The Three Steps (2)

Welcome to the RADblog!

 

I’m glad you decided to stop by today, because today, we’re continuing our short series for February. The rest of the month, we’re talking about the three steps it takes to go from idea to published book, starting from the very beginning—and I do mean the very beginning. I mean, we started out by talking about writing the book (which, of course, is the very best place to start).

Why are we talking about this? Well, because my latest novel, Anialych: People of Sand, is now available for pre-order, and I thought this might be a useful companion topic for all of you. And, like I said, it’s only three steps. Nice and easy, when you boil it down.

 

Step 2: Edit Your Heart Out (and then edit some more)

 

After step one, you’re book is done. You’ve written it. The hard part’s over.

Or so you thought.

Really, you’ve just stepped into a whole new world of difficulty. Because, now that you’ve written the book, it’s time to perfect it. Time to take that book, and rip it to shreds. Not literally, of course (I hope), but in the sense that you’ll now need to take it and go through it with a fine-toothed comb, looking for errors and removing them until you’re satisfied (though, for many of us, that never actually happens). 

Oh, and you won’t be the only one involved, in this step.

It’s starts with you, of course. It starts with you sitting down and taking that time that was once used for writing, for editing. That time that had been precious to you for the writing of words upon the page will now be appropriated for something far more difficult, in most cases. But something just as rewarding, when it comes right down to it.

Of course, you don’t actually have to take your writing time to do this. If you’re like me, and a lot of other writers, you’ll now add in another slot of set aside time for editing, so that your editing time won’t eat into your writing time. But whatever the case, you must make sure you edit.

See, editing is what takes a written book and polishes it to a high shine. It’s the time you take to remove repetitive words, to fix the holes in your plot, to make sure your characters and places and actions are jumping off the page like you want them to—like they should.

At the beginning of this step, you’ll be the only one going through your manuscript, looking for necessary changes, hunting for things that might not be right. Maybe you’ll even send your book to a trusted friend, for their notes on certain things you’re not sure about. If you’re really brave, you might even send it to some people you don’t know, to beta read your manuscript, so you can find out what readers do and do not enjoy.

But in the end, it all boils down to this: you need to send it to a professional, too.

For some of you I’m sure that’s not what you wanted to hear. You were excited to learn that you can do this editing thing yourself, so you’ll never have to trust someone else with your precious book. But that’s just not the case, and I’m not just saying that because I’m an editor. I’m saying that because I’m a writer, and because I know it’s true. 

We all need editors. They’re here to help us, to help our work, and to make our books better—so readers will also like our books.

That’s the cusp of this step, the part it all leads up to. Edit your book yourself, until you can’t find any errors yourself. Then send it to someone else, someone professional. If that means you have to save up for a few months or talk to an editor about a payment plan, so be it. It’ll be worth it, in the long run.

Whatever it takes, to get to the point where you’re confident enough to say you’re ready to publish this thing.

 

And believe me, that’s a big step.

 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, etc.

The Three Steps (1)

Welcome to the RADblog!

 

I’m glad you decided to stop by today, because today, we’re starting our short series for February. The rest of the month, we’ll be talking about the three steps it takes to go from idea to published book, starting from the very beginning—and I do mean the very beginning.

Why are we talking about this? Well, because my latest novel, Anialych: People of Sand, is now available for pre-order, and I thought this might be a useful companion topic for all of you. And, like I said, it’s only three steps. Nice and easy, when you boil it down.

 

Step 1: Write the Book

 

Probably the most obvious answer I could possibly have given you, yes, but it’s also some of the best advice you’ll ever hear. Why? Because if you don’t even write the book, then the whole discussion is moot in the first place. No point in talking about the rest of the publishing process if you haven’t even written the story that’s locked away inside your head.

They say the vast majority of us have a story, a book, in our heads. That means that the vast majority of you, reading this, have a story in your head.

Have you written it? Have you taken the time to sit down and get it out of your head, onto paper?

Doesn’t matter if that paper is literal or virtual—you need to get it out of your head. It can’t do anyone any good if it’s only an idea, a notion, something you have locked away inside you and that you have no intention of sharing with anyone. It can’t even do you any good, that way.

I know it can be scary, to sit down and let that story out of you, but it’s well worth it. And it’s the first step, when it comes to getting a book published.

 

So, here’s what I want you to do:

 

I want you to set aside some time, every day, to write.

I don’t care if it’s a lot of time or a little bit of time, just make sure that you do it. Set aside a certain amount of time, every day, to write. Let your story out of your head, let it be freed, let it experience life the way it wants to—by being words on a page instead of simply ideas in your noggin. 

It will take time. It will not come easily. And that’s okay. It doesn’t really come easily for any of us, though we might claim it does.

 

Yeah, I can write a 200,000 word book in around six months.

Yeah, that’s pretty fast.

But I never said it was easy.

In fact, it’s difficult. It’s one of the most difficult things I do.

It’s also one of the things I love most, which is why I never stop doing it. I never stop writing. I love writing, I love exploring story and creating new worlds. And I believe you will too, once you set your mind to it.

