in their career. Any advice to pre-pubbed writers out there to make sure we pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and plug on toward our dreams?
That’s just it. Pull yourselves up and keep moving forward. If you can walk away from your dream, do it. If not, don’t. Writing, submitting, and getting rejections are just like going to school. And the rejections don’t stop after you land that first contract. If you work at your craft and send your best work, you can be proud of what you sent in, even if it is rejected. Seekerville rule #1: You’ve got 24 hours for a pity-party, then you gotta pull up those bootstraps and try, try again! Come to Seekerville and we’ll give you a hug and a Ruthy-style pep-talk.
 I didn’t realize that constantly editing a manuscript and revising it was simply an example of
 my fear within my writing. Can you share any fears you’ve dealt with during your journey
 and how you conquer them?
When I first started writing years ago, I connected with another woman in my area who wanted to be an author. But she couldn’t get past those first few chapters. She’d enter a contest and restructure the chapters, her paragraph structure, agonizing over each sentence, all the way down to every word. I determined then and there that I wouldn’t get hung up on that first attempt. And I didn’t. I never finished some of my first few manuscripts. Either the plot was too flimsy or the characters too flat, or I wrote myself into a corner and didn’t know how to get out. Those ideas are still there in my head, so I haven’t abandoned those characters, but if I ever decide to write their story, I’m confident I can do them justice now.
I understand you have been an avid reader since you were a child.  
       What’s your favorite book?
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers is an all-time favorite.
 We all have a 1st book that will never find its way to publication. That first book we wrote, thought was awesome at the time, but now, want to keep it buried in our drawer, safe, wherever.  If you have that kind of book buried, can you tell us what it was about and what spark encouraged you to begin writing it? What encouraged you to begin writing as a career?
The first book I started writing was about a girl who lived behind a waterfall in a secluded valley. Her parents had died (but I didn’t dwell on that aspect for some reason), and she was living alone, self-sufficient with the crops, animals and everything they had accumulated throughout the years. Then she sees this poor cowboy racing across the plains being chased by outlaws. He’s shot and she rescues him.
After he gets well, he takes her to the nearest town because …now I can’t even remember why other than the fact that she was alone and he thought she needed to be “rescued”! If I was writing that story now, I would give her a passel of younger brothers and sisters and how they squabble over letting the man leave because he might expose their hidden valley to others. Hmmm, that story might have some redeeming qualities after all! Lol Oh, and since I was so bad at dialogue, she rarely spoke, and I gave the excuse that she’d been alone for so long she was not used to talking to people. It was horrible!!!!
I’ve always wanted to be a published author ever since I can remember, but I didn’t start pursuing publication about seventeen years ago. As a child, I was fascinated by how authors put all those stories on paper. Somehow, my brain just naturally made up stories. But for years, I didn’t write them down. I tried to get started a few times, but didn’t know how to construct a compelling story with an interesting beginning, firm middle, and satisfying ending. So out of lack of knowledge and fear of failure, I just kept dreaming. I think I had the idea that as long as I didn’t attempt to write, I couldn’t fail at writing. In 1994, I decided that if I was ever going to write, I had to stop kidding myself and get to work.  
Pam, I agree, that story has a lot of promise!  I could sit here and talk about writing all day!
 
Christy, thanks so much for inviting me to your blog today!
Thank you for being here! 
 
Don’t forget to head over to Pam’s blog and enter to win the Kindle. There are several books that will be loaded on it. Winner will be announced in October. And right now, for those of you who have your own Kindle, Stealing Jake stayed at #1 on Amazon’s Top 100 Bestselling Free books for five days and is still riding in the #3 spot. Grab your free download while available!
     

Fear Not

Recently I was inspired by an article in the September 2011 issue of Writer’s Digest.

This is the Big 10 Issue and the article is 10 Ways to Harness Fear and Fuel Your Writing by Sage Cohen.

First of all, I didn’t consider myself afraid, but the more I read the article, the more I recognized my own bad habits.

