Why I Write

Why I Write

Why I Write

Why I Write

I’m not sure any author gives the full answer when they are asked this question. Perhaps they don’t know the full answer. Perhaps they’ve never asked themselves. Perhaps they don’t want to bore or confuse anyone. Perhaps they don’t know the answer or they are worried it might not be the right one. Or maybe, just perhaps, maybe the answer is too broad, too fragmented, too much to ever just be one answer.

When I write I feel the most like myself. Writing is done in this strange state where one is alone but not alone. I sit in my chair, my fingers hover, tingling, over the twenty-six letters. Five or more characters and their feelings and their desires and their hopes and dreams and their pain flit through my mind all the while and I am somehow in a truer reality than reality.

I have conversations with them. I want to know what they wish they’d gotten for their 11th birthday. I want to know what they daydream about that they’d never tell another soul. I want to know which celebrity they fancy. I want to know how much pressure it would take for them to cave. I want to know what they’d do if they won the lottery. 

I have always sought out solitude. The strange place where the world quiets and I am left to talk to myself: to understand this woman whose body I inhabit. I get acquainted with her when it’s quiet. I listen to her hopes and dreams and I align them with my own. We are somehow two different entities but when we are alone, when we are writing, we are one. This is why I write. To join the inner Rachael with the outer one, so that I can experience peace.

The closest I’ve ever come to this, is sitting with my husband. We are usually in the corner of the lounge in our favorite restaurant (where Roxanne brings us glasses of wine) and we talk about our dreams and we gaze into each others eyes with such a bright ferocity that it’s disconcerting. We talk about our dreams. I talk about my books. About my next five books. About his cartooning. About the future with our wrap around porch and rocking chairs and grandchildren and grey hair. We free ourselves of reality and live in a deeper way.

This is writing. This is probing the human condition. This is diving into someone else’s mind and stirring around in it. I have written since I learned how to read. I write for the sheer joy. I write to be one of those incredible people who create whole worlds with their minds. I write to escape. 

I write to live. Just to pour out a little of the creativity that’s bubbling away inside of me. 

I write for me. Just me. Someone asked J.K. Rowling what she would be if she wasn’t a writer. “Depressed” is what she answered. And that is it exactly. Depressed and broken.

One Year Anniversary Giveaway!

One Year Anniversary Giveaway!

The Clouds Aren't White Giveaway

To celebrate the one year publication anniversary of The Clouds Aren't White, I am giving away a signed copy. 

There are two ways to enter: complete the entry below and share the image on Instagram (@authorrachaelwright) with the #thecloudsarentwhite!

Good luck to all of you!

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What Every Author Needs to Know about Editing

What Every Author Needs to Know about Editing

It seems like only yesterday, late October to be exact, that I was sitting down with my Dad talking about our family and writing a book in my head. October, the whole year in fact, was an emotional rollercoaster. It felt like every time I found my feet they were swept back out from under me.

 

I threw myself into writing Lives Paris Took with a vengeance. I had 5,000 words written before NaNoWrMo and had 53,000 written by the end of November. By December I was finished with the first draft, coming out at a solid 81,000 words. 

Because of the tough time I’ve had this year, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have to be brutal about who I let into my life, who I let hurt me, and how I treat myself. I let my fitness regimen fall away completely. I didn’t stand up to myself. I was furious at the terrible treatment I got from loved ones. But then I realized that so much of it, I could control. I started pruning the branches of my life. I started saying no and not giving my reasons why. 

Editing is much like taking control of your life. There may be authors whose first drafts are these shining beacons of light sent straight down from their heavenly muses…but I am not one of them. My dialogue is contrived. The emotion is emotionless. The descriptions could be about a wooden box and it’s just generally very shallow.

When I embark on an edit it is with the attitude that this is where I shine the most as a writer. I can slog through the first draft, but I dance through edits. Constant revisions make the draft into a work of art.

I’ve finished the last edit now and it’s off to my copyeditor, Husband-in-Chief, for the final 'please check-all-of-my-commas’ edit. I honestly don’t know if there is a better feeling than finally compiling your manuscript in Scrivener and seeing transform from all of its disparate elements, into a novel.

In short, there are only two pieces of advice that you’ll ever need for editing. One is, work from the big picture to the small, and, two, smile while you are doing it. There’s nothing better than seeing it transform before your eyes.

