Any authors here at CAF?

I'm wondering if there's anyone here who also enjoys writing and has ever written short stories or novels. Were you able to get your work published? I've had it on my mind for around a year now to write a novel. I don't know if I'll ever attempt to get it published (and I have to write it first ;)) but the story has been on my mind for a while. Were there any difficulties you had to face in writing? Do you have any advice for someone who's never written a longer work of fiction before? (I've written short stories). Do you write Catholic/Christian fiction, or not?

God bless :)

:wave: Don't know if I count... two anecdotes in Reader's Digest (12 years apart!), short essays in various publications, two time "winner" of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), an impressive collection of rejection letters from publishers... BUT I currently have a manuscript under consideration at Sophia Institute Press.

SO, for what it's worth....

Difficulties in writing. Yeah. Oh, yeah. First off, finding time and motivation. You come to the realization that, like everything else in life that matters, you have to MAKE time for it, not just wait for a chunk of unclaimed time to fall in your lap. If it matters to you, set aside some time EVERY DAY (15 minutes, an hour, whatever you can reasonably commit to) and concentrate on writing. Which leads to motivation. Somehow, just having a great idea is not enough sometimes. A tube of butt-glue (to keep you in your chair) and shutting off e-mail, internet and solitaire on your computer helps. Setting aside your writing time and wasting half of it writing grocery lists, sharpening pencils and filing your nails is a very real pitfall. On the plus side, if what you really want is motivation to clean your pantry or organize your spice cabinet.... never mind, focus on writing!

No one formula for writing works for everyone. Some people start with a character and write a story about them, others think of a story and, as they write, discover who the character is. The main thing is, you have to know what it is the character wants. You have to have some idea where the story is going. Getting there is half the fun... that's where your conflicts and characters are introduced, interact and make the story interesting. If possible, take a class in creative writing through community education (offered by a lot of colleges and universities) or join a writers' group (if being motivated is your problem, having deadlines is a great way to keep writing!) Just putting words down on paper makes you a writer... becoming an author (and a published one, no less) takes a lot of work and is a continual learning process.

Above all, LOVE writing, regardless of whether you get published or not. If, God willing, things work out with my manuscript submission, it will have taken me over twenty years to be an "overnight" success. In the meantime, I have written five full-length novels that may--or may not--see the light of the publishing day. But I enjoyed myself thoroughly in writing them and hope I have learned something along the way (at least, I hope each subsequent one was better than the last... I'm still learning!)

As for your last question: I write stories about people who are Catholic/Christian. Some of them are very good Catholics/Christians, a lot of them are works in progress. I write stories about what happens to them.... and it's not always good things. They don't always make the right decisions. They sometimes get angry, or fail, or act in an unChristian manner. I don't think it can be labeled as Catholic/Christian fiction (think Mary Higgins Clark or Aimee and David Thurlo) despite the Catholic main characters.

I hope I answered your questions. And I hope you write!

Can't say I count either seeing as I haven't published anything outside what I post on the web. :o

However, I have been given great advice from my professors who are all highly respected members of the literature scene in this country. I've also attended a writer's workshop recently this past summer and all those who attended were pointed to many places that they could be published.

Anyways, one thing you oughta do when writing is that never turn on your inner editor until you finish your first draft. When you get down to write, let it all out, and minimize stops over minor details. When you've finished though, leave it as it is for a certain period of time then get back to it. That's when you turn on the editor within you and begin correcting whatever errors you see (errors that may not have been there when you were lost in getting it out of your head). They called it "Writing in Heat, Editing in Cold".

Another tip is that your story's plot should have a point. Everything you put in it should have a reason that contributes to it. Otherwise, you'd risk cluttering it with wordy noise.

Don't feel guilty about the number of times you have to draft. I've had a professor who says he had enough drafts to take up one volume. :eek:

A few more minor tips. Don't put pre-existing song lyrics or letters into your short stories. In novels it may be tolerable but for anything else, it's really quite a cheap trick nowadays.

And yes, motivation is often one big obstacle and even I still have trouble with it. The best way I've dealt with it so far is to sit down and actually look at my work for longer than ten minutes.

Finally, passion for the craft is crucial. Writing is still an art after all and one thing art excels at is expressing such passions. This isn't something that you can just "do" as one would take up nursing, accounting, or engineering. You need to really love unleashing your imagination and putting it all in words. Better yet, you should have great love for imagination itself and what worlds it can make in your mind. ;)

As far whether or not I'm Christian/Catholic in my works, meh I can't say. I heard even Tolkien allegedly denied the theology behind his Trilogy. I'm not sure I'd like to come off as religious in my works either. Heck, the controversial Fr. Andrew Greeley does not sound like much of a priest if you've read any of his novels. :o

I've made religious characters, true but that's only for the sake of contrasting them to the kind of characters I take after and sympathize. If I have one character who kneels quietly in pews and has a mind of sexual purity, you can bet I'll have two or more who hang with delinquents and beat up bad guys in mind-blowing street fights. :P I do however like to show there can be common ground between the two (e.g. Justice). And by contrasting them, I can point out the flaws in both sides.

