Due to consistent, irritating issues with my previous website, I decided to completely start over. Hopefully this simple interface will work much better!
I chose not to bring over all the blog posts from my past 6 years of blogging. What you see here are a few posts that I felt were worth keeping.
Can't wait to share future updates with you!
Last year, I was inspired by Katie Grace (AWritersFaith.blogspot.com) and her fantastic letter to her novel. I wrote a letter to my first book, The Old River Road. It was such grand fun that I did it again with Left to Die. Perhaps this will become a habit of mine???
Dear Left to Die,
Never, ever, ever has a book come together so fast. YOU WERE SO EASY! Too easy. Easy enough I was afraid you would be one of those horrible hidden-away-forever manuscripts. Two weeks is all it took to get the rough draft down. Two weeks.
You, my beauty, go down in the record book as fastest, easiest book ever. Less than six months from first draft to publication. Yes, it did help that you were less than 3o,000 words. That makes all things easier.
On the more serious note, you forced me to look into the “what if’s” of my own beloved sister’s story. To imagine what could have happened to her. To mingle personal experience, what I learned from books, and what I’ve heard from missionaries, and imagination. More so, you forced me to do things I didn’t want to do. Forced me to remember things I wanted to forget. Forced me to search a part of myself I wanted to leave alone.
But it was worth it. Well worth it. The response to you–to the story you tell–has been incredible. Yes, it is true that some are put off by the intensity of the story you tell. But that’s not your problem. Already, God is using you to do amazing things. I can’t wait to watch and see what happens over the next few years.
I was finally able to get a photo with this dear lady. She is the last person I’m aware of who actually knew Clara personally! How fantastic is that?!?! She has been a wealth of information regarding the McDonalds and surrounding families. It was such a joy to finally be able to share the finished product with her–she was excited, too!
When I *cough* interrogated Miss Benita about what she remembered about Clara, she said: “Clara really was the neatest lady. She wasn’t cranky or grumpy–I remember I liked her. I would have been only six or seven–she died when I was eleven–but I remember she was a sweet lady and was very king to us kids.”
Is that not amazing!?! I still can’t believe that I can TALK to someone to talked to Clara!
I’m telling you guys–this being an author stuff is scary.
I have officially made my first public appearance as an author.
And the worst thing was, it was a LOCAL event, so people knew who I was.
To my delight, I only met a few people with whom I was aquatinted.
Anyway, onto things of more substance…
The event was a kind of bizarre/fair sort of thing. I’m not really sure what it was…to be honest, I’m kinda shocked our little redneck community even did something like this. ;-) However, despite the blistering heat and general redneckedness of the event, I was surprised at the reaction to my book. I sold 15 copies in just a few hours! Is that not completely awesome or what?!?!
Something else super awesome (and quite frightening) is that my book was featured in a local news publication. I got the entire center spread of the paper!
In the next few weeks, I’m going to send out a few more press releases in hopes of getting more attention in my local area. Hopefully, the lure of the book being about my area will be enough to find new readers!
I’m totally stealing this idea from Katie. She wrote an awesome letter to her novel, and it inspired me to do the same. So without further ado, here is a letter to my book, The Old River Road.
You aren’t the first book I’ve ever written, nor are you the last. You’re kind of that stubborn, middle-child story that was easier than my first, yet harder than the next. You forced me to grow, as a writer, in ways that I never imagined.
In hindsight, writing went relatively smoothly, despite all the tears, headdesks, and facepalm moments. I wrote you faster than I’ve ever written a book before, thanks to this insane thing called NaNoWriMo. 80,000 words in 3 months, the first 50,000 in 30 days. I didn’t think I could do it. It took me 4 years to write your 130,000 word cousin, Chained Heart.
To be honest, I hated the writing process. I was handicapped by my perfectionism; crippled by the fact that I couldn’t get every little detail exactly right.
But I did it. You helped me prove to myself that I can write fast. That I can edit fast. That “perfect” is unattainable (and that’s OK). That I can fit writing into my everyday life. That I can get over myself and do it.
Somewhere along the way, the idea/necessity for your sequel was born. I didn’t want to write a sequel. I still don’t want to. I don’t know if I have the mental energy to write it now, or even 6 months from now. But God has big things in store for you–I can see that already–and I’m not going to shut any doors just for the sake of my own desires.
