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Posts Tagged ‘novel writing’

Last year, about this time, I posted on the evolution of my blog. It had turned five years old and had taken a few radical turns over those years. My ponderings were on those twists.

This year–as my blog turns an incomprehensible six years old–I find those original thoughts to still hold true, with a year’s worth of experience to add to. However, first, a review of last year’s post:

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Jan 1, 2016: In a few months my blog will turn five. I can hardly believe it. Just like I can hardly believe it’s already 2016. As I was taking the calendars down last night, I considered the fact it didn’t seem that long ago I put them up. And now I’ve turned their pages twelve times. I’m sure a few of you can relate.

And that got me to thinking about this blog. It hardly seems possible I started it, albeit very reluctantly, back in May of 2011. I had very little knowledge of what a blog really was, let alone the purpose of creating one. Yet I had been told if I wanted to be a serious writer, I needed one. So voila, Summersrye was created. Had I known then what I know now, I’d have skipped the nickname thing and just used my proper name. But I like Rye, and not knowing any better, it seemed acceptable. Honestly, I don’t recall how I ended up at WordPress. It might have just been the first blog site that popped up when I plugged in a Google search.

keyboard and notebook

I went through recently to see what kind of posts I’ve written and the transformation this blog has undergone. The results sort of surprised me. My first post was May 11, 2011, called “Starting out”. That was pretty much it for 2011. In 2012 there were a whole 17 posts. The content changed directions twice. First I was going to take a non-fiction manuscript and blog it piece by piece. Feedback was nil. I even sent out a post asking “Am I doing this right?” of which I got one response back. Okay, at least someone out there in cyber world was aware I was blogging.

directions sign

Then I got the contract for my first book, “Whispers in her Heart”, the book that would forever change my life. I was going to be a published author. Time to get really serious about this blogging thing. Right? My posts changed from the random and non-fiction snippets to lots of “Whispers” stuff.Whispers cover from amazon

2013 I posted about 48 times, (give or take one) I was learning book promotion and it showed. I started putting in progress on edits and cover creation as well as teasers for “Whispers”, and a few pictures of my first book signings. I included poetry and shared life happenings. I opened up just a little, trying to remember if anyone was reading this, they were a real person on the other end of the computer screen. I shared photos of my pets, who are part of my life. I shared personal reflections and works in progress.

chasing ideas

2014 I continued sharing anecdotes and photos of my pets. I was now reading other people’s books and trying my hand at posting my reviews. I was following other blogs and re posting things I found interesting. Now I had a few books out and was regularly sharing status and updates on “Whispers”, “Shimmers of Stardust”, and “When Clouds Gather”. I posted more times than ever before.

Recipe for writing success

2015 was much the same. Book reviews. Pet anecdotes. Personal situations. Personal reflections. I was getting pretty personal this year. My family of books was growing. Now we added “Chasing the Painted Skies” and “Sizzle in the Snow” Anthology plus more works in progress and two more slated for 2016. I had people contact me asking if I would please read and review their books. I added the new feature somewhere along the way of hosting authors, interviewing them and talking about their books. In exchange, I was usually hosted on their blogs. Giveaways were another new feature in 2015.

All in all, not bad for a kid who few thought would ever make a writer. I recall hiding in my closet, pounding away on an old manual typewriter I bought at a garage sale. I baby sat so I had money for paper, notepads, and pens. Finally my mother gave me an electric typewriter for either my birthday or Christmas when I was around twelve. To have access to the electric outlet, I had to move out of the closet and into first my bedroom and then a corner of the long harvest table situated in the living room. I guess she wanted to see her daughter once in a while.

old typewriter

So while looking back, I also want to look forward. What do I want this blog to accomplish in our brand new 2016? Well, I want it to be a communication point. First, I want to be able to share news with readers about new books, giveaways and anything else share-worthy. I want to continue having others from other houses on my blog, sharing news about their exciting new releases. Bonus if they offer giveaways too. I want to grow the book reviews. In fact, I just finished a sassy little story last night and will be posting a review this weekend. And I have that author scheduled to be hosted on the blog in a few weeks.

