Wednesday, November 25, 2015

NaNoWriMo complete. Ahead, warp factor one!

50,279 words later, I completed my first draft of book three in my series, A Doorway Back to Forever. I used the National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as a launching pad for this endeavor, and I must say it was a great exercise in using my Captain Kirk brain! I read a fantastic analogy about the two different brains we have as writers. It differentiates between the brain we useto  write and the one used to edit. I've heard that one of the reasons a person never finishes a novel is because they are constantly in editing mode, and therefore never get to a level of completion. The analogy used resonated strongly with my Star Trek connection, talking about the Captain Kirk brain vs. the Mr. Spock brain.

Captain Kirk was all action. He would get in there and get it done. He would out think, out bluff, out smart, out fight anyone and everyone to save lives and to keep galactic peace. This is what we call the writer’s brain. I began a rough outline of beats which I needed to hit, and when I sat down to write, it was all Kirk. I got in there and got it done, scene by scene. Any revising or editing would be saved for the moment I was ready to turn on my Mr. Spock brain.

 Mr. Spock, was the thinker in Star Trek. He would analyze all angles of a situation, use logic and intellect, then ponder and debate before arriving at a conclusion. This is what we do when we edit. We go back, we re-read, we look for loop holes, we expand on characterization, plot arcs, all while keeping the story structure intact. It's a beautiful thing. It's worth the wait. 

Now that Captain Kirk has made his move, Spock can discover the whys and the hows to make this story great.

I'm grateful for the ability to recognize the two different processes because they really help me get my writing done. Without it, I couldn't have pulled off an average of 2500 words a day on it. 

I now have two solid novels to edit. Book two is called A Doorway Back to Forever: Trust. Book three is called A Doorway Back to Forever: Defend.

My next move is to publish book one, A Doorway Back to Forever: Believe. It was conceived nine years ago, given serious work only over the last five years, and is now ready to make its debut. I'll be sending more info on that as it comes along. Thanks for believing in me!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Faith and Inspiration: Standing Strong through the Storm

Life as a valiant Christian is becoming more controversial in these latter-days. As the world trends toward social and political issues as its standard, religious doctrine takes a back seat. When scriptures are no longer pondered, doctrine is no longer studied, and church leaders are passed off as out of touch, people lose their personal and eternal bond with God. Indeed, sometimes in their efforts to reconcile the world’s definition of gospel truths, their relationship with God is skewed, disconnected, forgotten, even resented.

Noah was right. In hindsight, it’s easy to see the truth of this statement. But before the flood came, no one saw it.

I’ve been writing a series of articles in LDS Blogs about keeping the Sabbath Day holy. I did so in answer to our prophet’s call to renew our dedication to Sabbath day observance and make it more of a priority in our lives. Of all the things the church leaders could be telling us to do, they chose Sabbath Day observance as the most important priority. Here’s why I think that is so.

Sabbath day observance involves repentance, partaking of the sacrament to renew our covenants with the Savior, and dedicating the day in remembrance of Jesus Christ. On days when I’ve been really good at following this direction, I’ve felt a cleanliness and holiness about me unlike any other day. I’m renewed and strengthened. I’m enlightened as I have his spirit to be with me.

Now imagine a world full of faithful, dedicated, followers of Christ, making that same commitment. Imagine the power of an army of clean and reverent hearts, battling the spiritual temptations and blows from Satan. No other power on earth can combat the adversary, and only through the power of God’s holy Priesthood can we overcome sin and death. When that power is multiplied on a massive level, there is nothing Satan can do to overturn God’s plan. Unleashing an army of faithful followers of Christ is truly the only way to win against the adversary and make a difference in the world.
Our prophet is inspired. We can show our dedication to him by following him, standing tall, and keeping our connection to God strong and resolute.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

IWSG November Entry: When the Student Is Ready ...

Thanks to the Insecure Writers Support Group, I get to express my feelings about writing once a month in the hopes that it may inspire me, or others, to press on!

 It seems that around every first Wednesday of the month, I begin to see more inspirational messages about writing. It’s as if the Holy Spirit shakes a measure of good cheer over the earth, which finds its way to the internet, exactly when I need it. Hmm … is there a deeper message here?

There is an old Asian saying that states, “When the student is ready, the teacher will come.” I firmly believe this philosophy, as I’ve seen it manifest plainly in my writing life. It is the philosophy of the gospel of Jesus Christ, even if we don’t recognize it at first. But it is there for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

When I wanted to write a novel, my good friend, Terrie Bittner, who was an author in her own right, directed me to the Writing Great Fiction series, and so my studies began.

When I wrote my first draft and needed to take the next step, Terrie introduced me to iWriteNetwork, an online group of writers helping writers, and I met Tristi Pinkston, a fabulous author and accomplished editor. I began to put myself out there, go to workshops, chat online, and I kept studying. Tristi helped me see the flaws in my work and directed me toward improvement.

