writing

A NaNoWriMo Top Ten: Strategies, Lifesavers, and Unintended Consequences (3 of 3)

By Becky Swanberg, author and EMoon Team Member 


NaNoWriMo is a mere two days away. Have you officially signed up? Are you plotting out your story arc? Have you cleared your schedule and loaded up on your preferred form of caffeine?

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Sounds like you're well on your way to hitting that 50,000 word count before December 1. Aside from registering and story prep, here’s a few more things you can do to set yourself up for success.

  1. Carve out time….now. That’s right. When is this novel magic going to happen? Early mornings? Lunch breaks? Late nights? Start to think about how this novel is going to fit into your every day, and allow extra time the first few days. Remember- the daily goal is around 1600 words. Will you break it into pieces? Slay it all at once? Your plan can be flexible, but it helps to hit November 1 with an idea of when this is going down.

  2. Tell your people. Now wait a sec, I don’t mean you need to blast your NaNoWriMo aspirations on all your social media platforms (though if that’s your thing- go for it!) I mean to let the people who are close to you in on this goal. That way when it’s Friday night and you ask friends to see a movie, someone will say, “Where’s your wordcount? Did you write today?” Then you’ll roll your eyes, ditch the movie plans, and feel sorry that you ever told anyone as you open your laptop. But later, when you hit your goal, you’ll be glad your people pushed you to it.

  3. Don’t forget to account for Thanksgiving. NaNoWriMo rookies will find themselves pacing along, coming upon the end of the month with just a few thousand words left and then...Thanksgiving. That turkey coma will not only stall out your Black Friday aspirations, but it will kill a few days of novel writing. Work ahead, or plan makeup time on the back end. And if you’re travelling, don’t even pretend you’re going to hit your word count all those days. Trust me.

  4. Don’t over edit. Your goal is 50,000 words- not 50,000 amazing and publishable words. If you stop to fix, you may kill the flow of your thoughts and feed the ego of your inner critic. Which leads me to my next point….

  5. Ignore your inner critic. There’s a small voice that will tell you this is a waste of time, that your novel is terrible, and that everyone in your life is actually making fun of you behind your back. Turn down the volume on that voice.

  6. Celebrate the glimpses of greatness. Have a storyline come together? A witty dialogue that makes you smile? A phrase or description that came to you in just the right moment? Be proud of those simple things. Sometimes stopping to acknowledge a little something gone right will help you to ignore the other 1500 painful words you wrote. Or the laundry piling up. Or the strange smell coming from your fridge.

  7. Read the pep talks that arrive in your inbox. If you’re official with NaNoWriMo, they’ll send you regular pep talks from real deal authors- and they’re legit, my friend. Some of these authors tried this very experiment and have lived (and published) to tell the tale.

  8. Take yourself seriously without taking your story too seriously. The goal is the quantity of words produced in such a short time. Give yourself the space to hit the goal, but don’t add the pressure for those words to be reader ready by the end. Let your main characters wander and grow and make decisions that are completely unsupported by their backstory. It’s OK. Really. It is.

  9. Be open to what your novel wants to teach you. You may find that the greatest victory of the whole endeavor is learning that you actually don’t have a novel to write. Maybe you’ll discover that you don’t enjoy creating fiction. Or perhaps some things will clarify for you about why or when or what it really means for you to write. How do you push through? What time of day works best? Who are the people in your life who really get it and support you? Those are things that your novel can teach you if you let it.

  10. Prepare yourself for the harsh reality that you might become addicted. You may think you only signed up for a month of this, but then this main character gets into your head and suddenly this novel is nowhere near done. It’s only fair to warn you that the art and craft of storytelling is a complicated hobby rife with writer’s block, endless decisions, and rejection letters. (I mean, who in their right mind pursues an interest where you pour out your soul, send it to strangers, and then they send you rejection letters? Why is anybody doing this?)

The reality is this: in this crazy month of pounding out words each day, you may find that writing a novel brings you joy. That you make more sense when you’re writing. That the every day of life is tamed a bit by the words you give to a story. And if you have the courage to admit that you can’t not write, then you’ll be glad you set out on this NaNoWriMo journey. You’ll thank this horrible first novel for waking you up, and then you’ll start the hard work of doing it all again.

