Tag Archives: Debut novel

Take Notes While Writing a Series

11 Nov

While on Twitter the other day, writer A.J. Forrisi asked an amazing question!

P.S. Give A.J. a follow!

My quick answer? Take notes on your first book, so that writing the sequel isn’t as difficult. (And definitely do a read-through. ) I keep a character bible and chapter summaries for each book in a series. Notes help! But what type of notes should you take? How detailed should they be? Everyone’s method is going to be a little different, but I thought I’d share a couple places to start.

 1. Keep a Character Bible

This should cover all descriptors and main personality traits/issues. Personally, I keep a list of every single person mentioned in the book, even the tiniest characters. Why? Because that side character’s eye color is going to come up in book 1 on page 18 and in book 4 on page 127. It would take forever to read the entire series over and over again every time I need to find a detail. That being said, I still think you should read through your work multiple times. If you want to get fancy, take a note of the page number information is written down. That way, you can always double-check.

2. Organize Chapter Summaries

Sum up each chapter in a couple sentences. What happens? How does it change the book? If your book is heavy on revealing secrets, keeping track of what certain characters know will also help. That way, if those secrets move into book two, you don’t have to skim over and over again to find out where and what they learned. One thing I’m sure to emphasize in my chapter summaries is when certain characters make their first appearances. That way, I know when they entered the story (and the description tends to appear at the same time).

3. Other Notes to Consider

I keep a “General Resources” tab on my Scrivener. This is basically a sheet with links to educational websites on topics covered in book. (You know, in case I need a refresher, especially if I’ve taken a break between books.) I also keep a History sheet that tracks the years leading up to the book. Sometimes these events come up in the book, sometimes they don’t, but it’s good to know how my characters arrived at the first chapter. For fun and inspiration, I also keep a Pinterest board and a list of songs that remind me of my story. That way, if I’m finding it hard to get back into the series, I can connect with that original inspiration quicker.

Do you take notes between books? If so, what types?

Feel free to share your method!

~SAT

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#MondayBlogs: My Writer’s Story: Different to the One I Imagined

9 Nov

Intro:

While many claim there is one publishing formula, there are hundreds, and the more writers you meet, the more variations of publishing journeys you hear. I find them fascinating, and I’m always eager to hear another’s story. Today’s writer is sharing his. Welcome author Shane Joseph.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

My Writer’s Story: Different to the One I Imagined by Shane Joseph

Our times are generating many more writers than demand can bear. This is due to better education, improved health, technology, inflated egos in an age of “me first,” and due to our eternal quest for immortality. The ambition to be a writer usually begins in our formative years and is inspired by our favourite writers. As a teenager, I was greatly influenced by Greene, Steinbeck and Hemingway; I dreamt of sending manuscripts out into the world where they would become best-sellers and make me a reclusive millionaire. I would hide out in some remote island and submit more manuscripts and continue to dazzle the world with my brilliance until I was invited to a cold capital in Europe to accept the Nobel Prize. And I would refuse that honour, making me an enigmatic figure like Jean-Paul Sartre, Boris Pasternak or J.D. Salinger. It was nice to dream!

The reality, even back then, was different. I had chosen to gloss over the private demons my literary heroes had to overcome in order to achieve their fame: dual lives, alcoholism, drug addiction, persecution, shell-shock (called PTSD today), hypertension, depression, divorce, estrangement, chronic pain, and suicide staring out of the barrel of a gun. Not forgetting the early struggles with rejection and penury that they each triumphed over. These trials gave impetus to their work and are mentioned only in discreet biographies, not on the glossy covers of their books.

My writer’s story turned out differently to my idealized dream. For instance, I didn’t imagine that after hacking away at this craft in my early twenties in a developing country where English was a second language, and after having a handful of stories published, I would pack up my authorly tools and try something easier to earn a living – Greene, Steinbeck et al, be damned! I never realized that the “other living,” at a corporate job, would come so easily, and earn such a handsome income, that I wouldn’t bother with the writing game again for another twenty years. I didn’t realize that it would be the curse of “guilt” that would bring me back to reopen the dusty toolbox and start to catch up to where the literary world had evolved in the intervening years.

Once “Take Two” started however, the stories and novels came easily, and are likely to continue into the future, health permitting. It was like a dam had burst and all that had been stored for years came gushing out. But the publishing landscape had changed, drastically. Prizes sold books now. And the prize money was cornered among the “1% of the 1%” in the literary hierarchy. There was no middle class in publishing anymore – there was a huge gulf between the self-published and the best-seller, and the only way to bridge the two was with a stroke of luck.