See the website in my signature. It's all about my novels.

I love to write. I keep a notebook with ideas for screenplays, novels, and stories. At the moment, I'm once again re-writing my thriller/romance novel, which I hope that someday a Catholic publishing house would pick up.

[quote="Monica4316, post:1, topic:201915"]
I'm wondering if there's anyone here who also enjoys writing and has ever written short stories or novels. Were you able to get your work published? I've had it on my mind for around a year now to write a novel. I don't know if I'll ever attempt to get it published (and I have to write it first ;)) but the story has been on my mind for a while. Were there any difficulties you had to face in writing? Do you have any advice for someone who's never written a longer work of fiction before? (I've written short stories). Do you write Catholic/Christian fiction, or not?

God bless :)

[/quote]

Although I now devote much of my professional time as a musician, I also have a degree in journalism and have been published. Most of my published work consists of short biographies of live musicians/composers and other people of interest, editorials and your typical news articles, but I wrote many short stories through the years which I never sought to publish. ("Through the years" meaning during my youth to my early 20s. After that I focused primarily on my music career.) I didn't have any blatant "Catholic" theme, but when I think back to my stories, my Catholicism pretty much comes through here and there with my characters.

I think one of the biggest difficulties for me was to not be such a perfectionist and hard on myself, which is something many people in the arts have. When I write on forums, I don't really take much time to go through my sentence structure. But when I wrote professionally, for my university courses, etc., I was very scrupulous - sometimes too much so. I had to train myself not to be that way because I found that to be too scrupulous actually can hurt the emotion and art coming through the words. (I find it's the same in all kinds of arts.) In terms of my confidence issue, even though I often was at the top of my class in writing fiction, editorial writing, etc. and encouraged to pursue it, I felt that if I couldn't be perfect, it wasn't worth it for me to write for a living. It was such a wrong way of looking at things. So, my advice would be to not be too much of a perfectionist and to have confidence in the abilities that you do have.

The only kind of novel I ever attempted was for young adults (13-18). I was a young adult at the time and didn't know much, so I can't really give any sound advice on writing a novel. But I will say, just start jotting down all of your ideas for the novel. I found it helped to write it all down, then I could look at it on paper and then piece together a history and story.

Former fanfiction author right here! :yup: Mainly romance for the FFVII compilation. Reeve Tuesti and Yuffie Kisaragi. Oh, the memories of the glory days. nostalgic sigh FFnet still has my old works on their site.

Anyway, I've since graduated into original works, and I am currently writing a very Catholic-themed novel. My difficulty? Balancing the romance with the rest of the plot. And the drive factor. There are days when I just don't feel like writing. But having a husband and kids might play a part in that.

Writing is a skill that I think can be taught to anyone who is willing. Job one: write.

I don't know how many people I've met who say they don't have time. Just knock out an hour or so of TV or internet time a day. Get disciplined.

Sure, there are some days you feel like writing and others where you don't. Work on that. The same thing could be said about other jobs.

Don't do too much in one sitting. Figure out your beginning and where you want to end. Everything in between gradually tells the story. If you have clever phrases or dialogue pop into your head, write it down. Some of it might be useful for the current story or maybe for another.

Getting published. Remarkably easy to do today. A few print on demand sites will run off only a handful of copies for you. I know a lot of people want to end up in the bookstore. Make sure you let people know when your book comes out. Depending on the topic, you might go to relevant web sites to announce it.

It takes time, but it can be done.

God bless,
Ed

Thanks everyone!! :)

Just picked up the pen last summer. Still working on a short story. I have learned a few good lessons about writing but the best advice I have heard yet is that writers write. Get a writer's journal and put that pen on that paper until you can cull a theme and craft a story.