If you’re already a writer, of course, then you know how addicting it is, to write. You know that amazing feeling of setting your pen to the page and allowing the words to flow through you. You know how wonderful it feels to create, to explore, to be the narrator of a story no one else could tell the same way you do. And you know that the first step, always, is to write the book.

Nothing else can happen, until that book gets written.

Let it be a challenge to you, then. Let writing be the challenge I give you, this month.

Write the book. Write that story that’s locked away inside your head. Get it on the page. Set it free. Allow yourself to explore, perhaps in a way you never have before.  

Do it.

And then come back and check out my posts for the next two weeks, so you’ll what steps to take once you’ve written those glorious words that finish your masterpiece…

“The End.”

  

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, etc.

The Story Continues...

The time has come, my friends!

My latest and greatest, Anialych: People of Sand, is now available for pre-order in the RADstore! And to celebrate, that’s exactly what we’ll be talking about, today.

And how, you ask?

By releasing an excerpt, of course!

Excerpt from Anialych: People of Sand

By Rani Divine

©Copyright RAD Writing, 2019

 

I didn’t want this. I’d never wanted this. My hope had been for Sheia to come here and for everyone to see her the way I saw her. I’d never meant for her to come here like that, for her to be attacked and questioned—and especially not for her to be executed. She was the leader of her people. They needed her. I didn’t know how they were going to get on without her. It would’ve been like asking all the women of Tywed to survive without men by their sides. Most of us wouldn’t have known what to do.

 In part, it was why I disliked my home. Tywed was no better than the plains had been, at least for women. Things had changed for the men, as far as I’d heard, but that had never meant much to the lesser sex. When men were bettered, women’s lives worsened. That was what mother had taught me. She’d been forced into her own marriage by her father’s ruling, in exchange for an amount of silver she’d never known, and I knew she’d never learned to love my father. She’d loved us, as a mother should love her children, but it didn’t make things any easier for her when night fell. She used to tell me that I was her saving grace, that she had her little girl, and it was all she needed to be happy. I didn’t think that was true.

 She hadn’t deserved to die by father’s side. If it was his time to die, then whatever power in the universe controlled life and death should’ve allowed her to live. After all, she’d been dead in life longer than she’d really been alive.

 By the time it’d happened, my favorite brothers were already matched and gone. Amos and Kalev had families of their own, in towns far enough away that I could never have been sent to them. I’d vied for it, when Aran began discussing the option of leaving the plains entirely, but none of my siblings sided with me. Publicly, at least. Yosef believed I would’ve been better off with Kalev. I’d heard the words from his lips.

 It was Mikah who made our decision for us. I didn’t even blame him for what he’d done, only wished I could’ve talked some sense into him. We all knew Zion was the warrior, not him. He didn’t have the heart for it. Upon his death, Aran’s harassment in the streets became too much for him to bear. He and Zion both believed opportunities would be better here, in Tywed. They believed father would’ve thought the same. That might’ve been why I didn’t want to come, at least in part. Aran, my eldest brother in Tywed, wasn’t much better than him. He’d always idealized father, following after him in every possible way.

 Now as I sat below the window in my bedroom, the only place of mild comfort I had in my feeble life, I cried. I cried for the loss of my parents, the loss of the life I should’ve had, and for the loss of the only friend I’d ever known in life.

 I’d come of age a few years before we’d come to the desert places, before our parents had passed on, and already Aran had seen me as a commodity. I was an item to be traded, bartered away for whatever tools or workers Aran needed in exchange. I knew it was only a matter of time before he chose a man and brought him to the house to meet with me. Until then, I was kept alone. We’d been here for months before I’d even made a friend. Aran wouldn’t allow me to leave our property, so I never spoke to anyone outside my family and the shepherd, Tobias. Yosef didn’t have much talent for talking to anyone most days, and Zion spent most of his time at the barracks, so there would be no visitors. If any had come, Yosef would’ve driven them away with his incessant laughter, or Zion would’ve drilled them with his stare so long that they would’ve felt as dead in life as a woman.

 Sheia had been my one solace from all of it. She was the one person I could go to in time’s of trouble, and she’d always somehow managed to be there when I needed her most. I couldn’t count the times that I’d laughed over the fact that she wasn’t human. Of course she wasn’t. Of course the only person I could find to be my own, the only person I knew who was only mine and belonged to no other, wasn’t even human. But she was beautiful, more so than any person I’d ever laid eyes on. And she could look human, when she wanted to.

 She was a druid—one of the creatures whispered about back in the plains, the dreaded monsters that fathers told of in terrifying bedtime stories, designed to keep their children in line. Anialych, she called her people. Anialych of the Dewin. They were given charge of the world until humanity was ready to take it over. Almost every day, Sheia had come to my home while my brothers worked, to tell me of her people. She’d wanted so much for me to come out there into the desert, to meet them.

 I should’ve gone. I knew that now. But my place was here, and I had to follow the will of my brothers. I was a woman, not a man. I couldn’t make my own decisions.

