Now, I See

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My second novel is almost done! I can see the finish line. The manuscript if off to the editor in a few weeks and I’m talking cover design with my designer. I can’t believe it!!!

If this is the finish line, the whole process has been a marathon. I had the idea for this book many years ago. I wrote it two years ago, then changed the whole thing to first-person present tense, and then let it simmer for awhile before final revisions. Now here we are…nearing the finish line.

I have a working blurb (emphasis on the word working) and I’d like to share it. Feel free to let me know what you think.  Happy Writing!  –Madelyn

What if circumstances beyond your control made you question everything you believed about yourself and your life? This is what happens to Amy Clark. Her structured ways and reclusive tendencies offer her no protection against the changes to come. 

Amy’s life begins to unravel after a fateful phone call.  Her estranged father is dying. She returns to her childhood home in Northern Michigan to find that she can no longer control her life. Voices and hallucinations come uninvited and she is powerless to stop them. Even more terrifying, she experiences shocking visions about the lives of strangers that she encounters.

These glimpses into other people’s lives convince Amy that her sanity is slipping away.  She struggles to understand if there is any meaning in her visions before it’s too late. She questions her choices and her path. Did she make a mistake creating a purposefully isolated life? Does she have the courage, or time, to change?

Something to Muse about…

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The Muse Crew

Do you like books? Do you write books? Are you a person, with a pulse? Well, you’ve got to check out my newest project.  The Muse Crew 

These ladies and I have shared so much through the years…thought provoking discussions, tear-inducing laughter, and the tremendous growth of our writing skills (which both tears at the ego and then rebuilds it).

Now, we’re ready to share the wonders of our group with the WORLD! Yes, I’m thinking big here…world! So, if you like to read books, then take a look, because we’re working to find the best of the bestbooks. Writers, we’ve got your back because we’re willing to review your high quality books.

Please, come and join us, you’re sure to find something to make the visit worth your time at The Muse Crew.

Happy Reading,

Madelyn March

 

Inspiration in the Woods

 

This summer I had the privilege of visiting Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. For those who haven’t been there, it is a rugged sort of beauty, one in which outdoor lovers are in their element.

Now, I’ve spent lots of time there in the past, but it’s been awhile.  Yet, I’ve been there, in my mind. The Upper Peninsula is almost like a character in my book, The Nature of Denial. It was part of what inspired the story.

I remember working through the entire book in my mind over hiking and camping trips. I snuggled in my sleeping bag, listened to the snores of others, and imagined how the rugged nature of the U.P. could help heal a person so badly in need of healing.

Anna (my main character) is not taken from my life or any  other person’s life, but the scenery is very much what (for the most part) I’ve seen on my own. And it has, in many ways, healed me, again and again.

Visiting some of my old “haunts” was exhilarating for me, like meeting an old, dear friend. I couldn’t help but smile at references in my book that only I would get as I passed an old (not to be named) questionable motel, a dazzling waterfall, or heard the calming whispers of the forest leaves.

So, that was a part of my inspiration for the book. The other parts are too long to get into for this blog (maybe another one?) but they have to do with themes that I seem to revisit in my writing–struggle, hope, friendship, and love.  The world is full of darkness, but there is light around every corner.

Happy Writing,

Madelyn March

 

 

Dreams

“Dreams.  Don’t be afraid of them.  Immerse yourself in yours.  Remember, they exist today, in the here and now, in the what you do in this very moment.  Dream big, break goals down small, and start checking them off the list.  It’s empowering.”

This is part of an email I sent to some of the high school students that I work with.  One of my jobs is to mentor students in an online program.  Many of these teens need to hear that they are capable, that dreams are possible, and other positive affirmations.  I’m sharing this because I think it’s important for all of us to dream, and dream big.

Whatever the goal–being a writer, promoting world peace, making a decent living doing something you love–it is okay, imperative even, that we are dreamers.  Dreamers have created the beautiful parts of humanity and advancements that have altered how we live.  So, go ahead, dream a little, and if you have kids, encourage their dreams too!

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United We Write

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I am a lucky gal.  I’m part of a writing group that challenges me to be a better writer, tells me when my writing rant has gone horribly wrong, and notices my strengths.  I suspect that I might not have finished three novels without their continued support and I’m certain that my stories wouldn’t be as good without the critiques of my writing sisters.

We didn’t set out to be a women’s writing group.  We’ve had men before, they just didn’t stay.  Could it have been that we have some romance writers?  I mean some of their stuff makes my cheeks glow fire red.  Maybe it was too much for them.

I’m not suggesting that you seek out an all male or all female group (so stop writing the hate mail right now).  I am insisting that you find a writing group that feeds your talent. I’ve said it before, you can’t grow as a writer without input from people reading your stuff. You can’t!!!  Or, if you can, it’s at a snail’s pace.  Trust me.

Anyway, I’m thinking about my sisterhood of writers, otherwise known as the Muse Crew, because we’re going to start a writing and reviewing website/blog.  We’ve been working together for years, expanding our writing skills, critiquing the work of others, and exploring countless nuances of the writing process.  Now, we’re going to invite others to share in our discussions and help other authors (many of them will be self published) by reviewing their work.

