My Taste: A Periodic List

So, for all intents and purposes, this is a list of elements that make a book one that I would love to read at this particular phase in my life. It is the type of book I’m attempting to write. So if you are like me, and enjoy young adult type fiction with the following elements, then you’re my target audience. If not, we may relate on some other level or stage of life, so maybe I’ll catch you later.

The List (for now)


Mystery: Curiosity-is-peaked type of book. It leaves you guessing how it’ll play out. Then when it begins to resolve, you may have had an idea of how it would end, but then you are blown away (I love the Mrs. Pollifax books by Dorothy Gilman).

Suspense: The ‘just one more page’ syndrome that leaves you up, if you aren't careful, until 2 am reading the last page. This was my thought at a certain point in Only the Good Spy Young: ‘Noooo, he’s going to blow himself up so the Circle can’t have him!’ (Yes, I actually forced myself to turn off my Kindle at that moment in the book because it was 2 am, and I had a 7 am wake-up call from my kids.)

Interesting, developed characters: I like to know things about the characters from the things they experience. I like to see them encounter challenges. Somewhere I read once said the litmus test for an essential character is: do they have fears? do they have motivations? Do they have goals? I tend to think that this is good, but they need obstacles to those elements. Put your character through something hard and see what they do. It might surprise you…ahem, okay, so I strayed a little bit from what I like about a book to writing characters. But basically, I like a well-developed character, (and here I go again, commenting on writing...) but I struggle writing developed characters…why? because my life view is formed by ONE character: me. So it is hard to metaphorically "get inside their heads" and see what motivates them. I want to experience a real character: one that I would want to meet on the street…or be glad I won't ever meet on the street.

A twisting, engaging storyline: I like to go along with the character on an unbelievably exciting journey to some end. The journey isn’t predictable, isn’t told up front, has surprises along the way (minimal flashbacks), has twists and turns that you didn't expect, and gets resolved at the end.

Romance: When I say romance, I’m not saying steamy scenes where immoral and offensive lust is played out in detail & slapped with the romance label. When I say romance, I say, in the words of one of my good friends, I like the “first blush of romance” books as well as those who show true, lasting love. I love to see the connections between men and women because I believe that romance is an essence of life. It is important because the relationship of a man and woman in the family is the bedrock of our society. Men and women are completely different in how they view one another. But in their very differences, they complement and can uplift one another. A relationship guarded by restraint, respect, and true love (the kind of love that endures 2 am wake-up calls from a sick child or late nights at the office, the kind I think of every time I hear Just Another Day in Paradise by Phil Vasser) is beautiful and provides the greatest happiness in this life. The counterfeit of this love brings the greatest misery and hardship. True love is something beautiful. It is essential. I like to see the proper manifestation or beginning of this love (aka clean romance) hailed in books. It’s a great and integral part of the happy life. I think that is one of the reasons why I like clean regency romance. (for example, Edenbrooke or Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson)

Morally Sound: The lines of right and wrong are there. I believe that this life is not morally relative. So I do not prefer books that say right is wrong and wrong is right. Don’t get me wrong: I love books that make you think and dig deep. I just don’t want to consume something that proclaims moral relativism.

The Message: It has one. If it is just to make you smile, love some essence of life again, or some world changing revelation of truth, whatever it be, I want to be uplifted. I want a positive message that leaves me with hope. I love a book that has an amazing, entertaining plot and story line, but at the end leaves you thinking not only about what you read but what it reveals about life, even your life.

The Detail:
Symbolism: I love books that have imagery or symbolism that compliments the plot or message of the book. For example, Charlotte Bronte’s use of windows in Jane Eyre. Whether or not imagery/symbolism was intended by the author in a book, the meaning I discover while reading or thinking about it, thrills me.
Background Description: I do not like long, drawn out descriptions of scenery or background. I like the background imagery and detail to be like basil in tomato soup. Just enough to give it flavor.
Dialogue vs Narrative: Both elements are important in a book. However, I find that I prefer dialogue driven books. The books that show through character action/interaction what the book is about, rather than telling through description. This may sound contradictory: dialogue=show, narrative=tell. I love the author who uses action/events to say something rather than just describing it.

So there you have it. Are you my target audience?

