Saturday, June 30, 2007

10 Steps To Writing Your First Novel

By Sara Pufahl

Anyone can dream of writing a novel but it takes cracking open your soul then laying it bare, hand cramps, eye strain and, possibly, a few sessions
of crying to see one to completion. And those are the easy parts of novel writing. To make it more clear, if you want to see your name on the spine of a book, you are going to have to work for it.

Here are ten concrete things you can do to go from dreamer to novelist:

10. Write every day.

What you write doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you are getting your inner thoughts down on paper or screen. Do not edit this writing at first. Allow yourself the freedom to write whatever comes to mind.

9. Kill the inner liar.

There will be a voice in your head that says “You can not do this. Give up.”

If you are born to be a writer, and you will know it if you are, then that voice is lying to you. It’s testing your resolve. Shout it down by saying positive affirmations out loud. This is your dream. Do not let anyone, even yourself, steal it from you.

8. Focus on one idea.

Decide who will be the star in your novel and what locale it will take place in. Pick a goal for your main character to strive to accomplish.

Don’t try to write like your favorite author or the person who is currently on the top of the best seller’s list. Instead choose a story idea by picking emotions you want to write about. Love. Hate. Rage. Disappointment. Shame. Guilt.

You have to infuse your characters with these emotions and let that be the driving force behind their behaviors. If these characters seem real to your readers they will read about them in any setting or situation.

7. Decide on a Point of View

Once you have characters, a setting, and conflicts you need to decide who gets to tell the story. Will it be in first person or third? Will more than one character get to have a P.O.V.?

6. Plan Ways to Make Your Characters Suffer

Novels are about conflict. The characters start off in the middle of a dilemma or transition period in their lives and by overcoming obstacles they find themselves or the answer to their problem. Or they don’t. Either way they have to be constantly struggling toward or away from something.

5. Accept Imperfections.

If you wait until you know how to perfectly construct scenes, dialogue, story arcs, a climax, a resolution, then you will never get past page one.

Your first draft will be a mess. Write what you can. Correct it later when you have learned more. You can not edit a blank page so write what comes to mind and worry about making sense in your second draft.

4. Recommit.

This is about the time it all seems overwhelming and a dreamer gives up. A writer does not have that luxury. For them the desire to write a novel, to tell a story that reaches into the hearts and minds of strangers and makes them feel, is embedded into the DNA of a true writer.

Take a moment to come to terms with your fate. If you are destined to write, then sit with your pen or
keyboard each day and string sentences together. Novels are written one word at a time. Don’t let the enormity of this task stop you from forging ahead.

3. Listen

Do not listen to anyone who tells you to give up. Instead close your eyes and listen for the sound of your characters speaking to you. When you can hear them telling you who they are and what they want you are ready to start putting their lives down on paper.

2. Figure out your writing style.

There are two types of writers: the plotters and the pansters. Plotters develop detailed plot outlines and background information for their stories. Pansters sit down and start creating with only the vaguest sense of where the tale might end up. Either style can work.

I suggest writing only was much as your need in order to feel comfortable with your characters and story idea. For a plotter that might mean twenty pages of information, note cards, and poster boards filled with scene ideas. A panster could begin a novel only knowing the first name of the protagonist.

1. Write Page One.

Now jump in the deep end and write the first page of your novel. Each day write at least one more page. At the end of the year you will have a novel.

Then you will be more than only a dreamer. You will be holding your dream in your hand. At this very moment the story is inside of you. Write it down.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Part Two

This is the second half of my interview with Schuyler Thorpe.

Question Four- You share your novels online. How and when did you come
to this decision? Is it something you struggled with or did it seem like
the obvious choice from the start?

I started this decision almost 4 years ago. It seemed appropriate for me--that if I was going to be a serious player as a writer, I would have to start advertising and promoting myself online and locally. But it was a natural choice--since I've been doing something like this for almost 20 years now. (I started writing when I was 14. I'll be 34 come January 3rd.)

But being online has given me a wide lattitude when it came to selling myself as a competent and reliable author. Most authors and writers usually sell themselves short in this regard--by relying on more traditional methods--but I see the internet as just another extension of myself.

