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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

GUEST BLOG: KIMBER AN

HOW I WRITE NOVELS EVEN THOUGH I HAVE FOUR CHILDREN AND A WICKED CASE OF TENDONITIS
By Kimber An

Bottom Line:  I do most of it in my head first.

I have one child in regular school, two children I homeschool, and a toddler.  This means I live on a Master Schedule.  Before I signed with Decadent Publishing, I got up at four a.m.  Now, I get up at three.  Not kidding.  This gives me two and a half hours of quiet time on the computer before I need to get in the shower.  I have to get into the shower by five-thirty a.m. or I won’t have a chance for the rest of the day, because my first child starts the morning stampede at six a.m.  During the rest of the day, I’m working on plotting, deciding on character names, and so on while I’m loading the dishwasher, changing diapers, and picking up the eldest child from school with the other three in tow.  We’re quite a sight, traipsing through the snow with my European baby buggy.

I love my European baby buggy for two reasons.  One, I used to be a nanny.  Yeah, just like Mary Poppins, only I specialized in babies and toddlers.  And, two, I live in Alaska.  Those big wheels on the European pram go right through the snow.  Second best choice is a jogger stroller, but I digress.

A fine-tuned schedule is not enough.

As you’ve probably guessed, I have to chisel out my time on the computer because of the schedule.  Like I mentioned in the title, though, I also have tendonitis.  It gets better as my baby becomes more independent.  I noticed a huge improvement in my hands once she was able to get in and out of her chair by herself.
I must make the most of the time I do have on the computer.  This is why I do as much of it in my head as I possibly can first.  That way, when I sit down I can just write.  But, I had to figure out how to do this over the past four years I’ve been working towards publication.  And I’m constantly searching for ways to streamline my methods to cram everything I can into my time on the computer.  

Besides everything else, I’m an ePublished author.  One of the things I learned as moderator of the Enduring Romance book review blog was that an ePublished author must be extremely prolific.  We have to work very hard to build up our readership and we have to keep it up or readers forget us.  The competition is fierce.

I have a very crowded and messy imagination.  Stories barf out of my brain in a huge mess.  It’s just awful.  I wake up in the morning after dreaming stories all night feeling like I got ran over by an ice truck.  This is extremely inefficient.  I’ve had to learn the hard, extremely painful way to sort out the mess as quickly as I can.

Two things helped the most.

I ‘met’ Jacqueline Lichtenberg on-line.  She helped save the original Star Trek.  Here’s her website-   www.jacquelinelichtenberg  She taught me many things, two of which helped extraordinarily.  First, she taught me about THEME.  Everything about the story must support the THEME.  Secondly, she taught me about STRUCTURE.  A huge part of this instruction was sending me out to buy SAVE THE CAT!  by Blake Snyder.  This is a book on screenwriting.  You can learn more about it at the author’s website-   www.blakesnyder.com

So, now, the biggest thing I do when I’m preparing to write a new novel, like right now, is I outline the story, scene-by-scene, and ‘beat it out’ according to the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet, which you can find at the website.  Turns out, it works great for novels, as well as screenplays.  As I’m STRUCTURING the story, I eliminate everything which does not support the THEME.  And this, my friends, eliminates months and months of work and frustration for me in the story creation process.  

How do I write novels even though I have four children and a wicked case of tendonitis?

I do most of it in my head first.

Kimber An never had enough books when she was a kid and the ones she had didn’t turn out the way she wanted. And so she started writing her own. She also loved babies a lot, but didn’t know how to talk to boys. Instead, she became a nanny and took care of other people’s babies. Finally, she moved to Alaska where she met a boy who understood getting whacked in the head with a wadded up piece of paper meant true love. She married him and now she reads books to her own babies, and is living happily ever after.

11 comments:

JM said...

