Monthly Archives: August 2017

Novelists are Public — How Do You Want to be Known?

Novelists are Public

For better or for worse, novelists become public.  Some more than others, obviously.  For that reason, it’s good to stop and consider from time to time–how do you want to be known?

Picture yourself at a ripe old age, looking back across the expanse of time.  Your life is drawing to a close.  What would you like for people to have said about you along the way?  Whether that be book reviews, public sentiment, your readers, or for that matter your own family members and close friends.

Clean Slate

clean slateIn the early days of my writing career, everything lay ahead of me.  The slate was pretty much clean.  I was, at that time, a member of a couple of local writers groups.  Some of the members were writing romance novels–ones that by today’s standards might be considered pretty mild, but to me were way too explicit. That’s what was selling.

These authors were my friends and mentors.  They were published novelists; I was still selling short stories and articles.  I wanted to be where they were.  I was told repeatedly how easy it was to write a romance novel–and past that, how easy it was to get them published.  And the advances were nothing to be sneezed at either.

But was that how I wanted to be known?

My Decision

My children were still very young.  Grandchildren were vague dreams in the future.  I did a lot (read that “a LOT”) of soul searching and it finally came down to this:

My highest desire was to have books with my byline that would never cause me a moment of shame of discomfort if one of my children (or future grandchildren) took it down from the shelf and read it.  I wanted to be known as one who set God’s standard as my standard. Even if it meant foregoing present sales and cash advances.

Francine Rivers

Be A Novelist

Francine Rivers

Author, Francine Rivers, at the beginning of her romance-novel-writing career was not serving God, and her earliest novels reflect that.  But eventually there was a change in her life–and that was no longer how she “wanted to be known.”

In 1986, Rivers became a born-again Christian, and for three years she had difficulty finding plots for new novels. She spent her time instead studying the Bible, and decided to adapt her writing to focus on more Christian themes. Her first novel in the new vein, Redeeming Love, was released in 1991. Rivers considers it to be her statement of faith. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francine_Rivers

Redeeming Love today is considered a classic work of Christian fiction and continues to be one of the Christian Booksellers Association’s top-selling titles; it has held a spot on the Christian bestseller list for nearly a decade. Twenty-some novels later, Francine Rivers, the novelist, is no longer known for her earliest books.

So again, the question comes–how do you, as a novelist, want to be known?

Seriously think about it.  Then proceed with caution.  Plan now so there are no regrets later!

Clean Teen Reads

I’ve launched a YouTube video series that I call (for obvious reasons!) The Writing Life These episodes reveal the ins and outs, and the ups and downs of a published author.

Be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss a single episode.

Clean Teen ReadsBe A Novelist

Tired of the struggle writing your book? Need a helping hand? Norma Jean’s Coaching Services may be the answer you’re looking for. Fill out the questionnaire on the page and let’s see if we’re a right fit. A FREE consultation gets the ball rolling. (Or the pen writing!) Click HERE!

Clean Teen Reads

Be A Novelist

Clean Teen Reads

Photo: © Mario Savoia | Dreamstime.com

Successful Authors Treat Ideas Like Gold

Capture the Idea

Many years ago, a well-known published author said to me, “I had rather write a note on the cuff of my blouse than to lose a good idea.”

Wow!  That’s profound. That comment stuck with me.

Capture the idea at the moment it comes!  I guess that’s why I have so many file cabinets in my home.  I can hardly bear to throw away all those scraps of ideas!  And while that’s a good place to store old manuscripts (and new ones), and ideas, and plain old stuff, you can’t very well carry a file cabinet around with you.  So what to do?

Notebooks!  Use notebooks!  Or your computer; or your iPad; or your iPhone.  Use notebooks like an artist uses a sketchbook.

If your strategy is to store your thoughts and ideas in the computer, make doubly sure you have a special file for them.  Treat them with utmost respect.

While I definitely started out with what I termed my idea notebooks, these days I use both physical notebooks and my computer.

Be A Novelist

Use notebooks to capture ideas

A Writer’s Laboratory

I still have on my bookshelf two small loose-leaf notebooks that I filled when I first began to write seriously.  One is yellow, the other is blue.  Yes, there they are in all their glory.  In them, I wrote snippets of overheard conversations; names I felt were different or interesting; town names that caught my fancy, descriptions of sounds, sights, smells, and then there were the cute and funny things my kids did and said.  They created for me a writer’s laboratory as I recorded their actions and conversations.

Entry Sample

One entry from a winter day goes like this:

Clouds of fog were surprised to find themselves held captive in the night by the icy hands of the frigid air.  Countless millions of droplets, soft and fat with moisture, were squeezed in the icy grip, then transformed into exquisite crystallized formations and designs.  Each was individually fastened with miracle adhesive powers to every tree branch, every blade of dead brown grass, every strand of fence wire,  in a sort of dress-up, flocking occasion.  The first glow of dawn revealed that nothing had escaped the sparkle-tinsel effect.  It later turned to fiery sparkles in the bold winter sunshine. 

Stop – Write It Down

Insights and perceptions will flit through your mind like a quick firefly, lighting for a brief moment then gone forever into the darkness.  Oh, you think you’ll remember that little idea.  Or that reaction.  Or that snippet you heard.  Guess what?  You’re kidding yourself.  You will not.  Stop whatever you are doing at that moment and write it down

Keep small notebooks in your purse or pocket, by the bed, in the car and in the john.  Will you be laughed at?  You can pretty well count on it.  But when the novel comes out, when the work is published, and it contains the content that you hurriedly wrote write down (sometimes almost impolitely) you will be forgiven.

Be A Novelist

Ideas are like gold!

And even if you aren’t, you shouldn’t really care.  Because you are only doing the work that is required of a serious novelist.

Ideas are gold.  Ideas are the raw material with which a novelist works every minute of every day.  Treat them with utmost respect and they will serve you well.

Don’t rely on the cuff of your blouse (or shirt as the case may be)!  Buy notebooks and fill them!  Or keep your iPad close at hand and fill it. Whatever works best for you – just do it!

In the days to come, you’ll be so thankful you did.

Clean Teen Reads

I’ve launched a YouTube video series that I call (for obvious reasons!) The Writing Life These episodes reveal the ins and outs, and the ups and downs of a published author.

Be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss a single episode.

Clean Teen ReadsBe A Novelist

Tired of the struggle writing your book? Need a helping hand? Norma Jean’s Coaching Services may be the answer you’re looking for. Fill out the questionnaire on the page and let’s see if we’re a right fit. A FREE consultation gets the ball rolling. (Or the pen writing!) Click HERE!

Clean Teen Reads

Be A Novelist

Clean Teen Reads