Question Your Taste: Read Into Your Favorite Book

Think about your favorite book. Why do you like it? What is it about your favorite books that make you like them? This is the question that I asked people when I began this book-writing adventure. I even asked myself the question. I wanted to be sure to include those crucial elements in my book. However, I ran into several snags upon my attempt to answer that question. For one, the obvious: EVERYONE is different and has different tastes. You can't possibly please everyone's tastes. Okay, well then, I will narrow my questioning field to my target audience. Young adults, or adults like myself. Okay, still too broad of a guide, but a good start. However, this interesting fact entered my mind: even if I narrow that audience to myself alone, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what I like because I like different types of books for different reasons.

Enter extremely long side note/semi-rant here: I've talked with several people who have a pet peeve about the rating system on Goodreads. I’d have to agree with them. For example, it is strange to contemplate that The Very Hungry Caterpillar has the same rating as War and Peace. They both may deserve the high ratings, but they are not on the same plane. The rating system seems to put them there. The reason you pick up a book will reflect your rating. Not all books have the same function and the reason you read should technically become the standard for your rating...not some collectively embraced rating system that puts a loved children's book on the same star as a 1300+ page historical masterpiece novel. It is these two approaches (subjective versus collective standard) that wage a war in my mind when I attempt to rate and review a book on Goodreads. But Goodreads is good nonetheless if you have an idea of the tastes of the person who is rating (...and the review feature is there, so my argument may be a moot point).

So, I decided to jump into the question: what are some reasons I read? To be informed, to be educated, to have a life-changing/heart-lifting lesson, to be inspired, to be entertained, to be warned, etc. In all honesty, the reason I pick up a book has everything to do with in which stage of life I am. Two of the books I devoured and loved in college were The Basic Writings of John Stuart Mill (by John Stuart Mill) and Modern Literary Theory (by Rice and Waugh). Both were required reading for polar opposite classes (Media Law & Ethics versus Theater Studies, respectively). Strangely, I found they complemented each other in expanding my ability to think, stretch, and blow my mind wider at each read and juxtaposition. I love books that make me think. And make me think hard. The ones that combine the intellectual with basic truth, then leave you sitting back in your chair, mind expanding with original thought.

However, that type of book is not my first book of choice at this phase in my life. With the constant demands for my attention all day long as a homemaker and mother, at the end of the day, I love to curl up with a good, wholesome, engaging, entertaining story. One that shows a side to life that is happy, lifts one up, and makes one happy. I just read the fourth book in the Gallagher Girls series. Have you read them yet? They are awesome. I’d say they have nearly all of the elements that make me like a book (remember: that’s the me speaking at this stage in my life).

Stay tuned for my next post, where I will list the elements that make a book one that I love to read (and the type I'm attempting to write). In the mean time, What are the elements that make a book one you love?

Life-Changing Moments

I reread the first rough chapter of my book the other day. I found a piece of back story that does not have direct impact on moving forward the story of the book. I'll probably be cutting it out or reworking how the information is given.

We've all had those moments in life that won't leave our mind because of the impression they made that impacted or changed our life forever. This was one of those moments for my main character Prim (quoting from a very rough manuscript):

"I glanced out at Medadrom Road, our carriage bumping across the small bridge that marked the outskirts of Medaden City. Memories flooded my mind. It was at this bridge that I stood when High King Zaccheus Vertus paid a visit during the 1500th festival anniversary celebrating Medad’s Founding. That was the only time in my life that the High King had visited our northernmost kingdom. It left a vivid, indelible impression upon my seven-year old mind. The High King Zaccheus’ entourage guarded by a company of fierce soldiers of the infamous and deadly High Gallion Guard paraded down Medadrom Road where throngs of our people pressed in to get a once-in-a-life-time glimpse of this man of power. Being small and skinny, I squeezed myself through the people to the front beside the road. I stood with my head high as his ornately carved chariot carriage pulled by four impeccably groomed white horses came into view. He had a ruby-bedecked red robe, a simple coronet on his dark brown hair, and gray just beginning to appear in his beard. He was magnificent. His gaze which had been fixed toward Galadrom palace suddenly shifted down at the individuals struggling to get a look at him. His eyes locked on mine for a moment, revealing a kindness and a depth of person that I’d never before or haven’t since experienced. Within that brief moment I glimpsed wisdom beyond my understanding that both commanded my respect and instilled a confidence in myself to accomplish whatever challenge I came up against. No matter what people said about him to the contrary (and it seemed I’d been hearing more of contrary rumors recently), I knew that this was a wise man and one to be trusted and revered. He didn’t just wear the title; it was who he was to the core: the High King, Protector of All Good and Right in Vertus."