Will I participate for NaNoWriMo this year? I’ve been there done that. I logged the hours, cringed at the writing, and came out at the other end knowing a bit more about story and a lot more about myself.

Happy writing, friends.

Read the two previous posts in this blog series here.

NaNoWriMo: Are You a Writing Architect or a Writing Gardener? (2 of 3)

BY BECKY SWANBERG, AUTHOR AND EMOON TEAM MEMBER


If you were preparing to host a dinner, maybe you’d research recipes, carefully curate the menu, and then make a detailed shopping list. You’d head to the store with the list in hand and buy exactly what was needed. Then, with all these specific ingredients, you’d come home, follow directions, measure carefully, and execute. Nicely done!

Or perhaps you prefer to go the store and see what strikes your fancy. I mean, you have a leaning towards beef, but if you get to the meat section and the pork tenderloin is calling your name- you go with it. Toss in some veggies, a carb or two, and a surprising dessert. Then you head home, excited for the mystery of how this will all turn out.

Whether you cook more with your head or your heart, there’s an ease to it that makes sense with who you are and how you’re wired. The same goes for writing your novel.

I first stumbled across the idea of the two writing personalities while watching a writing class on YouTube. The professor was talking about a writer’s natural bent toward the craft, referring to the two ends of the spectrum as gardeners and architects (often called pantsers and plotters).  

Like most of my experiences with personality types, I found myself surprised how well a simple descriptor could make me aware of things I could only vaguely sense about myself. I was in the midst of writing my first novel, and my husband kept asking me questions about the villain and the ending and the fate of the characters.

“I don’t know!” I would answer, frustrated that he was trying to pin me down.

“Of course, you know,” my husband would reply. “You have to know. You’re the author!”

But what I couldn’t quite explain was this subtle feeling that though I was typing the words of this novel, I wasn’t really steering the ship. The story felt to me like it wanted to tell itself. I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized that this was a common feeling among writers. I wasn’t a psycho; I was a gardener.

Like all personality types, there certainly is room for people to have a bit of both or fall right in the middle, but as I read about the craft and talk to other writers, most people have a strong sense of being one or the other.

Architect vs. Gardener

Writers who see themselves as “architects” tend to write best with a plan. They outline. They timeline. They pre-write with gusto. These writers find that the outline frees them, the work done ahead makes the words come more clearly, and the work done long before they start chapter 1 helps them write most efficiently. Self-proclaimed architects include J.K Rowling, Brandon Sanderson, and John Grisham.

In contrast, “gardeners” are writers who see the process as more of a winding road than a step-by-step process. These writers are more likely to start with an idea, water it (add words and chapters), and then watch it grow. Gardeners do not generally plan a story as much as they discover the story along the way. This doesn’t mean that gardeners don’t think about it ahead of time or do some character development before starting chapter 1--they may. However, the storyline itself is generally more fluid and open to possibility. Famous gardeners include Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, and George R.R. Martin.

And what does this have to do with NaNoWriMo?

As you set out to tackle a novel, understanding your writing temperament can help you prepare and execute more effectively.

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If you’re an architect, you’ll want to spend some time considering your characters, the major scenes, and overall plot progression of your book. You might find it helpful to make some decisions right away: genre, setting, main characters, central conflict, and the point of view that will serve your story best. How will the story open? What do your characters want? What challenges will they face? How will those challenges be resolved?

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Gardeners are more inclined to think about the feel and growth of their story. Are you drawn to a certain voice or setting? Why? What could you add to those elements to create more pieces of this story? Write a short descriptive paragraph about your main character waking up for the day. Did you write in first or third person? Did it help establish voice? Most gardeners who write efficiently say they will try to nail down a general story outline- not a road map but at least a destination for their story. A list of scenes or possible challenges for your main character may help you focus when you come to a wall, when that story seems like it stops growing for awhile.

With National Novel Writing Month just two weeks away, the time for prepping those novels is right now. Hopefully, these tips will help you prepare in a way that is helpful as you sit down each day and tackle that wordcount goal.

Wait- what if you don’t know if you’re a gardener or an architect? I don’t know any magic secrets to figuring that out, but here’s a surefire way: try to write a novel, and I think you will quickly know.

