Monthly Archives: September 2011

Day 36

S.U.B.M.I.T.T.E.D! Almost a week to the day I posted about completing my novella I am shouting my good news! Though I actually submitted my completed entry in the novella writing contest on Saturday the 17th, it’s been a busy few days. This is the first chance I’ve had to get here and blog about it. Just thinking about hitting that submit button still brings goosebumps to my arms. I’ve never been more excited or proud of myself. At least not since the day an article I wrote on women’s health took the first place award in its category from the Society of professional Journalists. Writing articles comes easy to me; fiction seems to be a struggle. So you can imagine how proud of myself I am. Whether I win or not doesn’t matter. I know I’ve said that before but I mean it.

The best prize of all for me was the fact that I started the novella, finished it, edited it and submitted it before the deadline of the contest. I’ve never had a problem meeting deadlines. As a journalist you live, eat and breathe deadlines. Give me a subject for an article and I can run with it from research to a completed draft that is copy ready. But when it comes to fiction I’m all over the place. I still can’t figure out if I should research first or research as I go along. I try to figure it out as the individual project calls for it. This novella was like nothing else I’ve ever written. The idea just came to me out of thin air (which never happens!) and I ran with it. It took me all of ten days to write the first draft. After that, for me, it was just a matter of editing on a schedule.

Though my plan was to edit one half to a full chapter a day for two weeks, the words just seemed to fall into place. I ended up ending two chapters minimum and on the final day, because I’m driven by nature, I edited the last three chapters. Now I’m a tough critic. I have no problem killing my darlings, as they say. Cutting, slashing or whatever you want to call it is not a problem. But this story seemed to not need any major surgery. It was more of a fine tuning, of getting the sentences polished to a shine, as my friend likes to say. Once those sentences were sparkling and I was happy with the story, I knew I could safely say ‘it’s as good as it’s going to get’ and send it on its way.  I found myself laughing and thoroughly enjoying the story during the editing stage as much as I enjoyed writing it. This was my first experience writing a romantic comedy and I have to say I’m eager to give it another go.

So with the novella contest behind me I’m eager to start writing again. Now my only problem is deciding whether I want to go back to my second novel, Garden Variety, or try my hand at something completely new. I feel like I’ve lost my momentum with the story so if I do go back to it I know I’ll need to sit down and reread it. But I think I’m itching to write another sweet romance….a funny story that’s been waiting for me to scratch its surface. Maybe, just maybe…but for now I have a quick writing assignment to do for a former corporate client. But you can bet the minute I hit ‘send’ on that corporate assignment I’ll be pulling out a fresh novel notebook and jotting down what I hope will become yet another completed work for me. 2011 is turning out to be quite a productive year!

How about you? It’s already mid September. This year is just flying by…what have you accomplished so far?

Chris

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 35

F.I.N.I.S.H.E.D No, it’s not an acronym. I finished my first novella! This was an extremely challenging project as I still feel so new to the fiction world. Though I had completed an 85K word novel in February, this 25K word project was a huge challenge for someone who tends to be long winded. I wasn’t sure I could tell a good story in so few words so I surprised myself.

I would never have been interested in writing a novella had it not been for the novella writing contest that Avon Romance is holding. What clinched it for me was the fact that my favorite author Debbie Macomber would be choosing the grand prize winner. I found the contest mid August but being the journalist that I am, kept putting off starting the story.

Finally on September 1 I started writing, realizing I would have only a few weeks to write, edit and submit the whole story. Within 10 crazy days I hit the 25K mark and completed the story. And do you know what? It turned out better than I could have ever imagined!

I owe it all to my journalism background and the woman who taught me how to write tight and write fast – Carolyn James. Carolyn is the owner and publisher of the Babylon Beacon, a weekly local paper that I spent six years writing feature and education reports for. Those six years were better than any college degree program I could have entered. Those six years of writing and learning are the reason why I can write at break neck speed, often times getting the words perfect on the first shot. It’s how I won a first place award from the Society of Profesional Journalists back in 2006. And it’s how I managed to write a 25K word novella in exactly 10 days, writing 8+k on the tenth day.

