Are you up for the challenge? If you want to jump-start that great novel idea that's been jelling in your mind forever, there's an organization that can help! November is National Novel Writing month and NaNoWriMo can help! You can join authors from all over the world to complete an entire novel in 30 days! The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November and the website offers tools to track your progress, get support, and meet other writers online. There's also prizes and a cool map that shows how far your fellow writers have come. Check out the National Novel Writing Month FAQ's for more info and get writing!
We appreciate our talented authors and the unique aspects each one brings to their work and to IngramElliott. Susan K. Morgan is no exception. Susan is an eclectic old soul who draws inspiration from many muses. She’s a licensed Spiritual Healer, Reiki Master, Christian minister, and longtime birder. Susan and her husband of 20 plus years own a crystal store and metaphysical resource center in Historic Downtown Paducah. Susan’s novel, Surrender, combines all these aspects in a fun, romantic adventure that will restore readers’ faith in true love.
We chatted with Susan about Surrender and her career as an author.
IE: How did you come to be a writer? What inspired you to write Surrender?
Susan: I’ve been a wordsmith for the corporate world for decades. I’m an avid storyteller and wanted to bring some of these characters and their stories to life.
IE: What does your book’s title, Surrender, represent to you?
Susan: "Surrender" was word play on both giving into love and passion, and a nod to how wonderful things can happen in our lives when we surrender to who and what we are at our core. When we stop fighting to live up to other people's demands about who we should be and what we should be doing, life gets much more interesting and fun!
IE: What genres, other than romance, have you considered?
Susan: I love a good story and interesting characters. Romance is such fun to write, I’m likely to stay close to that genre. I suspect there will be some fantasy and paranormal in future books!
IE: What do you hope readers will gain from your books?
Susan: My books are sexy and fun, quick reads with fascinating places and intriguing characters. They have interesting stories to tell. My primary message is life is short. Live like you mean it!
IE: What advice would you give budding writers?
Susan: If you want to be a writer . . . you must write something.
Well said! Learn more about Surrender and Susan K. Morgan at www.susankmorgan.com. Surrender will be available for purchase this holiday season.
Many a great editor have pushed authors to the limit. Is this really plausible? They ask. Wait! They wail. This character was supposed to be born in 1240 but the black plague didn't happen until a century later! Pesky little details. Yes, they are.
Developing a plausible backstory and timeline for your characters is key to making your readers true believers. Even if no one will ever read that Uncle Jimmy's folks were circus performers in the South in the early 1930's, it has a direct relationship to Uncle Jimmy's odd fear of clowns, which leads to his overreaction when Jimmy Jr. comes running in one Halloween night dressed as Bozo and Uncle Jimmy nearly loses his mind. Perhaps that's a bit extreme...but you get the point.
Timelines - especially family details and birth and death dates - can make a big difference to how you present current events for the characters in your stories. Sometimes dates really matter - like your little girl shares a birthday with her mother and that birthday lands on a Monday instead of a Saturday, causing you to have to figure out why the little girl is having a sleepover on a Sunday instead of a Saturday...to more general knowledge about how your characters real histories, ages, and home lives can influence why and how they make decisions in your plot.
Plausibility is another biggie - especially in fantasy, sci-fi, or supernatural manuscripts. If you are using fantastic elements like magic, time travel, or ghostly interferences, you need to understand the rules of the world that you created and stick with them!
Back story may have a direct and explicit affect on the current storyline, or it may just be notes you have for reference that make their way into the narrative at key moments. Backstory can give characters depth and increase interest. Introduce backstory in dialogue: "Hey, baby, when we first met, you were so free. Remember the marshmallows? You helped me...be...free. And now we're all chained up." You can also allude to backstory with flashbacks or with inner dialogue. "Are you kidding me! I didn't sign up for this! I didn't sign up for anything. Heck, I can't even write my own name without thinking about daddy. Why'd he have to give me his poor, useless name. Daddy shoulda' left before I was born instead of after. And taken his name with him." You can also use flashbacks or narrative to introduce elements of your characters' pasts.
You get the drift. So take some time and create a family tree for your characters, take them out for a drink, and really get to know them. Back it up!
Jerome Stern wrote in his time-honored tome on creative writing, Making Shapely Fiction, that, "a story that appears full-blown, finished, and completely realized in its first draft is rarer than the ninety-yard pass, the hole-in-one, or the sixty-foot basket....for writers the general rule is revision."
In today's world of flash fiction, six-second videos, and 140 character limitations, revisions can seem outdated. Got a cell phone? You're a writer. Have 100 followers reading about your love for corn-based foods? You're a blogger. It seems in today's world of quick hits, the lost art of editing can be, well, lost.
Revisions are the heart and soul of a story. Yes, the first blush of inspiration can be intoxicating. But even Mozart had lots of dark, inky blobs on his parchment. Because even geniuses don’t get it right on the first try. In fact, we believe that honing the manuscript, digging into the details, removing unneeded adverbs, and adding that essential detail to your character’s backstory… are what will make your writing fall into melodic perfection.
Mr. Stern goes on to encourage writers not to get hung up on first-draft ideas, but also not to mercilessly cut passages that may be their freshest just because they are weird. Revisions can take a story sideways, or up, down, or forward. You may end up with a completely different story than you started with. This can sometimes freak writers out, but we say revisions are the layers on your cake, the cherry on your sundae, and the gravy for your biscuits.
Allow revising your manuscript to be progressive, but know when to call it quits. Once you’ve taken the story as far as it can go at this moment in time – it could be one revision or six – it is time to let your creation live on its own. Pull the plug and let it sing. Like Mozart, you’ll eventually hit all the right notes.
Speed writing tips for today, from some of our favorite writers of both fiction, journalism, and business writing. They work for all. Now keep you foot on the pedal and stay above 55 miles per hour:
Now back on the bus...speed tips are over!
There are lots of writing books, classes, blogs, groups, tips and tricks for turning your writing into a career. Many of them include ideas like setting aside a certain time of day for writing, celebrating milestones along the way, and removing pesky distractions while you work. Find the strategies that resonate with you, but remember - YOU are one making and breaking the rules. We've found that if you find what works for you - DO IT. If one day you fall down on the job and watch an entire season of that reality show you've been dying to watch, it's okay. But pick yourself up and begin again the next day on making...and breaking...your own rules.