I use it appropriately to share what I know about writing and publishing--and not just my books or myself. The only thing I charge is doughnuts, hot chocolate, and sunflower seeds these days for my "services". I tried asking for money and donations once, but no one seemed to take me seriously enough to part with a small amount of their change--so I dropped that idea. :0)

Question Five- You've been writing for over twenty years. Ever think
about throwing in the towel? Any advice for those of us just starting
out about how to overcome our doubts?

If I threw in the towel, I wouldn't get anything else done. I still have over 300 stories and about 105 novels to complete. What you read and see on the 'net through search engines is just the tip of the iceberg. :0)

How to overcome your doubts about writing and publishing?

Sigh...let me think about this one for a second. I've given out so much advice for first-timers over the years, I think I've emptied the bank on that front!

The most prevalent advice I can come up with is to keep perservering and experimenting with your works. Both arenas--in question-- are a real bitch and a half to go through--let alone overcome--and you just need to keep hammering away at it, until you succeed.

And success as a writer doesn't mean just doing it for the money, fame, and fortune. Those things are as extinct as the dinosaurs are now. And you shouldn't count on any of them to lift you up.

Success for you, should be the love of the craft. What you most like about writing and why you are doing it! If you can get one book done, then consider that a success!

Take a bow!

Does it matter if you're published or not? Does it matter if you're in bookstores or not? Or even on the bestseller's list?


As long as you keep churning out stories and books at your own pace, you will be a success in your own right. Your career as a writer doesn't need to be tethered to the mainstream any longer.

Not when you have the internet and e-publishing to look forward to now.

And that's why you should not worry about being a notable household name. That's not important anymore.

What's important is the story and how you tell it. Everything else is just fish food for someone else to worry about.

Be a writer. Be that storyteller. And tell people about the worlds you've created and visited in your life's travels.

Check out part one to read more about this writer and find links to his work online

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Chat with Schuyler Thorpe

Question One- As one of the more prolific members of Brand New Aspiring
Writers, you provide inspiration to the rest of us to keep plugging away
on our half finished novels. Can you tell us about the first novel you
ever wrote?

The first novel I wrote was called "Fire and Frost". This novel was set in the year 2983, and told of a struggle between the government of Kamar V and the people it represented. The planet was in the grips of a civil uprising--due to an energy crisis of monumental proportions--and the discovery of a planet-killing asteroid--also added to the tension.

For the most part, the novel centered on a 13-year-old boy named Jason Scott, and his journey towards survival--from being involved in a hostage crisis with his father--to escaping Kamar V's eventual destruction.

Though this is the first draft--with Cosmic Death completed, and Virus X only partially complete--the book itself taught me a lot about writing. I still need to finish the saga surrounding the book, but it was a fascinating experience--one of which led me to writing more books on a much larger scale.

Question Two- You writing mixes several different genres. Can you
explain which ones? Would you compare your stories to any currently on
the bookshelves? I tend to say you are a true original!

I tend to mix science-fiction, fantasy, horror, romance, and several other genre elements together in my books. And while science-fiction and fantasy represent the two strongest of the genres prominent in my works, I also add other 'lesser' elements to the batch--to strengthen and add a unique diversity to my books.

(Though this is strongly discouraged by the mainstream. They only want one thing--and one thing only it seems.)

I tried to run comparisons to my books according to what's on the market--12 years ago and onwards--but I could not find anything which would help my placement odds in the market. The only thing which I could probably have an easier comparison to my books would be to movies--based on certain themes and elements. But again, it would only be a rough comparison--since what I write falls outside the mainstream. (Which is why I have had no luck in finding solid representation with either agents or publishers in the last 8 years. I simply don't write according to trends or fads.)

And thanks! I appreciate you calling me original! It would be very hard to be otherwise--if I were following in another author's footsteps. But I never did--despite my love for classic works of the last 30 years. I never had an inclination to write like Asimov, McCaffrey, or any other prominent author of the late 20th century--even though I've read many of their books.

Question Three- I'm intrigued by what I have read of your Starchild
novel. How many books do you plan for this series? Do you have any other
series in the works?