Up for the challenge? Two weeks and counting until NaNoWriMo kicks off. This could be the year of discovering not only your novel ambitions but also what kind of writer you are.

NaNoWriMo: A Novel Idea for November (1 of 3)

In 2016, almost half a million people on six continents joined the writing movement called National Novel Writing Month. This non-profit (often referred to as NaNoWriMo) is an online community that recruits, supports, and celebrates writers as they attempt to pen 50,000 words in the thirty days of November. Volunteers can use the NaNoWriMo website to mobilize their local participants and schedule kick-off events, writing nights, and other activities along the way.  And on those hard days when the word count is lagging and motivation ebbs, participants receive emails from famous authors who cheer them on from the sidelines.

Publisher Q&A - April, 2017

By Laree Lindburg, owner of Emoon


In life, one thing we rarely lack are questions. What time is it? When is dinner? How long until we get there? When will my show come onto Netflix?

Book publishing tends to add to the mishmash. One inquiry, in particular, pops up more often than most: 

  • What is the difference between the various types of publishing?

Solid question. How do traditional publishing, self-publishing, indie publishing, and hybrid publishing differ? Which is best for you? Are some just like others only with varied names? My explanation may be slightly different than most given that the world of publishing has evolved more in the last decade+ than other industries. Definitions are constantly being redefined. Mediums are weekly being invented. 

All that said, here goes!

 

Traditional

The most common of the lot of publishing is traditional. These are your long-standing, old school publishing houses like the "Big Five:" Simon & Schuster, Macmillian, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, and Hachette Book Group. These dinosaurs are the Mt. Everest; many wish to summit. Some attempt. Fewer succeed. Traditional pubs offer contracts where the author's work is 'owned' by the house. Royalties go through the house and a hefty cut is taken before a quarterly/yearly check is sent to the author. Occasionally, though rarely anymore, authors are offered an advance against royalties. A typical traditional house will take 1-2 years to release a book. They market and promote their titles although reports from less famous authors tell me these publishing houses are putting most of their marketing dollars in their "A" list author baskets, leaving those with smaller, less Hollywood platforms to fend for themselves.

Due to the rampant changes in the publishing industry today, traditional publishers are beginning to offer alternative models, such as self-publishing . . .

 

Self-Publishing

Self-publishers traditionally require authors to purchase X number of copies in order to print their book. They care little or none for quality and content. They are not evil but serve their own purpose for larger quantity orders on titles that have already been proven or edited, or the occasional person who simply wants to see their book in print. The author pays for production.

 

Independent Publishing

Independent publishers work with indie authors (those who have decided to take the destiny of their book into their own hands) and help them from start to finish produce their book for the reading population. No quantity requirements. This can often be a cold interaction as many indie publishers do not work closely with authors but require them to do much online--independently. The author pays for production. This option is great for those who know their marketing strategy and already have a platform in place. Individuals who have a following, a going business or ministry and simply need a place to print paperbacks to sell at merch tables during speaking events can find this option financially beneficial.

 

Hybrid Publishing

Hybrid is a newer publishing model, which also has the most fluid definition. Hybrid publishing can be one of a very personal experience between author and publisher. Each are invested and want to see success for the title. Sometimes the publisher charges a fee per project (and retains no rights or royalties) and other times the publisher and author discuss options for payment such as a smaller fee with agreement to share royalties of book sales. This model of publishing is suited well for those who tend toward indie publishing, but who also would like a little more guidance. Indie publishing can be more involved and time consuming for the author, whereas a hybrid publisher shoulders the burden with the author.

 

Which model is Emoon?

Emoon's publishing model is hybrid and a bit independent. If you have had a chance to check out our website, you will notice we offer many services. Anyone can come and ask us for just one of those services, say, a cover design or an edit, and we will happily do so. No obligation to publish through us. We also work one-on-one with authors who desire to tackle the entire publishing package, i.e. cover, interior layout, editing, e-book pub, paperback publishing, distribution, and marketing. This does cost a fee (we do not offer a royalties sharing option), yet the author retains all of the rights and royalties to their work.

And Emoon sticks around to help them succeed. We are like a personal assistant to the indie author. Emoon markets books that we help along the publishing road by posting notices on our social media outlets and offering giveaways and marketing exchanges. We can also create a sales sheet to promote the author's work and will design custom banners for book signings. These amenities are included in full packages contracts, and can also be contracted a la carte.

