My apologies for not posting in a while. Life and work can get in the way sometimes. But I'm back!
I'm going to chat a bit on a historical novel I've written and is in the process of being critiqued as you read. Since I was a Civil War re-enactor for 15 years, it was easy for me to write about this topic. I had a plot idea, the setting was perfect, but I wanted to represent as much historical accuracy without the book veering into the realm of "Hollywoodized", so to speak. In other words, fake, or in re-enacting terms, farby.
The setting deals with two brothers, one who is a Christian and one who is not. One fled south while the other remained in the north. It is not a story of brotherly hatred, but of an unexpected antagonist, an officer in the ranks. The brothers, before the war broke out, were robbed on the street. In their defense, one of the attackers was killed. A court trial found them innocent of the incident, but the defending attorney, prominent and wealthy, never lost a case...until this one. And he also happened to be the uncle of the boy criminal who was killed.
Thus, the story follows Emory Gilroy's life in the 83rd Pennsylvania and his struggles with war and the officer, Lt. Carlisle. As the story continues, Emory battles the rebels and Carlisle while trying to find his brother, reportedly killed in action via a letter from his mother. The rest you will have to find out when it is released.
I chose the 83rd due to their prestige and the path of their battles during their 1864 campaigns. It involved many instances where I could describe a soldier's life and a bit more, yet it also gave me an opportunity to involve both of the brothers in realistic events. My experiences as a Civil War living historian gave me a ton of knowledge on how to describe some of what these soldiers went through. It is these descriptions some of my critique partners have said shed light on what these soldiers went through.
The battles were easy for me. One of my strengths in writing is describing combat in various forms, and by using my background in re-enacting and history, it was a no-brainer. But the story is more than just battle, its the human side of war; at least that is what I tried to capture. There is still some tweaking, but I am pleased so far with the result. This was my first novel spanning less than the 80,000+ words of my other works. So, look for the title, Enemy in the Ranks, in the future.
Whew! I never thought I'd get them done, but I did. My first trilogy is complete. I just sent in my line edits and now await the cover art and maybe some fine tuning before its release on ebook first in August, 2012.
Which brings me to a question...have you ever finished anything you've started? Do you have more things on the back burner; the infamous pile of "I'll get to it later"? Maybe you figured it's not worth it because of what others have said. Granted, there are people who cannot write well but I am speaking to those who know they are gifted to etch pen to paper, or stamp key to screen.
So, for those procrastinating on writing because of crappy things said to you: get off your hind parts and start! Geez! He's rude. It may sound rude, but there are times in life people need a fire under their feet to get them moving. I can't tell you how many times I've said, "Hey, that would make a cool story," and did nothing about it. Honestly, I wasn't sure I had it in me. Yes, I've written things for school, and articles for an organization I've belonged to, but I thought those jobs to be minuscule. I truly felt you needed some massive training, degree, or job entailing tons of writing experience in order to script a novel. Not so. In fact, when I first wrote my first draft, I thought it 'neat' until other people liked what they heard.
Hmm, maybe I have something here. So, with God's help, I pursued it. Now, I have two novels published, one to be released, another awaiting contract, two more completed, and another half-done. Whew! Those works may be on the back burner, but I shift my pots around and let some simmer while I add ingredients to other masterpieces, and all of it done despite what others have said.
Do not quit, stop, or just plain forget. There may be something hidden in your words, a story to tell, a testimony to share, which could change the lives of people who read them, forever. Never underestimate your potential by accepting doubt, negativity, and disbelief as the final verdict. Those words are DREAMKILLERS!
Now, I'm talking about verbiage expressed by family, friends, fellow authors, etc. You name it, there have been folks who've either said harsh things to crush my dream or remained silent, saying naught, and being just as uncaring.
But you know what? It didn't stop me. Accept what others say about your writing and you might as well tie some strings to your limbs, head and buttocks and let them control you in life; be the puppet they want you to be. OOOORRRR...do what you know you are capable of doing and start your dream. And now is as good a time as any. I look forward to seeing your works published.
Howdy everyone! This is my new blog site; a place created to not only feed people with good stuff to chew on, but to try and showcase some great author talent floating around. My very first guest, ever, is the talented Yvonne Anderson. Read her interview, and you'll see what I mean.
How long have you been writing? I started writing since I was old enough to hold a crayon. But as far as writing seriously, with hopes of publication? That began in 2002. I was offered my first publishing contract in 2011.
When did you feel called to write? See above. It was in February. Two of my four kids were grown and on their own, the younger two were in school, and my hours at work had recently been cut to twelve hours a week. And, we’d just gotten a new computer. While cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast, it occurred to me that everything had fallen into place for me; it was time to write that book that had been in the back of my mind for the past couple of decades. I tried to brush away the idea, but eventually I realized it wasn’t just an idea, it was the Holy Spirit nudging me. I prayed about it, and the urge persisted. I’ve prayed about it every day since. I don’t want to waste my time doing this if the Lord wants me to do something else instead, but every day, He gives me the green light to go ahead. And so I plod on.