The author of the article gave some examples that rang true with me… The article states, “For example, did you ever consider that the piece of writing you just can’t get right–and therefore endlessly revise–may be a reflection of your fear?”
No… I thought I just wasn’t writing the story good enough. That I wasn’t good enough yet, to declare the chapter, or the story, finished so that it could be submitted to others… submitted for query or to contests.  The author of the article declares:

“When we find fear at the root of a challenging habit or behavior, we are fortunate–because with awareness, we have choices.”

The week I read this article, I started to recognize my wasting time in the morning on blogs, on social media, was my way to avoid the story.  After all, I’m not a historian… what business do I have writing a historical?  Nevertheless, the story is in me and it wants to be told. As with any story, it will take work. It will take extra time to develop the characters and research backgrounds, but if I love the story, it will be worth it in the end. One day, it could become published.

I also recognized fear in my everyday living. I’m an emotional eater. If my day at work is bad, I head for the sweets, the chocolate…. If I’ve had a really bad day, it’s cheeseburger and fries time! 

Then, I had to ask myself… did eating that make me feel better?  Maybe for a second, but then I felt lousy later. Too many calories = Too much fat around my waist. It also makes for a really tired wife and mommy. I’m irritable. I don’t want to be around anyone and truth be known, no one wants to be around me.

With awareness, we have choices….. So, Fear Not!

I can choose to eat bad, or I can choose to deal with the problem head on – Get it over with – Eat healthier and feel better. Face my fear in my writing and write the chapter anyway!

Who knows? Something fabulous may happen in the mean time.

E – EDITING

If you’re wondering what the crazy title of this post is about, just look at this cute little green box:

I forgot to blog about C&D, so I’m picking right up with letter E. The first thing that came to mind is Editing.

I find myself editing everything I write. From emails to friends, to text messages, to things I write at work. The only thing I haven’t edited very much lately is my manuscript. The trick there is you must write to edit.

For some writers, they find it easier to write the rough draft of the novel, then, go back and edit it. I used to write like this. But after that book took 4 years to edit, I decided I didn’t want to do that again! However, I must add, that was the book I used to learn about the craft of writing. From knowing nothing except how to form sentences and paragraphs and hope they made sense, to learning about Point of View and Scene/Sequel.

Now, I’m working on new books. On both the books, I tried the plotter approach. I worked on character sketches, outlined the book, worked on research. I started the early chapters. I even submitted one of those chapters to a contest. But, there’s a problem. I can’t get going on the story.

Am I editing as I go along?

Yes.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day. She did NaNo last November and had great success with it. She wrote, wrote, wrote until she reached and exceeded her goal. She took the following month to edit it. The whole process worked great for her. However, she’d also written down the scenes in order that she believed they would happen. She used note cards to guide her when she sat down to write.

I like this method. It’s a plotter/pantser approach. A happy medium.

I think when I think about a story too much, I ruin it for myself. I need to step back a decade when I was writing before I knew better. Ah, the writing was bliss back then and I was finishing manuscripts in record time.

So what about you? What do you think about editing? Do you do it as you write or write fast and edit later?

…… And if you’re interested in winning a copy of Meg Moseley’s Debut Novel, When Sparrows Fall, leave a comment letting me know – either on Friday/Saturday’s post and I’ll announce the winner this Thursday!

TTIN Challenge: Deadlines & Remembrance

As many of you know, my grandmother passed away last Wednesday. Though she’d broken her hip, and was in a rehab facility, her health began to decline. I don’t think death is ever expected, even when the illness has been drawn out… I think there is still some shock there when someone passes, even though you’ve watched them be ill for a while. This was not the case with my grandmother. When she declined, she did so fast and went on to be with her maker very suddenly. I’ve gone through denial and I’ve been numb.

On Sunday, I decided to write. When I speak about writing, I’m not journaling, although I think that can be very helpful. No, when I write, I want to escape. My character’s problems are much worse than my own and I know that I can put them through hell, but know that in the end, all will be happy.