Rule #4 of Child Abuse: You Can Help and You Should

Rule #4 of Child Abuse: You Can Help and You Should

Rule #4: You Can Help and You Should

So you finally figured out you were abused…

Its been eight years since I left home. I stayed longer than I would have liked but when you grow up in a small town and rent prices are more than you can afford while working part-time to pay for school—there aren’t the opportunities.

Its been a year since I realized I was abused. A year since, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, reared its ugly head at long last. It explained my mother. It inserted reason into an insane situation. Since that day I’ve spoken to three outsiders about what my sisters and I were tormented with at home. 

I was left with a hole of pain and grief. I have my own daughter. A box of perfection tied up with a pink bow. All of a sudden I was the survivor of child abuse. Only it didn’t feel as though I was a survivor. It felt like it had only just stopped. It felt like yesterday that I worried whether she’d buy food for lunch or whether I’d be left stranded 30 miles from home or if I’d pass out while she was giving one of her three hour lectures.

We were conditioned, my sisters and I, to believe that this was normal. We were told that other parents were lax and that being locked outside with only a spigot to drink from and no food was normal. After all, a mother does get tired looking after four young girls, she needs time to watch soap operas. I thought all moms were volatile, happy with you one moment and then screaming their heads off the next. The thought everyone was punished the same way. I thought everyone was treated the same way. I thought it was normal to fly off the handle when a cheap figurine on a precarious shelf finally fell and broke. Only they weren’t. I knew this…I’m sure I did. I’m sure I knew that what was happening wasn’t right. But what use was it to buck the system when there’s no escape?

I watched a film about female spies during WWII a little while ago. During the interrogation of a French spy, the Nazi officer makes him kneel on a square wooden dowel, a 1 inch by 1 inch piece. It sounds innocuous but I almost threw up. My mother did the same. Only it was our kitchen floor with its deep groves. Forced to kneel there for an hour (at least)…its terribly difficult to walk afterwards. My sister and I leaned on each other, pulling each other up, hobbling back to our rooms once she decided we were “free to go.” Nazis…and my mother…and children.

I have nightmares that she kidnaps my daughter. I dread even seeing her. I can’t think straight. My mouth goes dry. I want to rail against her and force an explanation from her. I wish we still exiled people like the Ancient Greeks did. 

But mostly I want to forget. I want to purge her from my mind and cast her from my thoughts and tread no longer the sad paths of my youth. I want to be mentally free as I am physically. 

I am reaching towards that goal little by little every day. I try to accept that it happened and I couldn’t do anything about it then. I try to let go of my need for explanations. I try to live in the beautiful moments with my family, because when I am strong and making strides, making my passions a reality, she fades away. What she did fades away. 

I never thought I was strong. I pitted that little girl and I wept for her. But some days it’s her that holds me and whispers that if she could get through those years, then I owe it to her to live well now. 

So, yes, I am a survivor of child abuse. But that isn’t who I am. 

I’m me.

You can help. The way to stop child abuse doesn’t have anything to do with blue pinwheels at a zoo or a shiny gigantic ribbon on the side of a state capitol. Child abuse prevention is about relationships with children, its about love. Love does conquer all. And even if you never “rescue” anyone, you are doing a service beyond count or measure. Invest in a child. Invest in talking to the people around you. Stand up for other people’s rights instead of always worrying about your own.

Rule #3 of Child Abuse: Know When You’re Beat

Rule #3 of Child Abuse: Know When You’re Beat

Rule #3: Know When You're Beat

No one expects it to happen to them and then when it does, an overwhelming amount of shame and disgrace takes hold. I struggled for a long time, wondering whether to tell my story. I’m a published author and I hope to write more and a find an audience that will wait with bated breath for my next book. I struggled sharing this because I don’t want my readers to view me as a damaged or broken or crying out for attention.

Know when you’re beat. It conjures up images of boxing rings or failed presidential candidates who take another swing at the ball or athletes who hold on a little too long to their careers or poker games. Or in my case, actually beat. Living, bearing the scars of a life lived too long under an abuser’s roof. It’s important to know when you’re beat. It’s important to be self-aware enough to understand what has happened to you. I was beat, emotionally and physically by a woman that should have been there for me when everyone else left. She was supposed to be the rock in my life, in my sisters’ lives, that we could rely on and call in the middle of the day when we just need a chat. 

I know I’ve been beat. I know that child abuse comes in so many different forms that it’s exceptionally difficult to find. But beyond feeling my scars, inside and out, and accepting that they exist, I must move on. I must not be beaten. I must rise from the ashes of a failed childhood, ashes of my mother’s fire, and somehow start again. Yes, I was beat and for a time I allowed myself to beat. I let the facade she had created continue and a tried to have a relationship with her. I was following in her footsteps without even realizing it. 