But with every closing door there were others opening. There were now many ways in which to be published, I discovered, thanks to evolving technology that had finally demolished the dominant publishing model of eons, which was: publish a large quantity of paper books on ancient printing presses until unit costs become affordable, ship them across the land in trucks into stores that couldn’t keep track of them, receive most of them back after awhile to be shredded, then start the cycle again, and hope like hell that governments or private donors supported this inefficiency in the interest of promoting the arts. That was the model in which my heroes had thrived, and now it was dying, supplanted by DIY publishing, POD, electronic media, subscriptions services, free story sites, social media, and blogs like the one you are reading. And my heroes were dead too.

Shane Joseph

Shane Joseph

I enthusiastically tried all the models available, traditional and new, and discovered that they all had their pros and cons, but as their readerships’ were distinct, this lack of homogeneity helped plaster me all over the map, assuaging my guilt for having neglected “the gift.” There was also no way I could hide out in a remote island, I realized; I had to be front and centre in the global public domain (a.k.a. the Internet, which also never existed during the time of my literary heroes) selling my wares like a shoe salesman. I even started a publishing house, using the new technology, and have helped bring other writers into print, ones who may have been sitting for years in the slush piles of the Big Five (or is it Four, now – hard to keep track!). The joy of bringing others’ work into the world, to watch them stand on the podium reading from their debut novel at their book’s launch gives me immense satisfaction. I was doing my bit to restore the middle class in publishing. And I finally faced the darker side: the rejection, the shrunken revenue streams, the even further shrunken attention spans, and the need for that other source of income to fuel this one. None of this had been part of my teenage dream.

And so I have accepted that my writer’s story is different from the one I had visualized in my youth. Creative visualizers, take note: it doesn’t always turn out the way you paint it in your mind. But it can be a damned sight more interesting and surprising. Why go on a trip where every stopover is carefully laid out, predictable and boring? Where would the thrill of the unexpected lie? Isn’t that what we try to create in our work – the unexpected?

So Dear Reader, what was your writer’s dream, and how did it pan out?

Bio:

(Shane Joseph is the author of four novels and two collections of short stories, and was the winner of the best fantasy novel award at the Canadian Christian Writing Awards in 2010. His short fiction has appeared in international literary journals and anthologies. His latest novel, In the Shadow of the Conquistador, will be released in November 2015. For details visit www.shanejoseph.com

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I will be stopping guest blog posts in December, but before then, I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#WW Website Wonders

28 Oct

Every month, I share all of the websites I come across that I find helpful, humorous, or just awesome. Below, you’ll find all of Octobers’s Website Wonders categorized into Reading, Writing/Publishing, and Coffee and More Fun

If you enjoy these websites, be sure to follow me on Twitter because I share even more websites and photos like this there.

Enjoy!

Reading:

The Greatest Novels of All Time List Challenge: Pretty fun to at least skim through.

Anatomy of a Kindle Owner: Very informative infographic on how and why readers choose books.

4 Books That Will Make You a Genius: Go ahead. Try it out.

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Writing/Publishing:

Man Book winner’s debut novel rejected nearly 80 times: This is why you never give up!

How to Find and Fix Your Novel’s Plot Holes: I LOVED this article.

Writing Action and Fight Scenes: Because those can be tricky for many.

23 Websites That Make Your Writing Stronger: There is a lot of information that comes directly from literary agents too.

The Art of Writing is Rewriting: Writer’s Digest, I love you.

Coffee and More Fun:

15 Things Worth Knowing About Coffee: All coffee beans grow in the Bean Belt.

Ancient Astronauts Photo Gallery: Just some fun for you UFO lovers.

Massive 16th Century ‘Colossus’ Sculpture In Italy Has Entire Rooms Hidden Inside: I LOVE adventures like this.

Hope you enjoyed these as much as I did! Also, if you like self-publishing tips, my good friend and fellow writer, Rich Leder at Laugh Riot Press, is giving out a monthly newsletter with 12 of the best self-publishing articles every month. I highly recommend it. Sign up here.

~SAT

Shannon Summary: The Answers

2 Nov

Happy November!

For many of you that means NaNoWriMo, so I hope that is going well (and successfully productive) for everyone who is participating.

