Hello to everyone at Moonlight, Lace, and Mayhem! I wanted to thank you for letting me stop over for a visit today. It’s always wonderful to make new friends in the writing community. Today I’m here on the blog tour for my debut novel, The Star Child.
Some questions that I get asked a lot, particularly by other working moms is: “How on earth did you find time to write a novel?” This is usually followed, almost immediately by the statement, “I’ve always wanted to write but I don’t know where to begin.” So I thought I’d address these two items in today’s guest post, based on my own experience. If you don’t have these same concerns, then let’s use this as an opportunity to get to know one another, shall we?
Where To Begin?
Initially, I started writing for two reasons. One, because it was a great emotional outlet. And two, because I was reading a popular series and I was furious that it ended. That meant that I had to wait for the author to write another book! Waiting for a new book or CD to come out is always one of the most frustrating things to me. I keep checking the calendar, wondering when it will be released. Although I am general patient, this is one area where I don’t like to be kept waiting.
When I got the idea for The Star Child, I’d written some newspaper articles and short stories, but mostly focused on technical writing which was miles away from Young Adult Fantasy. So I took out the laptop, opened up a word document, and started typing. I had no idea what I was doing; I just knew that a story was pouring out of me so quickly that I couldn’t type the words fast enough to match the running dialogue in my mind.
I wrote the first three chapters and then realized that I had no idea where the story was going. So out to the local pharmacy I went to go and buy index cards. I bought a 100 multi-colored pack and used them to outline the entire book. Though the subplots changed slightly as the book was written, that framework was the one that I followed throughout the creation of the book.
• When you first start writing, get your ideas down in any format that you can. Whether you use my approach of typing them out or use a journal or sketch book, the only requirement is that you are comfortable with the format that you choose in the short term.
• In the long-term, you’ll need to consider if you’d like to have your work published. If you do then you’ll eventually have to enter your work into a software solution such as Microsoft Word or Scrivener.
• My motto in the beginning was: don’t think, just write. It’s important during this initial phase to get your ideas down. You can worry about what everything looks like later on. Just capture your thoughts in the moment.
Finding Time To Write
Finding the time to write was so difficult for me. Every moment that I wasn’t with my son, left me feeling guilty for not being with him. The first step that I had to take was to check my baggage. I was walking around, interacting with others, and carrying this enormous weight on my shoulders. Then as a mother, I began to realize that my son got the best version of me when I allowed myself a little “me” time. So when Guilt came knocking at the door, I didn’t answer.
I also picked a time when I was at my best. Rather than trying to cram in writing late at night when I was wiped out, I would write during the weekends within the confines of my son’s nap times. Normally, I could carve out at least two hours of uninterrupted time and that made the writing that I did do all the more meaningful. Then I didn’t have additional guilt to pile on later because he was asleep that entire time. I wrote The Star Child in nine months of (mostly) guilt-free nap times.
• Let go of the guilt! You deserve some time for yourself. Start with ten minutes every day and see where it goes from there.
• If you’re considering writing, be sure to pick a time when you are at your best, if possible. For me that does not include anytime prior to 10am.
• Put your writing time on the calendar and mark it as your own.
• Keep all of your materials and resources handy so that you can easily access them when it’s time to write.
Editing, Editing, Editing
After the book was written I wanted to get as much feedback on it as possible, so I reached out to every teenager I knew. Coworkers children, family members, it didn’t matter. I joined a book group and asked my friends, mother, aunts, and my husband to edit it. While they edited, so did I, and slowly, the initial version started to become more solid.
After about a year and a half of editing (also during my son’s the nap times) I was asked to join the Love a Happy Ending group. It’s a wonderful team that brings readers and authors together. It was there that I met Kit Domino.
Kit thoroughly edited The Star Child twice, finding things that I missed and providing me with advice on how to avoid common mistakes that writers make. The experience overall was invaluable to me. By the time The Star Child went to print on December 15th, 2011, it had undergone fifteen rounds of editing.
• Seek as much feedback as possible. You can’t create in a vacuum, so the more you get input from others, the more you can flesh out your ideas.
• Don’t worry that they won’t like it. Writing is a lot like music: it’s highly subjective. If someone doesn’t like your work then it’s possible that your book just wasn’t for them instead of worry about it, ask them open-ended questions to get to the heart of their comments. There could be some wonderful data points there.
• Get a professional editor. No matter how detailed you are, you can’t edit it all yourself. A third party can find mistakes in your work but also give you suggestions on continuity issued in the book.
About the Book:
Stephanie Keyes is the author of The Star Child, the young adult, epic fantasy about Kellen St. James, a seventeen-year-old prodigy and Calienta, a Celtic goddess. The novel blends fantasy and modern reality in a book that has received several four and five star reviews and spent nearly two weeks in the #3 slot in Epic Fantasy in the UK and #5 in the same category in the US. It is described as a “fabulous and engaging fantasy debut”.
The Star Child is available on:
About the Author:
When Stephanie isn’t writing, she works full time as a Corporate Educator and Curriculum Designer. She holds a M.Ed. from Duquesne University and an undergraduate degree in Management information Systems from Robert Morris University. Stephanie is a clarinetist, saxophonist, and vocalist, and is always making music somewhere at sometime. She credits her loving husband of ten years and her two sons for all things writing. The Star Child is Ms. Keyes’ debut novel.
Find out more about Stephanie at the new http://www.stephaniekeyes.com.
Friend her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephanie-Keyes/150860604966160
Follow her On Twitter: http://bit.ly/jjneXg