Writing is a gift

Of course I want to share stories and pictures of my zany pets. They are the world to me, as many pet owners will testify. I’d be tickled if readers shared their wonderful pet pictures. I will also continue to share personal reflections and observations. Sometimes life gets rough or crazy and it’s nice to talk about it on a blog. It may not fix it, but it makes handling it a little easier. I follow a few blogs of people who do that very well. I’ll probably go back to posting some of the poetry from time to time and maybe some short flash fiction or sample chapters. That has been in the back of my mind for a while too.

Happily ever after

The end result, I want 2016 to be a year of growth and connection both for this blog and my writing career.

 

 

 

 

 

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Well, now it’s time to turn the calendars to 2017. I have added a pet sitting service to my life this year, which does had the unfortunate side effect of eating into my writing life. The bonus is I have met some interesting people and wonderful dogs and cats this year. I have settled comfortably into the house I bought in late 2014, but still have two rooms to paint (still!) and a few odd chores here and there I tackle when I need a break from writing.

What I would like to do with this blog in the coming months is much what I’ve done the last two years–share book reviews, host authors and their works, and continue the ‘Been Thinking About’ posts. Naturally I want to keep sharing misadventures of my pets, though my rescue collie, Ty, has his own blog I struggle to keep up with here on WordPress. Since I have two more books coming out in 2017, I want to share the steps from edits to covers to final release. I have a special giveaway planned for the first one, a Food & Love anthology coming up around May (ish).

Since I have two works in progress, and one more I hope to start soon, I want to share sample chapters. The opening chapters to one is already on my website at http://www.ryanjosummers.com. And I would like to encourage everyone to leave a comment with what they would like to see included in this blog, or more or less of any feature.

Lastly, I wish everyone a happy and healthy and wonderful new 2017.

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Over three years ago a friend sent me an email with assorted random photos. One struck a chord, and I printed it out, thinking one day it would make a good story. Well, I was wrong, it’s made a great story and that’s got me to thinking. Finishing this story is a bittersweet moment for me.

For about three years I labored over that manuscript, just seeing where it was going to lead me. It was the first for me in many ways. The first in which I couldn’t even name the genre, the first to branch out into new multiple genres of writing, the first to have no clue  what the next chapter or how the ending was going to be. I was pretty much writing blind. And loving it.

This was the first time the characters really grew and developed on their own. I just moved the pen, so to speak. They told me what was going on. When I needed to step aside from the story to work on other more pressing projects, I ached to get back to see what was next. I feel this story has truly challenged me, pushed me, stretched me and made me a better writer, but forcing me way out of my comfort zone. Into the unknown reaches of writing.

characters run the show

And now “September’s Song” is done. Yesterday I sent it off to the beta readers. After a brief rest period, I will go through and do edits one more time, based on feedback and anything I think off between then and now. And then the work begins to find a home for this literary baby.

In the meantime, I shall remain busy. First, I made a trip to the grocer’s bakery yesterday and splurged, spending $5 on a chocolate cream pie, piled high with chocolate buttercream icing and chocolate morsels. (Can’t tell I really like chocolate, can you?)  I am enjoying each bite I take from that. Time to celebrate! Job well done!

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Also, I have two older manuscripts I want to rewrite and have accumulated endless notes. Now is the time to organize the notes and start re-writing them. There is research to do on yet another script I want to write afterward. And I need to catch up on my household list of chores– cleaning, painting, yard work, and so forth.

This will eventually become  a Christian Inspirational romance storyBeginning notes for RITM

Beginning notes for BTSAnd this will become a time travel romance

So what do you do when you are finished writing “the book” that encapsulates all you are as a writer now? Or when you finish reading a truly awesome book that leaves you breathless and both glad you read it and disappointed you finished it?

 

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As writers, we are also creators. We invent places and people, situations and outcomes. We can make up a whole new world or just return to one we enjoy. Personally, I tend to never stray too far from my beloved water-side settings for most of my writings. For me, it’s both familiar and hollowed ground.

keyboard and notebook

Today I was thinking about our characters. It would be pointless to argue they are not real. In our minds, since we live with them for months or years, they are as real as the people sitting next to us. But our characters sure are a needy bunch.

First we name them and make notes on their physical attributes. Tall, short, slender, fat, brown hair, red hair, blue eyes, moles, scars, crooked smirk, glasses, hearing aids; it all goes on our lists.

We also clothe them, knowing their style preferences and what they need to wear for work. We give them occupations and careers. We house them. Apartment, farmhouse, bark hut? I have one that lives on a boat. Why? Because I want to live on a boat.

