Saturday, July 17, 2010

Writing updates - useful or painful?

One of the things I enjoy most about reading my friend Christina's blog are her writing updates. She always has a ton of projects going at once and she has the ability to flip from one to the other depending on which muse is visiting her (or which type of chocolate she has consumed!). Reading about her progress or how she's gotten stymied by a certain chapter or character or plot point reminds me that writing is not always a naturally linear process.

Just because I have written all of my books that way doesn't mean that this book or that story will follow the same path. Every book, every story is unique and sometimes you find the kernels of it in different ways or at different times. Let's face it, novels take a long time to write and you have to love your characters and story enough to spend a lot of time with them. Sometimes you fall out of love and sometimes you find someone new and sometimes you simply lose interest. The best surprises are those that make you re-imagine your story or character in a new way. Those are exciting moments that I live for, that I write for.

Now, on the flip side...Facebook/Twitter writing updates depress me. When I read that someone has hit a particular mark of X number of words for that day or he or she has finished X draft or X copy edits or what have you, I feel my shoulders slump. Why is that, I wonder. It's not a competitive issue at all. I have completed 8 novels and 10 short stories and I typically write between 1K and 2K words per day.

I think it's contextual. Reading Christina's progress, because she goes into greater depth and reveals her own personal feelings about her writing, her ups and downs, her happiness and disappointment, connects me more to her writing than a simple Facebook status update.

And this in turn reminds me that, more than anything else, we need a personal connection to character and story.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Guest blog: Sean McCartney

Hi everyone! Sean McCartney is a debut novelist whose book, "The Treasure Hunters Club: Secrets of the Magical Medallions" released July 6. He's on a blog tour to promote the novel and to introduce himself to the blogging/reading world. His website, by the way, is terrific so do check that out! And be sure to take a look at his book's trailer which is at the bottom of this post! Looks like fun...

Without further ado, here is Sean to tell us all about himself and his book:

First off I would like to thank Leigh for allowing me to talk with all of you. This is my first blog so it is quite exciting for me.

My name is Sean McCartney and I’m currently on a blog tour to promote my new young adult action adventure novel entitled THE TREASURE HUNTERS CLUB: SECRETS OF THE MAGICAL MEDALLIONS. It’s being released on July 6th, 2010 from Mountainland Publishing.

The story is about Tommy Reed and his treasure hunting friends Shannon McDougal, Jackson Miller and Chris Henderson. One day Tommy receives a rather ordinary looking medallion from his very famous treasure-hunting uncle “Diamond” Jack Reed and finds himself the object of an evil treasure collector named Manuel de la Ernesto. Now Tommy and his friends must find the secret behind the medallion before Manuel can get to them and the medallion.

When I set out to write The Treasure Hunters Club: Secrets of the Magical Medallions I wanted to pull together all the things from books and movies that I liked. The mystery of the Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown, the adventure of Percy Jackson, a little magic from Harry Potter and the action and history of the movies Indiana Jones and National Treasure.

Though this is the first book in the Treasure Hunters Club series, with your help to make it a success, the next books will follow. I have planned six treasure hunting books as they follow the club through the 8th grade and into high school. Of course, as they get older their treasure hunts get more dangerous and more exciting.

I have been asked why I created a series around treasure hunting. The truth is I believe treasure hunting is something everyone can do. You don’t need super powers just a desire to do research and find where to look. Also treasure hunting touches on the sidebars of history, the stuff not in the textbooks. That is usually the most interesting and provides a solid building block for the series.

My goal has always been to be published and have a series that kids can enjoy and have a lot of fun reading. I was lucky to find a publisher who believes in the series as much as I do. What I was surprised to find out was how much the publishing world has changed since I started this journey toward “being published.” The emergence of ebooks has shaken the publishing world like never before and I believe we have only scratched the surface of what this new technology can do to help promote reading.

In the meantime, I hope you take a moment to check out my website and learn more about the series and read some short stories about the characters.

Thank you again for this opportunity and allowing me to be here and I hope you enjoy the book and the series.



And thank you, Sean! I am a huge fan of the National Treasure movies so this sounds right up my alley. I hope you all enjoyed reading a bit about Sean and his book and that you'll jump right over to his website to learn more. And check out the trailer below to inspire you to read (or hunt for some treasure yourself!):

Thursday, July 1, 2010

An actual post about writing

I never write about writing, primarily because it seems redundant and time-consuming. Why write about your work-in-progress when you could be writing it?

Currently, though, I've become stuck. I was coasting along for about 150 pages or so (a slow beginning but I am building a world that has lots of rules) and then I hit a rut. Instead of cranking out the pages like I usually do, I started slowing down. 1K words a day, then 500, then a paragraph tweak and I was finished. The weird thing about it was that I still loved the story! I do! I love it and I can't wait to write some of the really cool things that happen. When I'm away from the story, driving in my car or walking or otherwise not engaged in writing, I feel excited and I can't wait to get back to it. But then, with the computer in front of me, I...get...stuck.

I think I finally figured out the problem(s).

First of all, my book is in 3 sections. I love most of the first. The second must be dramatically different- darker and edgier and less optimistic. Right now, it's not. It's too much like the first section. This is why I'm finding it drag, because it's more of the same and it shouldn't be.

Second, this means rewriting before I finish. I *never* do this. Like never ever EVER. I always finish a draft before rewriting anything. Unless I can do a search-and-replace easily, I keep notes and then make changes in the next draft. But I know I can't do this. I have to get in there and change some things before I can move forward. This also prevents me from writing full out.

Third, I have a structural issue. As I said, the book is in 3 parts BUT there is also information that must be revealed and I can't figure out how to do it. I hate prologues. They're usually just info dumps. And in my book, I am using a first person POV - whose POV would the prologue be from? So I need to parse out these bits but how? In what form?

And fourth, although this is a fairly simple story, it has complex themes and lots of backstory that informs what happens (see above structural issue). Even I, the creator, don't have a complete handle on all of it. I'm finding it's a little too complicated right now and I think I might need to pare down some of it to make it easier to understand. Um, okay. How do I do that?

If you can't tell, I'm working on a story that is very different from my previously-published books, something I hope will be darker and edgier and appeal to a wider audience, maybe even guys! So it's slow-going. And lots of work.

And now that I've identified the problems, I have even more work to do.