For those of you who have no idea what the title means, here you are: National Novel Writing Month, which happens to start today, the 1st of November. As I have decided to participate this year, I am uncertain how many blog posts I will also be writing.
Count this as a warning that I might not post much this month. We’ll see what happens, eh?
So I’ve been thinking a lot about whether or not I should create a depiction of Christ for my children’s book series. The characters are not human, so I’m not sure if I should create a non-human version of Him or not. I originally wanted to place artwork of Him on their walls, but was told it would be irreverent to use a non-human version, and it wouldn’t make sense to use a human since there are none in their world.
As I have been pondering this the past few weeks, my 7 year-old has discovered The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, in which Christ is depicted as a Lion named Aslan.
I wonder if C. S. Lewis’s success in this depiction is that he used a different name, in addition to the different form. In Voyage of the Dawn Treader, he writes,
“But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason you were brought into Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you might know me better there.“
So he is the same, but changed for a different world. Perhaps it is a good way to teach about Christ to children.
Apparently Lewis did not originally intend to have Aslan appear in the books, but the lion came to him in a dream. What really made it work, I believe, was the deal of reverence Lewis used when writing about Him. He never took it lightly, and thus he created a powerful figure. His readers knew in their hearts who Aslan was to them, when they were transported into Narnia. I suppose that’s what I should strive towards.
I know that my writing is nowhere near C.S. Lewis, but I can learn from him and aspire to be an author like him. I guess it’s a good thing my first book is years from being published, it gives me time to grow.
Have you any thoughts on how Christ should be depicted in fiction? Any other non-human examples that I can learn from?
Thanks for reading, as always, and Blessings to you!
So I’m learning a lot about how to publish a book in a very short amount of time. The whole topic is worth it’s own professional certificate, there is SO much to learn!
One thing I’m learning is to trust the experts; the agents, the publishers, the editors. I haven’t started working with them yet, but I’m seeing the impact Not listening to them has. One of the hardest things to do is to let someone else tear apart your hard work. To hear them criticize it and tell you to change it, can be a painful process.
I hope I can be ready to let go of the reins when I find my team. I hope I can listen to their advice, and respect it as the voice of experience that it is. I hope I don’t take it too personal when they tear apart my little creations. I hope I have learned enough to trust them.
I have dear friends and acquaintances who’s books never got off the ground (even really good ones) because they didn’t have the knowledge to learn how the industry works. They didn’t understand that asking for changes is a good thing, it means you passed the first hurdle. They didn’t realize that they are the rookie, and the editors, agents, publishers, etc. are the experts. A wise Second Leutenient won’t tell an Sergeant what to do, even though he has the higher rank. He will listen and learn as much as he can, regardless of whether or not he agrees with the Sergeant.
I always thought that writing the book was the hard part. But I’m learning that’s just the first mountain. Behind that is the whole range!
If horses were wishes, the West would never be won.
I feel like Hiro (from Disney’s Big Hero 6) today. “Nothing! Stupid, useless, empty brain.” Guess I need to change my perspective…
Actually, my brain is not empty, it’s so full of thoughts and ideas, and half completed posts that I can’t focus on any one long enough to complete it. It’s just a low energy, head-achy kind of day. My kids feel it too, they are cranky and arguing more, restless and difficult today. So no good advice today, no epiphanies, no well-researched articles are going to get finished today.
Just an honest admittance that everyone has these days. Mama said there’d be days like this…
A few days ago, I had a great conversation with Heather Choate, a self-published author with over 250K books sold, here’s the advice she had for me:
1) What made you decide to self-publish?
After completing my first novel, Blackwing Angel, I sent out query letters to over 120 agents. I had only 3 request to read the manuscript. All came back with rejections. 120 rejections was a lot to take! I felt pretty low and doubted myself as an author wondering if I could even do this. I remember sitting at my computer and thinking, “Is this a good story.” I still thought it was, despite what the “industry authorities” were telling me. I knew I loved writing and I wanted to keep going. I determined I could keep the book on my desktop where no one would ever see it or I could look into publishing it myself and if anyone enjoyed reading it, then all the better.
I spoke to a friend who had independently published his own books and had been successful doing so. He gave me some great information and I dove right in. I published my first book in 2012 and have published over 15 books since, hitting the #1 Amazon Bestseller’s list over 27 times! I had no idea when I made the decision to keep going anyway that I would be where I am now.
