Process of writing a story

May 19, 2015

Just wanted to remind everyone here that I have started showing the first draft of my manuscript, Dragons of Wellsdeep, on my writing blog. Even if you aren’t a writer and prefer reading fiction, the process might interest you. Hopefully you will follow me along over there.

Please let others in your circle know. There are a lot of writers out there that need to be seeing this.

Thank you!


You’ve found the doorway

May 18, 2015
Doorway 4x4 acrylic on wrapped canvas Dawn Blair ©2014 $20.00 on Zibbet (free shipping)

Doorway
4×4 acrylic on wrapped canvas
Dawn Blair ©2014
$20.00 on Zibbet (free shipping)

I’ve often told my son that you don’t know what’s on the other side of a door until you walk through. We have many “doorway” moments in our lives: graduating from high school, college graduation, leaving a job for a new one or to do something on your own, getting married, having children, retiring, etc. You can walk back and forth before some of those doors and never walk through. But until you get brave and open the door, you never really know what’s on the other side.

Isn’t it time you walk through that door you are avoiding?


Never has anything been so good

May 15, 2015

I’ve been drinking coffee for as long as I can remember. My father even claims that it has stunted my growth by about 3 inches. Now I am sharing my love of coffee with you. Head on over to redbubble.com and get yourself a new coffee mug with this adorable design.


Because Good Writing Makes Happy Readers

May 14, 2015

Last time, I wrote about how I’d found an author while I was driving down the road.

After a short search which turned up not much about her, I downloaded her Kindle sample. Was she going to be worth the $2.99 she wanted me to shell out for her book.

I couldn’t wait to look at it. I was really hopeful, regardless of what I’d already seen. I skimmed the first couple of pages. Not bad, not great either. I determined her to be a diamond in the rough and would continue reading it a bit later now that I had my immediate answer.

Seriously, I do put a number of books down after the first paragraph.

I was getting ready to be a happy reader. After I got home, I started reading it again, still ever hopeful.

That hope crashed and burned!

In came the cliche scenes, followed by the purely unbelievable. She’d made it through my initial flash analysis only to be killed by a situation she had obviously never, ever been in and could not even find a similar emotion to hook to it. I was willing to give her the cliche scenes even because I had already determined her a diamond in the rough. But when the character started thinking about things that I had no setup for and could not believe she would be thinking in this situation, I stopped. The book figuratively hit the wall.

I have read about 5 pages of her book. What do I know about this author now? I know that she wants to tell stories and probably has been doing so for a while. She’s probably had a couple good critiques, but she still feels every word she puts on paper is golden. She’s read a lot of books on writing. She knows she should be in business as a writer, but hasn’t let the rubber hit the road yet. She reads no books on business and has never taken even a free class in social media — nope, she’s too busy writing. She has not really studied how to edit beyond what she has read and believes what she is doing is correct. But re-reading for clarity is not editing. She has not learned how to create empathy for her characters or how to set up a fantasy world. She just expects the reader to be right there with her. She does not know the hero’s journey and/or how to use it properly.

Most readers will never realize this. They will just feel disappointment and will continued to believe that self-published work is a bunch of crap. Sadly, most of what’s coming out of the publishing houses and held up as good stories is also not worth the paper they are printed on.

Good writing makes happy readers.

If you believe this, come over to betterwriterblog.net where you will learn how to craft a better story. It’s just getting started over there (yes, I bought the domain name, but at least I’ve put up SOMETHING!) It’s a work in process, but I will even be putting up one of my own stories to use for illustration purposes. Use the hashtag #writingrevolution to let others know you’re serious about taking charge of your own writing. Bring others with you. I don’t want this story that I’ve shared in the last couple of blogs to happen to anyone else.


Why “if you write it, they will come” is not enough

May 13, 2015

My experience recently:

I’m driving down the road to work and I get behind this Suburban with Boise, Idaho plates – not uncommon, but what strikes me is that there is a website address along with something along the lines of “an epic fantasy in 5 novels.” That’s not a direct quote, but it was similar.

I think to myself, “Cool, I’ll have to look it up.” Later, I look up the website. The domain is parked, meaning there’s nothing but a page that says, “This website is under construction. Get your own domain through us now.” Right off, I know the author is not ready to sell her novels. If you go to the effort of buying a domain and putting that domain on the back of your car, you need to have something up on the page. Something!

I hop on over to Amazon and search for the title. She currently has 3 books out. Okay, now I really know something is wrong. Three books and she hasn’t bothered to put anything on her domain. Maybe thinking that she’s got 5 books to this series might be premature too. I click to hit her author page, hoping there is something. Again, nothing. In fact, I’m not even sure if she’s claimed her Amazon Author Page yet. Does she know about it?