23 novels so far in this series. But this is just a rough estimate. Early last year, I revised some of my book storylines in the series--after Starchild Ruin. The number of books was based on the idea that I would continue to showcase what happened with the running storyline surrounding Isis McGowan. But before, she wasn't the main character for the saga. It belonged to another alien girl named Kalar Vox. Her personal struggle on her homeworld sparked the current run of books which stretches to close to two and half dozen novels. But because I was having difficulties breaking out with a solid first novel, I had to abandon her--and that storyline--for something closer to home. I wanted something which had some ties to our own world, as well as some personal ones. Something which all readers could relate to.

So in 1999, I embarked on a completely new story for The Starchild (the term 'Starchild' being one word), and Isis McGowan was born. But her struggle was also mine: I didn't have a solid grasp of writing back then, and it took me quite some time (almost 13 years by the time the projected release date of the book is due to come out in 2009. But because of some extensive editing and reshuffling, it may be another 2 years on top of that--before the book can be fully released.) to come up with something good for the universe's overall guardian and protector. (I started this project back in 1996.)

I have completed Starchild Duel, but the novel needed another rewrite--which I'm currently involved in. And Starchild Ruin is slated to begin sometime later in the Fall of 2007 or early 2008. I had something going for the book 3 years ago, but the problem with theological differences cropped up, and I needed to abandon the novel (temporarily), until I could iron out the first two novels, and go from there. But this third book is a Greek tragedy. It tells of a conflict long forgotten, a love affair gone horribly wrong, and a world left in ruins. All of which will have severe repercussions in Isis McGowan's future.

As for my other series in the works, I have The Price of Freedom, and Stories of the Dead Earth.

The Price of Freedom focuses on a war set not too far in the distant future. A conflict between the human race and the mysterious Neos--along with the Mother Control Matrix. (And no: This has nothing to do with The Matrix! lol) The storyline takes place between 2165 through 2167--when 2 characters embark on a journey to occupied San Francisco to go back in time to stop the war from ever taking place. But because of an "echo" by the main character--it doesn't look like they will be successful.

However, it doesn't stop Kenneth Sparks and Kayla Sorenson from trying anyway--as they pass through one sector after another--of the former United States of America--in an effort to get to California in one piece. (And since public transportation is out of the question, the survivors have to walk.)

Kenneth Sparks is a former lieutenant attached to Captain Tanner's group; the 14th Infantry--coupled with the 3rd Infantry and the 1st Armored Brigade. He's 36-years-old--an orphan from the Kansas Incident of 2135. (Topeka was wiped out in a Neos operation--costing then 6-year-old Kenneth Sparks both his parents.)

He's been with the Free Earth Movement for roughly 20 years now, and is involved romantically with Kayla Sorenson.

Kayla Sorenson is a cloned techo-organic once Mother's top field commander of the Neos. Her story is a complex and complicated affair. From what we know of her now, she was once an ascended being belonging to an order of people who oversaw the formation and continued stability of the known universe.

She was sent back through the time-stream (towards Earth), in an attempt to stop one of their own kind from dominating the primative plane of existence. But something went wrong in the past, and Kayla's "other self" was killed in the middle of the war (somewhere around the 2050s), and then reanimated later on--to serve as a foot soldier in Mother's vast armies on the North American continent.

Kayla was 'liberated' in Waco around 2163--and reintroduced back into the fight. For the human race. But this version of Kayla came with some interesting abilities. After some time with Kenneth, she fell in love with him, and the pair journeyed towards San Francisco--to go back into time to stop the war. Despite her pregnancy (she's six months along now), various transformations, and attacks from the Neos and Mother herself, she continues to find out more and more about a past which may or may not come to pass.

This book is NC-17 for a reason, and I keep cautioning readers to be at least 18 years of age when reading this book. And this is the first of six books in a series. But the novel so far is breaking word count records and page numbers. I have 1,409 pages done so far, and if things continue, by 2009, I should have close to 600,000 words done.

The Catalyst of Freedom should be started sometime in 2010 or 2011. But it depends on how long the first book will take. I started that one in 2004.

Stories of the Dead Earth is a first-person perspective, fantasy series, which is running at least 10 novels strong (could be more; I dunno)--centering on two lost princesses named Jeanna Ulysses and Jasmine Steinberg. They both lost their homes to the evil king--Richard the Infinite First--and now they've journeyed to finding out what happened to their families, and overthrowing the king along the way.