All that said, Emoon does not accept just any author's manuscript like a self-publisher. The authors we work with us must prove their title of a high enough quality and meet other publishing requirements before we will agree to go into contract as their publishing partner. 

 

Conclusion

I hope this helped you navigate the murky waters of publishing a bit better. If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to contact us through our website or at info@emoonpublishing.com.

Happy weekend to you!

Meet Author Kevin Shoemaker

Kevin Shoemaker published his first novel in 2015 through Electric Moon Publishing. Walk This Way, Walk His Way; Effectiveness Through the Greatest Commandment is a non-fiction biblical narrative encouraging Christians to live in the freedom and power of Jesus Christ. We will go more into that another day, today we would like to get to know Kevin.

Kevin attended Iowa State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. While attending ISU, he met his now wife Barb, on a blind date. They have created a beautiful grown family in Omaha, NE.

Through the writing process of Walk This Way, Kevin began a passion for a company that could nurture and grow the journey all Christians have started. And so was birthed Maker Ministries, an organization whose goal is to develop effective disciples of Jesus Christ. Kevin’s greatest want is to help people live freely in their faith. His answer to the debacle that many Christians encounter is in the Greatest Commandments:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34 NASB).

“The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:31 NASB).

Through his novel, Kevin teaches us what exactly these two verses imply, and how to go about implementing them in our daily lives. He makes convincing and encouraging connections for new and aged Christians on what our walks are missing.

Walk This Way, Walk His Way is a great start on a deeper journey to becoming more Christ-like; every day and in every way. A study guide to the novel will be released this summer for bible study groups and individual studies.

The Nudge Part 3: Open Doors

By Jeannie McPherson, Emoon author


Have you heard the story about St. Peter closing certain doors in heaven, at least those labeled” missed opportunities”?  It seems the new resident to heaven did not pay much attention to the earthly nudges God was sending his way. 

I’ve heard many St. Peter jokes, but this one touched my heart when it was shared in church.  My pastor asked, “How many doors has God opened and how often have you turned away due to excuses like time, resources, or skill?”  Previous to this sermon, I gave momentary thought to offering to be a lay servant in an effort to give Pastor a long-needed break.  It likely was not just a coincidence in timing. 

Was God nudging me, yet again?

I casually acknowledged my willingness to the pastor, thinking he really would not take me up on the idea.  And, for Pete’s sake, he did.  What I discovered is writing a sermon is like writing a good story. And, I see myself as a good story writer. 

The Christmas following 9/11, I included a short story in my holiday cards about Olivia, a dove, who kept watch over the manger the night of Jesus’ birth.  She represented the peace that only Jesus can bring to us individually and globally.  It was written with the plea, “peace begins with me.”

The comments from friends were positive.  The next Christmas I wrote another story, different animal, different characteristic.  Eventually a pattern emerged and I began intertwining the animal characters with one of the Fruits of the Spirit.  My real horse, Charlie, a very big horse, is also called a Gentle Giant (English Shire). He represents gentleness.  Max and Maggie, Labrador dogs, were faithful until their call to eternity.  Eventually I had nine stories written about nine animals and nine fruits found in Galatians 5:22.

Periodically, I would feel a nudge to compile a child’s book with illustrations.  I considered self-publishing, but ran into roadblock after roadblock finding an illustrator.  The nudge grew stronger when I began attending Christian Writer’s Conferences, where I met Electric Moon Publishing.

Even during life stressors, the staff have been there to encourage, give me hope, andwait patiently (one of the short story titles) until I was financially and emotionally ready to put one foot in front of the other.  Even though I had been warned by other authors, I became bent out of shape by the editing process and have come to believe it is an expectation in the publishing world.

I’ve given this project over to the Lord to do something good with it.  He owns it.  I am only the messenger.  This means letting Emoon take leadership when I could not.  If all goes well, I will contribute at least half of the order to churches in high-poverty areas, where few children own even one book.  The remaining first publish run will also be used to serve Jesus, in programs like Samaritan’s Purses’ Operation Christmas Child.  Though only published in English, the illustrations can be understood in multiple languages. 

