my love for historical fiction

historical fictveion loI come by my love of historical fiction honestly. Growing up in a family of historians, writers, readers, artists– all of it added up to my creation.

It started when I was young and I would hear my parents talking about historic events at the dinner table. Whether it was Biblical, American, Russian, European, it didn’t matter. Any topic was open for discussion, debate, and ultimately giving my sisters and me history lessons. As I continued in my education, it shocked me that others didn’t know the things I knew already. Not to say that snobbishly, only to say I was blessed in knowing what I knew because of my parents.

Not only did I know it, but I appreciated it. I lived for it. And I always wanted to know more.

I’m pretty sure I only read historical fiction up until I had required reading in school. Even then, the classics to me are from the same pot of tea, so I was always wanting to get my hands on more. However, there are three authors who made me want to read more, and more, and more– and with that, study more, and more, and more.

Ann Rinaldi

Samuel Shellabarger

Elizabeth George Speare

These three authors, to me, filled pages with adventures, challenges, and history that everyone should want to learn more about.

When I first started writing, I knew I wanted to write historical fiction. But it frightened me. I was afraid of the hours dedicated to research to get the details right. I was intimidated by the idea that someone could read my book and decide that I was no true historian, and give me a raving review that was less than mediocre.

I. Was. Afraid.

So I avoided it. I first wrote a YA Contemporary, which I love and hope someday others still might as well, but my editor and CP pointed out the language was very formal. I didn’t understand the concept of it being anything but, and realized that perhaps that came from my choices of reading. When I started reading contemporary novels, I tried to refocus my own into language that wasn’t ‘antiquated’.

Then I moved West, and something clicked inside of me. Having gone through my own adventure of moving with my family cross-country, I remembered books I read about families doing the same in covered wagons. And that’s when I realized I needed to stop being afraid of chasing my passion, and go for it.

I wrote my first historical fiction. And it’s what got me my agent.

History, the past, is a part of all of us. The amazing thing is that we all have our own lineage, our own pasts, our own family stories that have been passed down for generations– but the bulk of it is we all come from somewhere.

That, to me, is the beauty of historical fiction. These stories bring everything that we may have learned or wished to learn to life. Even if we know they aren’t straight facts, they help us feel a part of that time in history. They make us crave for ‘simpler’, or harder, times. And many times, they also make us appreciate the here and now.

You will find me reading just about every genre, and if you question that you can take a look at my bookshelves. But, if we get down to it, I write historical fiction because it made me who I am as a reader and a writer– and I’m so thankful for that.

 

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when life & writing overwhelm you

It is very easy for life to get the best of you.

And when I say you, I mean me.

Oftentimes life does not go as you wish. Days produce nothing but a longer to-do list for tomorrow, and months seem pointless when you haven’t reached that writing goal that’s been pushed to the back burner  because of family, or your daytime job, or personal reasons.

Believe me, I get it.

More than not, I find myself at war with my to-do list. Instead of cleaning my kitchen, I sit down to write for thirty minutes. The next morning, I’ll sometimes regret it. I mean, who can work when the kitchen is a mess? Not me. Or instead of writing, I’ll zone out in front of Netflix when the day is done and I’ll tell myself, “I’ll write twice as much tomorrow.”

If you remember a few past posts of mine, you know this is typical for me.

But the thing is, your writing is yours.

Sure, you may be stressed out about edits or deadlines. You may be stressed out over questions, blog posts, interviews, reviews–whatever. When it comes down to it, though: your writing is yours. Even if you signed away the rights for the movie, or for a translation, or any of that– your writing will always be yours.

And that shouldn’t overwhelm you.

I don’t want to be one to tell you what should and shouldn’t overwhelm you, how you should and shouldn’t feel. Everything in this life comes with a balance, and you have to find yours.

So here’s what I do when life & writing start getting to me and stressing me out, when really, they shouldn’t.

DO A LITTLE DANCEgiphy

Put on your favorite dancing music and shake it. There is nothing like movement to help you feel better.

 

EAT SOME CHOCOLATE

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Chocolate is actually proven to raise your spirits. Seriously. I read it somewhere. Just a hershey kiss could be what it takes.

 

TAKE A NAP OR GO TO BED EARLIER

giphyKids aren’t the only ones who get cranky when they don’t get enough sleep. While you might think another cup of coffee and burning the midnight oil is the way to go, sometimes you do just need to slow down.

