Category Archives: Fiction

Morning, Noon, and Night

Well, as you can see from my long silence here, I chose to write morning, noon, and night instead of spending time on social media or blogs since mid-March. But it’s time today for an update on just what I’ve been working on.

Perceval’s Shadow

Revision work on this second novel in the Perceval series has continued, mostly on weekends. I split the work into two categories: 1) revision and editing, and 2) entering the completed chapters into the computer file. Right now, I’m working on chapters 18, 19, and 20 in the first category — there are 23 chapters so I’m close to the end. In the second category, I stopped at chapter 11. Once I finish the category 1 work, I’ll still have a lot of work to do for category 2.

Demands on my time continue to challenge my progress on this work. A couple health issues flared during March and April with exhaustion being a major factor. Business chores during tax time dominated one whole weekend. My fulltime job continues to consume over 10 hours a day during the week adding to my exhaustion. I wish I were in my 20’s again! I miss those days of good health and unlimited energy. At least quiet has reigned in the apartment building and we’ve made it through the last major snowstorm of the 2018-19 winter.

Somehow, I also managed to squeeze in some other writing during the last six weeks as I continue to work on getting more of my writing out in the world.

Aanora Story

This novella continues to ferment. However, I put it through another round of beta reading and received back more good feedback. My next step is to do another revision to incorporate the feedback. Today, I plan to print out a hard copy so that I can take it to the fulltime job with me and work on it during my lunch breaks. I think this will be the last revision because the feedback focused mostly on details rather than larger issues. I hope to have it ready to publish online in a month or two.

Contests

I submitted The Negligee to a contest last fall and received the results at the end of March. Ah, well. I have submitted it to another contest recently and the results of that one should be out this fall.

Finale

I wish I could report that my health has been restored but it hasn’t. I continue to struggle with that aspect of my life. Lots of raw material there for essays at some point. My plan for the rest of the year is to finish the first revision of Perceval’s Shadow and then plunge right into work on Perceval in Love, the third novel in the series, while the second novel revision ferments. I completed about half the first draft of the third novel some time ago, and I really want to complete that first draft if possible this year. I’ll also begin the search for a professional editor to work with on the second novel.

So…. I may not be around much at this blog again for a while. As I’ve been focused on my fiction, I’ve become acutely aware of just how much of a time and energy suck the internet can be. At the same time, I am incredibly grateful for the contacts, support and attention I’ve gotten through the internet. It’s never far from my mind as I’m working!

From Tenor.com

 

 

Tempus Fugit

For the last six weeks or so, I have been buffeted by my own mind which wants to get everything done. But there’s been this huge problem: time. It is out of my control. I would love to be able to add a couple hours to some days, delete hours from others, give myself an extra day especially on weekends (who wouldn’t?!), and add hours to each night so that I can get more sleep and stay healthy. It’s been a tumultuous six weeks dealing with the flu, a neighbor’s toddler who was screaming through the nights (a behavioral issue, not illness or anything else), and some winter weather that set records in the Upper Midwest, none of which I had any control over.

All through this, I’ve been working on the first revision to the second novel in the Perceval series. Every weekend as I’ve worked, I’ve felt an intense guilt for not writing a blog post for this blog. Tempus fugit. The conflict between writing fiction (or nonfiction, for that matter) and writing on social media only exacerbated my frustrations. There was simply not enough time for everything (and there hasn’t been since I began working fulltime to pay the bills). I know that I am not alone in this frustration. I’ve been writing this blog since September 2007, and with few exceptions for surgery, I’ve managed to maintain a posting schedule of once a week on Saturdays. At the beginning of this year, I realized that this schedule, and continuing to work on the novel revision, wasn’t realistic.

Writers and Social Media

As a writer, I am happiest when I’m writing fiction or essays. I enjoy writing blog posts, but I see them, correctly I’ve learned, as a way to put myself as a writer and my writing out in the world to build audience. The March 2019 issue of The Writer confirmed this while I was reading it this past week on my daily commute to work. Most of this issue is devoted to promotion and social media.

My takeaway? There’s no getting around it. Writers must have an online presence, and Twitter seems to be the place to be nowadays. Writers can pick and choose, however, rather than throwing themselves into every single social media platform. That was good to hear. So, a website is a must. Twitter. The rest would be frosting on the cake and dependent on time. I have a “website” — this blog. I’m on Twitter but for my nonfiction writing, not fiction. Does that mean I need to have another Twitter account? Apparently. I don’t really like Twitter, however. I’ve set up a Facebook page for the Perceval Novels, and I’ve done some networking at LinkedIn in the past. But I have to admit there’s one big obstacle for me to spending a lot of time on social media: I prefer to work on my fiction and essays.

Nicki Porter, The Writer’s Senior Editor, wrote a wonderful “10 Social Commandments” in her opening letter from the Editor, and I’d like to share them here as a set of guidelines for writers (and me) for dealing with the social media in our lives:

  1. Thou shalt not tweet only about thyself.
  2. Thou shalt never attack or criticize another writer (unless thou be fully prepared to deal with the consequences).
  3. Thou shalt always remember that social media be more about building connections than selling books.
  4. Thou shalt support other writers at every opportunity.
  5. Thou shalt never offer advice unless said advice is requested.
  6. Thou shalt not succumb to jealousy or nastiness at other writers’ fame and fortune, but rather have faith that thy own successes cometh in due time.
  7. Thou shalt never tag an author in a negative review.
  8. Thou shalt not self-promote in times of national tragedy.
  9. Thou shalt listen as much as thou speakest.
  10. Thou shalt NEVER, EVER pitch an agent or editor on social media.