I’m ever the optimist. I’m still hoping that she’s a better author than she is a business person at this point. I download a sample — I never buy a fiction book these days until I’ve downloaded a sample and looked at it. I’ll get to what I found in the sample in the next post.

Let me get to my point here: Writing a novel is not enough. The world is drowning in lots of voices all shouting, “PICK ME!” It’s noise. She stood out because not only did she put her domain name on the back of her car, but she told my WHY I should go there — 5 Epic Fantasy Novels. To my ears, that was a heaven-sent message. I was her target audience. I’m sure most of the people driving down the road that morning weren’t her target audience and probably ignored it. I was that 1 out of 10 that was. I wanted to see her books, right then and there. I remembered it, wrote it down, went looking. But with no website at the domain she told me to go to in the first place, then no author page so I could find out more about her, and to see that she had 3 books out, it left me sorely disappointed.

I wish I could say that I was wondering what her sample would be like. Unfortunately, I already knew before I opened up my Kindle app.


The Art of Making Hay – Stacking

May 12, 2015

Here’s another part of the process I was not too involved with. My part of the job entailed flying around the field in the pickup truck and up-righting any bale that had tipped over. Some bales could be stubborn too. But, we had to make sure that they were all standing up for the harrow bed to gather them up.

(Stay tuned for my special announcement at the end of this post!)

We outsourced a harrow bed driver to come pick up the hay for us. I think many farmers in the valley did. The guy would come thundering in and raced around the field until the harrow bed was full. The machinery scooped up the bale, turned it, made a layer of bales, then lifted that layer up and began building rows of these bales. Then the driver would deliver his load to the corral and start building a long stack of hay.

Here I am walking through the fields with my dog. I can't tell which one it is. Just beyond are the long stacks of alfalfa bales I was mentioning.

Here I am walking through the fields with my dog. I can’t tell which one it is. Just beyond are the long stacks of alfalfa bales I was mentioning. It looks like we might be irrigating this field — knowing me, I was playing in the mud.

The hay can be stacked for a long time before someone comes around to buy it. They load it up on a semitrailer and take it away. Hopefully during your wait, the stack doesn’t fall over.

The end part of the writing process is similar. Once you have everything straightened up and in tip-top shape, then you can pack it all up for delivery. The choice is yours: outsource or do the work yourself. You can go to a traditional publisher, or you can self-publish. With any luck, you’ll sell all your hard work and someone will buy it and take it away. It’s a good feeling. Hopefully, much like ranching, you’ve ended up with some money in the pocket.

This cycle doesn’t really stop but keeps going for 3-4 cuttings in a year. Winter comes and the work comes to a stop. Even writers need a break. Always remember to take a break and relax. Take care of yourself. You are your most important machine when it comes to “making hay while the sun shines.”

Special Announcement:

I’ve just started a new blog — one that focuses on writing and editing. The state of publishing is in sorry state these days and readers are the ones who are suffering. I’ve heard it from a reader saying that, “If the music industry put out the kind of crap I’m seeing in books today, people would be outraged.” If you’re a writer and/or know some, I can help. Editing is one of the hardest things to do, but I can make it clearer for you. Join the writing revolution on betterwriterblog.net.


The Art of Making Hay – Baling

May 11, 2015

I never got to drive the baler. Bummer.

It was hooked up to a tractor which my dad didn’t think a girl could drive. In this case, he was probably right. So, I never got to drive that tractor. Which means, I never actually baled hay. But I did get to watch plenty of men fight with the cursed machine.

Maniacal laughter here!

Since I could do the baling, I was most likely doing this -- riding my bike. And, take a good look at my jazzy jacket -- dang, I loved that outfit!

Since I could do the baling, I was most likely doing this — riding my bike. And, take a good look at my jazzy jacket — dang, I loved that outfit!

Once again, you work the fields section by section and pick up all the raked hay. The tines of the baler pick up the hay and it goes inside the machine where it is mashed, compressed, and tied. Out of the back fall these cute little rectangular bricks of hay.

Yep, editing is like that.

I’ve often said that you have to puke out the first draft. Just get it down on paper. You can’t work with anything if you don’t first have it written. Once it is, then you start to tighten up your plot, characters, themes, and words. You compress them, distill them down until only what is necessary remains. It’s monstrous work. Unlike baling, you actually get to rethink your writing and can go back to the drawing board if you need to. I take that back. I do remember when my dad got a moisture meter and we went around the field testing several bales. If the moisture was too high, we cut the wire and spread the hay back out to dry and he’d try baling it again in a day or two. Wow, that was almost a memory gone!

Editing is like that too. You have to keep your machinery in good working order, namely your brain. It’s got to remember what happened before and in what order. Chapter by chapter, you will get each one kicked out behind you until you have a whole book.

And, for goodness sake’s, don’t get your arm caught inside the machine.


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