 

JOURNAL

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Your feelings, fears, excitement, dreams– get it all out so you can clear your head. It’s amazing how much better you feel after you put into words what’s overwhelming you and driving you crazy.

 

What I’m still learning– and probably will always be learning– is when things are getting to me… it’s usually best to clean the closet and let go of things that aren’t necessary. It’s hard to put yourself first sometimes, but especially when you get to a breaking point, it’s a necessity. You can’t give to others if you’re running on empty.

they are the exception. your writing is the rule.

imageEvery day I plan to write at night time. When I’ve taken care of everything on my to-do list, finished clean-up duty, and snuggled in to the couch with a blanket and my laptop.

And almost every day, I never get much, if any, writing done.

My name is Emily, and I am a morning person.

You’d think the progression of life would have changed the way I feel about mornings, but I have always been the one to get up early and seize the day. I feel most at peace when I have my first cup of coffee, sit down with my journal and planner, and figure out how the day is going to go.

It’s just how I am. But somehow I have yet to learn that that’s the time I should be writing.

We all have the idealistic relationship with writing. Let’s sit down with a snack, our laptop, our thoughts, and hash out a few thousand words in one sitting. Some people can do that. Some people have the luxury to do that, but most of us don’t.

 

Let’s be real.

 

So what do we do? How do we figure out the best time to write? And more importantly, how do we stick to it and make it happen? At what point do we need to put other activities to the side so we can dedicate more time to our writing? 

Figuring out the right time of day to write can help you when it comes to making writing the rule, not the exception.

 

TAKE NOTES

Are you grumpy in the morning and bouncing off the walls around 2pm? That’s your high-time! While you may not always be able to dedicate your best time of day to writing, at least find five minutes to jot some things down to feel accomplished.

 

BE INTENTIONAL 

Be intentional about making extra time to dig deep and work on your project, especially on the weekends or holidays. I’ve found myself setting my alarm for what may seem as an ungodly hour, but it works wonders for me to get those words on paper. When I’m able to seize those extra moments, I start my day feeling accomplished instead of getting to the end of the day feeling guilty for doing “nothing.”

 

DON’T FEEL GUILTY

There are always going to be times when you miss a moment or opt out of it to do something else. Writing may be your life and it may be your job and it may be your passion, but you’re always going to have other things to do, too. Don’t beat yourself up for not getting up one morning because you had a late-night with the baby. Or not staying up and writing but instead going out with friends.

 

There are always going to be special occasions. Visitors. Things to do. But the important thing is that they are the exception, and your writing is the rule the majority of the time.

 

You got this. Set that alarm and drink some more coffee—you’ve got some writing to do.

 

Like this post? Check out: finding the time to be a writer and writing through the distractions, too! 

 

This post was originally written for & posted on Stark Contrast Editing‘s blog. Make sure to check out Katelyn’s amazing new site and the services she and others offer. Plus, more posts by yours truly!

balancing writing, editing, querying, & writing some more

balancing writing editing querying writing moreI’m in a precarious spot with my writing life right now. I am currently on my first round of submissions to editors, I’m anticipating the possibility of edits, and all the while, I’m trying to write my new work-in-progress.

It’s exciting and nerve-racking, alternating between the two each nanosecond.

This isn’t much different than when you’re querying agents, deciding whether you should keep chipping away at the book you’re seeking representation for, or start a new book as you wait. You pace, debate, decide, change your mind…and change it again.

Where is the balance? How do you function with so many things happening at the same time?

Never fear, my advice is here! (Just remember I’m still learning, too.)

STAY CALM

No matter what you’re doing, your nerves won’t help you. Sit down and organize what you have happening so that you can see it on paper. And I do mean paper. WRITE IT OUT. There is something about actually forming the words yourself, not just typing them, that helps clear your mind and settle the nerves. Once you have everything on paper, it’ll help you prioritize what you should attack first and breathe while doing it.

GO IN ORDER

Edit BEFORE you query. Not during or after. BEFORE.

While you’re querying, have a new project to work on. Even if it’s not a new book—have something to keep you from going back and second-guessing the book you’ve released into the wild.

HAVE PATIENCE

Hardest. Thing. Ever.

I say this half-heartedly because I’m awful at following it myself. If you’re querying agents, be patient and know you’ll hear back, and eventually you might stop jumping when your email goes off. Same thing applies if you’re on submission with publishers.

But let’s be real, those heart palpitations when you see an email from an/your agent will probably never go away. I know mine haven’t. But having a new project to work on while this is happening will keep you focused as a writer and invested in something new.