I said goodbye. I cut her off. I caught flack from people who didn’t even know my story who thought I was wrong to do so, who preached forgiveness and second chances. I believe in forgiveness. I believe grudges are ‘holding a hot coal and hoping to burn the other person.’ I have forgiven her. But I have myself and my family and my precious daughter to think about. I refuse to lay under her heel, to force my daughter to do the same, and let the beatings continue. My daughter’s life matters. My marriage matters. My LIFE matters. 

I was beat, once upon a time. 

But I stood up and I left the table. 

The final installment on the Rules of Child Abuse coming Sunday

Rule #2 of Child Abuse: It's Everywhere and Nowhere

Rule #2 of Child Abuse: It's Everywhere and Nowhere

Rule #2: It's Everywhere and Nowhere

I thought my mother was just strict. Sometimes deep down I knew she was overreacting but you can't think that for too long. It'll take hold and you might just find yourself saying it to her. Out loud. And it wouldn't make anything better. No one saw you. No one stepped out to help. 

My mother has undiagnosed Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Most of those with NPD are undiagnosed. They do not accept the fact that they need help. People with NPD use those around them. They use them for emotional validation. They are vampires. They suck their prey until there is nothing left, until the other person is as messed up as they are. My mother kept going back to her parents, trying to build a relationship, trying to get an apology or a reason. She tried to get them to love her, to get us to love them.

We were a good family. Four girls. Smart. Athletic. Well-behaved. Decently good looking. But we were living in a cycle of constant abuse and didn't even know it. My mother would never abuse her children!! She was abused. There was no way she would hit her children with a belt. 

Child abuse is everywhere. 

Child abuse isn't relegated to back alleys and broken limbs. Child abuse isn't perpetrated solely by any class, race, religion, or creed. There is evil in people, evil that doesn't care about sides. Your neighbor drives a nice car, his lawn is mowed, his wife goes to weekly yoga, their children play in the yard. But facades aren't like marble temples, they don't need to last forever. They just have to stand up to the passing interest of outsiders. Because we want to think that nice church going families don't have secrets. 

Child abuse is nowhere. 

I saw an advertisement recently. A child holding onto an adult's hand. The child was smiling. But at a lower level, 45 inches to be precise, the child was bruised and battered and magically 911 and a little blurb appeared entreating the child to ask for help. I would never have called. I wasn't bruised. Not on the outside. I wasn't that little kid. I did well in school. My mother just blew up...a lot. She was the one in power. I thought she knew what she was doing and where the line was. That's why child abuse is nowhere. No one looks for anything but bruises and bleeding and broken bones. If they look at all. 

There's a giant bedazzled blue ribbon on the side of the Colorado State Capitol. There are blue pinwheels all over the entrance to the Denver Zoo. But what do they do? Pretty decorations for school children to ooh and ahh over? They are the trappings of a culture that must publicly acknowledge that it's "that time of the year" without taking any responsibility. They mean nothing and they do nothing and they help no one. 

After all, my mother flew the blue flag too. 

Part 3 Coming Friday

Rule #1 of Child Abuse: It Never Looks Like it Should

Rule #1 of Child Abuse: It Never Looks Like it Should

Rule #1: It Never Looks Like it Should

My Mother: Flyer of the Blue Flag

In the mid 1960s a little girl was born. From outside the family looked normal. The father was career Air Force and the mother did a good impression of a stay-at-home mom. A dark secret lay hidden under a blanket of Catholicism and disinformation. It was a secret that Air Force counsellors passed over when the children came back from the hospital with one too many broken bones. 

My mother told it to me when I was eleven. It was supposed to be this 'coming of age' trip where I learned the truth about her past and my own body. It was horrifying listening to her memories of her childhood. What she spoke about scared me. Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Her mothers tacit acceptance of the situation. 

Only when I was much older did I realize the extent of the trauma inflicted. I thought of a scared eleven-year-old girl forced to bear burdens that should have sat on an adult’s shoulders. I was sorry for her. I cried for hours for her, for the loss of her innocence and for the pain. She smiled as I cried. 

She was the victim of child abuse. My mother waved the blue flag, the blue ribbon. After all, April is child abuse prevention month. I thought the blue ribbon meant something to her. It meant that she survived and got out. But our family too held a dark secret. So secret my father didn't even know. 

