All posts by galem

Gale Michaels is an author looking for her place between suspense and romance.

Motivation

So here’s the thing.

I started this blog with the intention of using it to force myself to write.  To hold myself accountable so that I would finish the book (and then write the next one!).

But it hasn’t really worked out that way.

I haven’t been using it as a motivator.  I have actually been ignoring it completely.  And the book along with it.

I have a great story to tell.  But now this blog makes it obvious how long it’s taken me and how hard it is and how easily I let other things take precedence.  It makes it obvious that I’m not a Type A who gets it all done.

I have been thinking I need to delete all the posts on the blog and move on.  I’m still working on the book.  Occasionally.  This weekend I made some progress on those notes from the coach I hired 9 months ago.  Nine months – just like that (snap your fingers for me, will you?).  Poof!

However, I just went back and re-read all the posts, and for a while it was motivating, and I was making progress.  I made a lot of progress and I got farther in the book than I would have had I not started this process.

So, for now, I am keeping the blog up.  I may even start posting more regularly and get that motivation thing going again (it helps that the day job has slowed down a bit).

If nothing else I can practice my Russian by reading through the comments left by all the spammers who think I have a great site and want to sell me a variety of pharmaceuticals or porn.  Yay.

Don’t even know what to say….

It’s been over 15 months since my last post.

The good news:
Still have that day job
Still have that book

The bad news:
Still busy at work
Still haven’t finished that book

In other news, I did kind of start another book.  It’s in a different
genre and I’m excited about it, but I’m not really working on that
one, either.

I have to get this crazy day job schedule under control.   I actually made it a work goal this year.

In other, other news, I am finally watching Breaking Bad.

I know, right?
So behind the times in so many ways.

No, I didn’t fall off the face of the earth…

I got a new day job.

The good news is it keeps me busy.

The bad news is it keeps me busy.

But I am slowly making progress on the edits from the coach I hired.  Key word: slowly

But even slow progress is better than none.  So I’ll keep trying to fit in time to write – scratch that.

I will make time to write (revise) and I will finish this book.

Just don’t hold your breath.  I’m not ready for that level of responsibility yet.

Coaching

Since I’ve been struggling with the ending of this book I have decided to hire a coach.

Could I do it on my own?  Maybe.  But I’ve been working on this book for so long , and each time I try to figure how to finish it I feel lost in the weeds.  There are issues with the story and I’m too close.

So, I’m going to a professional – someone who can read it and tell me how to fix it so I can finish it.

I’ll report back.  Wish me luck!

Clearly I’m having issues

Monthly.  Bi-monthly.

Whatever.

I had a great post planned for the week after that last post, but got hung up on how to spell (look, here I am again, in the middle of actually writing the post a month and a half later, and going to Google to find the lyrics again because I cant remember how they spelled it, only that I didn’t think it was right) “whoa.”

Know the song yet?

Hint: several of the sites spelled it “woo-o-o” instead of “whoa-whoa-whoa” – which is obviously ridiculous.  “Woo” is not “whoa”.  Personally, I think “whoa-oh-oh” covers it nicely, but I couldn’t find that on any of the sites with song lyrics.

Yes, my post was about feelings.  Whoa-oh-oh, feelings.

What a difference it makes when you ask (before writing, or during revising a scene), “what is the character feeling?”

Let your character’s emotions guide the action in the scene.

Try it and let me know how it works for you!

Meanwhile, sorry about getting that song stuck in your head.  🙂

Back in the Saddle

Hello!

Yes, it’s been a while.  I could tell you some terrific story about how I’ve been busy saving children in Uganda, or found out I was the switched-at-birth daughter of the rulers of a foreign land,  or how I thwarted a terrorist attack in Houston, but those are actually other books I’ve  been reading instead of blogging.

I have been writing, though!  But I’m still not finished with the book.

I know, I know.  I said I was going to be finished by now.  But I’m trying to make this the best book it can be before it goes out into the world.  Each read-through shows me something else that needs to be improved.

This is still a learning book.  I know that.  It may never be published, but, by golly, when it goes out to be judged, I will be proud of it.

I’m going to get back to blogging regularly, too.  Probably not every day, but at least once a week.  I am learning things in this process and want to share them.

Even if no one but the spammers are reading  it.   🙂

Progress and Process

I spent a long, fabulous day plotting and planning and revising.   First, I mapped out the whole book on a storyboard, then spent some time planning how to fix the known issues.  After that I plugged the fixes into the storyboard and even wrote a new scene.

