Stepping into the forest of my mind

Stepping into the forest of my mind
Just as every journey begins with a first step, every story begins with the first word.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Insecure Writers Want to Know: What would make you quit writing?

Friends, I’m still developing my website at www.victoriamarielees.com. I’m hoping to have the site live by August 2021. My Camping with Five Kids blog will be located at victoriamarielees.com as will my Adventures in Writing blog. One site to find Victoria Marie Lees and all her adventures and writing endeavors. Thank you all for your continued support! 

And now onto my July 2021 blog post. 

http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com

I’m co-hosting this month for Insecure Writers Support Group! I’d like to thank my fellow co-hosts for July: Pat Garcia, and Louise – Fundy Blue! Please visit them if you can. 

Our question asks what would make us quit writing. This brought to mind whether my “quit writing” would be temporary while I get my act together—again—or permanent. 

I think storytelling’s in my blood. Why would I quit? I mean, I’m not making much money. I fight with the family to find time to create stories. I drive myself crazy trying to create an online presence of who Victoria Marie Lees is, a platform in which to celebrate my writing. I don’t sleep. 

Wait… Hmm… Maybe these are reasons to quit writing. After all, no one is waiting for the next YA short story by Victoria Marie Lees. No one is waiting for the next blog post by Victoria Marie Lees. No one is waiting for the college memoir by Victoria Marie Lees.

Ahem! Excuse me as my insecurities show.

If money and fame are the only reasons to write, then yes. I should quit writing. But let’s consider other reasons to write and create with words.

With fiction, a writer can live vicariously through her characters. Create adventures and danger and love and possibilities, all from the comfort of our writing space.

Social media posts and blogs offer friendship and advice to others. Connections. They say: “you are not alone.” And: “we are here to help each other.” This is why I so need you all at Insecure Writers Support Group!

Memoir can open up understanding within the writer and the reader. Offer help to others as the words offer support for the writer.   

With poetry, as in all creative writing, places, ideas, and beliefs are scrutinized and explained; given validation and imagery.  

In prose, images are created, visualized in words, and explained.

Yes, this is why Victoria Marie continues to write and create. Not for the glory, although that would be nice. Victoria is trying to understand herself and her world better. She’s trying to assist others to find solace through story, memoir, or poetry. Maybe even blog posts.

So I guess the answer to this month’s question would be: No. I don’t think I’d ever quit writing. Even if I can’t support myself with my writing, I may find the meaning of self.

Please feel free to offer any insight on this.

It will be interesting to see how you’ve tackled this month’s question. It’s wonderful having a topic to share our thoughts on each month. I am extremely thankful for all of you for being my sounding board and advisors in this writing and publishing journey.

Thanks for visiting! And be sure to stop by Adventures in Writing again.

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Our group posts on the first Wednesday of every month. To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.  

 

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Insecure Writers Want to Know: How long do you shelve your first draft before you begin revising? Is this dependent on your writing experience and the number of stories/books under your belt?


Always good questions to contemplate each month with IWSG. The only book-length manuscript I’ve ever created is my college memoir. I’ve taken a few months before revising and creating yet another draft. The book is finally being beta read now. Yay! 

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When I create short stories, however, I usually wait a week or two before revising. I request a few writer friends to offer critiques to help in revision. Then after revising the story and making it the best I can, I swallow—hard—and send the story out. Praying all the while that I have something marketable in the eyes of the gatekeepers. 

As a writer, I need to be careful not to get stuck in the vicious cycle of constantly revising my manuscripts. Has this ever happened to you? 

I was concerned that my problem with constant revision was happening with my college memoir. I was hooked on all my funny anecdotes. I loved them. I still do! They make me laugh in all the right places. But memoir needs to be more than a collection of funny anecdotes. People look to memoir to learn something about the writer/protagonist as well as themselves. Universal themes the editors call it. 

I didn’t wish to “use up” my generous beta readers’ time by sending them a lengthy manuscript that needed a lot of work. That’s why before I sent the whole manuscript out to beta readers, I had an editor help me finetune it. Have you ever used a developmental editor or book coach to help you write a strong draft of your story?

I’m also in the process of getting my website together. Victoriamarielees.com through hover. I hope to have it ready by July 2021.  

It will be interesting to see how you’ve tackled this month’s question. It’s wonderful having a topic to share our thoughts on each month. I am extremely thankful for all of you for being my sounding board and advisors in this writing and publishing journey.

Thanks for visiting! And be sure to stop by Adventures in Writing again.

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I’d like to thank our co-hosts for June: J Lenni Dorner, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, Lee Lowery, and Rachna Chhabria! Please visit them if you can. 

Our group posts on the first Wednesday of every month. To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE. 


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Insecure Writers Want to Know: Have any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a surprising way?

Wouldn’t that be nice to have readers reach out to me personally about my stories. You are a very lucky author indeed to have readers actually respond to your writing, besides just leaving reviews. This is what I hope for once I publish books or story collections.   

http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com

At this time, I’ve published essays in a few anthologies and published young adult adventure stories in magazines. I’m assuming some of the stories connected to readers because Cricket Magazine has put out a few e-book and audio book collections with several of my stories in them. I do not receive any royalties on those collections, however, as Cricket pays first rights and may use the material again with no further payment.