All the time she flew the blue flag and drove around town with it waving in the wind, tied to the antenna of her car, she was abusing her own children. Oh, but she was smart. There weren't any trips to the emergency room. We did well in school. We were well behaved. But we were tortured. She knew how to buck the system that deserted her.

We never knew when she might blow up. We never knew when the time was ripe for one of her rages. We were always on high alert. It happened once while working on the ranch, she nearly dislocated my hip with the tractor she was driving.

We were terrified. But we loved her. She could be nice and good when it suited her and you wanted to please her, wanted to be good so the pain and suffering would be end. So we could all be happy. 

Part 2 Coming Wednesday 

My Top 5: Creating the Perfect Wardrobe

My Top 5: Creating the Perfect Wardrobe

Ok, so we are branching out a bit today from writing, because we all have to get dressed in the morning, go to work, find something decent for date nights, etc. I believe clothing can truly make or break your day. If you hate how you look, don't feel comfortable, or are wearing the same thing day in and day out you don't have a chance to shine.

Luckily its not too difficult to cultivate a wardrobe that's interesting, diverse, and inexpensive because #styledoesnthavetobeexpensive.

Tip #1: Don't follow trends. Not only is this a waste of money and time but you'll only wear the piece for a season before its out of style and soon relegated to the back of your closet where its taking up real estate. 

Tip #2: Curate pieces that speak to you. Style and the perfect wardrobe really come down to knowing who you are, what looks good on your body, and how to accessorize. Create a list on your phone of pieces you'd really like to add to your wardrobe, pieces that you love, and when you're shopping bring it out. Make sure what you're buying is something that you really need.

Tip #3: Basics. Basics. Basics. There's nothing worse (clothing-wise) than not having the perfect layering tee to put under that adorable new blazer you just bought. Make sure you have the basics: slim black trousers, white tee, black tee, grey tee (long and short sleeve), dark jeans, nude heels, black heels, LBD, white camisole, black camisole. You get my drift. Neutral colors here.

Tip #4: Layer and accessorize. This goes back to #3, but honestly, the best thing for your wardrobe and to stay current is to layer. Layer a blazer over a shirt, layer necklaces. Accessorize with scarves, statement jewelry, different shoes.

Tip #5: Have a uniform. No I don't mean flashbacks to your school days or brownies. My uniform: dark skinny jeans, white v-neck tee, and either white tennis shoes or black flats. Take this uniform and add to it. Add a blazer or coat, a statement necklace, heels and you've a whole other look. Don't be afraid to mix and match. 

At the end of the day you'll never have the "perfect wardrobe." I'll never have a 55 Chanel purse sitting in my wardrobe or tons of designer clothes. But it is possible to thoughtfully create a wardrobe that you love. You'll have bad days and good days but if you go about it with intention you'll never go wrong.

Cheers,

Rachael

The #1 Tool For an Authentic Setting

The #1 Tool For an Authentic Setting

I've written two books and am in the very early stages on my third book. One thing these books have in common is that they contain places I have never been or haven't visited during the time of year I'm writing about.  

This creates a special set of issues for writers when writing fiction. Chances are that your book will be read by someone who lives in the town or country you've tried to describe. You must add enough detail, from street names to description of the architecture to the feel of the town for the effect to be authentic.  

I am a big proponent of writing about what you don't know. After all we have fantasy writers and historical fiction writers who (usually) haven't been to the time or place they are writing about. 

The single best tool that any writer can use to give detail and authentication to their setting is Google Earth. What's great about Google Earth is that you can type in a specific address and get a 360 degree view of the surrounding area.  

For The Clouds Aren't White I picked out a house on the Isle of Skye so that I could describe the same view out the kitchen window. I've used it for Lives Paris Took to orient myself around Paris and figure out the distance from the Sorbonne to the main character's apartment.  

I suggest downloading Google Earth and trying it out. Look up your house or hometown, figure out what is different. Then look somewhere you've never been and always wanted to visit. After you've puttered around for a while, write a description of it.  

Hope this helps!

Cheers, 

Rachael

The Best Makeup on a Budget

The Best Makeup on a Budget

I live in Colorado. That means freezing winter days and scorching summer heat. Which aren't the best conditions for any makeup. I also have hyper-pigmentation which is a fancy word for acne scaring. I'll also level with you: I don't have a fortune to spend on makeup. When I splurge I make it worth it. I also do ipsy's glam bag which is $10/month for "sample" sizes of products. But I've gotten a brush with each bag and the makeup samples last forever. Its great if you want to try new makeup out but don't want to pay a lot for it.