Best of luck to you. :thumbsup:

Hi, Monica,
My first novel, IN-SIGHT, was published last year. It fits the Catholic-thriller genre--sort of Prodigal Son meets Stephen King type of story. There's an old saying: "the lessons hardest learned are the ones longest remembered." So I'll share with you some of the lessons I learned on the path TO and AFTER publication:
1. Develop your craft. There are some good books on writing that can help you to do this. One of the best I've found is ON WRITING by Sol Stein. A "good story" told in bad form won't get you published any more than a "lousy story" told in excellent prose. You have to have both. Stein addresses all of this in his book.
2. Network with other writers. There's an on-line open forum just about every Sunday evening on the Catholic Writers Guild. You can google it and learn how to join the Guild (it's very cheap) or visit the forum and participate as a guest (which is free). For the past two years, the Catholic Writers Guild has had an "On-Line" Catholic Writers Conference--a great way to network with writers, publishers, agents, and editors. Also, this summer (next week in fact) is the live Catholic Writers Conference that will be held at King of Prussia (Valley Forge), PA. The live conference coincides with the Catholic Marketing Network taking place at the same time, same place. Great opportunity to rub elbows with EWTN, Catholic bookstore owners, Catholic writers, publishers, agents, and editors. I'll be there this year with my lovely bride of 39 years. (BTW--I only learned about these AFTER self-publishing my novel. Wish I'd heard about it sooner!) If you're writing on Catholic topics, the Catholic Writers Guild also awards the CWG Seal of Approval to both works of fiction and non-fiction. Before the Seal of Approval is awarded, your work is reviewed by at least 3 different CWG reviewers to ensure that nothing in your writing contradicts Catholic theology or moral teaching--or moral values. Evil can be depicted (for example, to create conflict)--but it cannot be glorified. The CWG Seal of Approval lets potential buyers, Catholic bookstore owners, etc. know that your work is "safe" from a Catholic viewpoint.
3. WRITE. The best way to begin is to BEGIN--after all, you're not carving anything in stone. As long as you get something on paper, you can always go back and revise it later. But if you have nothing on paper to begin with, you have nothing to work with. Writing takes TIME--but it doesn't have to be big chunks of time. A lot of my writing was done on lunch breaks--when I'd write for half an hour or twenty minutes each day. Then I had something to work with when I could devote larger chunks of time to it on weekends. It took two and a half years to finish my first novel--and another year of sending out queries before I finally decided to self-publish (and before I knew about Catholic Writers Guild and all the great networking available through them. Had I known about them sooner, I would have pursued a different venue rather than self-publish).
4. Listen to feedback--and be willing to REVISE, REVISE, REVISE. Sometimes we get so close to our work that we become myopic--we just can't see the flaws. Anne, my wife, is my biggest fan and my best critic. When she reviewed what I thought would be the final draft of IN-SIGHT, she made a criticism that rocked me to my heels--because it meant I'd have to change one of the main characters in the story. But when I read through it one more time, I could see that she was right. So I undertook a major revision--which took nine months--because, when I changed that character, I had to change every interaction she had with every other character in the novel. What occurred as a result though, was a whole new sub-plot of this character's life. It strengthened and deepened the story. I'm grateful to my bride for having the courage, honesty, love, and confidence to tell me the truth. I also received some good feedback from agents and editors to whom I'd submitted the work and took these into consideration in the "real" final draft.
5. AFTER publication, the real work begins! You have to market your book. Being labeled as "self-published" really hinders a writer in this (I learned after the fact). Because so much of self-published work is poorly edited, poorly written, or just plain garbage, many bookstores and bookstore chains will not carry self-published books nor hold book-signings for self-published authors as a matter of policy--this holds true for Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Borders, and probably other major chains as well. Book signings are a great way to market your work, but not the ONLY way. Giving talks at your local library, book clubs, churches, men's groups, women's groups can help. Attending writers conferences gets the word out among other professionals. Submitting your work for reviews (which can be good or bad for you, depending upon the quality of your work), entering contests, creating a web-site or a blog, giving a talk on local Catholic radio--all have resulted in greater exposure and sales.

I hope at least some of this proves helpful. Please feel free to contact me directly if I can help more. My website is: outskirtspress.com/insight and e-mail is [email]websterjerry@hotmail.com[/email].

I wish you the very best! We need good Catholic writers out there!

I'm about 2/3 through the re-write process on a novel called Children of the Maker, a sci-fi what-if story with theist and Catholic themes. As soon as I finish re-write, I'm planning to start contacting agents. I'm fortunate to have a job that gives me a lot of free time.

DaveBj

yes I made my living writing for many years, have written 3 novels, one sold but was not published and I don’t have the rights so I am stuck, the other two were a sequel and pre-quel and nobody is interested without the first book. Publishing is a strange industry and it is best to get some help understanding how to deal with publishers and agents. There are a couple of good magazines like the Writer and Writer’s Digest for beginners. I am no longer interested in writing fiction and what writing I do is now in my own field, for the benefit of parish or diocese.

best advice I ever received, and if I heard it once in writers conferences or guides I have heard it a hundred times:
if you want to write, write, every day, for a dedicated period of time.
writers write. They don’t talk about writing, dream about writing, make excuses for not writing, or worry about what to do with what they write. They write.
The other thing they do incessantly is read good writing.
they also learn to use spell check, but not to rely on it, they have to know the rules themselves.
I can spell and edit I just can’t type too good no more oh well

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