This week my sister, Kerry, and I were talking about The Unfading Lands. I have her reading sections as I go along and she provides me with feedback. She's not the only person reading my work as I go, but she is the only family member to have ever gotten a glimpse at something I've written prior to it actually being published. I like to think this is a big deal. Anyways.... we were discussing the book because I have yet to send her another section to read and she's like, "Come on already!"
So I started thinking, "Don't rush me! Don't you know what it is I'm doing right now?!"
and you know.... No. She doesn't. Or at least, she didn't until I filled her in. It made me realize that maybe it would be neat to share with you how I work and sort out my thoughts. Because people don't always know the process.
It's easy to write a few pages of a text. But when you have over 400 pages, it becomes harder and harder to dig back into the manuscript to look for certain scenes or character moments, etc. And I am NOT saying this is how everyone works, but this is what I have found works for me... though it is constantly changing.
FIRST, I begin the top of my manuscript by having a list of my characters' names, much like a play has them listed for you in the front of a Playbill. That way, I know who I want to incorporate, where they are located, what type of person they are, etc. Plus it helps me later on if I forget to mention one or something, and I'm like "Oh yeah... gotta' work that one in somehow." ;) it's happened....
So that's one of the first things I do.
THEN, I work on my descriptions of the characters. What do I want them to look like? I use image searches all the time for certain celebrities. I like this person's hair, I want to describe this man's eyes... how would I describe them? It helps me to have a visual to actually look at sometimes. So my characters end up being a collage of multiple people that I form in my head that best depicts the person I'm going for. :) Not weird at all......
NEXT, I just start typing. I'm not a handwritten person, because honestly I would be burning through spiral notebooks if I wrote out every manuscript. And also because as I write, I may not complete a scene or even add one where it needs to be at that particular moment. So I may be finishing a paragraph like this:
"Elizabeth wandered through the woods."
That is what it would look like. I add the asterisks and highlight them in green so that it stands out and tells me I wanted to go back in there and add more information to that specific scene and character.
OR it may read something like this after a paragraph.
"Elizabeth wandered through the woods."
************ King Granton disapproval of actions. Resolved by Eamon.
Again, I highlight it in green. It is a small reminder of what type of scene I want to add in. (And no, these are not actual examples from my book. ha! The character names are, but not the info I just typed. Muhahahaha)
THEN, I write some more, and as new ideas keep coming, I add more asterisks and more scenes. When I reach the moment to write out those individual scenes, then I delete my little comment and move along. :)
NOW, when I'm in the heart of the book and all the scenes are reaching that incredible moment of BOOM! My thoughts turn more into a spider web. Everything is jumbled, my excitement is actually a hindrance, because it sends my brain into overdrive and confusion trying to sort out which scene I want where, etc. So then I have to map it out.
I sent a picture to my sister this week of my "Brain Web." It basically looked like a Unabomber went off on it... or Rain Man... either way, it looked crazy. I assured her that it made perfect sense to me. And my husband, Brad, just rolls his eyes and laughs when he finds random notes lying around. (I would show a picture of this ... but then you would see my writing and ideas and it would kind of be a spoiler!) :) So here is a picture of Charles Dickens' mark up of Great Expectations to give you an idea of the chaos that ensues while writing and editing. ;)
So there are a lot of stages in the writing process. And I'm sure every author operates differently. You learn as you go and there is no wrong or right way of doing things. It's just what makes sense to you that will work. I keep all my crazy webs, maps, drawings, post its, etc. because I love to look at the different stages that eventually result in an actual organized, beautifully bound book. When I speak to groups or schools, I find what everyone loves to see is how an idea becomes a book. And there is no better way to explain it than to SHOW them the different stages... even though when you walk out of there and realize they think you are a crazier person than when you first walked in. :)
Well, I am at that moment... that moment in the book where someone has to die. Don't worry, it makes me sad too. I will not tell you who it is... you will have to wait to find out. But this week people were asking me about the book and I guess, kind of prodded for what type of writer I am. They wanted details on it.