I don’t know what other earthly “opportunity” doors will open, but Luke 11:9 “….knock and the door will be opened to you” (NIV) is my guide.  From the Sunday I heard the St. Peter story, I made a vow there will be few missed-opportunity doors when I enter heaven.  Instead of looking at a project as work, I try really hard to look at it as a blessing 

The title is still a mystery, even to myself.  If any ideas, please give a shout-out!!! 

The Nudge Part 1: Little Pushes

By Jeannie McPherson, eMoon author


Dreams often begin with a nudge. One of my little pushes came during an eleventh grade English. It was likely a beautiful day outside, probably February, and one of the first signs spring was just around the corner.  It was 1967, nearly 50 years ago.  Some details have become vague, but the important parts are as vivid as if it happened yesterday.

One particular student had been giving the English teacher as much grief as anyone should tolerate in one day.  Just before the teacher’s meltdown, the teacher gave all of us an extra assignment.   I remember in my angst, going to the library, randomly choosing one of the 20 volumes in that year’s annual encyclopedia set. I flipped through a book and read the first page I came upon to get a possible idea for an essay topic. It must have been the “L” volume because I wrote an essay on one of Abraham Lincoln’s pearls of wisdom. 

The topic I chose was how to react when all suffer the consequences of someone’s poor choice(s).  My writing strength is to take a topic and figure out how to write a manuscript to fit the need. At sixteen, this strength was the last thing on my mind.  It was truly just my reaction to the teacher’s unfair discipline of one student. With my father on the school board, I knew better than to be outwardly disrespectful. So, I created a respectful and convincing essay.

I received an A , but the relevancy is the recognition I could write to express my feelings.  This is how I have often problem-solved difficult situations. At a minimum, writing has become an acceptable alternative to yelling. Has it always worked? No, but writing has likely made me a better person emotionally. 

That same disruptive student died in a car accident a few years after graduation. He knew nothing of my frustration nor my gratitude for this experience. I wish I could tell him how the Lord gave me some adult-life tools to cope with what was just the beginning of a life of trials, temptations, and tests. I wish I could thank him for what he didn’t know he had done for me.

Fast-forward to 2008.  It was Memorial Day weekend and the 40th anniversary of our class graduation. It was a simple gesture, but I placed a bouquet of flowers on his gravesite. I was still alive to honor those who need to be understood, to make something beautiful out of frustration, and most of all, glorify God in everything.  Did God nudge me to buy the flowers?  I know the answer. 

Now, I dream of the day I can officially call myself a published writer. I am counting the nudges I have had to make this dream come true.  God is good.  His nudges are gentle and kind.  

Beta Readers Love Me; They Love Me Not: Round Two! (Part 5 of 6)

By Moira Murphy, Emoon Author


After you have decided on what to keep and what to ignore from your beta readers, the next step presents itself.

Do you use a second round of beta readers?

Well, I suppose that would depend upon how much changed from the first draft to the second draft. For example, if the corrections you made were minuscule, then I’d suggest that your editor could probably finish off the last few steps. However, if the changes from the first to the second draft were a bit more drastic, you may want to consider finding a second round of beta readers. As for myself, the changes from my original manuscript to my second was beyond drastic, therefore I required a round two.  I changed the characters, part of the plot, and even the storyline.

So, if you find yourself in my position of needing a second go around with the beta readers, the question becomes; do you use the same group or find ‘fresh meat’? I feel like you can find out quite a bit about the beta readers editing style from the first round. Using that information will help determine whether a change is required. I kept two of the original beta readers, because of their beneficial comments the first round, but I also hired a few new ones. It really is up to you to determine who offered up valuable feedback, and sadly who did not.  And again, I must repeat the importance of finding the right type of person to read your manuscript: fan of your genre, ability to be firm and kind, willing to be bribed. The right beta reader can be the one thing to perfect your novel.

I’ve just received the final comments from my round two, and while the critiques were much scarcer than the first novel, I am struggling to finish!

After working over a year and a half on this dang book, the last few weeks have been the most difficult to push through. But, now that I have a book launch date (*cough* May 6th *cough*), I kind of have to forge ahead.

So persist, I must. And you must, too.

