Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Writing Journey Love - Current Project

In light of celebrating Valentine's Day and Black History Month, I'd like to share five things I love about the Historical Fiction I recently finished writing, working title FIFTEEN-SIXTEENTHS. It's with beta readers now and I'll be submitting it in a few weeks. The story is set in South Carolina during the Civil Rights era. There's a romance sub-plot and my stamp of "fiction with a touch of faith", of course.

Quick Pitch: Charlotte, the new girl at the school for whites, just wants to blend in—until she gets inspired by her great, great grandmother, a Civil War slave.

5. The YA main character actually has a family and interacts with them.

4. It's historical value. I researched local (here in Virginia) history from lesser known events out of a plethora of Civil War information.

3. A classic theme as relevant today as in 1963 and 1863—the dual timelines of the story. Plus, the challenge of creating an emotional story while striving not to offend or stray too far from political correctness.

2. My first time using deep, first-person point of view for the main timeline. The secondary timeline uses third person limited.

1. Two main characters to love from different but intersecting timelines, and the impact of one’s ancestors.

And to further whet your interest:
Example of the cellar where the Chancellor family stayed under house arrest during the battle that surrounded them.
Cannon replica of artillery used, including a ball that hit the home's front porch.

Photo of Sue Chancellor in her mid-life years, one of the characters in the story who was 14 at the time of the battle of Chancellorsville.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Downside of Boy vs. Girl Books

I enjoyed a fabulous writer's conference, LDStorymakers, in Utah last month. Twelve classes provided great motivation, information, and ways to improve my craft. I reconnected with friends, my critique group, and met my new cover designer for "Samuel's Sword", coming out later this summer.

The keynote speaker was Shannon Hale, who spoke about representing genders and our choices with writing/reading. Boys suffer the most because they are taught not to read "girl books". Stories ABOUT girls (vs. calling them stories FOR girls) teach empathy toward females that males are missing. Girls get to read anything, but boys face social ridicule. We need to change that. Boys who learn to understand the feelings of girls will likely grow up to treat women better than those who don't.

Hale quoted some of her findings with industry sexism. On average, animated movies present 11 male main characters to 4 female. Crowd scenes portray 80% males. Male authors are typically promoted more, even by librarians. Hale has been invited to speak to school groups where the boys were not invited. What are we teaching boys? Hale encouraged that our voices matter. We should teach the ways we are more alike than not alike. We should not pre-select for others but enjoy the whole human experience. Loved it!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Why I Write What I Write

Hello, again! After a break and solving the problem of getting into my blog, I'm back. This is the place where I share my writing journey, a few tips or things I've learned, and the writing-related musings inside my head. Today's post will update you on what I've been writing--and why.

The most exciting news is the release of my second book, Survival of the King's Daughter, which came out exclusively as an e-book on June 1, 2017. Karlinah's story continues from Secrets of the King's Daughter, though each are considered stand-alone books. The third and final book of this scripture-based series will feature the love story of Karlinah's son, Samuel, who becomes a soldier among Helaman's stripling warriors. It is currently under review by the publisher. These three books are based on the section of the Book of Mormon that I originally thought I would cover in one book. It took three to tell their story, and with that complete, a change sounded refreshing.

I wanted to do something contemporary and include romance either as the genre or a sub-plot. Who doesn't enjoy a little romance? More importantly, I feel strongly that my writing should include latter-day-saint values, where the characters strive to live as God intends or they learn a lesson from doing otherwise. We need books that uplift as well as entertain, that offer role models of faith and courage within everyday lives. This has become my mission.

My critique group collaborated on a project that fit into my vision--an LDS contemporary romance book of four novellas with overlapping characters. Coming Home hit a snag when our first choice publisher rejected it. We have made some revisions and are getting more feedback before resubmitting. It's a fun story of four couples who are either leaving or returning from missionary service. Readers are going to love it.