So here's my list. Most of these can be bought at Target or a pharmacy. You don't have to shell out for Dior eyelash curlers or Chanel mascara. Bottom line: don't pay more than $10 for mascara.  

Paula's Choice cleanser $25, this is a great one to have. PC is great about telling you exactly what goes into their products and why. I love this. And it's huge. For the amount you get it's a great value.  

Vichy Dermablend Foundation $30, this is one of my favourites. It's a little pricey but honestly it's amazing. And if you have a great base, the rest of your products will look even better. Spend your money on the base. You can also get $10 off your first order.

Dermablend setting powder $27, this one is also pricey. But I use very very little.  

ELF highlighter $3, so inexpensive. And I have bags...terrible bags. This helps. So its a highlighter and concealer. I don't use it as a concealer since my pigmentation is that bad and it needs the help of my heavy foundation. But for highlighting and contouring its fantastic.

Revlon eyelash curler $5.30, it's an eyelash curler. Nothing special. It does come with extra rubber things. Very cool.  

Maybeline Lash Sensational $8.99, it's mascara. It stays on. I'm happy. 

PC nudes eyeshadow, this was free with a $45 purchase. Oh man I love it. There's also a sparkly purple in it. I'm a neutral sort of girl, when it comes to my clothing and makeup.

ELF Bronzer $4, four different colours in the block. It just light enough for my fair Scottish skin.  

Ecotools kabuki brush $6.99, I love this for working the foundation in and blending it.  

ELF brow tool $4, I have dark eyebrows. Somehow that's terribly hard to find. But this fits the bill and it's cheap.  

Me Me Me brush $21, came in my March Ispy glam bag. I like it. Plus for $10/month it's awesome...the bag.  

Palladio Herbal Mosaic Powder $7.99, so this is one of my favourites. I love the colours. You can go dark or light.  

So that's it. Not too complicated although I've been known to make it so. And if your skin is dry like mine consider using an essential oil in the mornings. I love jojoba oil by Edens Garden it's has the same balance of oils as your face.  

7 Things I've Learned as a Debut Author

7 Things I've Learned as a Debut Author

Life is never easy when you're a debut author/novelist. Even if you're Kim Kardashian. Remember her selfie book totally flopped? Its impossible to accurately predict consumers 100% of the time. There are cold hard facts but there is also hope. 

So here we go:

1. You Are Not Alone: However much you feel it or worry that you are. Believe me, you are not. There are two wonderful groups that I am apart of via the wonderful internet. Shelly Muncaster's wonderful Keystrokes and Closed Doors which is a great gathering place for authors who are working on their novels and the Indie Author Support and Discussion group (which has both a website and facebook page). The IASD group is comprised of both published authors and writers working on their first books. Its one of the best meetings of the minds that I have even been apart of.

2. It'll Be Difficult: There's no getting around it, its terribly hard to be a debut novelist, even if you've finished your book and done the amazing and gotten an agent and publisher. Its a long hard road to get the wider populous to hear about you, much less get them to buy the book. 

3. You'll Loose Time: This will range from time with family to your social life to parts of your sanity, as in where did all the time go. Some days you will be so caught up in your writing, social media strategy, writing bogs, setting up your website, that you won't be able to remember how you got there.

4. No One Loves Your Book As Much As You Do: I've heard writers say 'this book is my baby' or 'a part of my soul went into writing this book' - in that case, calm down Voldemort. But seriously, no one cares about your characters or the story as much as you. Not your spouse or mom (ok that's a stretch-but certainly not my mom) or your best friend or even your agent and editor. This is your project, your hopes and dreams. Don't expect mountains from people who can't deliver them.

5. There's So Much To Celebrate: I am currently celebrating finishing the first draft! Woo-hoo...oh wait now I have to go through three more editing hoops. Huzzah (insert weariness here). But that's the great thing about writing/publishing a book. There are so many little triumphs along the way and gigantic ones as well. Like when an agent asks to see your entire manuscript. Or when your sales start rising on Amazon. Invest in champagne people. Invest.

6. Sooner Or Later You'll Hate Looking At That Cover You Love: Ok so just me? I loved the cover for The Clouds Aren't White when it was designed. I love the colors, the way it matches the tone of the book, the dandelion on the spine. Ok I still love the dandelion. But honestly, it'll get old at some point. You'll look at it a lot. A lot a lot. 

7. It'll Propel You On To The Next Book: This goes with #6. I decided I needed a new book in my life and I wanted to get back to the business of writing. So out comes book #2, Lives Paris Took. The old book will always propel you forward. You'll want to dive back into a world again and figure out the characters. That is why the debut novelist has so much going for him/her...they are driven, they want to succeed. It's not all bad.