I'm pretty tight lipped about the whole thing. I give a little bit of information, but mostly I hold it tight to the vest. It is my baby after all, and it's not quite ready to meet the whole world. Haha.
Yet one thing I tried to explain to them was how easy it is to write about someone dying or being killed.
"And he died."
"And he was no more."
"And he drew his last breath."
There are so many ways to write that someone died. The hard part for me is to DESCRIBE the death. I mean it is easy to write stuff down, but I constantly struggle with what I am personally comfortable with. If I am not comfortable writing it, then I always assume my readers will be uncomfortable reading it. How far is too far? How much detail is too much detail?
I'm not a gore person. I don't like watching movies that involve a lot of blood and guts everywhere. I mean one of my favorite shows is the British Robin Hood series... because they fight, they battle, and yet you see very little blood. In fact, Brad has told me often enough that it is corny. But hey, I can't help it. It has enough action for me. I know if a man is stabbed a certain way that he is going to die. I don't necessarily need to see it all happen. I know what is happening to his insides... I don't have to visually picture them oozing out. No thank you. :/ And I assure you my death scenes will NOT be corny. ;)
So back to me writing the death scene. It's happening. It's sad, because I have grown rather attached to all my characters. Even the bad guys. But someone has to die in order for the story to move forward. Sad face. And I know more will die later on, sad face again, and I'm inwardly prepping myself for having to write those.
It has taken me over five days to write this particular death scene, because it is so hard for me to let the character go! BUT... it finally happened. The character died. Gracefully and intricately written but without a tub of guts sitting beside him/her.
If you are looking for a gory book to read... I suggest anything by George R. Martin. ;) I for one, have a hard enough time letting my characters go, much less tearing them to pieces. No matter how good George may be, it's not quite my style of writing. It's his. I like to think I have my own unique style that will leave you just as interested, but maybe not as visually scarred. haha.
In the next couple of weeks, I will be preparing posts to share with you guys more details on The Unfading Lands in regards to the setting and the feel of the book. I want you guys to get a sneak peek and hopefully an excitement for what is finally coming together. :) I will also be presenting character profiles on some of the characters. I want you to get to know them as well, and attached to them, like me. ;) Stay tuned. :)
I wanted to update you guys on the progress of The Unfading Lands.
When I first set out into the publishing world, I found the process of taking an idea and turning it into a finished work quite interesting. And I also soaked up any information I could from other authors and learned different ways of doing things. As my fourth round of publishing, you would think I've gotten it all figured out by now, but honestly, the process of a novel versus children's books are quite different, and it is a new experience for me this go around.
As of right now, I am about halfway finished with The Unfading Lands.
Yep, it is not finished.
You may be thinking, then how do you know you can publish it?
First off, let me say that I have been working on this book for almost two years.
And I am halfway finished? No, it is not going to take me another two years to finish it. ha. :)
What I guess I meant to say, is that I came up with the idea for this series of books two years ago and have been mapping the story out ever since. I did not start writing it until this year. So yes, I know how the story is going to end. I know how each book will begin and end, I just now have to write the middle. The meat. The juicy, juicy meat of a middle. :)
So yes, it is only half written, but the end is already finished. ;p
At this stage in the process, I start having a couple of people (sworn to secrecy) ;p begin to read it for fun. That way I can receive input on what an actual reader thinks, feels, etc.
Also at this point, I have an arsenal of editors who read it for different things. I have one editor that focuses on grammar, one on structure, one on this, one on that. That way, I have all my bases covered. Then when the book is complete, I have different editors read it as a whole. And another couple readers read it as a whole.