We surround them with family, friends and co-workers. And we have to include a few arch rivals, or friend-emies.  It seems we are frequently feeding them as well. We know what they like, what they hate, and their allergies. We even know their habits. Elbows on the table, uses a dainty napkin or slouches with a belly pat and big burp. Yep, those are our characters. And we love them.

We give them dreams to chase, fears to face and goals to reach for. And we have to provide them with hobbies and interests outside their work or the plot conflict. This occurred to me recently as a real life person was sharing their hobby with me. It was one I considered a little unusual and quite interesting, and great fodder for a future character.

Doing all this, noting it all where appropriate, gives us well-rounded, three-dimensional characters to provide depth and credence to our stories. And the more we know our people, the better we can portray them on the page, the more our readers will care about them. Or, in the case of the bad guys, at least be interested in them. guys.

 

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I work in a warehouse setting that is big, loud and dusty. I watch the associates, as the workers are called, walk in with their books and e-readers. On their ever-so-brief breaks they flip and scroll, reading as much as they can. And I know at our warehouse, not many of them can afford the luxury of lots of books. So the fact that they spent their hard-earned dollars on books is a point to take. Something I have pondered lately.

escape sign

While I have yet to see but two associates reading my books, it is a thought never far from mind when I write. My books will be bought somewhere by someone who very likely will work in a place like this. They might very well have limited funds and the fact they might pick my book to spend their money on is humbling. I know by the sales figures and reviews, people are buying and reading my books. So I figure I owe them.

I also figure all writers owe our readers. True, we write for ourselves, writing what we like to read. That is how I got started with ‘Whispers in her Heart’. It had everything I like in a book. However, we also, as authors, need to stop and consider the reader who is plunking down their money on a book with our name on it based on the cover, the back blurb or cover tagline, a recommendation, a review or (hopefully) just because it’s our name on the cover.

writing

To that end, we need to be the best writer we can be, creating the best book we can, not only for our publisher but for our reader.

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aMonthinCologne_200x300

Today I have the pleasure of hosting Felicia Rogers on my blog. She has recently released a suburb romance story with Soul Mate Publishing and she is stopping by today to tell us all about it. Please welcome Felicia Rogers!

Felicia, please tell the readers about the book that is being showcased today.

The book I’m sharing today is titled A Month in Cologne. It is a contemporary inspirational romance set in Cologne, Germany.

Here is the blurb: Rachel Wilson has committed to working in Cologne, Germany, for one month. Consigned to a tiny apartment, she looks forward to completing her responsibilities to the museum so she may explore Europe and begin her new life.  John Viteri is a confident museum curator, but when he arrives at his new job in Germany, he struggles to find God’s plan for his life.  Thrown together, will Rachel and John allow God’s providence to guide them, or will they choose their own path?

How did you come up with the concept for this book? The concept for this book came from a writing challenge – pick an exotic locale, and use three writing prompts. I chose Cologne, Germany, because of its ties to religious history. The prompts were a swing, a fluffy pillow, and something I can’t remember, but trust me…I got it in there!

{Chuckle} Yes, I trust it’s in there. Prompts really get us to thinking.

What are you working on now? Do you have a release date for this book? Currently, I’m working on Amelia the second book in my Southern Hearts Series. A tentative release date for this book is late June 2014. I also have a new book titled, Emerald Street, which is the third book in my Wounded Soldiers Series that is coming out August 18th.

Please share with the readers how you got started writing.

I’d like to say that I’ve been writing forever, that I decided from birth that I wanted to write, but that wouldn’t be true. When I was a teenager, I did enjoy plucking on a cheap typewriter and making up short stories. However, writing to publish didn’t come about until about four years ago. I thought my cousin and I could write a novel together. I would do the basic writing, and she was supposed to make it “better”. Then her life got busy. I kept writing and next thing you know I’ve written the entire novel. But that wasn’t the end of the story. I had multiple rejections and rewrites before the book was ready, but it did happen. And now I’ve published a total of sixteen novels and novellas with more in the works.

Do you have a favorite book? (Or books since it’s always hard to whittle it down to one.) I don’t have one favorite book, but I do have a favorite series—Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers. I also like books written by Verna Clay and Kelly Martin.