What am I doing now? This morning I edited the first chapter leaving me seven more to go. I plan to edit two chapters a day and then submit the novella to the contest. Whether I win the grand prize or even final at all doesn’t even seem to matter anymore. I’ve already won. I’ve proven to myself that I can do it. I’ve always been great at meeting deadlines, usually submitting my work at least two days early. But with this novella I’ve convinced myself that I have what it takes to be a storyteller. And that’s what I needed more than anything else.

What mountains have you scaled that have convinced you that you have what it takes?

Chris

 

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Day 34

It’s been a rainy week and while I usually drag myself to my desk, the last four days have been very productive.  It’s been exactly one week since I posted about my intention to enter a novella writing contest being held by Avon Romance. Though there will be three finalists, the grand prize winner will be chosen by none other than Debbie Macomber. I know I gushed about her in my last post, but she truly is an inspiration to me. Debbie Macomber overcame Dyslexia to become one of the best selling authors in her genre. Her story can best be found in the pages of her first non-fiction title, Knit Together. Not only do I own the title but have read it three times because I enjoy Debbie’s writing so much.

Last post I had written 2K on the novella and my story was still finding its legs. Today I’m popping at the seams with happiness having clicked on ‘word count’ to find I am just shy of 13K. With the maximum being 25K, it looks like I am more than halfway to goal! What’s even more important than the numbers is the story. I’m thrilled with the twists and turns I’ve managed to come up with.  My first completed novel is an inspirational women’s fiction story. Garden Variety, the novel I’m currently working on, is a story about the relationships between mothers and daughters. Yes, there’s a bit of romance in there but nothing like the novella I am working on for this contest.

This morning I shared the details of my story with my daughter, an aspiring filmmaker who can relate to a creative mind. She loved it! Her reaction “That would make a great Hallmark movie mom!” I love the Hallmark channel. I think I’ve seen every movie they’ve aired and when they announce a new release I mark it on my calendar so as not to miss it. Yes, to some people they might be corny,but to me there’s nothing better than sitting down to watch two characters go through hoops to avoid one another only to end up as their best possible match. With all the bad news out there, who doesn’t need a little HEA(Happily Ever After)? I’ll take my Hallmark movies any day over the ten o’clock news!

Now that I’ve caught you up on what I’ve been doing all week I’m going to head back to my story and see if I can’t hit that 14K mark today. My goal is to have this novella written in full by Tuesday and ready to edit. And on September 30, if not a day or two earlier (I’m a journalist by trade and pride myself on coming in a day or two ahead of deadline) I will be uploading my story and hitting the ‘send’ button with a big smile!

Keep your fingers crossed for me, will you?

Chris

 

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Day 33

It’s been awhile. I’m hanging my head in shame and cringing just a bit. Seems I’ve been doing everything but writing since I last posted. And I have. I won’t even bore you with a laundry list of errands, road trips and family calamities. Let’s just say I’ve fallen off the writing wagon and I’m anxious to climb back on. What better way to mark this first day of September than to update you on my goings on?

I opened up Garden Variety, my second novel, and read it from the beginning to bring myself up to speed. I can honestly say I really do like this story and my absence has not dimmed my interest in it. I’ll be picking up from where I left off, but today I had another project that was front and center.

Avon Books is holding a novella writing contest to be judged by none other than one of my all time favorite writers (and people) Debbie Macomber. As soon as I read the announcement I knew I had to give it a shot. Barely versed in novel writing, I know this will be quite an undertaking for me.

As I was writing this morning I already found myself jotting down notes to ask my good friend Larissa Lyons, who has written many novellas. Larissa is every writer’s dream friend. Her Texas accent is endearing and she’s loads of fun to talk to on the phone. Best of all, she’s a fountain of knowledge who is willing to share her expertise and experience in this tough publishing business. To learn more about Larissa and her novels (Regency and Erotic Romance) you can pay her a visit at http://larissalyons.com/ and please do tell her I sent you.

Getting back to the contest, I came up with a fun idea that just seemed to sit right. After lots of starts and stops, I’m about 2k in on a story that cannot exceed 25K. Being a writer who is often ‘long winded’ this will be quite a challenge.

Now it’s time to get back to work and see if I can’t log in a couple hundred more words. But if you have any advice to share on how you tackle short writing projects like novellas, I would love to hear from you!

Happy September!

Chris

 

 

 

 

 

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