What makes this series so unique is that it is written partly on an anime-styled format and an RPG-game one as well. It also is the first one of its kind to employ everything known to man about fantasy: Mecha, magic, dragons, and so on.

The two characters are proficient in magi; with one being a magi-sorceress, and the other a techno-mage. They have with them, 2 special wrist-comps named Seth and Merlin. Through them and their 5th-generation power armors, they assume different forms and creatures. With Jeanna, she can utilize her armor's mecha-morph capabilities by calling on 2 powerful mechas: Argus and Prometheus. With Jasmine, she has different "angel-type" Valkyrie transformations which allows her to assume a different kind of flight mode. But she can also control everything metal, and she does have different types of spells at her disposal.

Jeanna is supposed to be a white-magi sorceress, but she's been delving in other types of magi magiks; including some of the more forbidden arts.

Personality-wise, both are strong and independent. They don't want to embrace their royal status--going so far as to hide their true identities--as they just want to be treated as 'one of guys'.

Both have a quirky sense of humor (as older teens go), and they both enjoy the challenges Dead Earth throws at them.

And while Jasmine has shunned any romantic entanglements, Jeanna has her sights set on a dashing captain named Tiddus (Gi-ah-soiski) Kalamon--and wants him for herself.

But things didn't go so well in the beginning of the third book, and she found herself being spurned of his affections--even after she threw herself at him unashamedly. The second novel was a battle for survival, as the Esmeralda Jasmine fell prey to the inner workings of an area known as The Hole. The ship managed to come out intact, but the damage is pretty severe.

The third novel has them going to Jasper next, but the two lost princesses will be tangling with a very pissed off Queen of Jasper--whom has claimed Tiddus as her very own.

So you can think of the implications to this one...

I should be finished with the 10 books by 2012--seeing that these novels will go by much quicker than one of my "mega" novels. (The Starchild and The Price of Freedom for example.)

I've also finished many other books, including: Fire and Frost, Cosmic Death, The Vampiress Hunter, A Girl Named Mystery, and a couple others. And while this small list may sound small--broken up, they would stretch to almost 2 dozen books total.

To read more about this author stop by next week when the second half of his interview is posted.

Until then you call find more about him at

Freewebs (Updated Monthly)


Yahoo 360 (Updated Weekly)

and this one

Star Child Blog (A 3-in-1 site updated 3 times a month)

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Do you wish …

Do you ever wish
To paint your life
In black and white
And hang some sad nostalgic music in the back,
And put it on a TV screen
For men in future years to see
And say, "this must have been
The way things used to be" …

Do you ever walk the street
And half-imagine you might meet,
Some half-forgotten face from long ago
Although inside you really know,
You're walking where they'd never go …

Do you ever sit and look
At ancient photos you once took,
Long-lost faces in a book,
Examine them a million times
As if to read between the lines,
As if you might see something more,
That wasn't ever there before …
Something new, that might resolve
The mystery you never solved.

Do you ever wonder why
Faces wilt and flowers die,
People change and time goes by,
Leaving you to stand and sigh
At night beneath the starry sky
Watching comets fall and fly ...

Written by Anna Williams

Stop by her blog to read more of her work, Free Poems Online

Saturday, June 2, 2007

A chat with Fiction Scribe

One of the members of Brand New Aspiring Writers is Jaime. She shares her wisdom about writing related issues at Fiction Scribe.

With her blog she manages to not only entertain but inform aspiring writers how to improve their craft. In her poem below, and the answers to my questions you can see for yourself how her talent and hard work blend together to make her a true inspiration. First, some background on her in her own words.....

Group Manager,

A little about me...I’m a four leaf clover,
a lemon with a twist.
I’m a scotch on the rocks,
a Sunday morning mist.
I am your daughter,
your lover, your friend.
I am a stranger,
and on whom you depend.
I am a woman.
I’m breasts, hips, and curves,
I am a body
on what man perves.
I am everything and nothing,
I’m all I believe.
I’m beauty and mystery -
not just what you see. I'm still recently enough married to be considered a newlywed, a native Wisconsinite who, on my first flight, flew to Australia, where I found great people, good food, and an appreciation for city living.