Keep your head up and keep writing.

Cheers,

Rachael

Calling All Beta Readers

Calling All Beta Readers

Hello my lovely readers.

My second novel, Lives Paris Took, is coming along nicely. I am now through chapter four with my first round of edits which means that at my current pace I will be finished with revision at the end of the month.

I am opening up the wires for all those interested in beta-reading Lives Paris Took. You can read the synopsis for the novel here

What is a beta-reader you may ask? 

A beta reader has been put on this great green earth to save writers from themselves. Beta readers are given the manuscript after a substantial edit and asked what doesn't work with the book. Their purpose is to give on the ground feedback to writers about their book, from the highs to the lows.

If you are interested in beta reading for me, send me a quick email. I will send out the PDF file on April 1st and am asking that the questionnaire form be returned no later than the end of May. 

All my gratitude in advance.

Cheers,

Rachael

Where are Your New Year's Resolutions Now?

Where are Your New Year's Resolutions Now?

So its March. New Year's Resolutions have dropped by the wayside and we realize, once again, that changing yourself for the better is a much more difficult than writing on a slip of paper at the start of the year.

What were my resolutions? I didn't make any. I'll tell you what I did do.

I came up with my five year plan. In November I had about 75% of my first draft finished for my second book, Lives Paris Took. I also planned out (most of) the year. I wrote out the five year plan so that my dreams and aspirations don't fall by the wayside after three months. 

Writing is extremely important to me, but I also have other responsibilities in life and as my daughter is entering kindergarten this year, I want to treasure the time we have together. Laying out my plan in a reasonable and thought out way enables me to both be creative and have a social life. 

Don't get me wrong, I think resolutions can be a wonderful and useful tool-as long as they are done correctly. Take exercise or eating better for example, many of you who will make resolutions regarding health find it difficult to continue because its easy to fall off the bandwagon when there is nothing riding on your success. What would make your resolution far more effective is to have a buddy, someone who can come along and keep you accountable for your choices. 

The buddy system is perhaps the most effective way to achieve your goals. I'm apart of a great facebook group of writers who encourage each other and answer questions and make sure we are all writing.

So, if you've fallen off the bandwagon, whatever your resolution may be, consider making a spring resolution and this time find someone to share it with. After all, spring cleaning is much more fun with a friend.

The Quick Way to Write a Book

The Quick Way to Write a Book

Yes you read that correctly. Because there are obviously 'non-quick' ways to write a book. One of the best ways to drag out the writing process is to let the book go cold. Think of this like a kidnapping, the first twenty-four hours of a kidnapping are crucial. Or in the case of the novel you're trying to write, the first 12 months are key. 

Let's get down to it. You want to write a book. You even have an idea. Let's walk through it.

Month 1: Plan, plan, plan. This applies to you whether you're a outliner or not. Try to plan out the ending. You make the writing go by much quicker if you know where its all going.

Month 2: Write, write, write. One of the best ways to get a running start with your novel is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWrMo. The goal is to write 50,000 words during the month of November. Not everyone can plan this out so November falls when they are ready to write. But consider doing it. The camaraderie is beyond compare. Suddenly, 1,667 words per day doesn't seem so great. Please don't worry if the whole draft feels like word vomit. 

Month 3: Keep Writing. The entire book won't get finished in one month. Trust me. Finish up. If you finish early, take some time off.

Month 4: Breathe. This may seem counterintuitive to being "quick." But it is essential to recenter yourself on the story. Taking a step back helps you write better.

Month 5: Revise. Large scale edits at this point. Bottom of the pyramid, narration and character development. Make sure your first chapter reflects your last chapter. Make the story come full circle.

Month 6:  Revise plot and story structure. This is one of the most important parts, I feel, of the revision process. Play close attention to plot holes and overblown metaphors, don't let anything detract from your story.

Month 7-8: Send to beta-readers. Find people who are not your friends or family, hopefully other writers that can offer you sincere feedback on your novel.

Month 9: Implement beta readers edits.

Month 10: Edit, edit, edit. Think the top of the pyramid. Grammar, punctuation, spelling. Work hard on this. Polish to a T. If necessary, hire a professional editor.

Month 11-12: Work on query letters. Send to agents. 

Look there it is! The Quick Way to Write a Book. One thing to remember is that 'quick' is relative. You cannot rush the process unless you are an author with a large team behind them, working on edits, building your online platform, etc. Relax in the everyday work.