Did I say that we’re not any ordinary group of writers?  We all come from vastly different life experiences and writing backgrounds.  That’s part of what makes this group so special. (Am I partial? Yes, but you would be too!).  Our group combines expertise in the areas of writing, editing, psychology, teaching, business, and more.  We have writers in different genres of fiction and non-fiction.  Our varied backgrounds give us unique perspectives to what we read and have enriched the way we approach authorship. We are driven by our shared passion for the well-written page.

You can probably tell that I could go on, and on…. and… well, you get it.  It’s a great group of women and I look forward to expanding our writing journey online.  I’m telling you so that you know and if you have suggestions about what you would like in a website and blog like this, please share them in the comments.

Happy writing!

Madelyn

 

 

Who’s Driving This Story?

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Yes, I’ve had a bit of a blogging break, but I rarely take a break from thinking about writing.  What’s been on my mind this summer is an issue I’ve had with my second novel.  I’ve been revising it and changing the POV and tense.  I’m changing it from third-person past tense to first-person present tense.

I’m not switching tense and POV for fun because it is TOUGH work!   In fact, I dragged my feet in protest, but the story insisted on being told this way.  I think the present tense and first-person narrative will increase the tension, intensify the action, and give the reader more insight into the character.  My goal is to create a mind-bending novel and I think this approach will help. If it were any other novel, I would likely write it in third-person past tense or at least past tense.  It is tough writing this way.  Did I already say that?

(I would give specifics about why it works for this story, but I hate giving the plot away to books that aren’t out!)

As I researched the advantages and disadvantages of this POV, I found that some people are very offended by this type of writing.  I’ve read horror stories from other writers that people have given them bad reviews for this POV without even reading the book!!!  How do you feel about this POV and tense?

Sometimes stories demand certain things from us.  They may scream it from the mountaintops or whisper it in our dreams.  In this case, my story kept pushing to be told from this particular perspective.  What are some demands your stories have made of you?

If you’re facing this dilemma, here are some resources that will help:

https://preciseedit.wordpress.com/2009/02/22/writing-fiction-in-the-present-tense/

http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/writing-tense/

http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/writing-tense/

http://booksbywomen.org/writing-advice-past-tense-present-tense/

Another great resource is to read authors who have written good stories from this perspective.

Happy Writing,

Madelyn

It’s Out!!!

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This day took a mountain of other days to reach, but finally, publishing day has arrived!  Am I nervous?  Yes!  But I’m ready to offer Anna’s story to others and hope that they find the experience worthwhile.

Read it for free!  It’s available on Kindle for free starting tomorrow.  Read the blurb below, if it’s not your genre of choice, no problem, but please pass it along if you know of someone who might enjoy it.

Darkness is growing within Anna Montagna and she can’t control it. She’s hurt someone that she loves. She fears that mental illness is descending upon her, like it did her mother, except her mother never hurt anyone.  Scared and alone, Anna flees to small-town Mikamaw in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to save her family from the monster that she has become.

Anna hopes to find anonymity and solitude in Mikamaw, but instead finds a slightly-psychic friend, nosy locals, and the healing nature of the landscape. Despite the hundreds of miles Anna travels to escape her past, it continues to haunt her.  She tries to drown her life’s regrets in alcohol and deep water, but they always resurface. When her husband and best friend find her in Mikamaw, she must decide whether to confront the past or turn and keep running.

Visiting Self-Publishing Hell?

29470216_sTrying new things often means riding the roller coaster of the learning curve. I’ve recently experienced the dips and climbs in self-publishing. At first, I thought the technology part of it shouldn’t be too difficult, I am a relatively tech-savvy girl, but Murphy’s Law came into play at every step of the journey. If you know what Create Space formatting gibberish, right-justified super-stretched sentences, or Kindle nonsensical formatting aberrations are, then you’ve likely felt my pain. If you haven’t, never fear, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The good news for me is that my self-publishing journey is nearly done. I feel like I’ve been trapped in a cave without light for weeks. I’m not sure if I’ve talked to people or had a proper meal in some time. Now I’m ready to step out, blink against the light, and stretch out my hand to shake the hand of an old friend or wrap it around my long-lost family.

You may wonder, what is the point of sharing my struggles and humiliation? (You know there are those people out there who will claim that the process was a cake walk and make you feel like a moron!) It’s so other people who go through it know that they are not alone and they will survive. Self-publishing is a process, like writing. Also, like writing, when you think you’re almost done, you realize you’re not!  Eventually, you will get there, just maybe not on the timeline you thought.

Soon it will be on to the next step… encouraging people to buy it!

Selling Your Soul or Only Your Book?

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When you hang out with writers, you recognize the signs of a writer going through the “marketing” experience of self-publishing.  They talk incessantly about social media, blogging, Amazon sales, and finding high-quality reviews.  Yep, you’ve got it; they are in the marketing phase.

For most writers, this experience means lost sleep, gray hair, and various signs of outward stress.  Sure, there are writers out there that love selling their wares, but you and I aren’t one of them!  For us, it can feel a little like selling your soul.  We’re writers, not sales people.

The truth is that if you want to sell your books, you will have to be part of that process (unless you are an all-star author).  That means putting in the time to build a platform, finding internet spaces to shout about your book, and handing out the occasional “bookcard” or bookmark.

I know, you’d rather be writing.  I feel your pain!  For me, balancing between a writing project and the marketing side is what keeps me sane.  If I had to do all marketing at one time, it would dry out my passion for writing.

So, if you see the signs, help a fellow author out.  Take them to coffee, listen to them rant, then brainstorm the next book idea.