In your own life, have you written down those life-changing moments?

Excited

I thought I would just post here that I am getting excited. I am about halfway done with my rough manuscript (the just getting-it-written-down part). I've written the first third, the climax, and started the second third. It is fun to see it all coming together. The excitement is back!

The Writing Battle: A Conversation with a Software Engineer

I had a conversation with a software engineer the other day. You would be surprised at the similarities between writing software and writing a book. Structuring and planning it out beforehand in both endeavors makes all the difference in how smoothly things run in the end.

I was lamenting to him the fact that I was so busy I wasn't getting much time to write and wanted to get my manuscript completely written by September (disclaimer: in very rough form, but at least have it on paper by then). Beginning or end of the month? he asked. I didn't know, I just wanted it done because, for some reason, I felt like September should be the goal. As I described the time I was spending combined with how long I believed my story would be, he said, I can tell you right now that you aren't going to get it done by the beginning of September. In his experience working for a software company, many in the business side of things don't look at things realistically in the beginning, and so engineers run into a lot of trouble when the deadline hits.

In a software writing endeavor, there are three aspects to consider: cost, quality (scope), and time. You can have any combination of two of those, but the third has to give if the other two are given top priority. In a software project, if you want a certain deadline, you either have to give up the quality of the product or pay a lot more to have it well done by the deadline. Similarly in writing a book, if I want a quality book in a certain amount of time, there will be costs. For me, the cost would be less time with my family, cost of a babysitter, lack of sleep, or giving up of other priorities. If I didn't want to pay those costs, I could give up the quality of my writing to get it done by the end of September. Or, the third option would be to delay the deadline, thus making way for the right quality and cost.

So to answer my dilemma, the software engineer said: Could you get it done by September? Yes, but quality would suffer or you would pay the cost to produce it.

Side note: This conundrum also applies to a man looking for a woman...beautiful, smart, available. He can only pick two. :)

Write: Just do it!

Sometimes, you just have to do it. Sit down. Don't be distracted by alluring alternatives. Write. And write. And write. And write. When you reach a snag, don't get up and find a snack to eat. Ask your husband what he would do if he were trying to do what is happening to your character. Put yourself there and ask what would be the logical thing to happen. Write it down. Look up others' experiences with that situation. Write some more. It is so easy to find something else to do while you supposedly think about your book, but that can be done at other times in the day. This is the short window of time in your busy schedule you've dedicated to write. So do it. Write. Get that story on paper (electronically speaking). The key to eliminating distraction is to be disciplined enough to focus. Keep writing. Just do it!

"I have so many questions. Where do I come from?"

The other night, I wrote the back story to the back story of my book. An interesting concept. It got me excited. What I wrote the other night won't appear in my book in its current form. But by knowing what happened at the beginning of the history that impacts my story, I know where I will be going with my story. Great fiction writers spend a lot of time developing the back story...where it all started, what happened in their characters' histories, what happened just before the story begins, etc. Most of this doesn't even appear in the book. However, all this solid back story impacts what happens in the book with the characters. It makes a lot of sense to make sure you solidly know where you're coming from.

To put it in the light of today's cinema, even Hollywood has the Man of Steel himself ask the age old question about his back story.

In real life, it is the same. At some point in life a person will ask these thought-provoking questions: Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? If a person knows where they come from, it gives them purpose to what they are experiencing. Knowing where they can end up impacts their choices. My book's back story affects my characters' choices and future. My back story impacts my choices and my future.

Why Even Try?

