Nothing like a Good Fight

I must admit I like reading a good fighting scene in a book–when the hero gets to throw down his gloves and just have it out with the antagonist. (Of course it’s generally¬† the villain who starts the fight.) I like writing it even more. Maybe that’s why I write historical novels–so the loser can’t sue the winner!

You might wonder why a good little Christan girl is so violent, but what can I say–I’m a martial artist. I have a second degree black belt (which is only impressive if you aren’t martial artiest) and I used to instruct. In other words, I like to write fights into my books because:

  1. I like to choreograph. We did martial art demonstrations all the time when I was heavy into training. We would put together fight sequences and then preform for the community, the city, and sometimes during Chinese holidays. It was so much fun. Now I write it out and then have someone walk through the moves with me to make sure it does flow (esp when one of my characters has an impairment, such as use of only one arm, or an injured leg, making them dependent on a crutch.)
  2. I believe the need to protect is ingrained in a man’s internal wiring. Take my friend with only use of one arm. He was about to leave his wife and children because he felt he was no longer any use to them. Then he took his frustrations out on the man who had tried to murder his wife and hurt his family. He felt a lot better (though not physically better) after that.
  3. I’m just plain mean to my characters–esp, the hero of the story. I have been known to shoot him, hang him, shoot him again, make him endure torture…even amputations are not unheard of. In short, a fist fight is going to hurt…but it could be worse. (And as long as he gets the girl in the end, that’s what really matters, doesn’t it?)
  4. It breaks up the monotony of a good romance ūüėČ

Here you might start wondering, why the heroine doesn’t get to get dirty with her fists. Maybe she will. But not is she doesn’t have too. My husband loves to say that I could kill him with my pinky. He brags it to all his friends and it makes me smile because I think he could probably give me a run for my money. He is over six feet tall and pretty solid. He has also had some martial art training. One of the reasons I fell for him was that if we were ever mugged in a dark ally, I wouldn’t have to protect him. I could sit back and take pics:)

 

 

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Finished!!!

I know, the use of multiple exclamation points are a sure sign of a deranged mind–unless you just finished a the first draft of the first novel you’ve written in about four years! OK, maybe it’s still a sign of a deranged mind. Anyways — personal acknowledgment of insanity aside — it only took me about three months, which really isn’t bad considering my three year-old and one year-old are still alive, my house hasn’t fallen into disrepair, and my husband still professes to love me!

So just over 60,000 words later, my new novel, Midnight’s Escape (title subject to change), is now ready to be edited and rewritten a half dozen + times! Wait–this is starting to sound not finished at all. *sigh*. It’s the first draft that counts, right?

On the bright side, I was looking forward to a nice relaxing summer of reworking another manuscript, but I find myself with another fully laid out plot, half developed main and supporting characters, and desire to move on to another post World War II story–this time in a nice little Idaho town. (But more on that later.) So much for a relaxing summer as I see if I can get that story out on paper, continue my ongoing agent hunt, and continue shining Midnight’s Miracle until the agents and publishers won’t be able to resist.

Here’s wishing you all a great summer too!

 

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Why I Started Writing Again

As I mentioned in my last post, shortly after I met my husband I stopped writing for about four years. I was busy living and starting a family. Once in a while I would pick up one of my finished manuscripts and work on an edit, but nothing new.

Then a friend died.

Josh was 23, but even in that short life he had accomplished amazing things — writing music and releasing an album, for just one example. (Here is a sample!)

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While I was attending his funeral, I was struck with the realization that I couldn’t wait for tomorrow — or for any later date. Writing was my passion, my dream, and I had to do it now. I went home and within the week registered for a creative writing course at the university that I had been talking about for years. I began forcing myself to write for one hour every day, even if I was exhausted and felt like my mind was broken, which was a common sensation for me.

For the first few months it was painful — actually and literally. My brain had gotten lazy, and writing something creative after a long, busy day wasn’t fun. It was closer to some strange form of torture I’m sure evil geniuses use to destroy their enemies … But slowly it became easier. Then it became fun again (take that, evil genius!). And now I can’t stop …

Whats more, from the feedback I have been getting about my recent novel, I know I am close to achieving my dream of being published.

