writing a novel

Who actually wrote that book?

A guest post by Peter Rowlands. Not all writers are gifted when it comes to detail. That’s why book editors exist. My understanding is that conventional publishers employ them (partly, anyway) to put the shine on what might have started out as a rough diamond. With the best will in the world, it’s one reason why some self-published books miss their mark. Lack of an editor sometimes turns out to equal lack of finesse. But what about those of us self-published authors who do have an eye for detail? How are we supposed to feel if we ever get to see early drafts of some conventionally-published best-sellers? What should we think about the elementary spelling mistakes, the missed or duplicated words, the suspect grammar? What if even the writing itself is not that convincing? What h...

Writing a First Novel: Don’t Give Up

A guest post by Miranda Atchley. I would say one of the hardest things about being an author is dealing with insecurity. When I was writing my first novel, I only told a very few people that were really close to me that I was actually writing a book with plans to publish it. Most of these people had known me all my life and knew it was my dream to become an author. I didn’t tell anyone else because I wasn’t sure when I would get my story published and I wanted to wait until it was a done deal so I could tell others for sure when they’d be able to read it. So, even though I really wanted to tell people, I waited until the day the FedEx guy brought my books to me. But that entire time I was worried. I couldn’t help but think I wasn’t good enough and no one would...

Writing a Novel During My Morning Run

A guest post by Kathryn Pincus. Writing a Novel During My Morning Run WRITTEN BY KATHRYN PINCUS. POSTED IN SELF GROWTH. (Published originally in Living Well Magazine, April 2015 issue) Almost every morning, as the sun is beginning its ascent into the sky, I lace up my running shoes, stretch, and bound out the door. A feeling of contentment sets in immediately—not the fabled “runner’s high” or anything as dramatic as that—just a sense of calm and happiness, a transcendence over my daily milieu. As I enter this physical state, my mental state begins to wake up and roam freely. The caffeine I consumed an hour earlier may be the catalyst, but the real reason for my mind’s exploration is the fact that it is blissfully unoccupied. There are no televisions blaring in my ears, no Facebook pages fl...

What My Children Taught Me About Persistence

A guest post by Steven Remington. My two year old daughter stands at my feet while I am speaking on the phone and repeatedly says, “Dad… dad, dad, daddy, dad,” until I am frustrated enough I finally burst out, “What??” All parents have been in this situation. It could be a person you’re talking to at home, or the lady at the check-out line, but your child persists on getting the attention they feel they are entitled to by wearing out your name. But the child usually gets what they want — your attention! Eventually we succumb to their needs, and rightly so. Although we eventually teach them manners and the proper way to get our attention (hopefully), as adults we are trained naturally to be in tune with the needs of our children. One way to understand is to answer the distress call… their a...

Finding that Happy Ending

More and more, as a reader, I find myself searching for something new. This has less to do with branching out into genres I haven’t yet explored and more to do with wanting the old and familiar to suddenly feel fresh and inspired. More zip? More zing? Is that what’s missing for me? I don’t know. What I do know is that my voracious appetite for reading is slowing down. I’m not alone. There are many out there like me, people who would rather read than sleep. Are they changing, too? Maybe the underlying cause is that I like a story with a no-holds-barred happy ending. In fact, I prefer it. I consciously seek that state of bliss in everything I do, every choice I make in life. That hasn’t always worked out so well for me, I’d like to point out, because it involves taking a lot of risks. But fa...

Write A Better Book Through Meditation

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations   On my checklist of things to do in this life, meditation had always been in the “no time soon” category. Something about it seemed a bit suspect to me. As evidence, I offer you my original take on how it works: I’m supposed to breathe slowly and focus on the feeling of taking that breath, and then, suddenly, my mind will clear and my “inner self” will begin communicating the secrets of life, and the universe. Big things will happen. The earth will shift. I will suddenly stop being afraid of angry bees, etc. Right. But the joke’s on me. After years of poking fun at the concept of meditation, I finally tried it. My opportunity happened while I was on a book research trip, one in whic...

