Guest Posts

I have had the great honor of being featured on several different blogs of late. Please check out my article and the blogger who hosted my guest post!1098420_501757326565034_1650809252_n

Long standing FB, Twitter, and Blogger Friend, Darke Conteur set up an author interview with me. She asked great questions and I learned a lot about the interviewing process which I hope to apply down the road. This interview served as a good transition interview from where I used to be and where I am now. Thanks again for including me in this Darke.

Interview

 

20392_285577954896351_1129104847_nA new writer friend, soon to be published, asked me to tackle a darker subject on her blog. I was more than happy to help her. I found that while I don’t write about such dark subject matters any more, I can still hold to the lessons I learned at the time. Heather has become a value member of my writing group and one of my alpha readers. It’s nice having someone just a few steps ahead in the publishing process. Or, I should say several, cause she’s finished and submitted her book, something I have yet to tackle. Check out the Tethered Together blog by Heather FitzGerald.

Blog Post: Read No Evil, Write no Evil

10339770_10202856272620250_1135803542079547182_nOnce a month, I write an editorial for the Josh Magill and The Magill Review. Most of my articles center around writing and reading. They are posted the last Tuesday of every month. I met Josh through a unique short story writing opportunity. He gathered about 10 to 12 writers and limited us to 100 words each that had to be added to the previous 100 words. It was a fun challenge. After that Josh offered to share a blog post I wrote about pantsers and outliners. With a good bit of positive feedback on that article, Josh invited me to write once a month for him. I’m blessed and honored to be a part of his crew.

Latest Article: To Finish or not to Finish Reading

10246307_10152336478428190_944043745655855663_nAnd, lest we forget, earlier this year, I wrote a blog post for my dear friend Deanna Brown. This article was featured on Tim Challies’ blog and Deanna and I both enjoyed our time in the virtual limelight. 🙂 Deanna’s blog is filled with heart-felt thoughts that both encourage and challenge me. On her blog she walks you and herself through her husband’s stroke and life afterwards. Deanna has made her way through just about everything I’ve ever wrote, even the darkest parts, and has still loved me on the other side. I am so thankful to count her as a dear friend, sister in Christ, and go to person for all my writing angst.

Humility

Many thanks to all of you for helping me grow as a writer and blogger!

Writing Journal: Timeline

I’m a pantser, as most of you other writers know.  I’ve done a fair amount of writing about being a pantser over the years.  You can read the article I wrote featured on the Magill Review here.

Because I’m a pantser who abhors all things outline related, my stories come out a bit on the messy side in the first rough draft.  I’m aiming for a particular goal when a great idea or plot point derails me, and I’m off chancing that rabbit until I sort out how it connects with the rest of the story.

dugsquirrel

Squirrel!

Case in point, my WIP(work in progress): Icicle Rain started out as a revenge story.  Two friends commit a crime.  Deke goes to prison.  Jonah accepts the mercy offered to him.  Deke languishes in prison feeling betrayed by Jonah.  He breaks out determined to get revenge.  Now that I’ve grown more comfortable in my new world, gotten to know my characters better, and fleshed out the political lines, the story has turned into an epic war story.  (Surprised?)  The kernel of the revenge story is still there, it’s just no longer the main driving force.

Let’s look under the hood of novel-writing.  Behind every well-written story is a complex timeline of events.  One the reader may never ever see.  It lists out everything from hair and eye color to seasons and day-by-day actions.  It tracks where and when each major player is at all times regardless of whether it’s a scene in the book or not.  It tracks weather.  It makes sure everyone ends up at the right place at the right time.  It even tracks chapter breakdown and has character portraits.  (A writer has to remember who has a big nose and who doesn’t.)

So, each morning as I add a new scene, or edit an old one, or both, I make little adjustments to my Timeline page.  When I first started writing, I wouldn’t start the timeline until I finished the first rough draft.  But as I developed stronger writing muscles and my stories became more complex, I began my Timelines whenever my brain became confused and muddled by facts.

With Icicle Rain, I started the Timeline at the same time I started the book.  I had three or four characters in my head, one or two magical abilities, a couple of scenes, and an undeveloped setting.  Over the next few weeks, that grew into a handful of chapters, ten or so characters, and four days of plot points.

For the first time, I’m recording events on my Timeline as they happen in the book.  I’m adding and adjusting the Timeline as I add and adjust the story.  I always make sure the Timeline file is open alongside the story file.

What has this done for me?

  • First, it’s let me see my progress as a writer.  I believe having the Timeline open from the beginning shows a level of commitment and professionalism.  It shows my growing confidence in my storytelling and writing abilities.  Before I would have just written, let the chips fall where they may, and sorted it out later.  Now I know what editing is like and I’m trying to save myself some work up front in the initial rough draft.  I think, and hope, that this is growth in my ability to write.  I know what’s coming when the books done, so I plan for it now.
  • Second, it’s let me watch the world grow.  This is a new world, a new writing style, a new voice for me.  No matter what genre or age group I write, I have signature elements: darkness, damage to the hero, healing heroines, grace, mercy, hope, friendship, and ultimately light overcoming the darkness in the end after a long hard road.  But this brave new world is not modern, it’s futuristic, it pulls from my other world, for sure, but it’s very different.  It’s a fairy tale.  This has allowed me to be more poetic in my descriptions, mythical in my creations, and mysterious with my magic.  Those of you who have read any of my other stories will recognize some echoes from those worlds, but seen in a new light.  The Timeline allows me to see the world grow in a more truncated format than the chapter-by-chapter story.
  • Third, it’s helped me be aware of timeframe conflicts earlier on.  Instead of writing, writing, writing, reaching plot point 24 and realizing nothing is coming together correctly, I’m on plot point 4 making sure everything’s moving forward at the right pace.  When I see they aren’t, I adjust either the story or the Timeline.  This gives me a greater sense of control and helps me see where I need to go.

How is this not outlining the story?  It is in a way.  It’s outlining in hindsight.

Gamers are familiar with the Fog of War.

Gamers are familiar with the Fog of War.

Any story I’ve ever written has a goal.  I’m either working towards a scene or exploring two characters.  But, I still don’t know what twist and turns the story is going to take.  Icicle Rain still has big dark patches.  I know how I think I’d like it to end at this point, but I’m not sure of the exact path to get there.  I know what I want to happen in the next few days to each of the main characters, but I’m not sure how that’s all going to play out.  Keeping a Timeline as I go let’s me see where I’ve been but leaves the future dim.

And, I like it that way.

I like the not knowing because it lets me hear the story for the first time.  I get to be sad, happy, touched, and angry as I’m writing.  I don’t know yet how all the threads weave together.  It’s exciting and motivating just like when I read a book I’ve never read before.  I can’t wait to pick it up and find out what’s going to happen and how it’s all going to come together.  It keeps me turning the pages.  It keeps me typing and dreaming.  That’s why I’m a pantser, a reverse outliner, a Timeliner.