I encourage everyone to think about that thing they have been putting off until tomorrow, and to do it, or at least start it today! You don’t know if you have tomorrow.

Thank you, Josh!

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Consumed with Creation

Five years ago I was a very prolific novelist. One of my favorite memories is from the Christmas of 2008 (the month before I officially met my husband). I had gone home to spend Christmas with my parents (only an hour drive) but went back to my apartment earlier than I had planned because I had an idea for a book and I wanted to get it on paper (or my computer). For the next ten days I spent almost every minute of every day hidden in my room with my laptop¬† typing as fast as I could. It was perfect because all my roommates had were gone and there were absolutely no distractions other than being dragged to a new-years dance — after which I went home and continued writing until the wee hours of the morning.

It was a writers heaven! and in just short of ten days I had churned out around 50,000 words.

For that week and a half I had lived my story — I had been absorbed in it! For the next few months I was averaging a full first draft every month. On the side I worked as a massage therapist and being self-employed I set just enough appointments to keep a roof over my head and food in the fridge — the rest of the time I wrote.

That fall I began dating the man I would marry …

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and I never wrote another novel again …

Until now, that is.

The truth is, my husband was very supportive of my writing and the possibilities of being published were looking good (Dec. 2009 I was told by a publishing house that they would like to publish one of my books and would likely get to it autumn 2010 — unfortunately, they closed their doors that next year.) The problem with writing more books was getting into the stories — allowing myself to become lost in my imagination when I was enjoying my reality too much!

We had a baby the next year (and another, two year later) and being a mother — something I had always looked forward to — now occupied my time and mind. I could edit and even rewrite the manuscripts I already had, but creating something new seemed impossible. (Though really, I had just created a little human, so I think that year was still pretty productive!)

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Now that I am writing again (my next post is dedicated to how I was able to get back into it), I face a problem I never had before: balance.¬† To write a novel length manuscript I must become consumed with the story — to let it play out in my mind even when I’m not writing, and to find the time to bring it to life on the page. But my life has changed so much! To raise a preschooler and toddler I must be present and attentive, meeting all their needs and many of their wants. My relationship with my husband takes time as well — and focus. I can no longer hide in my room for ten days straight while I write a book. Most times, ten minutes seems like I’m asking too much!

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And so I’m learning to dance. I’m learning when to set the lap-top down pick the child up. I’m learning how to use those wonderful moments when the kids are entertaining each other to their fullest. At least one evening a week — no matter how much I want to write — is dedicated to my spouse.

Even still, there are some things that are going to suffer — there is no way I’m spending my baby’s nap or children’s bed-time cleaning up the house and getting other randomness done. That’s when I write! If something didn’t get finished while the kids were awake, it gets to wait. I also spend less time out in the community and less time keeping up with old friends (sorry about that). While I’m trying to get this story out of my head and onto my computer, some things have to give — like epic post on my blogs for example.

I look forward to the day when the story is finished its first draft (I’m at 34,000 words!) so I can set it down do something a little less¬† intense — like a rewrite that novel I wrote the Christmas of 08.

Here are a few signs that you might be “consumed” by your story:

  • You can play the same song over several dozen times and not be tired of it, because you aren’t really listening — it’s helping create mood … even when your not writing. (My poor husband!)
  • When your spouse comes home (or you are talking to that person that you always talk to), and instead of telling them about what’s new with family and friends, you fill them in on everything that’s been going on with your characters.
  • When sitting in church (I am a Christian writer) instead of applying the thoughts of the day to your own life, you find yourself picking out what your characters need.
  • You love creating music videos in your head — what your story would look like if surmised in a song. (If you haven’t tried it and you are a writer, you should!)
  • Where ever you go, whatever you’re doing, your “people” are never far from your thoughts.

 

 

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Humanity’s True Test

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This will be short and sweet as I am lost in the depths of writing a novel and hate coming up for air! I was recently discussing with my hubby the atmosphere of most of my novels and noted that they are generally set around times of war. Check it out:

Midnight’s Miracle – post World War II

In Freedom and War (with two books leading up to it) American Civil War

More than Happiness – American Revolutionary War

Tear of a Dragon (fantasy) A war that attempted to wipe out a whole civilization.