You always want to bounce your book off a potential audience. It's hard, trust me. I was scared to death to let someone take a glimpse at my baby... aka this book. I felt vulnerable. This is my heart, so to speak. I LOVE writing. What if they don't like it?! Then what will I do? Thankfully, I have yet to have a person dislike it. Phew! But I also am not blind. I know some people won't. And I'm okay with that. It's not for everyone. I don't like Stephen King books, not because of his amazing writing ability. I just don't like being freaked out! haha. So I know some will not like my book, and no problemo. :)
I wanted to keep you guys posted on where I am at and the process of the way I do things. Surprisingly the most common questions I receive are from people wanting to know 'how it's done." So I hope as I make this journey and piece together this MASTERPIECE (jk jk jk.... not really.... okay maybe a little) I hope it sheds some light on the process for them.
It takes work. It takes dedication. It takes patience. It takes vulnerability. It takes guts. It takes imagination. And most importantly, it takes fun.
I'll continue to keep you posted. :) I'm hoping to introduce you to some of my characters soon. So stay tune! And if you have any questions, please... ask away. :)
I would like you to meet Susie. The name and face behind my book Susie at Your Service. A few weeks ago I introduced you to my grandmother, Laura Bell... well this week, I am going to introduce you to my other grandmother.... Susie.
Also known as Ninny. Ninny is my maternal grandmother and probably the best pie maker you will ever meet. Also her cheesecake is really awesome... and her pralines... pancakes... basically anything she touches in the kitchen turns into the most delicious creations you will ever eat. :)
On top of being an amazing cook, Ninny is also an amazing person. One of the reasons I used her as my inspiration for Susie is that she is a generous person. Ninny will bend over backwards to help someone, whether she knows them or not.
When I was little and Ninny came to our house for a visit, she always brought us something. It could be a snack or just a little something from the store. She always had something for us. Perks of being a grandkid, I guess. :)
I also remember riding around in her red Blazer, and Ninny always had gum. I never chewed gum, except when I was with Ninny. To this day, the smell of Double Mint, Juicy Fruit, or Big Red sends me into a nostalgic flashback to riding around with Ninny. She also taught me this amazing trick to put peanuts in my Dr. Pepper... or of course, Peanut M&Ms. It's a treat that sometimes I treat myself to when I have a craving for a soda. It's not complete without peanuts.
When I first thought of the story of a young girl who loved to help others, it was no contest. Her name had to be Susie.
To this day, I know I can always call Ninny for anything. She's great to talk to and usually can solve any of my cooking questions... or problems... in a pinch.
Visiting her house we would always take walks up and down the road, sometimes picking blackberries. We would pass Mr. Orville's house and work our way down to Jeanette's. Yes, the other characters in the book are real people too. People from Susie's life, as well as mine. :)
Ninny always took time to spend with us kids. We would have sleepovers at her house and she would always let us pick the menu during our stay and she would patiently, and I mean PATIENTLY, take the time to teach me to crochet. PA-TIENT-LY. ;p
When I went off to college and would come home for a visit, Ninny would always ask me if there was anything I needed. "Not that I can think of." I would respond. She would then motion me to follow her down the hallway to the back bedroom, and she would open the doors to her "magic closet." This closet held gifts, crafts, decorations, etc. and she would let me rummage through there and find something I wanted (Usually candles for me). A treasure chest of good stuff. :) She will also, to this day, send me jars of jellies, hot sauce, or jams that she has made and "put up." Thanks to her and the other women in my family, I have never had to purchase jelly from the store before... I honestly couldn't even tell you what it tastes like. I'm sure it is not even close to Ninny's. And I also guarantee you that I am not the only person she shares those things with... If she thinks you need a jar of jelly, you get one. If there's a toy drive in town, she's there delivering toys. If there' a family in need of something, they receive it immediately. If she thinks you need an ear to listen, she's got two. If she thinks you need a visit to the "magic closet" to receive a gift, she'll take you.
She has one of the most generous hearts you will ever meet.
It is my hope that when kids read about Susie and her spirit of generosity, that part of Ninny's charm and heart are passed onto them in the process.
"I can do most anything, for it's a special gift. For I am Susie at Your Service, and it's my JOY to give."
Howdy Everyone! And welcome to my website! My name is Katharine Hamilton and I am a writer and multi-genre author! Thank you for stopping by!