My current work in progress is the story of two LDS middle-aged sisters. Romance is definitely involved but I'm calling this one Women's Fiction. I'm halfway into the draft that has seen a round of edits after feedback from my critique partners. I guess you could say that I'm halfway into the second draft. It has it's own set of challenges, but I'm loving it. I'm guessing it will fit nicely with the age 30 plus female audience that desires something more mature than young love.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Simultaneous Character Arcs?

Aha Moment: It all came together, like an epiphany. That's what studying character arcs through a series of blog posts by K. M. Weiland has done for me. Before devoting several days to glean all the how-tos and soak up the goods from Katie's posts, most of what I've learned about the writing craft has felt compartmentalized rather than interconnected.

It started with wanting an outline for my third novel (as opposed to a general idea and scripture-based events marking the plot). If I can nail the character arc, I also have a well-rounded, interesting character and the structure for a fantastic plot. These blog posts are full of examples and questions to ask along the way to help structure the arc, along with the points within each act of the story (like an outline).

Arc Types: According to Weiland, the Change Arc (positive or negative) is about the lie your character believes and how he sheds it to become a changed person. The Flat Arc is about the truth your character believes and how he uses it to change the world around him.

Implementation: The main character for the third book is Karlinah's son, Samuel, King Lamoni's grandson. He is a sober young man who wants to do right and make a difference. Because of this, I could use the flat character arc, where he already has the truth figured out but it will test him. His personal changes would be minimal. The flat arc changes are more about the world changing than the character. If I think too broadly, this doesn't work because the world of war between Nephites and Lamanites that Samuel lives in won't change all that much. I need to either narrow the scope of "the world" or give Samuel a Positive Change Arc. I'm left with the same problem in the latter case, since Samuel has it pretty much together at the start of his story. But yes, I can find a lie for him to believe, discard, and grow from in a different way.

How about both? Can it be done? I just might give it a try and see. Will it be as dramatic, as emotional? I can see it working. Before you write me off as crazy, I'd love to know if you've had any experience with this in your reading or writing.

There could be some lie that Samuel believes that gets in the way of want he wants, so that he doesn't realize what he needs. And there could be a major truth that he believes that he uses to change something in his world. If it doesn't get confusing and I can show which goal is the current one, it might turn out positively delicious! If I get in over my head, I can always revert to one arc.

Revisions to the rescue? Discovery is part of what makes this writing journey fun!

Monday, July 11, 2016

A Writer's Validation Process - Time to celebrate!

We have to celebrate each step of success rather than each step toward success. Once a goal is met, there is always another mountain to climb. I may not have "made it", but one more box is checked. Secrets of the King's Daughter has officially been nominated for a 2016 Whitney Award, an awards program for novels written by LDS authors! It will be entered in the Historical Romance category. Thank you to those who felt it worthy of nomination. The nominees will be whittled down to five finalists in each category. As a first-time published author and if I become a finalist, I am also eligible for the Best Novel by a New Author.

Judging: Nominees are "voted on by an academy of industry professionals, including authors, publishers, bookstore owners, distributors, critics, and others."
According to the Whitney Awards website, "We do not give a rubric to our judges or to the Academy awards because this is a reader based award rather than a literary one. We choose judges who are sophisticated and critical readers and allow them to make their own judgements on writing quality and content. Doing otherwise (screening nominees based on content and writing quality) would be both time-consuming and based on subjective reasoning, therefore we have only required that the author be a member of the LDS church. All other factors such as content, language, and craft, are to be judged by each individual person voting in the award process."

It's moments like this that keep us less-experienced authors pushing forward toward success and validation for the many hours spent on our craft. We might write for months or years with little feedback until that big moment of public sharing. Any encouragement you can give to your writer friends is greatly appreciated. Thank you to those who organize and recognize a writer's efforts with awards such as this. I must wait until next February before finding out who the finalists are, but this step of my dream is realized. It's time for a little chocolate and then I'm pumped to write some more.