Good progress!

The plan for what to do next is sitting on bright sticky notes on my storyboard, but the hard part is still doing it.  It took me hours to write the new scene, but I kept at it and got it finished.  After a few days I’ll go back and clean it up some.  I know my writing process well enough now to know the new scene has issues.

Speaking of my process, it’s becoming more clear to me that I need to plot.  In enough detail that I know where to go, but not so much that I can’t deal with new ideas that pop up while writing.  It’s a fine line to walk, but it seems to work better for me than just pulling threads and seeing where they go.

I guess I’ll find out for sure when I start working on the next book.

 

 

Update

Thought I’d add a quick update about where I am.  My last goal was to finish the book and query by 1/20.  I did query, but I didn’t quite finish.  In my final read-through, I found some things that made me want to go back and look at the story arc again.  There are still things that are missing.  There are parts that read flat.

Basically the book still needs work.

And these aren’t little things like “I need better word choices”, but bigger things like “why does she do that?”  Story questions that still need to be answered.  Or asked.

This is that part of writing a book that I still need to learn.

I have a good chunk of time set aside this weekend to work and I hope when I come out the other side I have a plan and a new deadline.

Or better yet, that I made progress and am closer to writing “THE END”.

Lots of ideas for the next book in this series and another unrelated one have been popping into my head lately.  It’s way past time to wrap this one up and move on to the new, shiny stories.

 

How NOT to Write a Book

As I’ve mentioned, my WIP has been a work-in-progress for the past seven years.  That’s not to say it’s  the only thing I have worked on – it hasn’t been – but I have been working on it for seven years.

So, I feel qualified to write this post and give you all the ways to NOT write a book.  I haven’t conquered the how TO write a book yet, but I’m working on it.  Without further ado, here are your lessons in how NOT to write a book:

Numero Uno:  Don’t write.  Think about the book instead.  Talk to your critique partners, your friends, the mailman about your story.  Brainstorm until it hurts.  Plan the scenes out, but whatever you do, do not sit your butt in that chair and write.

Duex:  When the story gets tough, start another book.  If you ignored the first lesson, this is your key to failure.  As you work on a story and get deeper into the  details, things will get hard.  You’ll start to dislike your characters, question your plot, but don’t worry.  Just when you think you’re sunk, a different, completely fabulous and ridiculously complete story will come to you.  Be sure to write it down.    Then you can focus on that for a while – weeks, months.  Whatever it takes, go for it.

Three:  When you finish the first draft (assuming you’ve ignored the first two lessons), let it sit for a while.  A year or two is good.  During this time you can focus on your family or one of those other stories or de-cluttering your house.  By the time when you go back to the book, you’ll remember nothing about your plot or characters and will wonder why the heroine likes to work alone and how the villain came up with his dastardly plan.  That takes a while to recover from, you’ll be set.

If you find you can’t wait that long, another option is to get stuck in the revision loop.  For this, you revise the first chapter, or first three chapters for contests, submisisons, your critique partners, whatever.  The key is to just keep polishing those few pages without ever getting to the rest of the book.   This is a sure momentum-stopper.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

Hmmmm… maybe I do know how TO write a book.

# 1:  Write.

Of course, you need some time to plan, to think about your characters, your conflict, your plot.  But unless you write, you will have nothing.  Stephen King in “On Writing” says to take no more than three months to write the first draft.   THREE MONTHS.  A first draft doesn’t need to be perfect – it’s a starting place.

Two:  Revise.

Yes, this process is hard.  As your story gels and your characters become more clear you will have to re-write.  But you’re writing.  Don’t let other story ideas distract you.  Write them down in enough detail so when you get back to them you know what you were thinking, but then go back to the original and finish it.  Work all the way through it.  The best way to do this is to read through it without changing anything, but making notes on what needs to be fixed.  Then go fix it.  Start with the biggest problems first (i.e. plot issues) instead of the easy stuff like word choice or syntax.  Those sections might undergo bigger changes when your big problems are fixed, so don’t sweat the small stuff yet.  You may have to make several passes to get it right, but don’t take years to do this.

Please.  For your sake.

Finally, remember these things:

Thinking is not writing.  Writing is writing.  Revising is writing.  Writers write.

This has been my mantra lately.