Beta Readers Love Me; They Love Me Not: Opinions Are Like Butts... (Part 4 of 6)

By Moira Murphy, Emoon Author


My Dad had a saying growing up, "Opinions are like butts; everyone has one, but that doesn't mean I want to hear it." Wow, Dad, thanks for that philosophy to carry with me. Sadly, it has stuck around into my adult life. 

However (number one), it didn't leave me with the traumatizing fear of flatulence that you'd think it would leave me with. I actually use it when it comes to beta readers. Yes, every one of my beta readers is entitled to their thoughts—I mean—I did ask them for it. But that doesn't mean I have to change my work based upon every single personal feeling.

There is always the creative license that writers have, it is your book, and ultimately your freedom to choose what ends up in the final work. If you choose to publish indie, as I am, it is you that has to feel content with the printed novel, so if you don't see eye to eye with all of your beta readers—that's okay. They aren't the ones who will have to look back at their novel in twenty years and wonder "what if I had left the book the way I wanted, would it have sold more copies? Would it have gotten better reviews?" That's you that has to deal with those crushing thoughts.

So, please be sure you agree with all the changes that are happening to your book. 

However (number two), you did hire these people. And if you read my article about how important it is to choose beta readers wisely, they do know what they are taking about. The main thing I consider when reviewing beta readers’ comments and critiques is whether there was a common theme among them. Did they all say the same thing about the same part in the book? If so, then it is something you should STRONGLY consider altering. 

I'm on my second round of beta readers now (which we will talk about next week), and I already have two of the beta readers’ comments back, and between the two of them there was only one commonality. So, now I need to take it upon myself to decide whether that part of the book they mentioned is something I need to change.

It's a hard thing to decide whether a few readers or your creative license is the route to take. My advice—which I should take right now—is to wait to hear back from all the beta readers before making a decision.

*GULP* I'll try, if you try.

Beta Readers Love Me; They Love Me Not: Bribing...Err...Finding Beta Readers (part 2 of 6)

By Moira Murphy, emoon author

Now that I’ve discussed the advantages of beta readers, and how great it is for writers, let’s discuss how to find beta readers. I was not going to simply stumble upon the perfect group of beta readers. Of course, it couldn’t be that simple. First, I had to create an internal checklist of qualities I’d appreciate in readers.

  1.  They must have a love of reading, and a love of the author’s specific genre. (I learned this along the way, as I mistakenly chose a beta reader who was not a fan of fictional works. He made me cry.)
  2. They must understand that, while I don’t want them to be completely aggressive, I do actually need criticism. I need to know what didn’t connect in the story and what characters didn’t seem authentic.
  3. But, they also don’t need to crush my soul. I need constructive criticism, not to be beaten to the ground with every comma I forgot. We call it a ‘content edit’ in the publishing world. I want an edit that is not about grammar and punctuation, but about plot, characters, and flow.  And as the author, you need to make that fact known to the beta readers.
  4. Lastly, they had to work for cheap, close to free. Which sounds greedy and mean, but I haven’t become a world-wide success, yet. I need to publish first. (It’s a joke. I’m not a narcissist. Calm down.)

So, I began my quest for proper beta readers.

I found a few beta readers from work and family friends, and I also asked two previous teachers I’d had. I expected an excited ‘yes!’ from everyone I asked. However, I did not receive these. Truth be told, I was asking a good chunk of time out of their lives to read and critique my manuscript. Hence, the bribery. I used Starbucks gift cards for a few of them, promises of signed copies of the final product for others, but for the most part those I asked were kind enough to offer their services as an effort to benefit the world of arts. They knew I was a poor starving artist, with nothing more than hope in my wallet and a pencil in hand, as most people who pursue their artistic dreams are. 

While I was disappointed that I didn’t hear an adamant “of course I will take time out of my busy life to help you perfect your craft” from everyone, those that did answer were very helpful. I talked about how great beta readers were in the part one of this blog, so I won’t go into it again. However, I do want to reiterate how important this experience is for those looking to publish. 

I can’t say give enough positive feedback on the benefits of beta readers… Do it. Do it. Seriously, do it. Do it. 

Continue to follow Moira Murphy through eMoon in her series "Beta Readers Love Me; They Love Me Not" on 1/13/2017: What Do You Do with Beta Reader Feedback?

