Thursday, February 5, 2015

Work in Progress - The Queen Of Time

I've read an insane amount of author blogs and books on writing in the last year and come away with a few of the same things from every one. Getting rejected is part of the business. Writing isn't just a natural talent, it's something you sculpt and learn. Having strangers look your work over and give you critiques is essential. Going from these things, I've tried to apply them all.

The hardest one to start off with was the stranger critiquing. December of 2013, one of my biggest fears was showing someone my work. Seriously, if someone walks by when I'm writing, I'm super tempted to shut my computer lid or pull up the internet so they don't read it. If they ask about it, I put them off by saying I'll print it out or send it to them. I don't mean to put it off but I don't want them seeing it and finding out I'm really not a good writer but one of the many people who try but don't have what it takes.

I had to get over it.

When I put my book up on Amazon, I braced for the worst. Fortunately, my first draft has been read by a very small amount of people and the negative has been pretty minimal. The last few months of editing, I've been amazed people weren't meaner. It needed help! Big time!

So, have I gotten over my fear? Not really. But it's gotten a lot better. I still don't like people reading my book when I'm sitting there because I still tend to get sweaty palms but I'm volunteering it more by the day. If strangers ask me what I do, I tell them I'm a writer and then I give them a little synopsis about the book I'm working on. It's my dream job and instead of being scared of it, I'm starting to realize if I want it, I need to have courage and go for it. Will I ever be a best selling novelist? Probably not. Will I someday sign on with a reputable publisher to put my work into the world? Most likely. If I want it enough and work hard enough, it will happen. Now I just need to get there.

Starting January 1st, I decided this would be the year of conquering several of my fears. Putting together a short mental list, I've started working on almost all of them! I looked around online for critique groups but wasn't really too impressed with what I found. I found a free one but no one was very active on it and the one guy who answered me had my book for two weeks and never said a word or sent me his. Needless to say, I deleted his invitation to view my google doc.

I filled out a form for a group called Inspire Writers. They require a paid membership ($50.00 a year which isn't bad) but I wanted to see what they'd say. I wanted to be a part of a Christian group even though my book isn't really in the Christian genre because I didn't want to be reading a lot of the stuff that's going on outside of a Christian group.

I got an email a few days later. The lady was very nice but clear that YA is a constantly growing genre and their groups are full. She also wanted to know if I had a membership and I said no. I don't mind paying for one but I kind of want to know if it would be beneficial to me first. She said the waiting list was quite long to get into the groups. I thanked her for her time and moved on...until a week later when she sent me another email. One of the ladies had decided to start another YA writing group and Carol (the lady who originally had talked to me) was giving me an opportunity to join! Not only that but she said I could do it for three months free to see if it suited me! No brainer.

Now to what I'm going to be working on. I've settled on my King Arthur retelling. For anyone who knows me or read the beginning of this blog, retellings are where I started. The King Arthur story has be retold countless times with so many different angles but I have yet to read one I liked. The elements of my story sound similar to a few I've read but I'm going for a plot line I've never seen before. This is the initial synopsis I'm sending to my critique group.

       Eighteen year old Gwen White lives with her abusive mother and new stepfather in a little town which hasn't ever taken notice of her existence. With the loss of her only friend as well as her trusty laptop, life for Gwen has hit an all time low. 

       When her stepfather sells her out for an experiment, Gwen finds herself in the last place she expected; Camelot. Complete with the knights, the sights, and Prince Arthur, Gwen has to navigate the strange territory in the hopes she'll get back home before the mythical legend takes a deadly turn. 

This book is third person which is unusual for my normal writing style but I wanted to try something different. I've written two and a half chapters and am excited by my progress. I have yet to get into the complicated parts of the story yet and I'm sure I'll lose a bit of steam when I do. I plan to have the initial draft done by April (it would be sooner but I am still finishing my first draft of HN) and then we'll see from there.

My first chapter is due to be sent out on Sunday (the day after my twentieth birthday!) and I wish it would come already. I'm so nervous about what they'll say. After I get some critiques back, I'll post the chapter along with changes they suggested.

Anna Leigh


  1. I love King Arthur and Arthurian retellings--sounds like a great story!
    Letting other people read over, and critique my work, has always been incredibly hard for me. Part of it is because I'm my own worst critic; I see all kinds of flaws in my story and convince myself that everybody else can see them, too. Anyway, I hope you get some good feedback on your story--it really does sound interesting!

    1. Thanks for stopping by!

      I'm glad you think it sounds interesting. I'm always up for a good legend retelling (emphasis on the good) but time traveling back to Camelot is a rather well worn story line. Hopefully I can bring something new to the table!

  2. I love your blog, Anna, and your new book idea sounds fun! I've actually added some King Arthur elements to a book myself. It's always fun to take characters people recognize and say, "Well, here's what you didn't know..."
    What I'm curious about is whether you've chosen to add Morgana to your retelling as the villain. Is that something you can divulge at this point? ;)

    1. I'm glad you like the idea! I'm kinda excited about it too ;)

      There's this excitement and fear about using characters people recognize and putting my own twist on them. I think I may have been sweating when I wrote the first scene with Arthur.

      Morgana is a big question mark in my story at this point. I have Guinevere, Merlin, and several knights at the round table but I'm not sure how I want to tackle the Morgana thing. Not really a great answer to your question but truthfully, I just don't know. I am going to include Mordred!

      By the way, you're awesome for even knowing who Morgana is :)

  3. An Arthurian retelling? Sounds awesome! I love retellings.

    I totally get where you're coming from when it comes to critique groups. I found mine via Go Teen Writers: They may still be excepting new members. I was super lucky with the group I got and was pretty comfortable sending my stuff to them, although whenever I thought about it I got pretty worried. I can't wait to send them my next draft. :)

    1. I'm really into retellings too (obviously). The earliest memories of reading I have are reading Peter Pan and Robin Hood. I have word documents somewhere on my computer with ideas for retellings of both of them. I decided to start with King Arthur since it was the most challenging.

      My critique group is good and they pick up on all sorts of stuff I haven't seen reading and re-reading my work. After I finish my manuscript though, I think I'm going to need a critique partner who I can send the body of my work too for an indepth plot and character critique. I get nervous just thinking about it!

  4. Yes, that does pretty much answer my question!
    I think it's cool that you were nervous the first time writing Arthur. I remember the writers of ABC's Once Upon A Time saying that they had a "wow" moment every now and then writing lines for such iconic characters.
    I wish you luck!

    1. Thanks for your encouragement! It means a lot, especially coming from another writer! :)

  5. Hey! Visiting from the GTW's link-up.
    Nice! It sounds like you're in the middle of an adventure to become a published author. It's a ton of work, but you can make it. Just keep going! :)

    1. Hey,

      Thanks for the encouragement! It's definitely my dream but I know it's one I'll have to earn :)