Bits, Blurbs & FAQs
Here's the place to find out what I've been doing recently, as well as learn some fun FAQs and writing tips about what's involved in creating a fantasy fiction trilogy. And, if you'd like to follow me on Facebook for regular blog posts and more, like me at my author's Facebook page.
Outline or not? I commonly get this question during presentations. The answer is yes... and no. For fiction, a rough outline helps you start to structure your book and organize your thoughts. But you should not rigidly adhere to it, because your story may develop along lines you didn't imagine at the outset (that happened in all 3 of my books). For non-fiction, yes. You're organizing a lot of detailed information, and structure is essential to creating the proper flow.
What's in an edit? The quality of your written piece. Nobody writes a good first draft - but it's where many of your best ideas arise. Particularly if you write fiction, the outcome of your book is usually not what you expected - so your first draft will have to be reworked to lead to that. Firestar, Dark Fire and Crossover all went through 7 or more edits - and more than half the material was chopped out from the first drafts.
Do rewrite - don't just edit. Believe it or not, you'll produce a better piece of work if you rewrite it - not once, but several times, depending on the piece. Because you are reconfiguring sentences, you often tighten them up, choose stronger words, fix awkward flow - or eliminate them completely as you determine they are not really helping the story. Firestar was rewritten 6 times, Dark Fire 5 and Crossover 4 as I learned the power of the rewrite. Yes, it takes time. But it's like carving - the rough sculpture must be worked to be beautiful.
From the mouths of young writers... I often speak to writers of all ages. One of my classes is called "Perspectives" where I help writers to move beyond description based solely on sight. In a class of 5th graders, I had them sticking hands into buckets of unknown stuff - including overcooked jello. The best description of ever heard of it came from a young lad who said it "felt fleshy."
Oh, my aching keyboard... It takes me about 2 years, from concept to finished story, to produce a book. I love to paint with words, and part of the rewrite and editing process involves really scrutinizing the language and selecting more powerful words to draw readers into the story and make them feel they are there, something my readers frequently tell me they really enjoy about my books. For the heck of it, I kept tabs on what was involved in writing Firestar. Over 3500 hours, 4 reams of paper (both sides), 6 black ink cartridges, and a new keyboard - I wore most of the letters off of mine.
Thanks be to wildflowers... I'm often asked where my inspiration for the trilogy came from. In 1997, I was commuting to my job in San Francisco, over 2 hours away. One glorious spring day, as I went over the Altamont Pass, I was admiring the fields of wildflowers and I imagined fairies living among them. From there came the idea of, "What if fairies aren't born with their wings, and have to earn them?" That was the genesis of Crossover. It started as a short story, largely written during commutes.
Great Valley Bookfest
This event was inspired by founder Toni Raymus' experience of a similar fair in Georgia. The event keeps growing, and attracts thousands of book fans. [GreatValleyBookfest.org]
Stanislaus Library Authors Fair
Authors got together to sell their books and help support the Stanislaus County library with a portion of our proceeds. A great way to support literacy.
Books traveling to Germany...
Fellow author Jennie Chadwick, who writes the Peach Tree Kids books, had several authors donate books for her trip to Germany, where she met with school kids on the army base where her son was stationed.