But.

I get my publishing rights back. I’ve checked on that already. I may use my stories again to sell them myself after a certain period of time. Now…I just need time and experts to show me how to put together an e-book or two or maybe package a few stories, both previously published and not, for a collection of YA stories to sell online.

Which pushes me to get my website together. Victoriamarielees.com through hover. I still need to do this. I will tell you all when it is live. 

My college memoir is about 55,000 words now.

Do you know of any small presses who publish memoirs? They don’t require agents, correct? I may be trying small presses to publish my college memoir.

Does anyone have experience with P.O.D., print on demand, publishers? Could you share some insight with me?

Please feel free to offer any insight on this.

It will be interesting to see how you’ve tackled this month’s question. It’s wonderful having a topic to share our thoughts on each month. I am extremely thankful for all of you for being my sounding board and advisors in this writing and publishing journey. 

Thanks for visiting! And be sure to stop by Adventures in Writing again. 

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I’d like to thank our co-hosts for May: Erika Beebe, Pat Garcia, Tonja Drecker, Sadira Stone, and Cathrina Constantine! Please visit them if you can. 

Our group posts on the first Wednesday of every month. To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.   


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Insecure Writers Want to Know: Are You a Risk-taker When Writing? Try Something Different in Style/POV? Add Controversial Topics to Your Work?

Who me? A risk taker? I’m a big chicken, remember? But you know, if we really dive deep into this question. Aren’t all writers risk takers?  

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We risk sending out our tender new stories—our babies—to strangers in order to be published. To see if gatekeepers feel our stories are good enough to be out in the world. We send them to agents or editors, small presses and publishers.

Or -

We risk publishing them ourselves to see if others feel our stories are good. We take on the personal responsibilities of editing and revising them, laying the stories out, spending our hard-earned capital for book covers and publishing methods. 

So maybe the answer is yes, I’m a risk taker of sorts, when it comes to my stories. To getting published. To getting out there in the world with my voice, my themes, my morals. No matter which publishing method I try.  

As for trying something radically different in style or POV or adding controversial topics to my work, no. I haven’t tried any of this in my creative writing. Not yet! How about you? 

It will be interesting to see how you’ve tackled this month’s question. It’s wonderful having a topic to share our thoughts on each month. I am extremely thankful for all of you for being my sounding board and advisors in this writing and publishing journey.

A small update about my college memoir:

·       It’s about 60,000 words.

·       My current title choice is The Courage to Believe – One Mother’s Journey Through College.

·       This is a story about a mother who learns to believe in herself and her dream of college after someone tries to rip the same dream away from her daughter.

·       How many beta readers do you usually have?

Please feel free to offer any insight on this.

Thanks again for visiting! Be sure to stop by Adventures in Writing again. 

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.  I’d like to thank our co-hosts for April: PK Hrezo, Pat Garcia, SE White, Lisa Buie Collard, and Diane Burton. Please visit them if you can. 

Our group posts on the first Wednesday of every month. To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.  


Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Insecure Writers Want to Know: Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories? What motivates your reading choice?


Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing! I’m so glad you are visiting. I have the honor of being one of the IWSG co-hosts for March. My fellow co-hosts are Sarah - The Faux Fountain Pen, Jacqui Murray, Chemist Ken, Natalie Aguirre, and JQ Rose!  

http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com

Please feel free to look around my blog! You can find writing tips and topics in the tab sections along the top of the blog. Check out the About Me section to see what I’ve been up to. Kindly follow me on social media if you haven’t already. Leave your blog link in your comment so I can be sure to do the same for you. Thanks so much.  

Now as far as this month’s question goes, I think every writer has a favorite genre to write in. My favorites are adventure stories and memoir. I need lots of action. To make a memoir story interesting, it needs action too, be it external or internal action.

But my reading preferences are wider. I feel writers should read widely in order to grow and see how the story structure matters to each genre. I read cozy mysteries or suspense and romance, and of course, adventure and memoir. But I can enjoy any story where I get lost in the plot and care about the characters. I can’t do horror, though. I’m a big chicken who has too many nightmares already.

On a different note, I just purchased a domain name through hover.com! victoriamarielees.com

Do you have a domain name? Through whom did you purchase it? Has it benefited your searchability online or with your social media? Do you use it as a landing page or as your blog address?

I do not have a website online, only two blogs: http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com about my writing adventures; and http://campingwithfivekids.blogspot.com about my family’s camping adventures. I’m hoping to bring the two blogs together at one place on the web at victoriamarielees.com.

I’m trying to understand if the domain name is just the spot on the web where visitors can find all the links to my work through tabs on the victoriamarielees.com page and how to connect with me or contact me

OR

does victoriamarielees.com BECOME my blog address(es) and I forego the blogspot.com web addresses.

There is no one correct answer, I’m sure. Please offer any insight you may have about this.

I’d love to hear about your experiences buying a domain name and then setting up your own website or blog with the new name. Sharing experiences helps us all to learn. That’s what makes IWSG a great group to belong to. 