National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo)

by Dallas Beams, Electric Moon team member

Hello, again! It’s me, your favorite satirical, sarcastic, and awkward Electric Moon writer! And I have the honor of telling you that the month of November is National Novel Writing Month! For those of you who do not know what that means, National Novel Writing Month is a challenge to all current and aspiring authors. The challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel in the span of a month; begin on November 1st and continue writing as feverishly as you can until midnight on November 30th. PHEW! Sounds impossible, right? Well, while it might be quite the feat, I know that you can do this. I know it might be hard, I know it might be 1,667 words per day. I know that you have a life, a job, a family, bills to pay, checks to write; I know all of this. But, isn’t fulfilling the dream of having your novel finished worth sacrificing for? I’m not saying don’t pay your bills for November, or to quit your job; what I am saying is it’s one month out of your life of full dedication to working with your talent and honing your craft. And that you CAN do.

There is even a website to help you along.

www.nanowrimo.org

This website provides a log for you to track your progress, an author profile, and even published authors to offer friendly advice and encouragement on your journey.

This may all sound like a bad case of ‘easier said than done’ coming from stranger online, who only edits the books of other people, having never written her own novel. On the contrary, my friend, I, like some of you, am also trying to pump out my first novel. I’ve been working on it for about a year, I’ve gone through four drafts, and just started my fifth. And on November 1st I signed up for the website. Let me tell you, it has pushed me to write each day. And you’re right, it is hard, it is a struggle most days. But, the pep talks from the staff are stimulating, and the badges you can earn from your progress are invigorating. Seriously, if you are struggling for inspiration, and trying to fight off writers’ block, I strongly urge you to take the challenge. It is so worth it, and I am saying that only three days into it.

And please document your successes, trials, and efforts with the #nanowrimo on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. We hope that this rejuvenates your love of writing and we hope to see your novels coming into the Electric Moon office at the end of the challenge; which conveniently coincides with our Holiday Publishing Package. Yes, I am shamelessly plugging. But in all honesty it is a great deal that authors should take advantage of before the year is up!

So, where are you in your novel? Half way? Three quarters? Just started? Let us know in the comments below!

For the Love of Books: What Surprised Me Most about Trying to Write a Book (part 5 of 6)

by Becky Swanberg, writer, teacher and friend of eMoon

In July of 2011, I gave birth to my fourth child. At the time, my other kids were two, four, and six years old. As we hit the newborn rhythm and settled in to life with four, I found myself in a strange state of physical exhaustion and mental restlessness. Somehow, I was tired but bored.

That fall I heard murmurings of National Novel Writing Month, a community of writers that set a goal of writing 50,000 words in the month of November. The point of the writing was not the quality of the work but the quantity. Don’t edit. Don’t overthink it. Just write. I signed up with nothing but a vague novel premise and an excitement to stretch my writing muscles a bit.

November 1 came, and I wrote. Each night I found myself at the keyboard, steadily filling the hours of 9:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. with a slowly lengthening novel. At 11:00 I’d shut the laptop, feed the baby her last feeding of the day, and then we’d all go to bed.

In the end I made it to 47,000 words. I didn’t have a novel; I didn’t even really have a story with a point. All I had was a series of random scenes, one of which contained the longest and most-detailed Trivial Pursuit game ever recorded in a work of fiction. Not much promise in all that writing. But I did have a main character that I was getting to know and completely adored. So I scrapped the current manuscript, started over, and tried to write her story again. November had ended but novel-writing had just started.

The next version was better, with a vague hint of a plot, so I cut half of it and kept going.

Write, edit, salvage, repeat. This became the rhythm of my writing life.

Two years later, I finished that manuscript, a YA novel of 90,000 words.

That first book was an unexpected journey; it asked so much of me and taught me so much in the forming of it. I learned hard lessons in plot, conflict, pacing, and ending a story. I labored over dialogue and descriptions, fighting the details to not sound forced or contrived. I interviewed people with similar experiences, wrestled with language and dialect, ruthlessly cut adjectives and adverbs that clouded the writing. I even came to tears as I realized that my book was not going to have the happy ending I had hoped. The story had gotten away from me, the main character that I loved so much had outgrown my original plan, and in her growth she seemed to need a different end. Something harder. Something hopeful.