I like going to the movies. Do you? If so, what was the most recent movie you’ve seen? I love going to movies! I’m an action and superhero junkie! The last movie I watched was Captain America II.

What caused you to want to write an inspirational book? I love to share my faith with others, but I also love to share the history of my faith. One thing about Germany is it was at the center of the church’s Reformation.

What is your favorite scripture? My favorite scripture is Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Every day it is more obvious that I can’t do anything on my own.

Felicia, it has been a pleasure having you here today. As you say goodbye, can you leave the readers with an encapsulation of your life’s philosophy? (a quote, a verse, a precept you live by or have tried to instill in your children?)

Thanks so much for allowing me to visit with you today. A precept I live by is that every day is a new day. Even if the day before was bad, the next day is new and fresh and the opportunity to be different and better.

authors photo

Author’s Bio:

Felicia Rogers born and raised in the southern part of the United States is a Christian wife and mother, with a side interest– writing. She won the Celebrate the Season Contest by Solstice Publishing in Sept. 2010 allowing her first novella, “The Holiday Truce” to be published. Since then she has published more than fifteen novels and novellas.

To learn more about this author visit her website at http://www.feliciarogersauthor.weebly.com or check her out on facebook at facebook.com/feliciarogersauthor.

Buy Links:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JVAO2AE

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Okay, confession time– I really don’t like to self promote my books. I’m not very good at it, either, or so I think. I am a bad salesperson and would starve to death if my sole living was just selling things on a commission.  But I learned something interesting the other day while I was at my doctor’s office.

I was sitting in the lab, chatting with the lab tech who was drawing my blood. There was another patient resting in the suite over so I was trying to be respectful of her need for quiet. The tech and I talked about my day job, folks she knew who had worked nearby where my day job is located and so on. Finally I casually, almost embarrassed, mentioned I just signed for my third book and had the free-lance work this year.

“That’s right,” she remembered. “Children’s books, right?”  Not even close. I haven’t written a child’s book since I was a child. “No,” I said, almost sorry I mentioned it. “No, murder, right?” she asked, “The murder and who done its?”  Again, not so close. I just shook my head and said ‘No.”  She considered the next option. “That’s right, it’s more a romance, right?”  Much warmer. “Yes,” I said, “basically love stories with a few twists and turns.” And I left it at that. She covered my boo boo site and I left.

Minutes later, while checking out and discussing stuff with the receptionist, the lab tech came up to me, whispering, “What’s the name of your books again? My patient was interested.”  Startled, I wrote them all down, along with what is available now and expected release dates for the others. I thanked her and left, still pondering what had sounded interesting in that small conversation.

Whatever it was, it worked to do what I always try so hard to do, garner interest in my books, hopefully enough so to go look them up and buy them. And my day was not done.

Hours later I was at my day job when an associate walked by. He gave me a huge smile and asked if I was a writer for  the ‘XYZ’ Magazine. I said I was, positive I was blushing by then. Other co workers were listening by now as he said he had been reading that magazine over the weekend, liked my recent article and did not know it was me until he got all the way to the end and read my name and bio. My name is unique as there are no others around (that we know off). So we chatted about that free-lance opportunity and the other one I write for, and ended the conversation with a sentence about the upcoming books.

One sentence. That was all.  But people are listening and sometimes, they are interested in what little they hear.

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Alright, full disclosure here: I received a ‘bad’ review recently for my debut novel. It’s been stewing in my gut for about a month now and I feel I am finally able to deal with it properly. There has been a lot going on emotionally in my life and household for the past month as well, so I did not feel adequately equipped to handle this issue. Until now.

Now, I have heard the warnings before: don’t always expect everyone to love your work, don’t be surprised if someone just doesn’t like it. You need to have a thick skin to publish a book. And never ask for a review unless you can handle what you might get back. Well, I did not ask for this one, it was unsolicited. And so far, all my reviews, requested or not, have been glowing and full of praise. I have been sunbathing in the loving rays of warm reviews. Until now.

Admittedly, when I read the review about a month ago, I was shocked, and hurt. But I took it a few steps further. First, I took a deep breath and reminded myself of the truths mentioned above. Okay, this might not be the first unfavorable review I will ever receive, though I certainly hope it is. Then I read it a little more carefully, seeing what is was that the reader did not like. Was it a particular thing, like dialogue or setting or something like that? Character names? Or was it a case of a book that did not live up to its initial promise? I have to agree I have read books before, enthralled initially and found they just did not live up to my expectations. It happens, not every book is for every reader. Those are the ones I donate to Good Will when I finish with them, instead of instilling them on my library shelves.