It will be interesting to see how you’ve tackled this month’s question. It’s wonderful having a topic to share our thoughts on each month. I am extremely thankful for all of you for being my sounding board and advisors in this writing and publishing journey.

Thanks again for visiting! Be sure to stop by Adventures in Writing again.

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.  


Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Insecure Writers Want to Know: Blogging is more than sharing stories. It can be the start of special friendships. Have you made any friends through the blogosphere?

            Blogging through Adventures in Writing has brought me all of you, true relationships and even true friends. For that, I am forever grateful. I can’t thank you enough for sharing all your experience and knowledge in the writing field with me. Your generosity has helped me move forward on many writing projects. Seriously, thank you!  

http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com

            That being said, I realize how small—incredibly small really!—my social platform is. 

Writers need to build their online platforms. This is what I’m hoping to achieve through my connections with you, fellow writers, at Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I try to help my friends in the blogosphere by joining or following their blogs and connecting with them on facebook, Goodreads, and twitter.  

May I please request that if you have not “followed” my blog, please do so now. And if you could, please connect with me on my facebook author page, my Goodreads page, and my twitter page @VictoriaMLees. Thank you so much. If I haven’t connected with you on social media, please feel free to give me the links in the comments section of my Adventures in Writing blog. 

But what about an e-mail list? Do you have one? 

How did you start your e-mail list?

Can you only solicit an e-mail list through a website? Can I do it from my Adventures in Writing blog? 

Do you need to solicit e-mail addresses separately for list purposes and offer a free…what? Possibly a writing tips sheet or a short story piece in order to get the e-mail addresses?

Could the document you’re giving away be a PDF document or does it need to be an e-book? 

Do I need to tell readers that I’m soliciting e-mail addresses for a list?

Do I need to offer a newsletter to the e-mail list at regular intervals?

What do you write about in any newsletter you might offer to your e-mail list? 

How difficult are the e-mail marketing services to use? Which one do you use? 

I’d love to hear any comments you may have on the topic of an e-mail list and how you do it. I would truly appreciate it. 

I’ll be interested to see how you’ve tackled this month’s question. It’s great having a topic to share our thoughts on each month. As I’ve said, I am extremely thankful for all of you for being my sounding board and advisors in this writing and publishing journey. 

Thanks so much for visiting! Remember, please follow Adventures in Writing if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in your comment so I can be sure to do the same for you.

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.  


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Don’t Interrupt Opening Scenes with Unnecessary Details

I hope your 2021 is starting off right, fellow Writers. Let’s all hope for a healthier and safer New Year. And an end to this pandemic! 

http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com/
The Wonder of Winter

Now let’s get to the meat of the post.

Writers shouldn't interrupt opening scenes with unnecessary details. As writers, we need context in the opening scene of our stories. We want readers to know what our book is about. Specifically.

Readers come to story to see how what happens in the plot affects the characters, or rather, a particular character—our protagonist. People connect to people. We want the readers to care for our protagonist. And to do that, the reader needs to know why what happens in our story matters to our protagonist. What’s the protagonist up against in this story? What does she want?

We need to be in the scene with the protagonist and see how she’s making sense of the story/scene action. That being said, we shouldn’t constantly interrupt opening scenes with too much backstory or description. Writers need to stay in the moment in the opening scene especially.

But that doesn’t mean there is absolutely no backstory. We are inside the head of our protagonist. If our character would think of a prior life experience because of what’s occurring in the opening action, we need to show that to our readers. But we should keep it short. Only a reference to the character’s prior experience. We can elaborate later in the story.

We are enticing our readers to follow our story journey in order to understand situations in our protagonist’s life, why she acts as she does and why it’s so important to her. 

The reader needs to know what’s at stake in the story for the protagonist.

I recently printed out and read aloud the opening scene of my college memoir. Printing out pages helps a writer to actually see what is in a scene, and reading aloud helps the writer hear what happens to be sure it flows smoothly. Well this time, the scene didn’t flow smoothly. 

While I am in the head of the protagonist and making sense of her thoughts in this scene, I interrupt the scene with too much backstory about my special needs daughter—my impetus to begin college when I do. It’s just too much information too soon in the memoir story. It literally stops the forward motion of the opening scene. 

My daughter’s struggles in elementary school sometimes mirrored my own. They explain to the reader why the protagonist feels so inferior to those who went to college. However, they don’t need to be fully explained in the opening scene interrupting the action.   

Where will I put this information in the memoir story? I’m not sure at this time. Nor am I sure if I need all this information to show the reader a mother whose lack of belief in herself affects her ability to assist her children.

Writers shouldn’t interrupt the flow of their opening scenes with too much backstory or description. We should offer any important information in small doses when the character would be thinking of that information within the context of the scene being portrayed. 

I hope you’ve found some insight in what I’ve written. Please offer any tips you may have about opening scenes. It would be truly appreciated. And please ask any questions you may have about my college memoir in the comments section of Adventures in Writing. Thanks so much! 

Thank you for visiting Adventures in Writing. Please follow my blog if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in the comment so I can be sure to do the same for you.