Viewing entries tagged
the clouds aren't white

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

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

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

Win A Copy of The Clouds Aren't White

Win A Copy of The Clouds Aren't White

It's giveaway time! To celebrate the release of my new book, The Clouds Aren't White, I am teaming up with Courtney Jacobs Photography to offer a wonderful giveaway. There are two prizes available, the first prize is a signed copy of my novel as well as a mini photoshoot. The second prize will be a signed copy of the novel. 

In order to enter, please like both my facebook page (Author Rachael Wright) and Courtney Jacobs Photography, like the contest post, and add a comment to be entered for the photoshoot. Tell us about a woman in your life who deserves it. 

Good luck! The contest will run Feb 1st till Feb 5th and the winners will be notified on Feb 6th. Only comment on the post, to be entered for the photoshoot, if you are a Western Colorado or Eastern Utah resident. 

Why You Should Give Up (on that first chapter)

Why You Should Give Up (on that first chapter)

why you should give up on that first chapter

The harsh reality of life, of the book writing life, is that many of us do not have a clear idea of our book’s endings or if we do, the characters do something that changes said ending. This creates the need for necessary changes during the editing process.

So why must you specifically focus on the first chapter?

The two must be mirror images of each other. It doesn’t matter if you have crafted the world’s best opening paragraph and the entire chapter sings with enchanted prose, if it does not create a duet, you’re in trouble.

When you come to the end of a first draft, you know the characters better. You understand that they have handled situations differently than you thought they would. They are no longer the same people that you created in chapter one, and sometimes they are going in completely different directions. 

For the sake of your readers, scrap chapter one. Read through your manuscript as though you were one of your readers, don’t take any notes. After you have finished, go back and read both the first and last chapters. These should be able to stand on their own. Is the prose similar? Is your protagonist facing the same kind of choices? Is his final victory reflected in chapter one?

If you can’t bring yourself to scrap the entire chapter (its not as bad as you’d think, trust me) then do this little exercise: write 3-4 different opening paragraphs. Push yourself. Try setting the scene differently. I went through four different settings for The Clouds Aren’t White and then changed again after the book was finished, because my protagonist and the plot were screaming for it.

So, give up on the first draft. Recreate your world and let the beauty of your writing shine.

Writer Momma: Give into the Guilt

Writer Momma: Give into the Guilt

Its a lovely afternoon in Colorado. 

And by lovely I mean it snowed this morning and then the sun came out and it was all gone by noon. Except our driveway which is entirely in the shade. But digressing from my icy driveway.

This week I am introducing a few new weekly features here on the blog. Among those is ‘Writer’s Wednesday’ and ’Tea Talk’ Thursday. Joining these weekly features is ‘Writer Momma’ which will feature on Tuesday (sorry I couldn’t come up with a fancier name…I’m open to suggestions).

Women, and mothers, make up a large portion of my readership and I would like to take Tuesdays to talk about the life of a mom who writes.

Since I decided to make writing a career I’ve faced many challenges. I’ve come to realize that its not only time that keeps many mothers from finishing, or indeed starting novels, but energy as well. Writing with a child, or children, means writing early in the morning, naptime, and late at night. Then, adding in housework, jobs, social commitments, its quite a feat that we get published at all.

Some of us have strong support networks and some of us don’t, but all of us feel the guilt over taking time for ourselves, for being away from our children, for being distracted, the list could go on. The Clouds Aren't White was a lesson in distracting myself from the guilt.

This week, give into the guilt. Feel it. Understand it. Then, after five minutes, let it go. If you have to do it everyday, or every writing session, then go ahead. The goal here is to understand the underlying cause of your guilt (or attempt to) and then get on with your day. 

This doesn’t just apply to mothers who are attempting to write a novel, its true for all mothers, for all women, because for some reason we like to destroy ourselves with guilt.

Perhaps some day we will be able to acknowledge that we feel guilty and then after a small moment, let it go.

From one guilty mom to another.

Rachael

Tea Talk Thursdays

Tea Talk Thursdays

Getting to Know Me

I want to introduce what will be a regular feature on the blog. Tea Talk. I want to get to know my readers and also help you get to know me. Today, I’d like to give you some more background on me and who I am as an author. Here are some q&a’s from my most recent author interviews.

Tell us a little about yourself?

I am a Colorado resident. I am a mother to a fantastic little girl who loves owls and ballet. I also have one of the most supportive husbands in the world. As I’m doing publicity for The Clouds Aren’t White, he’s more than once expressed his concern that I’m not finishing the draft for my second novel, due out in December. 