There are countless writers' resources out there. Books on how to become a successful writer. Blogs about honing your writing craft. Writers conferences to improve your ability and to network. Countless competitions and contests. Family, friends and neighbors telling you what to do. For the past week, I've been skimming through a lot of this to see what is out there. Each tip, each instruction potentially could improve my writing. The trick is to filter the tips to the real and best ones and then apply them. Not all are created equal. There may be many experts out there, but if you don't like their work or no substance backs the instruction, tread carefully.

My purpose in going through a bunch of writers websites this week? To motivate myself. It achieved a little bit of that and the exact opposite. I found some applicable tips, but then was also reminded of the vastness of the book world and the unlikelihood of ever getting acclaim. I realized that even if I think I know what I am doing, I probably don't. Why even try? ...Good question. ...Because that is not why I am writing. I have an important story to tell, and if no one else thinks that, well at least I will have told it. I will have accomplished it and learned a lot in the process.

Is the hard work all worth it in the end? I think so.

Start and Endure

Have any of you started something that you were really excited about? The initial excitement gives fuel to both your desire and your choice of time spent.

It's the planting of a seed. A seed has the power within it to produce something greater than its present self. A miracle really. To be able to grow into a plant hundreds of times its size. Not only that, but to produce hundreds more of those plants, generations down the line.

I am growing a garden. My purpose is not love of digging in the dirt, weeding, and getting sun. In fact, I'd just as soon do without the middle one on that list. I want the results. The fresh vegetables and the nutrition for my family that I know that come with it. After a long winter, that vision of fresh vegetables gives me the stamina to hoe through my garden, create a place for my plants, and plant the seeds.

I was doing very well at my garden. Raking it to prevent weeds, watering it when needed, etc. Then life hit full force with a myriad of tasks, responsibilities, and events that whirled through. The end of May happened. My garden got neglected, it grew weeds. Some of the plants didn't grow.

I think my book writing and blogging parallel this. I am very excited about the planting of my idea. The idea that it has the power to grow into something big. Then the weeds of life crowd in, demanding my time. My garden isn't dead. The plants our growing. In fact, the carrots are growing quite nicely. I need to spend some more time out there weeding. It needs a little attention. My book writing isn't dead. It is still growing and coming along, but it needs some attention.

Each day, the choices I make determine where I can go with my goals. Yes, life happens, but how I choose to confront what comes up will determine where I'll end up. Tasty vegetables or a few withered plants?

"Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions. The desires we act on determine our changing, our achieving, and our becoming." - Dallin H. Oaks


My desire is to write this book. I have other desires too that will be balanced with this, but it is still a priority. As far as my journey into book writing goes, the story comes first, then the blog. The story is coming along slowly but surely, I'll have you know.

"When we have a vision of what we can become, our desire and our power to act increase enormously." -Dallin H. Oaks

Re-Working The Pitch

I’m back. I am thrilled at the feedback from my post, The Pitch. I thank you for your invaluable suggestions. Getting critiqued stings a bit but is necessary to get better! 

A series of messages resulting from The Pitch put me in contact with the owner of a publishing company who picked apart my pitch and let me know I have a lot to work on! What a privilege to have that critique so early on in my adventure! In summary, here is what she recommended: less about character and location, and use fewer words. She gave several specifics on my pitch, but some general advice as well. She stated that one of the best ways to write a cover copy is to let a critique partner write the first draft after you've verbally told them about the book in 3 to 5 minutes. This forces you to tell them only the highlights, exciting parts, and main plot.

So here is a second rewrite for now:

Prim, a seventeen-year-old introverted orphan, didn't realize when she entered the contest how quickly she'd be thrust into the upper tier Elite of Medadrom society. A common cottager chosen to represent alongside the prince the entire Kingdom of Medad at the Universus? It just hadn’t happened before. Prim must fight to hold on to her right to represent Medad when the Elite begin to pressure her. Prim questions who she can trust. As the departure with Prince Quintus to the Universus draws near, she discovers more is going on at Galadrom Palace than the simple political games of the Elite. An outside threat to the kingdom. Overheard conspiracy within. Unwittingly she has interfered with the pinnacle events of a decades-long plan to corrupt Medad. Will Prim hold on to her resolve to be the representative she knows Medad needs? Or will she back down as threats on her life begin to appear?

I know it needs some work, but it is a little better. I hope. I plan to re-write it again with a yet undiscovered critique partner probably after I get the book written!