Two entries back, I posted Shannon Summary: Ask Me Anything, encouraging all of you to ask me anything you want to know or to suggest more of what you—as my readers—want to see. I got quite a few emails! So I narrowed it down to my top 10, combining similar ones. If you see the question you asked and your blog isn’t linked to it, it’s because you didn’t clarify you wanted credit. If you do want a link, send me a message, and I will edit that.

HERE YOU GO:

 

Eric Fischer: Why did you get into writing?

I’ve been into writing as long as I can remember. However, my mother encouraged it a lot, and I believe I became seriously passionate when she passed away in 2003. Her death taught me to love every day, and her love taught me to believe in myself and pursue my passion in order to find complete happiness.

Emailer: Why don’t you ever reveal spoilers when reviewing books and movies? What if I want a spoiler?

 I purposely don’t include spoilers in any of my reviews, because, although many articles warn people when there are spoilers, eyes can sometimes accidently skip ahead when the reader doesn’t want to. If you want a spoiler though, don’t hesitate to email me! I’ve actually had that happen already, and I don’t mind sharing spoilers at all if that’s what you want.

 

Emailer: How’d you get started so young—do you know someone inside the industry or did you set out to meet someone via writing conferences or query letters? Basically, how did you get published? What would suggest for others who are looking to get published?

 I started seriously writing novels when I was 11, which is when my mother passed away. I got published by a smaller publisher, and I am working with a group of people in order to et published in a bigger publisher, but I’m not entitled to say whom those people are. I would suggest, for other writers working at getting published, to research, research, and research again. I’ve gone to writing conferences, where I have met quite a few people who’ve helped me, and I’ve also sent out numerous query letters that have helped me tremendously.

 

Emily Ann Benedict: Tell us more about your publishing journey.

 I’m unsure if you want me to tell you more about my already published novel, November Snow, or if you want me to write about the publishing journey as I continue today. If you want my previous journey, read above. If not, let me know, and I’ll be sure to post in the future about my journey today!

Kelihasablog: What age group is your novel aimed at?

 November Snow is YA Fantasy / Light Sci-Fi

Potterfan97: Where do you find your inspiration for writing?

Strangely enough, when I was younger, I used to suffer from night terrors and very violent nightmares. My mother encouraged me to write them down as a therapeutic strategy to deal with them. November Snow is very much based off of one of the more violent episodes of my life as long with many of my other novels that I have written.

 

Princess Heather Glam: How do you suggest to build your blog? Should it have one theme?

Read other blogs, and let those bloggers know that you really respect and read what you’re writing. Share ideas and words. Connect with readers. I would suggest having a central theme, but that theme can stretch. For instance, I focus on YA authors, but I also review movies, music, television, and books—sometimes ones that aren’t even YA based. But it’s all entertainment.

 

Emailer: What are your other hobbies other than writing, blogging, and journaling? Oh, and playing with your cat. Lol 

I spend A LOT of time with my family and friends—whenever I can, really—but I’m also a full-time student in my senior year at college, so I don’t have a lot of free time.

Did you write November Snow during NaNoWriMo? Is that why it’s about November? Are you participating this year?

November is my favorite month, but I didn’t write it during NaNoWriMo. I don’t participate in NaNoWriMo; however, I do think it’s a great tool for writers and readers alike. I really encourage NaNoWriMo; it just isn’t for me.

 

Tell us more about November Snow! How long is it? How long did it take you to write it? How’s it written? What’s it like? Example chapters? There aren’t any on Amazon!

The original version of November Snow is 600 pages (125,987 words to be exact). It took me under a year to write it, but I was thirteen. It’s written from two perspectives in first-person. (One chapter is told by Daniel; the next is told by Serena.) I have example chapters available if you want me to post the first one.

Thank you for all of your questions! If you have more, shoot them my way. If not, maybe you can post an entry on your blog site like this one, so I can ask you some of the same questions!

~SAT

Relax & Read: The Faster I Walk, the Smaller I Am

25 Oct

If you’re an avid reader, chances are you spend A LOT of your free time in bookstores (or on your Kindle, buying novels), and if you go to the bookstore A LOT, you probably have that one favorite section you always find yourself drawn to.

New Authors is the first section I go to.