I’m very excited for what comes next, yet am hobbled by fear at the same time. You are so precious to me for so many reasons, yet I’m going to be throwing you out into a big world of readers who may or may not like you. I’m ready to make the transition from Writer to Author, but I’m half afraid that you aren’t a worthy debut novel. I don’t know if any of my novels are.
I’m afraid that if I were to wait until my novels were ‘worthy,’ I would never make the transition.
Now that we’re in the final stages of preparing you for publication, I get all the warm fuzzies as I write the epilogue, afterward, and acknowledgements. I can’t believe I’ve made it this far. I’ve wanted it to happen, d e s p e r a t e l y, since I was a little thirteen year old with big ideas. But I never thought that you would be my first published work.
There have been a lot of times when I wondered if I would even make it past the first couple words. There have been even more times when I wondered if writing stories was worth the time and energy it took. And unfortunately, there will still be times like that…lots of them…but I will be able say to myself, “I already did it. I can do it again.”
It’s been a frustrating, maddening, yet completely awesome ride. I can’t wait to see how God will use you in the big scary world of readers.
…two people, aged seventeen and twenty-four, joined hands in marriage.
Young and naïve, neither had the slightest idea that their lives would be anything but blissful and simple. They didn’t know that he would have health struggles and nearly leave her a widow. They couldn’t have prepared for the heartache of loosing a child. They never guessed that they, raised in a large city since childhood, would be forced into the wild west, pioneering in eastern Washington state, where there could be miles between homesteads.
They didn’t know that fifty years of marriage lay ahead of them. They might not believe how many lives they touched…lives of people who they met only once or twice, yet who still remember the kindness and smiles to this day.
They didn’t know that their great-great granddaughter would be one of those weird author-folk who loves to write everything down. They didn’t know that one day, their life story would become an honest-to-goodness, deliciously pieced together book.
THEY DIDN’T KNOW THAT THEIR LIVES WOULD LEAVE A LEGACY WHICH WOULD REMAIN SOUND EVEN SEVENTY YEARS AFTER THEIR DEATHS.
If you haven’t already figured it out, I’m speaking of William and Clara McDonald, my great-great grandparents. Today is their 130th wedding anniversary. (Hence the special post.)
William and Clara have inspired me so much, first as a young child when I heard of their bravery moving from Chicago to little tiny Spokane, and now again as I’ve dug deeper into my family’s history and learned more about these two amazing people. When I first read their 8-page memoirs at age ten, I remember thinking, “wouldn’t it be cool if there was a book about them?” Never in my wildest imagination did I think that it would be me who would be recording their story.
This very special record of their lives, a book I’ve titled The Old River Road, will be shared with the world THIS YEAR. That’s right; this year, on June 13th, I’ll be throwing my great-great grandparents (not literally, mind you) out into the big scary world.
Are you excited to read their story?
Through writing multiple novels, I always like to think that I figure out my writing system better each time. That each completed novel brings me closer to that perfect, streamlined system that will allow me to write five books a year (HA!). Unfortunately, that isn’t true at all. While yes, each novel teaches me something more about how I write best, best writing time, and whatnot, my end goal of the “perfect streamlined system” is pretty much unattainable.
If we can’t ever get it “right,” what exactly are we hoping for? These are three things that I think are important to realize about the writing process and how it changes.
Each book is a learning experience. I don’t mean learning about your characters, researching, history, and all the like. I mean it’s a learning experience for you, about how you write. Maybe writing in third person past tense just isn’t your thing. Maybe you really have to stop and analyze why you’ve hit a roadblock even when you have an outline to follow. Whatever it may be, each book is going to teach you something incredible. Don’t force yourself into a box you no longer fit in. With each novel, you’re growing and learning as a writer in ways that probably won’t be evident to you until later.
It will never go flawlessly. This has become frustratingly apparent to me as I struggle through “writer’s block” in my current story when it’s almost finished. I did everything right. I outlined, plotted, planned, got everything figured out. But the story just wasn’t flowing anymore. It took me awhile to realize that the issue was stemming from not having much story left to happen in my characters, but having a lot of events that still needed to take place. Even when you do things right, your process won’t be perfect.
The process changes over time. For one novel, you may write best early in the morning. For another, it might flow smoother in the evening. You may need to extensively outline one book, but another can be written with very little planning. Don’t fight it.
Whatever bump in the road you’re currently struggling with, just remember that there is no right or wrong way to write a book. There isn’t even a right or wrong way for you, personally. As each book grows and changes you, let your writing process morph and change. Be nice to yourself.
What’s something in your writing process that has recently changed?