The Pitch

Since the pitch to a story is a crucial part of drawing in readers (and publishers for that matter), I thought I would post a VERY rough pitch of my book. Life is crazy right now for this writer, so instead of leaving you to wait to read something from me on this blog for awhile, I decided to throw out this pitch. If you have any suggestions to make it better, let me know (I just realized that it is one sentence, so I could probably work on that one!)! For your information, my book is in the genre of young adult fantasy.

Little did Prim, an orphan who did not like any attention directed toward her, realize at the time she entered the contest that she’d be immediately thrust into the upper tier Elite of Medadrom society to not only fight for her right to represent the Kingdom of Medad at the Universus, but fight quite literally for her life as she unwittingly interferes in the pinnacle events of a decades-long plan to corrupt the Kingdom of Medad and stumbles over evidence of an even greater threat to the ten United Kingdoms of Vertus.

In all honesty, would you want to read my book after reading that?

When the Dog Bites: An Actor’s Perspective on Character Development


Writing is one of my favorite things, but I confess that I have another favorite thing. Yes, it is true that my major in college was communications (let’s call it the more practical side of my personality). However, I admit, acting is my other favorite thing (let’s call it the more hopelessly romantic, adventurous part of my personality). From playing the wicked queen in Snow White in elementary school, to writing, designing the set, and directing a neighborhood rendition of Cinderella before my first year in junior high, to playing crazy Aunt Abby in Arsenic and Old Lace in high school, to having a one-liner in a student film in college, I think you could say I love acting. My minor in college was...you guessed it...theater studies

Now, before you click on to another blog about writing, let me tell you how helpful an actor’s perspective is on writing characters! In fact, I’d venture to say that a good writer will go through some of the same processes an actor does when preparing to perform.

I came across this great quote by Robert Frost recently:

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

There are many different acting methods out there, but basically an actor has the job to use themselves to portray a character that may be entirely different from themselves. That is where acting comes in (& what I love so much!)…an actor must build a bridge between their own experience and that of the character they are playing. A good actor can take their own experiences, which might not be as dramatic as that of the character they are portraying, and use them to help the character emerge.

For example, let’s say I am to act in the role of a character who is bit on the nose by a wild, rabid dog. Don’t worry. I haven’t actually contracted rabies from a dog that bit my nose. However, what I have experienced is having my top lip swollen three times its normal size and hurting like crazy because I got stung by a bee (well I guess more accurately, a wasp). If I am to bring across to my audience the correct physical and emotional response of being attacked by a rabid dog, I could probably use the feelings from my experience with the wasp as a good substitute. I won’t actually be thinking on stage ‘I have been bitten by a bee! Ow!,’ but rather I will remember physical pain and terror (which I recalled from the experience with the bee). I can then magnify that essence of terror and pain onstage in the situation with the rabid dog. Make sense?

In writing my book, I am imagining up a bunch of different characters who have experiences that I as the writer probably haven’t experienced or may not relate to at all. However, I have had an array of experiences in my life. While writing, I can think of those experiences with their accompanying emotional, physical, mental thought processes and transfer them into the experiences of the experiences of my characters. In writing my book, I've done that (putting myself in a character’s situation to write a true reaction) already without actually analyzing it. Until now. 

As a writer, we can step into the lives of the characters and write a true response by drawing on the essence of our own experience…Dog bites. Bee stings. Feeling sad, etc…This helps our characters become real.

Show and Tell: Reader Type Tips Writer's Take


As a writer, you are writing for a reader. And not just any reader. The type of reader who would pick up your type of writing and read it. Your writing must give the reader what they want in the way they want it. Let’s look at some examples.

Newswriting. Why does someone browse a news website? Why would someone pick up a newspaper at an airport? Why would someone read it? They want to know what is going on in the world. They want the current information and they want it now. So how do you write for them? Well, I have the answer to that because print journalism professors drilled it into my head from the very first assignment in my very first pre-communications-before-I-was-accepted-to-the-communications-program class. The very first one or two sentences of a hard news story should clearly tell the reader the story and be followed by paragraphs of story in descending order of importance. The summary lead of this traditional inverted pyramid news writing style should answer as many of the 5 Ws & H as possible: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. “It lets the reader grasp the news of the day conveniently by simply skimming lead paragraphs. The form allows readers to decide whether they want to continue reading a story or leave it after any one of its paragraphs” (Newswriting and Reporting for Today’s Media page 45). The reader of news stories expects the writer to deliver information upfront without sugar coating and fluff (or they might stop reading).

