I Want To Write A Book. Where Do I Start?

This morning I was asked why I decided to write a book and how I got started on the project.  For me, I had a background in writing and communications, so it gave me a little more of a head start than some.  My major in college was Communications, and I went back to Ohio State University to take a class in creative writing, which helped me with my writing.  A friend asked me why I had not written a book; I was so good at writing the feature stories for the newspaper. So I sat down at the computer with no idea where I wanted to go, just started to write.

Writing a book: I believe you need to be an avid reader to write a book or have a great editor.  Reading gives you more information on the structure of a book, scene and chapter breaks, and helps with your inspiration for the subject matter.  My mom was an avid reader, and she passed her books down to me.  I don’t remember a day she didn’t have a book in her hand.  As a farmer’s wife, she would sit reading a book while she waited for the wagon or truck to be filled with grain.  My mom liked historical romances, and I found I loved the books with a story including a cowboy and horses or a modern day romance.  Even on a bad day or a cold weekend a heartwarming story with a happy ending made the day just that much better.

Inspiration:  You CAN NOT use other people’s work in your book.  That is called plagiarism, and that can cause you many headaches and legal problems.  To write a book, you need to have a sense of creativity.  I used several things from my life in my book.  The oak tree by the creek was a place I went all the time to sit and think.  The root system on the one side of the tree had been washed away by high waters, so I could sit on one large root and swing my legs over, leaned up against the tree.  It just came naturally to write the oak tree into the story.  Especially when the main character went home and needed a place to think.  Songwriters will tell you this:  Don’t be afraid to use parts of your story in your piece.  Taylor Swift was known for doing that all the time.

Outline the book:  The Silver Heart book is an oddity for a writer.  I sat down at the computer and just started to type.  I had no outline, and I had no idea where it was going. The Silver Heart grew on its own and had its story to tell.  My next book already has a three ring notebook started with the character names and research into why a 16 years old young girl would be shipped to America by her family.  Even though I am writing a fictional story, I want some form of reality so I can feel the story.  Feel the character through her travel to America and the feeling she gets being shipped off to America by her family.  Her feeling of fear with a touch of adventure.  Creating her character in the book, who she is and bring out all the feelings being felt by the main character.  You will have to read the book when it is released to learn more. lol

Tip:  The best thing I found on the internet is a program called Grammarly.  It has been a God send for me.  I used it for everything I type, including social media posts.  It corrects spelling errors, grammar errors, structure problems, etc.  I am in love with this program and purchased the upgrade to catch more errors.  It is a free program to start.

Edit, Edit, Edit:  Once you write the book put it away.  Walk away for a little while and separate yourself from the book and the characters.  Then read the book again.  Print it out and use a red pen, or pink as my editor did, and make changes.  Make notes in the margin.  What do you want to know more about as the reader?  Don’t read the book as the author, read it as someone who just picked it up off the bookshelf to read.  Do you have questions about why something happened or what did the room look like?  Make notes in the margin.  Then go back and change the story.

Your Editor: No author succeeds without a good editor.  I met my editor, Ann Westlake, on LinkedIn.  I believe in fate and signs.  Ann lives in, Delta, B.C., and I lived in Delta, Colorado.  As we talked, we found many things in common, and I just felt a connection with her.  Ann is honest with me, even when I don’t want her to be, and she understands me.  When I explain why I wrote it a certain way she listens and then helps me through the storyline.  I love my editor, and she has taught me so much over the past two years,

Final Manuscript:  When I wrote The Silver Heart I sent it to a publisher with only my editing.  WRONG!! You can’t be your own editor and never post any book on eBooks or anywhere else until you have it edited.  Even the best writers in the world have editors.  Someone who can look at the manuscript with a different set of eyes.  They catch typos you missed because you wrote it and read it with your mind on the story,  This is something that will be out in the world for all to see.  Do you want the best out there or just so-so with errors?

Critiques:  I had several friends read my book long before I sent it to an editor.  I wanted their opinion on the book.  Was it something they would recommend to their friends or would they purchase it on the bookshelf?  After you release the book, do not take a bad critique personally.  Everyone has and opinion and although some reviews hurt stand by your work.  If you have followed a plan and your editor is happy with the final product be proud of your work.