Where do you get your ideas for your stories? I have no idea. They spring up like weeds, and I don’t usually know what sort of critter dropped the seeds there.
What are your thoughts on critique groups? A good critique group is invaluable. Better than a MFA. I can’t sing their praises enough.
Was it hard to develop a writing style? No.
Who is your favorite author? I have no favorite author. Nor favorite color, food, movie, book, etc. I don’t think I’m wishy-washy, I just enjoy too many things to narrow it down.
Have you dealt with writer's block? If so, how did you overcome it? I can’t say as I’ve ever struggled with writer’s block. If I feel stuck on one thing, I drop it and go on to something else. Most of my struggles, especially at first, were trying to find the time to write, not trying to decide what to write.
Do you find a part of your personality sneaking into any of your characters?Yes, I think this is inevitable, though I try to counteract it by making my characters do things I never would.
Were there any scenes you found difficult to write? Made you angry or made you cry?The scenes I feel most strongly about are the most difficult to write. Yes, scenes have made me cry sometimes, but they’ve never made me angry. Anger results from loss of control, but I have complete control over everything that happens in my story world.
Do you use outlines or let the story develop on its own?I’m a seat-of-the-pants plotter. However, before I start writing, I know the beginning, the end, and two pivotal events that will take place along the way, as well as the major characters. But other than that, I’m as surprised about what happens as the reader is. It’s fun.
What do you want your readers to take from your book(s)?I want people to enjoy my books and find things in them to think about after they’re through. Mostly, though, I hope they’ll see God’s truth reflected in my stories.
Can you share any upcoming projects with us? In January 2011 I signed a three-book contract with Risen Books for a space fantasy series, Gateway to Gannah. The first book, The Story in the Stars, was released in June; Book #2 will probably come out in December, and I expect the third to be released in the middle of 2012. I’m currently revising #3 in preparation for submitting it to the publisher, and I also have a good idea in my mind of what’s going to happen in Book #4. I have no contract for anything beyond the third book, but I expect I’ll keep writing more in the series for the next few years, because I have several story ideas still to work out.
How do you respond when someone comments that certain elements (magic, vampires, zombies, etc.) in your story do not fit in what they consider to be Christian? If someone told me that, I’d agree with him. I don’t incorporate those elements in my stories.
With a full schedule, how do you find time to write? I used to squeeze it in whenever I could, and it was very frustrating. Thankfully, I’m now in a position to write full time. It’s not like having a full-time job, because I don’t get a paycheck. But at least my time is my own.
When creating a character, where do you begin? Do you give them a background even if it may never be mentioned in the storyline? Yes, I give my characters a history, but I tend to work backward. That is, I decide first what I want the character to do, and then I figure out what her background and motivation is, and build her history that way. That’s all done mentally before I start writing. Then once I get started, she’ll sometimes react in ways I hadn’t anticipated, but it’s always consistent with the backstory I gave her early on.
Can you share one or two nuggets of wisdom to those wanting to travel down the writing road? I have five nuggets to share, but I’m not sure what they’re nuggets of: 1. If you’re a Christ-follower, pray about this. You’re looking at a huge investment of time and energy, not to mention money if you go to conferences and such. So you should be sure you’re doing what the Lord wants you to do. (If you’re not a Christ-follower, I have no advice for you other than that you consider changing that situation.) 2. Be patient; be diligent; be humble; learn as much as you can, make as many contacts as you can, and be aware that you’re just starting out. You have much to learn. 3. Pray about it. 4. Be patient; be diligent; be humble; learn as much as you can, make as many contacts as you can, and know that the Lord is God. 5. Pray about it. Maybe now that you’re getting the hang of it, He wants you to write a different sort of story or to change genres, as He did with me. I never even read science fiction when He put me to work writing it. You never know what He’s going to lead you to do.
Where can readers find your books and contact information? Readers can connect with me through my blog at www.YsWords.com. The Story in the Stars (and later, subsequent titles in the series) can be purchased in paperback or e-book formats at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Story-Stars-Yvonne-Anderson/dp/1936835045/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1310393293&sr=1-1) or through the publisher’s website (www.RisenFiction.com/store).
Do you spend time in prayer before you write or begin a project? Yes.
What is your writing routine? Do you need peace and quiet, soft music, or does it matter? It takes me a little while to get into the story each time I go back to it, and I need to be isolated from distracting things like TV, music, conversation, etc. I don’t need complete silence, though. I do a lot of writing sitting on the front porch with the world going past the house. But those sounds, I can block out.