Wow! What a schedule! I can honestly say the best thing that happened to my writing was getting laid off back in June. And my kids both going to school. I can't remember how I got anything done while I was working and taking care of my daughter at home.
You have strict self-discipline, and I admire that. I may have to look into the Blake Snyder thing too. It sounds interesting.
Great post!

Leanne Dyck said...

Okay, I'll think twice about complaining that I have no time to write. I'm very impressed by your dedication.
Also we share a mutual interest (fascination)--babies. I cared for infants in day care for many years. Sadly I don't have any of my own. I currently run a home for elder cats--or at least that's what it feels like. : )
To learn more wierd and whacky facts about me, please visit my blog http://sweatercursed.blogspot.com

Kimber An said...

Thanks, JM and Leanne,

I think it all comes from losing a baby. It made me realize how fast time and childhood goes by and there's no telling how long with get to have with the people we love. Ever since then, I've squeezed in as much living and loving as I can. It's never a waste of time to say 'Thank you' or to hug or write a new story. Never put off what you can do right now. I cannot be happy without both books and babies in my life.

Vanessa said...

Holy cow! What a schedule! I can't imagine that. Makes my head hurt just thinking about it, but yay for you and determination!

Kari Thomas said...

WOW, I so admire your dedication and your strength of character! I'll never complain again about not having time to write! I thought being 24/7 Caregiver for my dad was a hard schedule ---BUT you proved me wrong! LOL!

Best Wishes and Great Sales!
Hugs, Kari Thomas, www.authorkari.com

Robert C Roman said...

"Stories barf out of my brain in a huge mess." LOL - I love that imagery!

Kimber An said...

Thanks, Vanessa, Kari, and Robert!

I should tell you all that my days don't always go according to schedule. Like today.

I have a massive head-cold, so my heroic husband put the truck in the garage (this is the height of Alaskan chivalry) so that it'd be warm when it came time to fetch the eldest child from school.

The time came and I put the other darlings all together and herded them out the door, only to discover my keys were gone. I never lose my keys. Seriously. But, my youngest is into flushing wallets and dropping cell phones into garbage cans. Seems I let her play with my keys too long. Anyway, here we are late and I have to herd my offspring back into the house, search everywhere for my keys which I never found and all while I was coughing and sputtering. Never found them. So, then I had to herd the offspring into their snowsuits so that we could walk. Ever get three cranky children into snowpants, coats, boots, mittens, et cetera when you're sicker than a calf with the slobbers? Not fun. But, only the littlest needed much help, thank God. It's a good healthy walk to school

when you're actually healthy,

and it's not snowing.

At least, no one pitched a fit,
although mommy came darn-near close!

Kathleen Ann Gallagher's Place to Reflect said...

Hi Kimber An, You have such a positive and upbeat attitude. It goes to show that if you want something, you can make the time to pursue it.

Thanks for the tips, too.

I thought I had a busy schedule, and my children are grown. Great post!

I hope your tendonitis is better.

Kimber An said...

Thanks, Kathleen, I'm off to write!

kayefrancis said...

This is how you structure screenplays (King's Speech example): http://www.youtube.com/user/clickokdotcodotuk?gl=GB#p/u/4/WQt7Ro9MZ4Y

Kimber An said...

Breaking down and beating out favorite movies is an excellent way to 'get the hang of it,' Kaye.

Here is The King's Speech (nominated for 12 Academy awards) beated out at Blake Snyder's blog-

http://www.blakesnyder.com/2010/12/17/the-kings-speech-beat-sheet/

They've also beat out several others, like UP. It's kinda funny because my YA daughter and I read and watch a lot of the same stories. And she'll say stuff like, "Mom! It's the 'All is Lost' moment!" Very funny.

You can also find some favorite movies broken down into the Mythic Structure, like the original Star Wars, The Matrix, and The Wizard of Oz. Just Google the movie's title along with 'mythic structure.' Here's one on Star Wars-

http://writingonthewallblog.blogspot.com/2008/02/plotting-with-mythic-structure.html