Thursday, April 3, 2014

Guest Post by Carolyn Holland

Thanks for stopping by and meeting my guest  - author Carolyn Holland.  Carolyn and I grew up in the same small town, lost touch over the years and recently reconnected.  Neither of us had any clue that the other had published a novel. Obviously I was thrilled and couldn't wait to introduce her to everyone!  Carolyn has agreed to share the steps she took when developing/writing her novel:

5 Essential Steps to Writing Seeds of Transition

Ernest Hemingway once said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Well, we all know that Hemingway is acclaimed as one of the greatest authors of all times right? Everybody who had a high school English lit teacher worth their salt has not only heard of him but most of us have even read some of his work.
The truth of it is that this quote is not entirely true, in that there is more to writing than bleeding. Just about every aspect of our lives requires planning, especially if we hope to do something important, and planning is absolutely essential to writing anything from business letters, resumes, short stories to books.
For me, as an artist, my earliest attempts at fiction writing were carried out much like my paintings. My planning was limited only to setting up my work space with the proper paper or canvas. My paint brushes, tools and paints would lay askew atop my work table in no particular order, rags for wiping my hands would be scattered around. Numerous coffee cups and snack wrappers would litter the area. Often times I had no idea what I would paint until I started thinking about the colors I wanted to use that day.
Although this “fly by the seat of my pants” method seemed to be working for my art work, I came up with some really cool stuff that I could never duplicate; it proved to be not so effective at my writing desk. I would start a project and write until the ideas ran out and move those pages to a stack to be “revisited” when the ideas started to flow again. Later, instead of gaining creative insight as to where to take my story, I would most often just get another great idea for a new project, write til the well ran dry and add to the stack.
Planning just went against my creative grain. Art and writing were my escape and my release from everyday pressure, after all, every other aspect of my life required careful planning, and I certainly didn’t want to minimize my fun by planning my creations. Boy did I have a lot to learn.
This is a problem that a lot of writers with tremendous potential have. In recent years, when I decided that I wanted to get more serious about my writing, I started to look hard at the reasons why I had so many incomplete writing projects and identified the lack of planning as the culprit.
Last year, I started writing the first book in the Genesis Project trilogy, Seeds of Transition. This was an awesome opportunity, I had a publisher who was interested in publishing it and I had a science savvy co-author. It was time to get serious.
This is how I did it:
1)    Planning: The co-author, Kef Hollenbach and I spent a lot of time discussing the storyline. We devised a strategy together to cover all the important components of a fiction work.
2)    Research and Development::The research began. It was like a shark feeding frenzy. Because we were writing a science fiction work that surrounded a lot of complex issues like climate change, agriculture science, and extreme weather we had to know our stuff. Research hours were further compounded as we studied trends to give us ideas about how things might be in the year 2057, the setting for our book.
3)    Outlining: The outline was written. This was not a quick undertaking; it took days to compile and then weeks to revise.
4)    Writing: The writing process began and I quickly learned that I needed a writing schedule, so I devised one that I could stick to, allocating as much time as I could while still running a business, keeping up with the laundry and keeping the weeds pulled back in the garden.
5)    Letting Go: Although Kef was old hat at this, after all he was already published, it was and still is the hardest part for me. As soon as the last word was typed, my baby was ripped from my arms and placed in the capable hands of our editor.

Although the writing is far from over, we still have two more books to go in this series; we are still using the same principles that made Seeds of Transition possible. Although we have not “arrived”, we are getting better and better at our craft, and I attribute all of that to careful planning and am very excited to see where our efforts will take us in the future.