2) How did you find a printer? I publish through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) which is Amazon’s affiliated Print On Demand (POD) publishing service. It is free to set up an account and get your book onto Amazon. There are no up-front publishing costs. So, when someone orders your book, you make money. Amazon takes 70-35% fee (depending on your price point) and the rest is yours after that.
a. Editor? I have a great editor I knew in college, Josh Levitt. He has edited the majority of my recent works and has done a fabulous job. I’m a writer, not an editor and it is a MUST for anyone wanting to publish their own works to hire a good editor. You want your work to be as professional and polished as possible.
b. Illustrator? I used Elance.com to hire a great illustrator for my Jonas Flash Chronicles series. I used Photoshop to do several of my covers myself (not recommend though unless you are proficient at graphic design and formatting- best bet is to hire a professional).
c. Distributer? KDP does this.
3) How many books did you have printed? Again, POD means I didn’t pre-print any books. I have since sold over 250,000 copies.
4) How much did it run you? $300-$400 per book for editing, $80- $400 for graphic design. $100-$300 marketing (this is optional)
5) How did you cover the initial costs? First, my husband agreed to pay for it, then I rolled over profits from books to cover the other book expenses. Now, it completely sustains itself.
6) Did you make a profit? Recoup the costs? Not initially. But now, 5 years into it, it covers its own costs and has a small profit. Most books do not make a lot of money, so you have to have realistic expectations going in.
7) What would you do differently if you could do it again? I would have researched more about how to market it and built up my social media following sooner, but really, I’m very happy with how it all went and how I grew.
8) What was the worst part of the process? Rejections from agents and nasty reviews. I would get dozens of positive reviews and then get a handful of negative reviews and those were the ones that stuck in my head. These played with my doubts and fears. I had to quiet those voices and choose to go forward anyway.
9) What was the best part? Having control over the creative process and doing what I loved. It was great to know that others appreciated what I do and that I was able to help inspire, uplift and entertain people with positive messages. There is a great need for clean, positive and uplifting literature (especially young adult) and I feel like I’m serving my purpose and on my path when I create stories and books that can fill that need.
Heather has a new book coming out, Fighting For Our Lives, about her experience being diagnosed with breast cancer while 10 weeks pregnant. I haven’t read it yet, but here’s the synopsis from the website:
True stories of survival: Mother and unborn child beat cancer through faith and determination
One of the truly remarkable Mormon stories of faith and determination: At age 29, Heather Choate was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was ten weeks pregnant with her sixth child. Her unborn baby became victim to the fast-spreading and highly dangerous cancer in Heather’s body that already spread to her lymph nodes. Doctors told her she needed to abort her baby to save her life. Heather told them, “I’d rather die than take the life of my baby.” Heather and her husband set out to find a way to save both mother and baby. The journey pushed them to the fringes of their stamina, tested the strength of their familial relationships and found them clinging to their faith like it was the last bit of thread on a lifeline.
I’ve been following Heather’s story for years, it’s such an inspiration. Her family is all doing well and growing strong. She stood up to her doctors and stood up for her beliefs. Even if she would have lost the battle with cancer, her whole family would be stronger because of her faith. But she even beat the cancer and now she is able to be an inspiration to so many more.
I hope her story can strengthen your Faith, and I hope that her advice can help you write your stories as well.
So right now it feels like there’s a train wreck of ideas and projects inside my head. As I’m trying to build my platform I have so many ideas and avenues to explore, it’s sometimes hard to identify which ones to focus on on any given day. I’ll list a few, in no particular order…
For my blog:
At least 2 more author interviews to post articles on, with 2 more on the way (all 4 are self-published or hybrid, I’d like to line up some more traditionally published authors as well…)
A mile-long list of Christlike Virtues that I want to post articles on (i.e. Honesty, Charity, Hope, Patience, Temperance, Morality, Learning, Mercy, Thrift, Repentance, Obedience, Chastity, etc.)
Half a dozen homeschool topics and lessons learned I can expand on (lesson independence, busy boxes, daily, weekly, and annual schedules, setting up a lesson plan, and organization and setting up your space)
A well-planned rant on defining poor vs. rich and who should be helping whom (Hint: if you can read this on a device you own, you are among the world’s wealthiest…)
For my books:
Polishing my manuscript for my first book
Polishing my query letter for my first book
Proofreading my second book
Finishing the first draft for my third book
Figuring out the outline for my historical novel based on my Great Great Grandparents
These are the best laid-out ideas and tasks ahead of me, though there are more in the wings. I know it’s a lot better to have too many than too few. But it can be just as difficult to succeed. When I was a partner in a retail store, the main thing that brought us down was not knowing how to handle too many customer orders. Heheh! A problem most would envy, but it still can kill a business. So I realize I need to put together a project plan, just as I put together a marketing plan (yet another topic I can post).
Anyone have any tips and tools on how you managed and prioritized the ideas in your head?