How to Focus on Your Writing Not Your Insecurity

How to Focus on Your Writing Not Your Insecurity

Writing has to be one of the most difficult pursuits. Its solitary. Its a lot of head banging and staring at a jumble of letters trying to force them to have meaning. Writing is also full of terror, at times, insurmountable terror. 

These periods can be devastating for any author. The seemingly endless edits where grammatical and punctuation errors seem to breed like rabbits. Or perhaps the first draft that just won't translate from head to screen. 

First, take a deep breath. Most of the time, the deadlines we have imposed, are by ourselves, and therefore will not suffer from a lost day or two. Take time to think about why you are writing. What is it that makes you sit down to laptop or paper and write? Do you enjoy it? Good. Keep going.

Secondly, after you have found perspective, forget what 'everyone else is going to say.' If you've published the book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble and you've found errors, take a breath. Every book has errors. Have a cry or shake your fists at the sky in frustration and then fix them. Go back and do it. You'll be so much happier.

Thirdly, get out of your own head and find someone to share the day with. Writers often forget that it is from the real world that we draw inspiration that feeds our imagination. We cannot have one without the other. Perhaps you see, like me, a homeless man with a sign stating, "Rogue ex-CIA agent seeking $ to get out of town." Now...isn't that a story.

At the end of the day, insecurities keep us from our dreams. In the immortal words of Suzy Kassem, "Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will." 

So go on. Focus on your writing. There's never been a better time.

Cheers,

Rachael

Writer Momma: Are You Really an Author?

Writer Momma: Are You Really an Author?

Let's talk about jobs. We all have them. Some are corporate, startups, retail, or based at home. That would be me, with the latter. Early on, my husband and I decided that the best thing for our daughter was for one parent to be with her every day. Thankfully we had been living off one income for the better part of a year when we found out we were pregnant. What worked for us is not an option for many families, but I have been a stay-at-home mom for almost five years and I'm quite happy.

But then something changed a few weeks ago. I became a published author. So at work functions I attend with my husband, what do I say that I do for a living? There are very few people who believe being a stay-at-home mom is a 'job.' In the traditional sense it isn't. Its, most often, something that mothers do because they choose to. But don't get me wrong, the housework, the cooking, the rearing of children, the lack of sick days (unless its the weekend and your partner is willing to shoulder the load), its a lot of work and it takes a lot of energy.

So am I really an author if 90% of my day is spent taking care of my daughter, the house, and the plethora of other tasks necessary to keep a house running? I confess, I am lucky if I get two solid hours to work. But I won't always be the mom of a young girl. Soon enough she will go to kindergarten and then, before I can orient myself, she will be leaving for college and I will have to watch her go. 

So at the end of the day, yes I am an author. And so are you. I yearn to show my daughter what it means to accomplish something so wonderful, even while raising a child. I want to show her that it is a privilege to stay at home with your children but that you don't have to sacrifice your dreams to make it happen. I want my daughter to learn to be strong and to dream and to know how to achieve those dreams.

I quite enjoy being an author. 

Hugs to all the moms,

Rachael

Tea Talk: A Five Year Plan

Tea Talk: A Five Year Plan

With our tea (or coffee or wine) let's talk about goals and dreams. I was recently at a large fundraiser/party for my husband's business where I was asked multiple times what I do for a living. I'm not sure why, but for some reason, we attach great meaning to what job a person does. I answered that I was an author and long story short the person in question said that most authors end in failure and I would be lucky indeed to ever be 'successful.'

As I've just published my debut novel, I don't have any grandiose ideas about immediately being a best seller. Which brings me to the five year plan. My father is fond of saying that there are 10,000 hours of work behind every 'overnight success.' Which equals (drum roll please): five years of work.

There is no better marketing strategy, for any writer, than to write the next book. Your second book will sell your first book, your third book will sell your second, and so on. For me, with only one book published, there's no reason for me to spend my days constantly marketing. If readers do find me and do enjoy The Clouds Aren't White, then they will want more. Readers want to find authors that they can spend time with, grow with, and most of all enjoy multiples books.

In 2021, I aim to have a total of five books published and to have a strong online presence with a good sized, and dedicated, following of readers. My second book is slated to be finished by the end of 2016. 

I encourage each and every one of you to formulate your own five-year plan. This doesn't mean that you stop with, I want to have X number of books finished. You must break down your end goal year by year and then month by month and then week by week, even day by day. This ensures that you not only stay on track but that you have manageable goals and you don't get overwhelmed by the magnanimity of it all.