Maybe it’s because I’m an author myself, hoping to debut in a bookstore one day in the future, or maybe it’s because I feel like that’s a great place to find the latest treasure, waiting to be found. Debut novels challenge me, forcing me to read outside of my normal spectrum and surprising me with new writing techniques. For whatever reason, reading debut novels never disappoints me, and today is the anniversary of one of my favorites:

Kjersti A. Skomsvold’s first novel, The Faster I Walk, the Smaller I Am, was gifted to me one year ago today, and I still remember it.

Mathea Marthinsen, an elderly woman living only for her longevity, wakes up one morning and realizes she may die without ever having lived. In this realistic debut, Mathea will force readers to face the inevitable death and the meaning of mortality.

I definitely suggest this novel, because it’s an example of difference in every day literature and today’s world, along with culture (this novel is Norwegian) and writing styles. However, I can understand that the topic of death isn’t for everyone. If that is the case, then I HIGHLY encourage you to go to the New Author section in your local bookstore and find another novel to read.

Just try it. Really. You might learn something AND walk away loving a brand-new author.

Read more about Skomsvold’s novel here.

~SAT

Shannon Summary: How Do I Write?

20 Oct

Okay, so a week back, fellow blogger, WineCountryMom, suggested that I answer some questions about writing as she had done (which I thought was REALLY informing and interesting from one writer to another). So here’s my “How Do I Write?” interview:

How long do you spend writing each day? 

How long I spend on writing depends on if I’m writing that day and what I’m writing. I’ve gone days where all I did was write. As a teenager, my father actually had to steal my laptop to remind me to eat and sleep, because I will continuously write once I lose myself to my fantasies. However, if I’m not writing creatively that day, I—at least—spend thirty minutes blogging and thirty minutes journaling. (I’m a huge advocate of journaling!)

What time of day do you prefer to write?

Nighttime! I’m a night owl. If I could, I would sleep all day long, and write from sunset to sunrise every day.

Do you set yourself a time limit or a word limit? No limits?

I generally don’t do either, but I have done a word-limit before. November Snow is 125,978 words (600 pages), but most publishers won’t risk a first-time author with a novel over 80,000 words, so I’ve set that limit before.

Do you write with music on? If so, what music do you like to write to?

Yes and no. It depends on my concentration. Sometimes, I find even music can be distracting, but I initially use it every time—I generally listen to classical (but very dramatic) music. Something mellow with very few words, so I don’t get distracted by lyrics.

How often do you check the Internet? Do you fall into Internet black holes? Or turn off your WiFi completely?

I’m on the internet constantly. I try REALLY hard to ignore it, but, even as I’m writing, I find myself needing to research or look for inspiration.

Are you a basher or a swooper? Kurt Vonnegut characterized writers into these two camps: “Tellers of stories with ink on paper, not that they matter any more, have been either swoopers or bashers. Swoopers write a story quickly, higgledy-piggledy, crinkum-crankum, any which way. Then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn’t work. Bashers go one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before they go on to the next one. When they’re done they’re done.”

I’m more of a swooper. Although I try very hard to be a basher, it’s hard for me to continue to write when I don’t just lose myself to the words and story—coming back to fix mistakes later.

Do you eat when you’re writing? What snacks/drinks do you go to?

Hardly ever. If anything, maybe a coffee. But my hands are too busy typing to eat. Plus, I’m very clumsy, and I don’t want to spill something all over my laptop (because I surely will).

What’s your biggest procrastination tool? Or are you a freak who never procrastinates?

I like to believe I never procrastinate when it comes to writing. If anything, my writing becomes my procrastination towards my every-day life.

How do the people (roommates/partners/children) who live with you fit into or around your writing schedule? 

I fit them in or I fit writing in as my schedule changes. If I feel like socializing, I socialize. If I feel like writing, that’s what I’m doing. I don’t let those schedules effect one another unless it’s a special event.

Do you find yourself tied to the place you’ve grown accustomed to writing? Or can you just pick up and go?

I’m actually a pick up and go person. I find my every-day desk distracting, because I do homework, journaling, blogging, and writing there. I prefer to go to a nice coffee shop (cliché, I know) or a hookah house or anywhere with WiFi where I can put in headphones and not get kicked out after a couple of hours.

I hope this was interesting to fellow writers, and maybe you can relate or have found things we have in common! I think these are great questions to consider when thinking about yourself as an author, and I encourage others to take a moment to contemplate answers (or maybe even post about them!)

Happy Saturday! Here’s a picture of my cat, Bogart, because you can never have enough pictures of your pets, friends, and family!

Bogart

~SAT

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