I'm a freelance writer, published short-story writer, professional blogger, and aspiring novelist.

When I'm not writing and listening to almost any type of music you can think of, I spend my time talking to friends, scrapbooking, traveling with my husband, and talking quantum physics. I also take time every day to write about my journey to lose weight and and get healthy.

Question One- Nearly all of the members of Brand New Aspiring Writers have written a novel or have a half written one they are battling their muse to finish. What are you working on these days?

Gosh, what am I not working on these days? That seems like the question, anyway. I currently have bunch of open stories and other story notes, but I'm very excited to say I'm finally working on a novel these days. I have two others written, and now I get to go back and write how it all began. I'll be doing a lot of things I haven't done before in a novel, like using a language and an entirely different way of life (I have so many notes I had to set up and print my own "guide" to this world, lest I forget) so I'm very excited about that.

Question Two- Many writers claim to have been scribbling down stories since childhood. Did you start writing at a young age?

Oh, absolutely. Somewhere in my vast collection of childhood paperwork, I have all the stories I wrote when I was beginning to learn to write. I also have two of my favorite stories I wrote in my childhood - one about my brother destroying the world with an atomic fart and one retelling of the three little pigs from the wolf's perspective. I always felt back then that he didn't get the chance to explain himself.

Question Three- Have you ever taken a break from writing fiction? How long did it last? What brought you back? If you never took a break, what keeps you motivated year after year?

Yes, I've taken breaks. I tend to think of break times as when I refuel my idea tank. Usually when I finish a piece, I take anywhere from a week to a month to talk to people, read books, and explore to fill up my idea notebook once more.
I think you're talking significantly long breaks, though, and there has only been one for me. I wrote my first novel and then I didn't write for about half a year. I suppose I didn't take myself very seriously as a writer then, so I didn't see any reason to jump right into the next project. Or any project, for that matter.
What brought me back was the sensation that the stories of the people of Tet weren't done being told yet, and the granddaughter of the main character in the first novel had an important story to tell - perhaps even more important than her grandmother's.

Question Four- Where do you see your writing career in five years? In fifty?

In five years, I want to have my novella published. I took a break from seeking out publishers because of my wedding, but I want to get back into it and get that bad boy published. I also want to be in the process of publishing one of my Tet novels or have it published already. Those are the immediate goals for five years down. I'd also love to take all my pet peeves (on Fiction Scribe) and put them into a book or ebook, but that is just an idea at the moment.
In fifty years... Wow. I'll want to have quite a few books published, but as always, I'll be aiming for quality, not quantity. I'll still be blogging, if I have anything to say about it. Maybe not professionally, but I do adore reading and writing blogs. By then I certainly hope to have made a name in whatever writing-related career I choose, which could be writing for a paper or freelance editing at this point.

Question Five- How did you come to have your Fiction Scribe blog with 451 Press?

Oh, my. This is actually a funnier story than you might think.
Chrispian, one of the main people at 451 advertised for writers on a writing forum I'm on (which he created). I eagerly signed up and suggested I could write about relationships, life in Australia, scrapbooks, etc. I listed a bunch of things. They responded quickly that I had the job as the scrapbooking blogger. (How different life would have been, hm?)
This was all right before I flew over here, so there was a good amount of time between when I was hired on and when I was settled enough here to start blogging and putting in the paperwork. However, by that time Chrispian told me there was a mistake and they already had a scrapbook blogger.
I was feeling pouty and emailed him back that "It's too bad you don't have a blog about writing, because I would love that."
He responded that he loves fiction writing and thinks a fiction writing blog was a great idea. And so, Fiction Scribe was born and I started writing on it last October.

A scrapbooking blogger... How strange to think about how things would be now if I had written for that instead.

Question Six- Your blog is a favorite of mine. Its a must read! What is the latest contest you are running?

I'm glad you like it!
Currently, the Spread the Love contest is going in honor of getting married. All you have to do is get your friends to comment and put who they were recommended by, and you could each win a $15 amazon gift certificate! Good luck to everyone who participates.

A huge thanks to Jaime for taking the time to share some of her story with us.

Make sure you stop by Fiction Scribe and check out all her tips, hints, and prompts for aspiring writers.