Here's my plan for this year and finishing book #2

-Finish first draft (1st March)

-First Edit: macro, scenes, plot holes (completed 1st April)

-Send to beta readers, Edit Prose (April-May)

-Implement Beta Reader Feedback (completed 1st June)

-Micro edits: grammar, voice, transitions (completed 1st July)

-Send to agents (July-August)

-Cover artwork, interior design, and sent to editor (completed by November 1st

So there you have it, this year's schedule. I am still working on breaking down the day to day tasks. At this point I'm at a 1,000 minimum words/day quota to finish the first draft. 

A little bit of planning goes a long way.

Cheers,

Rachael

Word Counting: Chugging Along

Word Counting: Chugging Along

Word Counting...

An 80,000 word novel sounds like quite a lot. Until you realize that it can be 250-300 pages when bound/compiled. Then that's a smaller sized paperback.

I'm currently 14,000 words away from the end. Of the first draft. And I'm already quite sure that I'll rewrite the entire first and last chapters. My husband and I stayed up horrendously late watching Interstellar (almost three hours long!) and when we finally got into bed a much better first chapter sprung into my mind.

Thank God I wrote it down. The notes function on an Iphone is remarkably useful. As I'll discuss in a later post, my quota of 1,000 words/day is a part of a much larger plan and staying on task day-to-day is essential for my long term success. I write even when I don't want to write (excepting 1 day this week). And if I don't finish my count I tack it on to the next day's so that it gets done. Sometimes the words flow and I can be done in two hours. Other days I'll only get little snippets of time to write and it takes me all day.

My advice is to constantly remind yourself of your end goal. 'Do something today that your future self will thank you for' and that includes getting the word count down.

Stay tuned this Friday for the big title reveal! 

Cheers,

Rachael

How I Make Writing Work as a Mother

How I Make Writing Work as a Mother

Writing is hard work. You wouldn't think it but those pesky little letters can be tricky to form into the right order. Then enter children or even one singular child and it becomes that much more difficult.

Lets start with some introductory remarks. At this point in life (because life is crazy and I need to add a disclaimer), I have one child, an almost five year old daughter with a borderline unhealthy obsession with owls. She's a fantastic kid who is (almost) always helpful and does a decent job of cleaning up her toys when I tell her to.

But let's face it, she's still a young child who enjoys having mommy/daughter time and has needs (thrice daily feedings, naps, play, doctors appointments). Its incredibly difficult to work through all the interruptions and still come out with a few sentences that actually make sense.

I've learned a few tricks along the way, even though its still difficult to juggle a family and writing the next great American novel (I'm not saying that's what I'm producing). 

First off, get up early. Even just thirty minutes of uninterrupted writing at the beginning of the day can produce fantastic results. Early morning writing, takes getting used to but because you haven't used up any of your stores of discipline you are much more apt to actually write. So often my only writing time is at the start of the day, before husband and daughter are up with demands.

Remember the saying "nap when the baby naps." Its fantastic advice. Just substitute writing for the nap. Children are napping, take thirty minutes and write. I'll even sneak in some writing when my daughter watches her allotted 1 hour of tv a day. Much of the drafting for The Clouds Aren't White was done on this model. 

Lastly, make writing apart of your schedule. We all schedule cleaning and laundry and doctors appointments and grocery store trips. Schedule writing into your day. Don't say "if I have the time." Find the time. Writing doesn't have to be done every day. But it should be done, at the very least 3 times a week. Even if that's only ten minutes a day. This keeps your novel fresh in your mind.

There's no magic formula for finding writing time. What I've learned over the last three years, is to tailor writing to fit your lifestyle. If you have an hour during sports practice, bring notes or your laptop. Get creative. It is possible to write with children.

Cheers,

Rachael

A Fantastic Giveaway

A Fantastic Giveaway

No, this isn't one of mine. It actually comes from fashion and travel photographer, Carla Coulson.

Head on over to her blog where you can win a fantastic copy of 'Bronte Pool.' Its a fantastic piece of artwork by an amazing photographer. Take a moment to enter.

Here's how to enter (via Carla's Blog): 

Step 1:

Share this post or your favourite photo from the series on your Blog, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #carlacoulsonprints or #waterjungle or #lavacanzaitaliana

Step 2:

Subscribe or be a subscriber to my print shop carlacoulson.com/shop (don’t forget to verify your subscription when it arrives in your inbox)

Step 3:

Like Carla Loves Photography on Instagram or Facebook