Monday, November 28, 2016

How Long Does it Take to Write a Novel?

If it was up to me, as a writer, I'd be stuck in revisions, obsessing over perfecting my novel. So last year I came up with a plan to write two novels in a year. The writing plan forces me to move on when I'm spending too much time in one section. Each month attacks a different step for each novel.

An explanation follows below, with a concise list afterward. While I am working on one step of novel 1, I am at a completely different spot with the novel 2. It doesn't matter how I divide my month. I might work for a week straight on novel 1, or alternate days. If I spend the first half of my month on only one novel, mid month I switch it up.

This way I am never bored, or driving myself nuts if I am sick of something.

1. & 2. Snowflake and outlining. I give myself a solid month to plan my novel. And even though it's a solid month, I'm also working on revisions for my second novel. I divide my time between the two. If I become tired of outlining, I have something else to break up the monotony.
3. While my other novel is out with beta readers, I have a month to write 50,000 words for the novel I just outlined. My own NaNo.
4,5,6 & 7. This step is filling in the gaps that my rough draft left. I read through the draft and compare to my outline. I expand scenes. I analyze the scenes to make sure they accomplish their goals.
8. I hate saving revisions until last. So I start tackling revisions as I go along. Alternating with months of analyzing my draft. I have my own personal list of revisions that I check off as I go.
9. I go back and compare everything to my notes again and expand descriptions, and even add scenes.
10. More revisions. Focusing on misused words and poor grammar.
11. Steps 4-7 again.
12. Finally time for beta readers! I give them a whole month with a very polished copy. I would hate to have them tripping over obvious typos.
13. Finish revisions list and work on suggestions from beta readers. Beta readers suggestions can be overwhelming so I allow a month to allow time to stew.
14. It's so important to edit your novel backwards and even read it out loud. You will catch many mistakes.
15 & 16. This is the polishing. Sending to an editor. Type setting. You want to allow plenty of time for this if your editor doesn't have a fast turn around. My editor is usually done in two weeks, and I edit from her suggestions for about two weeks.
17. Publish. Allow a nice month to sit back and catch your breath. Implement promotion plan.

A Year’s Writing Plan at a Glance

1.     Snowflake
2.     Waypoints and Outline
3.     Rough draft
4.     Compare to outline and waypoints. Make adjustments.
5.     Read through while scanning for mistakes and content.
6.     Elaborate scene descriptions and emotions.
7.     Scene analysis
8.     Begin Revisions list
9.     Repeat steps 4-7
10.   Continue Revisions list
11.   Repeat 4-7
12.   Beta readers. Let the novel rest while working on the other one.
13.   Finish Revision list and Beta reader suggestions.
14.   Work through novel backward while editing. Read out loud.
15.   Send to editor. Edit. Type set
16.   Final read through. Proofreads.
17.   Publish and Promote.

A chart to keep each month straight. Feel free to adjust the months based on what works for you. January and July are better NaNo months for me, so I built my calendar around those. The numbers correspond with the Year’s Writing Plan at a Glance.

Book 1
Book 2
1 & 2
4, 5, 6 & 7
15 & 16
1 & 2
4, 5, 6 & 7
15 & 16

 So how long does it take for me to write a novel? A year. Two novels in a year. This is working for 4 hours a day, five days a week.

Thursday, November 24, 2016


            The Thanksgiving holiday reminds us to be thankful. Gratitude should be part of our daily lives. Still, it’s good to take extra time to reflect on our blessings this special day. I’ll mention the 2 most important things I’m thankful for.
            Christ and his atonement is first on my list. He makes it possible to repent and return to live with God the Father of us all. We can never show Him enough gratitude. All he asks is for us to follow Him and keep his commandments. One of the most important ways to show Him gratitude is to love and serve those around us.
I’m also grateful for my family. I have the greatest husband in the world. Sure we’ve had our ups and downs as everyone does, but together we make a great team. I’m blessed with 8 children each of whom found a great spouse and they all have dazzling children. One of the super cool blessings is that they love and support each other. Some have left our faith, but they are included and loved. They love and support the rest of us. When holidays come, all of them who can come do so. Many of my friends have children who say, “If ‘Jane’ comes, I’m not going to go.” Even the grandchildren seldom fight at family events. Notice I said “seldom” not, “never.”
The list of things I’m thankful for could go on for pages, but it would make this post too long. One more thing, I’m very grateful for friends both near and far including the ones I only know on the Internet. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Circle of Influence

Valerie J. Steimle

My life has drastically changed over the last month.  My writing has taken a back burner for quite a long while but the spell was broken a few days ago when tragedy struck and I was snapped out of my fog. A good friend; a very good friend had been in an auto accident almost two years ago now.  I visited her in the hospital.  Her ankles were broken and feet just about crushed. Her wrist broken and there were other bumps and bruises that were too many to count.  But she survived. Not only did she survive but was on the mend starting out in a wheel chair and learning to walk again and then graduating to using a cane but the plates they put in her feet had caused her pain and the bone was growing around the plate.  The surgery the doctor’s scheduled was supposed to fix that and life was going to be much better for her.  But another diagnosis came up right before the surgery of Sleep Apnea and that is what got her.  She went under the anesthesia and never came out. So young at 40. So unexpected.

My whole world was spinning around when I found out.  She was a friend to many.  She had such a large circle of influence.  A marketing genius in a large company, an instructor to students in night classes, a Young Women’s leader at church, a mother, daughter, sister and wife.  The list goes on and on. She was taken to the next life leaving behind so many that she loved. So this time of reflection, when I know my friend has gone on and left behind such a hole, I think about our own lives and our own circle of influence.

Like the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, what would happen to us if someone close to us was snatched up to the next life unexpectedly and left a hole. How would the world go on without us without our good influences?  What if we were the ones taken, what kind of hole would we leave?

What are we doing in our life to help others and show that we care for them? My friend would not only ask about how we (ourselves) were doing but also about our families. I have heard this more than once from others about her. How she cared about our children and grandchildren.

From The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, President Lorenzo Snow said this: “We have been sent into the world to do good to others; and in doing good to others we do good to ourselves. We should always keep this in view, the husband in reference to his wife, the wife in reference to her husband, the children in reference to their parents, and the parents in reference to their children. There is always opportunity to do good to one another.”

The legacy my friend left behind will be felt for generations because of all the good she has done quietly and without fanfare; a wonderful example of a human being.  A circle of influence lasts forever.