And with that, I’ll now return to my work on the novel revision.

 

The Different Types of Editing Explained

One of the prevalent strains of flu knocked me off my feet this past week and I’m still recovering. As a result, I have not done much writing, but I have tried to keep up with email. I ran across an interesting blog post at “Writer UnBoxed” that defines and explains the different types of editing. There wasn’t a reblog button, so the link is here.

Professional writers need to know about the different types of editing in order to hire the right kind of editor for their books when the time comes for the professional editing process to begin. I would dearly love to find an editor who could stay with me for all my novels, who could do a developmental edit as well as copy editing. An excellent professional editor is like gold. But there’s more to it than just being able to edit, I’ve discovered. It’s also important that the editor have an interest in the kind of writing I do, the subjects of my writing, and be open to learning if the knowledge is not yet there. It can be a disaster if an editor just doesn’t get your subject matter or has no interest in it.

More soon….

First Draft: Write short or Write long?

The last few weeks I’ve been working hard on the revision work for Perceval’s Shadow.  The work has progressed like a snail moving to the other side of the yard. Why? That’s been bugging me. Why is it so slow? Then I received the January 2019 issue of The Writer, and I found an article inside entitled “Go long & cut, or write short & add?” Aha! This article sparked some serious thinking about my approach to this first draft vs. the way I wrote the first draft of Perceval’s Secret.

I wrote the first draft of Perceval’s Secret by throwing down on paper every thought, idea, description, and scene that came into my head. I remember during the revision process I also discovered that I’d repeated myself often, and cut every repetition I found. I also had a fondness for certain words that I used over and over. They were all cut as well. The point: I wrote that novel so long I ended up cutting thousands of words. That was before I did a line edit where I tightened up the writing, cutting thousands more words.

Perceval’s Secret was my first novel. I hadn’t a clue what I was doing. I wrote my way into it and then sculpted the story out of the gigantic first draft I’d created. It took many drafts and revisions before I got to a point where I thought maybe I finally had the novel that was really there. If you haven’t been through this process, it’s difficult to imagine the months upon months of work or the sense of uncertainty and inadequacy it produces in a person. I remember thinking when I finished that I really didn’t want to experience that again.

So, when I wrote the first draft of Perceval’s Shadow, I wanted first and foremost to get the story down with all the important plot points. So, I left out description, transitions, and in some sections, whole scenes. I even left out at least one chapter. I wrote copious notes about what I was thinking at the time, and also ideas of what would need to be added in order to flesh out the story and characters. I wrote that first draft short with the intention of adding during the revision process. That decision is the reason my progress with this first revision progresses at such a snail’s pace.

The uncertainty and sense of inadequacy I felt working on the first draft of Perceval’s Secret pales in comparison to the frustration I feel working on the first draft of Perceval’s Shadow. I wish I had written this first draft much, much longer. I’ve discovered that I prefer to cut rather than to add. For one thing, despite all the notes I left myself, I’m not at all certain that I’m filling in the gaps in the same way I would have when I wrote the draft originally. On the other hand, I’ve gained knowledge and snippets of wisdom in the time since I wrote that first draft, and I’m bringing a more mature perspective to the characters and their motivations.

Where I write

Conclusion: I’ve learned that I’d rather cut than add during the revision process. By experiencing both ways of writing a first draft, I’ve gained valuable knowledge about myself as a writer and my approach to revision work. I’ve written half of the first draft of Perceval in Love. I think when I return to finish that draft, I’m going to be filling in the gaps in the first half and adding everything I can think of for that story as I finish it. In the meantime, I continue to slog on with the revision work for Perceval’s Shadow.

P. S. My goal was to finish the first 12 chapters of Perceval’s Shadow, or half the novel, by December 31, 2018. As it stands now, I’ll come very close, but still won’t achieve that goal. Not that I’m going to throw up my hands and give up as a result. I love revision work too much….

An Update

A rough two weeks. My health has been my first priority to insure a complete, full recovery from the illness that felled me a little over two weeks ago. I am on the mend.

Last weekend, to conserve energy, I focused on revision work for Perceval’s Shadow, feeling guilty that I had not written a blog post. Someday, I need to explore the conflict that arises among social media/email, blogs, and fiction. But it was a productive time. I managed to update two chapters’ electronic files, then revision work on four chapters. I don’t know if I’ll make my goal of finishing half the novel by December 31, but I work away at it.

This weekend, I’m feeling better healthwise but caught up with month-end business chores. It’s been extremely busy at my office job, so I’ve been exhausted during the week. That probably won’t change for at least another month or so. I’m trying to get chores done today so I can focus on Perceval’s Shadow tomorrow. There really are not enough hours in the day. I’m looking forward to a four-day weekend for Christmas — my present to my writer self!

I have to admit here that my first writing priority right now is Perceval’s Shadow. So, I will try to post here when I can, but please be patient and understand that I want to get the novel done and out into the world, and I’m working on it whenever I can!

Stay tuned for more updates….

Credit: Walt Disney