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing when I was taught how to hold a pencil. I have little stories from first grade (for all non US citizens-age 6). I was a voracious reader. I have clear memories (because it still happens) of picking up the condiment bottles when my parents would take us out to dinner to read the labels. I also read the menus, where the place little bios, everything. I began writing because so many wonderful books transported me to such fantastic places that I could not keep in my love for them. Writing stories was an escape for me. 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I was halfway through the first draft of The Clouds Aren’t White. I have probably twenty stories sitting in the dark corners of my laptop, comprised of about 20 pages each, that I threw away because they just weren’t “the one.” With The Clouds Aren’t White I finally found a story that I wanted to tell, that I thought needed to be told.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My husband. I’m actually serious. Every story I started and then proceeded to scrap he would get disappointed because I wasn’t happy with it. Through every little step he encouraged me to keep writing, to keep working. So I wrote it because of him.

How did you come up with the title?

The title came about in a weird way. I was actually painting, I’m not very talented but its fun, and I was trying to get the sky just right and I kept looking at the photo that I was painting from at the sky is this mass of colors. Because white isn’t really white. There are yellow-whites, blue-whites, green-whites…just ask anyone who has painted the interior of a house, they’ll tell you. And the novel is so wound around terrible events in Emmeline’s life that I wanted to capture the depth of her experience and also that light can be found even in the darkest of times (oh gosh, I’m quoting Rowling).

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I really want my readers to grasp the amount of dedication that Emmeline has to her family, particularly her husband and daughter. As mothers and wives, our worth is so often (how do I say this delicately?) overlooked. I want readers to see the worth of such a strong woman, the necessity of a support network, the love we bear our children. Emmeline is the definition of a feminist, she chooses her own path, not letting even her parents dictate to her, and follows through.

10 Things I Learned Writing My First Novel

10 Things I Learned Writing My First Novel

1. It takes much longer than you would think: I finished the first draft of The Clouds Aren’t White in three months. I thought to myself, ‘hah this writing isn’t too bad. I’ll be done in four more months.’ That was not the case. 

2. You spend 4x as long editing as you do writing: Every writer will tell you this. The first draft is the easy part. The second and third drafts are harder. Editing is the hardest. Somehow you have to take a first draft and make it into a story that flows, that makes sense, that has proper grammar…something worth reading in other words.

3. You'll rewrite at least one chapter, usually the first and/or the last: This happened. When I read the first draft over, six weeks later, I wanted to gag myself. The first chapter was awful and it in no way coincided with the ending. Also I added another two chapters. This was actually the fun part, bringing the story full circle.

4. There are a thousand achievements to celebrate: First draft. First revision. Second revision. Third revision. Editing finished. Writing a dedication. Sending off to agents. Sending off to more agents. Deciding to self publish. Getting a cover. Uploading to amazon. Website going live. Book release date. Getting the advance copy of the paperback. First sale. It goes on. 

Disclaimer: My husband no longer drinks champagne with me…apparently we’ve “celebrated too much.” Whatever. Celebrate on.

5. Your family will get tired of hearing about the book: This happens. Sadly. Its hard to understand just how much courage it takes to make a simple file upload on amazon or what it feels like to lay awake at night, sure that the world will laugh in your face for the book and label you a fake. Or perhaps even worse, that no one will ever buy it. 

It takes so much courage to write a book. It takes dedication and perseverance to get through the hardest part…yourself.

6. Getting an agent is as difficult/almost impossible as they say: I sent my query letter out to thirty agents all of whom were meticulously researched to make sure that they were accepting novels and that my book would be a good fit. It totaled out to twenty nine rejections. The only ‘yes’ I got was from an agent that had a dubious reputation in the literary world. Keep going. Your book is worth it. Rejection doesn’t reflect upon you.

7. You'll want to quit at some point. Or many points: All I wanted was for it to be easy. I wanted to quickly find an agent and a publisher and sell hundreds of thousands of copies. Then it didn’t turn out that way. I seriously considered not self publishing. I wanted to quit. I did.

8. There will be spelling mistakes in your published manuscript: It happens. Get over it. Who cares if the grammar nut reviewed your book and commented on it. No one else cares…as long as they aren’t rampant and distract from the narrative. 

9. You'll cry. My husband has come to realize that this is just a part of living with an author. I cry when I’m thrilled with what I’ve done. I cry when I hate it and want it all to go away. I cry when the words sound like a three year old. I cry because I’m sure that sentence is literary perfection. I also cried when I uploaded files to Amazon and CreateSpace. I cried when my family wasn’t as thrilled as I hoped they would be. Crying is ok. Being disappointed is ok, just don’t let it become every day. Try again tomorrow. Do something different tomorrow.