The ACFW Genesis Contest has been looming since January. Although the deadline is March 4th, up until this very moment, I thought the deadline was today. Anywho… this is what I finalized on Sunday. I submitted my entry. It was a big accomplishment because despite everything else that has been going on, the Lord gave me some free time on Sunday and I chose to use it wisely. Normally, when life is awry, so is my writing. I hope this small accomplishment shows I’m growing up and beginning to use my writing as therapy and work through the hard times.

If you’d like to read more about my grandmother, Sue Russell White, here is a link to her obituary. The obit was written by my cousin who truly captured Sue’s essence. I like to think I may have inherited some of Sue’s ambition. She didn’t let life get her down. She clung to life and raced toward the finish.

TTIN Challenge: Days 20-23 Link to the article: “Untangling the Waiting”

Hi all!  I’ve been quiet on the blog front, but I’ve been working… Today, I finally finished Chapter 1 of my historical. I reworked the scenes onemoretime to get them to a point where I think I can move on to the next chapter. I also had to begin working my 6-page synopsis down to a one page for future contest entries.  As I type this, I realize how slow this is going. But as we all know, life happens and just the mere accomplishment of writing anything, writing something, is better than nothing at all.

I ran across an article I thought would be very helpful for all of us still working toward publication.  
Untangling the Waiting by Ronie Kendig

My current total word count is 4,422…. That’s only 75,578 words to go to reach completion!

TTIN Challenge: Heyday 15 & 16

If I followed my blog schedule, today would be the day I share a slice of my life.

Here it is:  My laptop died last night. This time, for good.  I’m waiting for the TV guy to come today because all of our favorite channels are acting up.  It’s unfortunate, because when I watch TV, there are only about four channels I watch, out of the 200+ we have….

Okay, my slice of life is quite boring… let’s move to writing! 

Heyday 15 was unproductive. And the sad fact is that I was at home all day… Today, #16, has begun and seems to be going somewhat productively…My current word count has increased to 4,110 words.

As you can see by another background change to this site, I had trouble getting the writing in gear. After I played with designs and formats for the website, I began Chapter Two. I wrote bad, I told the story, but the exercise worked.  I managed to write three pages this morning. 

I think this is the key to moving forward. Just write something. Just write your thoughts down to get the story moving along. If you wait for it to be perfect, it won’t happen.  So, I have to continually remind myself that I must write something, anything.

When you sit down at the blank screen, or page, what helps you become productive?

Inspiring You: Days 20, 21, 22

Hi All!  We’ve already had one person meet their goal, so I know she will be getting a gift card from me for participating! How about the rest of you. Dianna and I haven’t done so great, but I think part of this challenge is remaining accountable no matter the progress. This is something I need help with because I am the queen of deciding not to follow through with a goal.

Maybe writing is such a passion, I’ll learn to change my ways through this avenue.


CHECK IN TIME:
Nothing more written since I checked in with you all on Sunday. Last night, Author Amy Wallace, spoke at our local chapter meeting (ACFW’s WORD). I was certainly inspired by her discussion on story structure, character voice, and character lies.

I had never thought about my character in this manner. Do you know what I mean? Is your character believing a lie about themselves? You may be wondering, what is a lie?

Your character may believe, “I’m helpless,” yet they find themselves in a situation where they must fight their way out, or fight to save someone else. Think about your character for a moment. If he/she were in this life threatening situation, but in their mind they believed “I’m helpless” how would that affect how they approach the situation? They can’t avoid the situation – They have to face this life-threatening event – Imagine how their inner “lie” about their self will up the stakes, up the conflict and trigger a tougher motivation for them. Imagine how sweet the resolution could be if they are able to face the “lie” and even overcome it.

Is this approach to thinking of your character’s situation new to you or is this something you are already doing? If my past characters had any lies about themselves, I don’t think I approached it in this manner. It has put a new spin on my characters and I’m rethinking my current story. I hope this was the spark I needed to dig in deep to this new story. Now, it’s your turn…