Poetry. Now, to start off. I am not a poetry expert. However, I did publish poetry in one of those general poetry books while I was still in high school. (I still get e-mails from the poetry organization asking for more poetry to publish). I would venture to say that the expectations of a reader of poetry are quite opposite to that of one reading a hard news story. They don’t want to be told everything upfront. A reader of poetry wants the writer to deliver a message that uses words to creatively symbolize the essences of life. A poetry reader wants to ponder its meaning and feel enriched from the experience. In other words, the reader of poetry wants to see crucial information in each word the writer uses.

Fiction writing. This is where I am the reader and striving to become the writer. As a reader, I want to be drawn in, led along eagerly, jumping from one thread of story to the next without being told every detail. I want the bare minimum, only given those essential tidbits to make me hungry for more. It isn't until the climax and falling action that I, as a reader, want the writer to give me all the information, including discovering a deeper meaning.

To write for a reader of fiction, I believe techniques I've observed from both news writing and poetry can be used. From news writing, the concept of cutting the fluff (long, drawn-out explanations usually lose me unless I'm already interested). From poetry, the idea of revealing deeper meaning with fewer words. This is how Jon Franklin says to approach the writing of a story (and I wholeheartedly agree and attest to completely as a reader): “Wherever possible, the master storyteller scrupulously avoids telling the reader how a character feels, or why he does a thing. Instead he shows the reader what happens, and what the character does in response, and what happened then. If he does this correctly, the reader will automatically understand where the character is coming from.”

Writing craftsmanship and artistic expression come when the writer delivers his or her uncompromising message while in the same moment giving the reader what they want in the way they want it. How do you do this? 

Show. Then you won’t have to Tell.

Poetry and News writing.

Begin(ner)ing: A Very Good Place to Start


I've done it. I've broken with my own self-assured know-how and submitted to the suggestion of expert writer Jon Franklin. Breaking myself with a chief error beginners make:

“One of the chief errors that a beginning writer is likely to make in the rough-draft stage, and one that consumed horrible gobs of my own artistic youth, is to start at the beginning and write your way through, making every sentence as perfect as you can.”

After initially reading this instruction the first time, I thought, I will keep that in mind. I started my book by developing an outline and then wrote from the beginning. My reasoning: I know how the story is going to end, so I can still just start at the beginning. I liked going through the journey with my characters, being surprised with them, living the action with them, wondering what would happen next, letting the concreteness of the story come as it would. That was how I started, following my self-assured beginners’ thoughts.

It went quite well to start out. Then I found so many threads going that I rewrote my outline, discovering even more intricacies to the story unfolding (keep in mind, there is nothing wrong with rewriting the outline to make your story better). The outline was helping me maintain focus, but I found my mind and story wandering. It was getting a bit dull to write.

Then I re-read Franklin’s advice:

“The story doesn't pivot on the beginning, it pivots on the ending – so write that first.”

I mentioned this advice to my husband one night while plunking away at my story. He immediately said, That makes sense; you should do it.

So, I broke with my own self-assured beginning writer thoughts. I jumped to the climax. I started it this week. I admit: Franklin was right. The focus upon this intense winding up action focuses the purpose of my story and what I want the reader to get out of it. Franklin knows what he is talking about. Beginning at the beginning of the end is a very good place to start.

The Secret Weapon

The Secret Weapon "How many attempts it takes to finally write a powerful story depends on two factors: your ability, and the difficulty of the stories you choose.  Neither reflects your own worth. Your current ability is a starting point only; what counts isn’t where you begin but where you finish." – Jon Franklin

It moved with me and then sat on an office shelf in our basement for years. I acquired what I’ll name “the secret weapon” several years ago at a college bookstore. It was one of several texts required for a feature news writing class. I don’t think I've ever been as excited about a nonfiction book as I am about this one. As a college student making my way through the class reading assignments, I remember thinking even then that this book would be so helpful when I write a book someday. It didn't make it to the bookstore buy-back. Instead, it got shoved with a bunch of other books, then sat collecting dust. 