When I needed to find a critique group, Donna K. Weaver invited me to join Pied Pipers from the David Farland’s Writing Group, and I got some amazing feedback from other, more accomplished writers. She then introduced me to American Night Writers Association, or ANWA, an online support group for LDS women writers. Between these two groups, I received hands-on help which propelled my novel to the next level.

When I finally felt my novel was “ready” I went back to Tristi for a final edit, and she actually used phrases like “enjoying  your rewrite,”  "improvement is inspiring,” "you've grown so much as a writer," and “proud of you,” in describing my revision. It took me a while to pick myself up off the floor, but I did.

When I said to myself, “I know nothing about publishing and marketing—it will take me a year, at least, to learn the basics,” Kary Oberbrunner contacted me about being my publishing coach. I checked out his Author’s Academy Elite and realized it is what I’ve needed all along to market the Doorway series properly.

And so again, I see—when the student is ready, the teacher will come. I am so blessed to see the teachers in my life, how they have been in tune with the spirit, how they were there for me even when they didn’t realize it.

When we humble ourselves enough to acknowledge our weaknesses, we are open to the help and hope that is waiting to lift us up. It is the story of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, a story that has been around forever. I find my inspiration from my faith, and it keeps me positive, determined, and driven toward excellence. I know I can, because I know who I am.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Doorway Monday: NaNoWriMo and Milestones to report!

Celebrating a <b>Milestone</b> | Steve Biddison

 It is November 2015, and I have an announcement to make—I’ve got MORE MILESTONES to report.

A Doorway Back to Forever: Believe (book one in the series) has just passed through its final edit! This was a project that began as an idea nine years ago. It lay dormant for five years while I tended to family matters, and in 2012 I picked it up again for real. Now, after four years, I can confidently say I am ready for publication!

A Doorway Back to Forever: Trust (book two in the series) is in its third re-write. This is huge for me. I completed the first draft around August and have gone back through it in the re-write process. I’ve found it’s easier for me to 1.) Get the main points of the plot down first. 2.) Go back and check for general flow problems. 3.) Add depth to the characters, storyline, scenes, etc. 4.) Repeat step three as often as it takes.

I had learned this from some of my aviation artist friends in how they work a painting. Layering for me is the perfect imagery for creating art, and I’ve relied on it heavily in my work. It applies in the individual books as well as the larger arch of the series. So far, it’s working well enough to get me to my next milestone …

A Doorway Back to Forever: Defend (book three in the series) is my NaNoWriMo challenge! (National Novel Writing Month) I’ve wanted to do NaNo correctly for two years now, but I was never at a point in my writing career to start a new novel during the month of November. I’m so happy to say that this year, I am ready! I wrote out the beats last week, and I’m really pleased with the way the story is going. My biggest fear was that it would be a repeat of the previous books, but happily, I have a distinct idea for each book in the series so far. Defend was causing me a bit of grief up until a month ago. I worked out some plot ideas with a good friend and I’m excited to report, Defend will stand on its own!

Nanette O’Neal’s Doorway—I’m finally confident enough as a writer to be a regular contributor to my own blog. Frankly, I never felt comfortable sending out blog posts about my novel until now. The change—I got some uplifting comments from my editor about Believe that have given me the confidence to call myself a writer. With that, I will be blogging weekly on this page. Each week will have a different focus:

Week one: Doorway Monday—updates on the progress of my book series, with either news about the development of the idea, symbolism in the fantasy world, or general updates on publication.

Also week one: IWSG entry—this is the post where we, who are members of the insecure Writer’s Support Group, post every Wednesday to help support each other when we feel distressed over the writing process. Usually, I find my IWSG entries to be more positive because by the time I sit to write them, I’m determined not to be negative! It helps to have that push, even if I’m the one doing the pushing.

Week two: LDS Blog update—I write a weekly column for LDS Blogs each week. It is very uplifting to me to be able to do this. I know I’ve felt the spirit of the Lord bless me for my contribution. It’s like giving service to people in need, only this is through the internet and it involves inspirational articles. So, during week two in my blog I will link to a past LDS Blog article and write a little about why I decided to focus on this topic.

Week three: Doorway Monday—more updates. If I have nothing new to say, I may skip this week. But hopefully, I will have some publishing news to tell you about … soon!

Week four: fun stuff—those who know me, know I’m a huge fan of Star Trek, Star Trek Continues, band, karate, hiking, working out, crafts, and I’m a huge fan of my church (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). I’ll reserve the fourth week for miscellaneous articles for the fun of it.

So, that’s it, folks! I hope you’re as excited as I am about these milestones, and the places they will take me! I hope many of you will come along for the ride—the Doorway is always open!