Measure of Creation – the thick of World War II

And now I’m writing what I’ve titled: Midnight’s Escape – which begins with the Soviet’s march on Berlin at the end of World War II, and deals with some of the authorities that took place in that place and time.¬† But no, I’m not a violent person. In fact, I generally don’t like watching or reading about violence. I am that person covering their eyes when the shooting starts in the movies. So why in the world am I writing about such violent times (and yes, I even include fighting scenes — I am a Martial Artist and do appreciate action — though they are generally not overly graphic)?

I came to the following conclusions: In times of war, humanity is put on trial. When a person is expected to kill, as well as be willing to sacrifice their own life. When it is easier to not see your enemy as individuals with perhaps just as valid a reason to be there are you. When both hate and love are felt in extremes.  When faith is tested. When a person is faced with the very fabric of what and who they are. Fear. Hate. Sorrow. Pain. Sacrifice. When a human is most human in the fundamental meaning of the word.

There is something about taking a character and putting them in situations where the tapestry of their  core ethics, beliefs and morality are challenged in the  extreme, and watch to see what survives and what is torn to shreds.

[To be honest, I am finding Post World War Two almost as disturbing as the middle of the Nazi regime, for the revenge and brutality acted out upon unarmed men and civilians, that made¬†some of the allies just as evil and¬†degenerate as the officers they were trying at¬†Nuremberg for war crimes. How great is my respect for the soldiers on all sides who did not lose their sense of right and wrong in such times as those — who rose above everything around them and did their best to be both honorable and moral.]

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I could spend hours writing about all this and expressing myself better than this short glance at the subject, but I am too busy spending hours writing in depth about all this as I render it in fiction!

 

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How my 67,000 Word Novel Became 80,000

This is just another example of an innocent edit getting out of control. Actually, I did want to add 10,000 words, and that had been achieved with excess of 1000 words. Then I was done … I thought. Just to be on the safe side a friend and I both ran through my manuscript one last time with a fine tooth comb, catching all those annoying double “the”s¬† and other random mistakes (its amazing what you can miss even after so meany times over it!) In the doing so, magically — especially considering I felt I was deleting more than I was adding —¬† another four thousand words appeared. My novel, “Midnight’s Miracle” is now 80,000 words and exactly 300 double spaced pages.

Now back to the agent hunt!

Also in the news, I am about 10,000 words into my next book. It’s working title is “Midnight’s Escape”, but that might change a few times before I’m done. All the main characters have met, and I think I’m starting to get a feel for who they are, where they’ve been, where they’re going — or at least trying to go, because you know it’s not going to be an easy trip. Dieter, Ruth and Cole are going to hate me by time they get to the end of their story! But really, it’s April 1945 in Berlin, they can’t blame everything on me.Soviet-tanksd-advance-through-shattered-berlin-streets

(My hubby disagrees — everything can be blamed on me. I guess I did put them there. If I was really nice I could have let them play out their romantic triangle in the 21st century on the comfort of the internet …

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Na, I’d rather we enjoy ourselves at their expense.)

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Done! 76 000 Words Later

This is me taking a breath.

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I just finished my ten thousand word rewrite/ polish of my novel Midnight’s Miracle. By time finished, I actually added eleven thousand, and while I feel it was complete at 65 thousand, the extra words have added more life to it, and more depth to the characters. In short, I am glad I did it. It has propelled me into another story I need to write.

Now I’m headed into Post World War Germany to discover the fate of a character mentioned in Midnight’s Miracle; a girl who finds herself separated from her family as the Allies divide Germany between themselves. She is trapped on the East side, with no way to discover the fate of her mother and older brother. She is helped by two unlikely heroes, a man who fought for his country only to return a cripple, and a Russian soldier who’s grandmother raised him as a Christian. When the time comes to escape East Germany, will she be forced to chose between love and freedom?

Do I have you hooked yet? I am. I’m fifteen hundred words into it with a goal to add a thousand words a day — Children permitting! We’ll see if i can get this out on paper while the fire’s hot! Meanwhile I have lots of queries to write as the Agent hunt continues…

Stay tuned!

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