10. Holding the book, seeing it for sale online, will make all the pain worth it: Crying again. There’s something, a part of you, out there in the world. A thing of beauty that you’ve created and that’s something very few people can say. Be proud. Don’t let sales or likes or shares get in the way of the wonderful thing you’ve accomplished.

Life Cycle of a Novel

Life Cycle of a Novel

I’d like to share today, what it takes to get a novel from mind to page and then to readers. This is not an easy process. This is not simply “having time” to write a novel. It takes much more than a decent grasp of a language to write a book. Irregardless of the talent, it takes great strength of mind to come through the process and out the other side. 

So, using the example of my novel, here is a general outline of the time and energy it takes. Through this process I had a part time job, was (and still am) a stay at home mother. 

Phase 1: First draft. 

3 months.

Phase 2: Break. Think of the book as a good wine. It needs time to sit. 

6-8 weeks

Phase 3: Revision. Consists of read through of the book, rewriting chapters as needed.

4 weeks

Phase 4: Second Revision. This phase usually consists of making the book cohesive, if the ending has changed.

4 weeks

Phase 5: I call this the ‘prose phase,’ wherein I delete most of the dialogue and give each character their own distinct voice.

4 weeks

Phase 6: Editing. Editing consists of grammar and punctuation so that the manuscript is readable.

4 weeks

Phase 7: Beta reader phase. Send off the manuscript to beta-readers and get their feedback. This can take longer than anticipated.

2 months

Phase 8: Implementing beta-reader revisions.

4 weeks

Phase 9: Final edit

2 weeks

Phase 10: Send to agents/publishers

3 months

From here on out, depending on the reactions that you get from agents, it can take another year for your book to be traditionally published, if you are fortunate enough to get a publisher. If you decide to self publish, the book can be on Amazon within the week.

So…the grand total…16 months of long hard days filled with work.

And at the end…joy.

The Clouds Aren't White-Behind the Scenes

The Clouds Aren't White-Behind the Scenes

The Clouds Aren't White (hereinafter referred to as-TCAW) is, at its heart, a story about love. In my introductory blog post I wrote how the story came about as just an idea about how a person would live life after losing their spouse. TCAW is a very special story because of (not just the main character-Emmeline) Sophie, the five year old, daughter. She is what drives Emmeline forward, keeps her mind on task, and comes to symbolize life.

As a mother to a young daughter myself, I adored writing Sophie. She has spunk and a little bit of drama. What I love most, though, is that she isn't the 'mini-me' to her mother. My own daughter is light-years different than I, an idea I wanted to convey throughout the novel. 

The second strong driver in TCAW is the secondary setting of the story, the Isle of Skye in Scotland. The town of Portree, where Emmeline and Sophie move, is a small town which triples in the late spring and summer months from tourists. While the museum where Emmeline works is a product of my imagination, the scenery and the harsh weather are all quite true. 

The Clouds Aren't White was a thrill to write. There were many moments while penning scenes that I started crying and I hope that the book inspires such emotion in my readers. 

If you haven't yet ordered your copy of The Clouds Aren't White, you can purchase the Ebook on Amazon here or you can order the paperback on CreateSpace here.

Cheers,

Rachael

A Short Introduction

A Short Introduction

Welcome to the Website! Thank you so much for stopping by. Especially for clicking here, on the blog. 

Let me introduce myself. 

I am a Colorado native, currently living in and around Denver. Writing has always been a passion of mine and publishing a novel one of my biggest dreams. I am married to a wonderful, hard working, and very supportive husband (who smiles when I lock myself in a room to work) and mother to a smart, talented little girl who wants to be an owl when she grows up. We are incredibly blessed in our family life. Insert hashtag here. 

The stories that I have started, gotten twenty pages in, and scrapped are innumerable. Every story that I scrapped I felt that it wasn’t “the one.” There was something missing in the narrative or I found that the story was too childish. 

I came across the story for The Clouds Aren’t White (TCAW) quite by accident. One day I found myself wondering how one would cope with the loss of a spouse when there were children involved. Its one of the most frightening things, the threat of loss.  So I began to write.

I finished the first draft of the novel in three months and finished five days before my husband’s birthday. I kept telling him that I had thousands of words left before I was finished. I gave the three hundred page manuscript to him for his birthday, then promptly took it back so I could start editing. 

I hope that you findThe Clouds Aren’t White engaging and passionate. Please leave a review on Amazon or send me an email in the ‘contact’ tab. I would love to hear from you.

Cheers,

Rachael