All of these lessons were invaluable. I came away with a wealth of knowledge not only about the process of writing a book, but also about my process as a writer. I met my main character, Macy, but I also met myself in many ways. I learned how I process information, how I plan, how I write best when I’m feeling my way through a story. I learned how the atmosphere of silence, darkness and talking aloud made the words increase exponentially. I created Macy and her world, but I met parts of me in the middle of it.

Yes, it was harder and more time consuming and more exhilarating and more draining than I had ever imagined. But of all the things I learned, there’s one lesson that surprised me the most. I thought the completion of the project would leave me feeling triumphant; I didn’t expect it to make me feel so vulnerable.

There’s something about creating art, pouring yourself out, digging deep into yourself and calling something out that truly matters to you- this is a terrifying thing to pass along to someone and casually say, “Tell me what you think.” It was a confusing reality because I was so excited to share my work and yet so reluctant to actually offer it to others. I was unprepared for how much that story would matter to me in the end. It was an achievement, not for the quality but for the act of pushing through, of finding my stride, of a few small moments in the story that resonated so deeply with things that matter to me.

In time I came to realize that the vulnerability was coming from many places; it came from the depth of the words, the unsureness of the outcome, the effort given in the pouring out. I knew it wasn’t a masterpiece, but it was a sincere and hard-fought offering.

In the offering of something personal, there is a final stage to letting it go. There’s a moment where you actually have to pry your fingers off the work and set it down, knowing that other people are going to pick it up and treat it how they choose.  It was the moment of setting it down that ripped me raw. I expected to feel more like I was unveiling a painting; instead it felt like abandoning a child. But the setting it down, the walking away, the letting the story tell its own story—each hard part of the process was something I needed to experience.

As I reflect on that first attempt, there’s part of me that wants to “fix” that problem, master my own vulnerability, if you will. Surely I can write in such a way that doesn’t leave me feeling so exposed or produce a story that is so personal. But in the scope of creating and writing and building a story, I think that what we say should matter. It should resonate. It should feel like something significant is being offered in the telling. And all I know to write, all I have to really say, is an outpouring of things that deeply matter and move me.

Follow Becky's other amusing musings on her website at www.beckyswanberg.com. While you're at it, do us a solid and encourage her to publish those manuscripts!

 

Why I Write: Daddy Are You Proud?

by Dallas Beams, Electric moon team member

In elementary school, I realized I wanted to be a writer. I penned little stories about my family and about worlds I made up on my own; I even illustrated them. These stories were written for my family and I had them read every word. But no one’s eyes ever saw them other than my family.

Until high school, in my first creative writing class. It marked the most embarrassing moment of my entire life and yet it affected my writing in a major way. I had written a shallow cliché story about an “emo” kid (my current obsession) who moved to New York City and became a famous writer. In the peer review, my story was torn apart--completely justified--but I was heart-broken. Thank God all of the stories were anonymous; no one knew it was mine. But, that humiliating moment was the turning point in my career as a writer. It pushed me to write better than I ever thought I could.

Creative Nonfiction to me is an expression, an art. Some people paint their feelings, some people stuff their feelings, and some people talk about their feelings.

I write about my feelings.

I write about moments that have affected my life in a major way.

Writing about these moments is a release for me. Instead of shunning them from my memory and stuffing each instance, I am able to release these emotions by tapping on my computer keyboard.

I think another big part of creative nonfiction for me is to make my parents proud. I don’t know what it is about myself, but my main goal (be it conscious or subconscious) in life is to make my mom and dad swell with pride. I know, I know. It sounds cheesy and fake, but the relationship with my parents is very important to me. And the first time they hold one of my published works in their hands, with a big smile their face, and I hear the words I have been desperate to hear since I was twelve, “I am proud of you,”--I will fall over and die of a happy heart.

What About You?

So, why do you write? To earn the praise of someone close to you? Because you feel this yearning to put pen to paper, or words to computer screen? If you haven’t sought out the answer to why you write, you may be missing out on a great muse for your creativity. A transparent writer who “knows thy self” can write from a deeper place and put forth stronger writing with conviction.

Let us know, why you write. Take an adventure into yourself and tell someone about your epiphany of self discovery.

Dallas is an eMoon associate who specializes in editing and writing.