NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

I was going to write that

Image result for the time travelers the gideon trilogy

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In the course of being an author and constantly coming up with new ideas for books, there tends to be a misconception that what I’m writing is original and no one has ever thought of it before. And though that could be true, sometimes it just so happens that someone else thought of the same thing before you and already wrote their story. Now it’s not wrong to have similar stories out there, and there are bound to be similarities between almost any book and any other. But this past week I was surprised to find a youth trilogy that lined up so well with an idea me and my sister had come up with.

Alicia and I were inspired one day while driving to create a story involving time travel. There are plenty of books out there that use this concept, so it’s not surprising that I stumbled across one of them in a Thrift Store this past Saturday. But what did surprise me was all of the ways its story lined up with our plan.

We hadn’t written anything down yet, but we were thinking of having two kids traveling to the past, maybe even to different countries and then one of them getting stuck in the past. My sister would write from the perspective of one of the characters and I’d do the other. One would be living in the past and having to adapt and the other would be searching for a way to reunite with their lost friend. We thought that there could be an age difference that is significantly changed by the time they meet each other again.

So when I found a book called The Time Travelers The Gideon Trilogy and read the description of two kids getting transported to the past, I looked at my sister and said “It’s our book!” We promptly bought it and I spent the next couple of days reading. It was so cool to see the basic idea we’d come up with fleshed out in a complete book, and not only a book but a series. I ended up getting the next two books in the trilogy from the library and I’m deeply engrossed in book 2 at the present.

I was particularly excited when I discovered that our two heroes do get separated in the series and one has to travel back to the past to find the other. There also happens to be a mistake so that they have very different ages from each other. I can’t wait to see how this series ends.

Even though it seems like the book we wanted to write has already been written, I think my sister and I might still write our own version one day. And perhaps this book will inspire some of our creations.

So if you like youth fiction and are looking for a new series, check out The Time Travelers, or check out my Finding Home series if you want to. And if you’re an author, just know that even though your work may not be completely original or unique, it can still be your own and a lot of fun for someone out there to read.

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How I Became An Author

I’m excited to announce that I will be visiting a school in Giddings, TX! Immanuel Lutheran School has graciously invited me to come speak about writing and my new book Finding Home: The Lost Brother on September 8th. I’m so excited to talk with kids about my experience with writing and publishing books that I just had to share.

I know most people who read this blog will not be able to come to this school, or any of the school visits I get to be a part of, so I thought I’d share a little bit of what I will be talking about while I’m there. There’s a lot more to my speech along with some questions for the kids, but I thought y’all might like this little glimpse into my life and how I became an author.

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My sister after she won NaNoWriMo for the 1st time

How I Became An Author

When I was younger I always loved to make up stories by playing pretend games. I’d imagine that my backyard was the Oregon Trail and I’d pull my little wagon around it like I was really traveling to Oregon. I’d pretend I was a horse or a dog with my sister and I’d pretend I was a mermaid or a dolphin while I was in the pool. But as I got older, I started to write down some of the stories I imagined. And I always wanted to make up new ones. I got into the habit of trying to think up a good story whenever I went to bed and hoping that I would end up dreaming about it. That didn’t work very often, but one time, when I was trying to fall asleep, I started thinking up a really great story. Usually if I liked the story enough I would try to write it down so I wouldn’t forget it, but this story was so good, I didn’t want to just write it down, I wanted to share it. So I started writing.

Now writing down the basic plot points of a story is one thing, and actually writing out the dialogue and what the characters do and say is very different. I worked really hard on making my story a reality for a few months, but eventually I started focusing on other things, like school and friends. By the time I went to college my idea of finishing this story and actually publishing a book was still something I thought would be cool, but I didn’t know if I ever would.

Then when I was a senior in college my sister did something amazing, and well it kind of brought out my competitive nature. She decided to do NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month and write 50,000 words in one month. I didn’t think she could do it, I mean I had been working on my book for years and hadn’t written that much. But she did it, she wrote a whole book in one month. And I decided, if my little sister can do this, I can do this. So I set to writing my book and actually finishing it. And the next year when she decided to do NaNoWriMo again, I joined her and wrote the first draft for my sequel.

And that’s how this book got it’s beginning, from a little bit of competition.

 

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Writer Resource

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I thought I’d share something helpful I found for getting feedback about your writings. I know I’ve posted some sections of my work on blog posts before and most feedback that you get is a ‘like’ or maybe a short comment. Though these can be encouraging, they don’t really help your work improve.

When I was in college, I was a part of several workshop classes, where we all had to do an assignment, but we also had to critique each other’s poems, short stories, or whatever we were writing. It was very helpful, and my work significantly improved from that feedback.

Since college, I haven’t really had a good place to get feedback about my writing. I’ve asked a couple friends or relatives, but let’s face it, everyone is busy and most of the time someone else’s project doesn’t take priority. But, luckily, I have another writer friend who I met at a Book Fair and she told me about this great website! I decided to try it out for myself before mentioning it to others, and now that I’ve used it, I’m a fan.

So the website is http://www.scribophile.com/ and it’s great. How it works is you have to read other’s works and give them critiques to get points, the more detailed and helpful the critique, the more points you get. When you get 5 points, you can post your own work for critique. It motivates people to actually read your work and give feedback. And it’s free, if you want it to be. I haven’t switched to the paid version, which has a few more perks, like having more than 2 posts of your own work at a time, and some fun features to get more detailed feedback. But I’m liking the free version just fine for now.

So if you’re a writer, and you’re struggling with getting feedback, check it out! Or if you would like to read more sections from my own novel, feel free to join so you can read them.

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NaNoWriMo

Image Source: http://nanowrimo.org/

As November rolls closer, I’ve come to decision time. Should I participate in NaNoWriMo again, or take a break? For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is basically a contest or challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

Last year I did it for the first time. It was a a blast. Sure there were times of stress, or having no clue what to write about. There were times I just stared at my computer screen with no clue what to do. I think I even had to write on an ancient laptop for part of it because mine had crashed. But still I look back on that time as a great experience.

But this year, I don’t have an idea to write about. Instead I see a pile of old work that needs revising. Should I really start a new project that will also need editing? I’ve toyed with the idea of making any revisions I make to an old novel count towards my goal of 50,000 words. But I know I don’t need to write a whole book with my revisions, I just need a couple of new chapters and some changes in the ones I’ve already written.

However, as I was glancing through blog posts today, I saw that one brave writer is going to try NaNoWriMo for the first time this year. And it got me thinking; yeah I have plenty of excuses, but the main reason to do this is because it actually gives me a reason to sit down and write. So maybe I’m not writing a new story, maybe I don’t have a detailed plan, but I can still join in with all the other writers out there and actually give a big effort for one month. And who knows what will happen.

So that’s my plan for now. I may end up with several short stories, and some new chapters for my unfinished book, or I may find a whole new novel developing, but I’m not going to make excuses and not write anything. The least I can to is try.

Any other writers out there who are on the fence about joining in, I’d encourage you to hop on the writing train. And if you’re that person who’s never finished a novel but wants to, I’d encourage you to give NaNoWriMo a try.

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