Storytelling Through Music

Yesterday evening, I attended a concert at Strathmore Hall Arts Center. Intermission was followed by a modern symphony making its world premiere performance for a concert band. As part of his introduction, the evening’s conductor, Lt. Col. Jason Fettig, said that the composer intended the piece to be a journey through the ups and downs of human emotions, and the challenges and joys of our connectedness, person to person. In other words, storytelling. From the moment I learned that the composer of American Symphony was in the audience, I couldn’t help but wonder what thoughts were going through his mind, what feelings were in his heart, as he sat in the audience, listening as his own creation came to life. I wondered if his family was there, by his side, awed by the realization that every n...

I’ve Been Set Up!

A guest post by author Thomas Waite: The setting of a novel is critical, particularly for a mystery or thriller. After all, in addition to providing details that enrich the story, the setting can actually assist, or impede, an investigation. Choosing a familiar setting is usually a good idea for a mystery or a thriller because it should directly influence the characters and the plot. When I started writing Terminal Value, I deliberately chose Boston and New York City because I have lived in both locations and I know the cities well. Sure, you can do research, look at maps, and even read guidebooks, but there is no substitution for experience. If you have lived in a city, you know its character, the local customs, and the weather. For example, in my novel, I describe a “classic Nor’easter” ...

NaNoWriMo and the Evolution of a Writer

Writing a book as part of the annual NaNoWriMo contest is a bit like dating in college: a day feels like a week, a week feels like a month. And a month, well, that’s practically forever. On November 1st, I started NaNoWriMo filled with excitement and curiosity. How would the book idea I’d been mulling over in my brain take shape on the page? I wondered. Is it really possible to complete a novel in 30 days? To commit to the full experience of NaNoWriMo during this, my first time at bat, I wrote no notes, collected no photographs, fleshed out no character outlines, and did no formal research beyond having a wonderful dinner with an expert in the field I am writing about. Even then, I simply listened all evening long, writing nothing down. I didn’t even choose names for the characters! But th...

Thwarting my Laptop

My tiny hand-me-down laptop gave me the good ole Blue Screen of Death a few weeks ago. I loved working on the thing because, honestly, the screen was so small, it was unpleasant doing just about everything but typing on it. Web surfing was clumsy, and every window I opened was scrunched up and cramped for space. But Word was a wide, open expanse, free of excuses. Then, the BSOD. I made a few attempts to fix it, then passed it off to my husband for repair. In the meantime, I took to writing in my composition book, the one I usually just use to jot down a bit of dialogue or a paragraph that sneaks into my head right before sleep. Now I was writing whole sections longhand, and my nearly diminished callous swelled with pride at being useful once again. The laptop resisted all attempts to fix i...

The Writing Process

I had dabbled in writing since maintaining a food blog for over six years. Tackling a novel is a whole new ballgame. Wait, let me backtrack a little. I’ve always been a dreamer. I remembered my early childhood when my father always scolded me for being absent-minded. Even then I would think up scenarios in my head and appear to be lost in my own world. In high school, I even started on a science fiction novel which I, unfortunately, abandoned. I grew up learning and speaking three languages. You can just imagine how confusing that can be when it came to writing. Fortunately, I only had to do composition in two of them. I did well in my English courses in high school, but when I headed off to college and took up an Engineering degree, I got rusty in composition. When I started writing a foo...

How To Make A Memory

We’ve all experienced it. That moment a song unexpectedly comes on the radio, or over a store’s speakers, and we are swiftly pulled back into a memory so strong we feel like travelers to the future when we snap back to the present. It has happened to me, many times in many places. I figure it’s the same for every person who has ever loved. I figure there is a song, perhaps more than one, playing in the background as we each live our daily lives. Though I’ve been putting pen to paper since childhood, I began writing stories and novels in earnest about three years ago. When I started, I had no concept of how important a role music would play in my journey from writer to author. Each day, as I sit at my computer, my fingers firm on the keys, a song begins to play. It’s not on the radio, or in...

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