Writing a book:  Do not expect to write a book in a couple of days or a few weeks.  Even my children’s book took me months to write.  There were edits, and I had to find an illustrator for the book, then work with her on each picture.  I thought being there were fewer words it would be an easy book. When you go for a smaller book, you have to put more details into the storyline, with less time to bring the reader into the character’s world. My tip for writing a book is this:  as you write the book stop and close your eyes.  Look around the room you are in and pick out the details of the room.  Colors, textures, pictures, people, and anything else that gives the reader an idea why you chose that room to include in your story.  If it is a scene with your characters, close your eyes and feel what they are feeling.  Does her heart feel butterflies, does he feel terrified with the man running towards him with a sharp knife, with the black handle.  Yes, look at that knife through the character. What do you see about the knife that you would remember if you had to describe to the police?  Pull your readers into your story.

Some of my happiest moments with The Silver Heart are when my readers come back and tell me they hate me, love me, and I made them cry.  I pulled them into the story with the characters, and I brought out their emotions.  One person said she read it until 4 a.m. because she couldn’t put it down, she wanted to know what happened.

Happy writing no matter if you write a book or a story for Readers Digest.  Enjoy your writing.  It is a time you can escape from the present day world and travel to somewhere else in time.


Traveling Back in Time

On Sunday we traveled back in time as we went to the Renaissance Festival in Waynesville, Ohio.  It was Highlander day so everyone had their kilts on, there was Irish music, and all kinds of activities going on that had to do with Ireland in days gone by.

Having never been to a Renaissance Festival I was not sure what to expect.  I was told you park in a field and walk around the different exhibits and listen to music. So I expected a field with tents set up, much like a flea market.  Well, much to my surprise it was nothing like that. Yes, we parked in a large parking lot made up of grass, but that is where the description ended.  As we walked through the gates, which resembled the entrance of a castle, it becomes a town.  There are buildings on both sides of the entrance with a large grassy area, where trees provide shade for the weary, running down the center.  The artisans who have set up shop there are very talented you soon learn.  There are glass blowers making tiny glass dragons, butterflies and other animals, woodworkers, and so much more.  Each shop has different items on display, and some shop owners stand in front of their wares and lure you in with their native dialect from their country in the highlands or Europe.

Sunday was a beautiful 68-degree day with a slight breeze, and the sun was shining down on all the people who came to the festival dressed for the theme.  They showed up as Irish lasses,  elves resembling those in The Lord of the Rings,  hobbits, and various other characters.  There were vendors selling large pickles from a push cart and a sweet lady dressed as an Irish girl selling cookies from her tray.  Everyone working was dressed in a costume which made your walk through the grounds an experience.

As we crossed over the bridge, we found games for the young at heart, and there were pony and camel rides for little ones and adults.  The rides and games were only $5,  so affordable to create a memory for the children with you.

There are park benches all over the grounds so you can sit and watch the people go by or listen to the music at one of the shows.  There are shows scattered all over the grounds, and most are what I would call “Irish” comedy.  There is an Insults game where you can throw tomatoes at the young man with his head and hands through the wall.  You stand behind the stand and hurl tomatoes at him as he hurls insults back at you.  It was a great show to watch as it was more entertaining than a game.  He not only picked on the person throwing tomatoes at him but those in the audience as well.  The little ones were not spared as he asked the front man to bring them closer, so they had a better chance of hitting him with the tomatoes.  I stood there for awhile, and no one was even close to hitting him.  The pitches went far and wide, and it made you think the insult he was throwing out was affecting the pitcher’s aim.

Be sure to take your best walking shoes because the Renaissance Festival is 30 acres in size.  We walked for 4 hours, and I think we saw everything, that includes sitting down for a few shows.  The food honestly is a little pricey, but it adds to the experience as you walk around with a whole turkey leg to munch on, a bag of kettle corn, a large dill pickle or many other items that fit the theme of the fair. The kettle corn vendor was by the jousting arena and it made for a great snack as you watched the knights coming at each other with long jousting poles, with a horse going 22 miles an hour.  You could hear as the pole hit the armor the knight was wearing. Turkey legs?  They are everywhere so you can find one easily.  Seemed to be the item people ate to enhance the experience. 🙂

Would I recommend taking the family to the Renaissance Festival?  Yes, I would. It was a great day with the family and I could have had no greater joy than to put my grandson on the pony and see the smile on his face.

Lá maith agat

Pam Egbert