What did I first do when I decided to write that book? I retrieved this secret weapon. ’s Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction by a Two-Time Pulitzer Prize Winner. The basic premise of the book is to use dramatic fiction form to write non-fiction feature stories. I turn Franklin’s premise back on itself, using his method of nonfiction feature-writing to write fiction. The book is incredibly helpful in teaching writing technique, but teaches it in a way that is not dry and boring. I find myself thinking as I read: Yes! Yes! So true! I've noticed this as well. Franklin puts into words what most writers may have, but can't describe. If you've ever wanted to know The Secret of Writing, start here.


Dear Me.

Dear Me
Dear Abbey,

I am finally doing it. I am writing a book. I've wanted to for as long as I can remember. My inspiration to actually put my dream into Microsoft Word came after I read a particular debut novel last year. The novel could be classified as “escapist” fiction without anything shocking, layered, exploratory, or remarkable about it. For some of my well-read friends, it’d probably receive a 2 or 3 star rating on Goodreads. It didn't make the New York Times Bestseller list. In fact, it was a very clean romance. (Turned down by several publishers I hear because it was so squeaky clean). Now before you quit reading this mid-sentence and decide that I’m weird, let me tell you what inspired me. The book reminded me of a very important element in life that shouldn't be missing. Romance. With all the hardness, stress, worry, and responsibility in life, it reminded me to enjoy that important aspect of life. And yes, even if the book was corny, yes even if it may not spark an in-depth controversial intellectual discussion, it did lighten my load, my life, and remind me of something important, an essence of life.

That got me thinking. I've always wanted to write a book that was exciting, kept my attention, lightened my burden, and yet also provoked a deeper sense of meaning and intellectual discussion. A book that had impact.  Hmm, I’d always thought, maybe at some future day. Then I read the above mentioned author’s blog, how she decided not to wait for some future date (aka having the kids raised, being a little more settled, having more time to write, etc.). An idea for an important story came into my mind around that same time. I’d seen so many popular novels recently make it big, and yet some of the ethics and morals in them were less than uplifting and could be described in the words of Young Tantor in the movie Tarzan, “it looks questionable to me.” I was proud of the author of the above book when I read about how her quest for publication was denied several times because she wouldn't compromise her moral standard. She did not bend to the mainstream wind of popularity. The written word is powerful in stories. It can draw you in to a horrifically terrible and degrading story, and leave you stripped from a goodness that was once a part of you. These type of written stories generally have built in rationalization and justification systems (“but it drew me in,” “it was well-written”). They use word form and technique to distract you from the ugly while they rob you of the importance of life. The word, however, also has the ability to uplift, inspire, and speak truth to the soul, which may change a life, an individual, forever. Which way the word is wielded can have either a disastrous or miraculous effect upon the mind of the partaker.

So, what was stopping me from writing a book? Nothing. I started. About 14,000 words into my book, I had the thought to start this blog. So, here it is. I am writing you to ask you to please stay with me, despite the demands of life, and help me out.

Sincerely,

Me 

I Am A Writer

I Am a Writer My name is Abbey. I am a writer. I am many other things too. A woman. A wife. A mother. A teacher. A friend. The list goes on, but for this blog: I am a writer. I have been one for quite some time. Of my first letters in grade school. Of cursive in sixth grade. Of research papers in college. Of journal writing. Of letter writing. Of freelance newspaper writing. Of magazine writing. I've written many words throughout my life.

I love to write. Most of the time. Is my writing always perfectly free from grammatical errors and typos? No. Am I a reader? Yes. Am I well-read? Probably not. Am I an eloquent speaker? No. I love to write partly because I can ponder in-depth what I want to say before I express it. In fact, I decided upon my major in college, communications with an emphasis in print journalism, partly because of my love for writing. I am a thinker. I am an analyzer. I make connections between what is said, implied, and symbolized. Writing is an avenue to express what I see, think, and feel in this world. On a page in English, a reader moves from the left to the right. A writer moves from the right to the left. Moving between creativity and intellect.

So it begins.