What surprised me with this was the misconceptions made by the reader. Now, I have a family member who is famous for misunderstanding information and then later giving out incorrect or misleading information. It happens probably within all families I guess. And so it has happened here with my book. I wanted so badly to respond, to correct the misconceptions made by the reader. But I refrained. Why? Probably due to the other issues going on within my life and home at the time and I feared what I said would come out wrong and, in turn, be taken wrong again, which I felt would only make matters worse. So I opted to remain quiet.

But I did some further research too, not able to just let an unfavorable review sit idle. This reader has only posted one other review prior to mine, and much to my surprise it was awarded an even more unfavorable, or worse, review than mine had. That made me feel a little better. Since I had not read the other book, I could not see any obvious misleading conclusions. However, now I wanted to read it, just to see for myself. Bully for the other author!

So in parting, I have reached my own conclusion, perhaps erroneously as well. Perhaps since this reader apparently cannot find a decent book to read, she (or he) ought to give it up and take up something more rewarding, like knitting or stamp collecting. Or, since writing and publishing a novel is such a simple task, perhaps the reader ought to just write her (or his) own books. Merely a thought.

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It s interesting me to me how many people at my readings and signings ask the question: ‘How did you get to writing this book? Who was the inspiration behind it?”

Well, there really wasn’t any real inspiration. The original story of ‘Whispers in her Heart’ was written so long ago, details have been forgotten. But recently I came across some old records (I am a fiend for keeping records and dates) that helped jar loose some memories of how it all began.

“Whispers’ as we know it today began in February 1993. Titled ‘After the Smoke Clears’ from a line between characters at roughly page 119. I had been married a couple years and been writing for many more. Being married, I thought that writing romances was what one did. We read Harlequin and Silhouette books, read True Confession Magazine and wrote love stories. Right? I was pretty young back in ’93.

So I wrote the love story. Boy and girl formula. They fought terribly. The racing concept came from two places. One–I used to love cross stitching and had a catalogue with a pretty design of an Indian warrior shooting his arrow into the sky. The title of the work was called ‘Hunter in the Sky’. I twisted them around and thought Sky Hunter would be a lovely name for a horse. Thus the character of Sky Hunter was born. Two–I loved the Black Stallion series by Walter Farley, (Still have the collection in a bookshelf in my study) The racing scenes in Whispers were borne from the many racing scenes in the Black Stallion series.

After writing this great love story, which took a good chunk of 1993, I submitted it to Harlequin. They turned me down in less than a month. Not a good sign. Tried a couple agents with similar luck. So into a drawer it went for years–1994 until 2011. In early 2011 I pulled it out. Reading it through, I initially thought to pitch it in the trash. No wonder it was turned down, I thought. All the two main characters did was fight non stop. Lots of sparks, but no cuddly kindling. Just wildfires. Nothing like my marriage or like those around me.

Thumbing through it, though, I kept thinking it could be reworked. I scribbled notes on the pages, drew big slashes and other proofreading marks. I would rework it, get to know the characters better and add the supernatural elements that were completely missing from the first manuscript.

Renamed ‘Whispers in the Night’, in late 2011, it was finally finished. To what I called acceptable. I liked it. The characters were finally in love. I sent it off in November 2011 to two agents and a publishing house. All three said nice but not for them. Thanks but no thanks. At least these refusals were taking longer to get then the first record breaking 4 week one in 1993.

So in late November 2011, I sent a query to Black Lyon Publishing. In January 2012 they wrote back asking to see the first three chapters. In March 2012 they asked to see the rest of the manuscript. In a couple weeks they wrote back, saying they were interesting in it if I were willing to make some minor changes and they listed a couple suggestions. Two weeks later–April 30th–I sent the revisions back. And waited. On pins and needles.

July 20, 2012 I received the offer to buy Whispers and the contract from Black Lyon. I took the weekend to think it over. There was to be a title change, scenes changed or removed. Could I live with all that? A whole new world was about to open. Was I ready for it?

Monday I returned the signed contract. The rest is history.

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