DON’T STOP WRITING

Much like anything else with writing, it’s good to have something to distract you: a new project, a craft, an event—anything to keep your mind off your email and your submitted book.

But don’t let querying or being on submission be an excuse to stop writing. A writer has to write, and if you stop just because your nerves are racing, you’re going to lose some of your momentum, and you could be withholding potential for your next great idea.

A break is needed from time to time, but don’t let yourself get out of the habit of writing. Ever.

Once you hit submit, have the confidence that your words speak for themselves.

And then get back to writing some more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This post was originally written for & posted on Stark Contrast Editing‘s blog. Make sure to check out Katelyn’s amazing new site and the services she and others offer. Plus, more posts by yours truly!

life & balance & seasons

imageOften times, I run through a day complaining about how little time I have. How much there is to do. What I need to plan for the rest of the week. Who I need to call or who I should get in touch with.

Go, go, go.

It’s so easy these days. I’m the worst at getting disconnected from living and reveling in this beautiful life, and instead just looking at it like a long to-do list.  Something to get through. Something to get DONE. And then, even if every day is slightly different, it all seems monotonous.

How sad is that?

I want to make a name for myself. I want to have a social life. I want to invest in my family. I want to have a foundation in Christ. I want to reach others. I want to lead by example. I want to have a clean house. I want to have a pretty yard. I want to do Pinterest projects.

Balance.

That was is my word for 2016. I had this idea that I would find the magical way to balance everything I wanted to do without stress and with a thankful heart/good attitude.

Admittedly, I probably didn’t realize how great of a goal that really was, or how heavy that word truly is.

“There is TIME for everything and there is a SEASON for every activity under the heavens.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1

There is time for everything. There is a season for everything.

It just might not happen during the time I want it. Or the season I’m in may not be the one I’m looking for.

Now I’m trying to enjoy life. To bask in the season of my life that is the present, and remember that I can’t do it all alone. And if I keep trying, I’m going to keep falling on my face.

Right now, I’m putting one foot in front of the other and keeping my eyes up instead of down.

 

What do you do to stay in the present and balance what you want to do, and what you need to do, and what you “should” be doing?

finding the time to be a writer

I’ve been the worst at making time to write lately. (My life is a constant state of chaos.) So at the end of the day I try to justify it by reminding myself of everything I got done… and then promise I will write at least 500 words the next day.

finding time to be a writerBut the next day turns into the next day, and then the next day, and then the day after that, and so on and so forth until I can’t remember the last time I really sat down and WROTE.

The thing is, I have to stop telling myself I don’t have time today, and instead ask myself, “Is it a priority?”

The answer there should always be the same: YES.

If you’re a writer, writing is always a priority.

Yes, we usually have other lives. A daytime job, school, family, a social life to keep up with– but writing is still at the top of the list. If we keep putting off the words in our heads, soon enough we may find ourselves forgetting them.

And we don’t want that.

But how do we find the time we say we don’t have? How do we sacrifice something that sounds fun in the moment, for sitting down and very possibly having writers block? It’s not easy, but I have a few suggestions.

  1. Make the time.

This sounds silly, but it’s not. Pick a time of day where you know you’ll have an opening. Whether it means waking up a half hour early or cutting your Netflix time short, do it. Don’t just find the time—reserve it. Reserve that time to let the voices inside your head come alive and speak on those pages. You owe it to yourself, and to your future readers.

  1. Carry it with you.

Whether you have Google Docs on your phone, an ongoing note, an easily accessible laptop, or a good ‘ole pen and paper—have something with you to write on, always. There is a time in everyone’s day, or even in the middle of the night, where an idea strikes, and you don’t want to be panicking to find something to write it on. This helps enable your ability to write, always.

  1. Don’t feel guilty.

That one friend that you haven’t hung out with in forever is begging you to go out, but the wheels are turning and you haven’t had this much inspiration in, well, forever. Tell your friend you’re sorry and keep those keys clicking. If she’s not a writer, she may not understand—but she’ll get over it. Never feel guilty telling someone “no” because you’re writing. It is a part of who you are, and you shouldn’t have to sacrifice that.

All in all, everything is easier said than done—but if you want to get that book finished, you have to make the time to do it. You can’t blame lack of time for not doing what you love, because really that only leaves one person you can blame.

Don’t be that person.

Be a writer.

 

 

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This post was originally written and published on Stark Contrast Editing. Check out the amazing services Katelyn and staff have to offer (and for more pieces by yours truly).