 A sigh passed through my lips and I lifted my head to lean against the wall behind me. It felt pointless by now, that I should go back to sitting here and crying the night away when only a few days ago I’d been told of Sheia’s decision to make herself known to the rest of my people. It had been foolish of her to believe they would accept her, that they would look her in the eye and feel trust the way I had. As it was, I didn’t even know why I trusted her so much. I just knew that every time I’d stood with her, I’d felt safer than I’d ever felt before. But my people had no reason to listen to me, even if I had stood up for her.

 Groaning, I got to my feet and turned around, placing my hands upon the window sill as I looked out to the sunset. Tobias was out there somewhere, tending to Aran’s sheep and avoiding going to sleep. If my brother was in a good mood, maybe I could watch while the sheep were sheared tomorrow.

 It should’ve been my job. I should’ve been allowed to work, to help my brothers earn their livelihoods. Instead, all I got to do was clean the fruit and vegetables brought to my table, cook the meat my brother put in front of me, clean the house we’d lived in for a total of seven months, since the day of its completion. The duty of a woman was to her home, to the men who resided in it. That was how all my brothers saw things. None of them bothered to clean up after themselves, knowing that if I had something to do during the day I would be less likely to pester them to watch over the sheep for even a few minutes.

But the sheep were the only things I knew outside my home. I’d listened to their bleating every day, and I’d never once grown tired of it. I would’ve gladly gone out to pasture myself, if Aran would’ve let me.

 There was no more hopeless cause. Not now that Sheia was gone.

 My eyes stared out at the pink and orange clouds that hovered above the desert horizon, my tears quietly fading away. Out there, beyond the boundary of Tywed, stood two tall humanoid figures—figures I’d been invited to join. If I’d been brave, I would’ve gone then and there. I would’ve run outside my brother’s house as fast as my feet would take me, like the day I’d first met Sheia, and there would’ve been no one to stop me. I would’ve gone out there to her people, and I wouldn’t have turned back. There was life out there, life that I could hardly even imagine. I wanted to live it, to see the world the way Sheia had. But even the thought of it made my heart race and my stomach turn. Could I really leave behind the only life I’d ever known, to go and be with a people who weren’t even human? Even when I’d run that day, the day I met Sheia, I’d fully intended to return as soon as my tears dried.

 One of the figures moved away from their place, slowly disappearing into the horizon, and more tears came to my eyes. I had to wonder if they were there waiting for me, waiting to find out if I would come and join them now that their leader was gone. Or maybe they blamed me. Maybe they were hoping I would come out there so they could punish me for what I’d done.

 Sheia was gone, and so was whatever link I’d once had to her people.

Tears flowed freely down my cheeks, and I sniffled quietly as I reached up to run my fingers through my hair. I wished I could be stronger than this, that I could bring myself to turn around and leave this place.

 Out of the corner of my eye I saw as Tobias got down off the fence and walked into the pen to be with the sheep. At the very least, I could be out there. I could be doing something that mattered instead of being cooped up here with nothing to do and nothing to show for my life. All I knew was how to be a good woman, how to take care of a man and make sure he came home to a clean house. I wanted to know how to be alive, how to think for myself and make my own decisions. I wanted to be like Sheia, to move through the desert with purpose and reason, to be listened to when I spoke, to be looked upon with eyes of kindness instead of lust. I was a person, and I wanted to be treated like one. I didn’t think that was too much to ask, especially not of my own brothers. Surely, they would understand why I’d gone, wouldn’t they?

 But then, they hadn’t even known that Sheia was a friend to me, before she’d gone out into the village. They knew nothing about me, and they didn’t seem interested in learning. Maybe I should’ve taken that as a sign.

 

If you can’t wait to know more, you’ve come to just the place. Head to the RADstore to pre-order your copy, today!

 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, etc.

Resolved to Do More Than Write (finale)

Happy January! Honestly, I think this month (along with December) is the fastest moving month of the year. Really, I still don’t know what happened to the entire month of December. Nor do I know what’s happened to January, at this point. But you know what’s really cool? I’m back in the RADblog for the next few weeks! So, now that we’ve reached the end of our January series, it’s just you and me for February.  

This month, since it’s January, we’ve been talking about resolutions.

More than that, we’ve been about resolutions for writers.

But we took it one step further.

We talked about resolutions for writers, which have nothing to do with writing.

Why? Because as writers, it’s good for us to get out and do things, to see the world through a new lens (or two, or three, or four). So, this month, this beautifully chilly January, let’s talk about some things you can resolve to do this year, which have nothing to do with writing—but that I believe will help expand your writing career.

They’re also all things I’ve personally tried, so you know I’m not just talking. And we’re down to the last one.

 

#4: Exploring

 

This is, perhaps, the best thing you can do, as a writer. You need to get out there and do some exploring. Especially if you’re writing about the real world, you need to know what the world looks like. But even if you’re not, even if you’re a sci-fi writer and you create your own worlds out of nothing, you need to know what they look like—and the real world is a good place to find some inspiration.

You, my dear writer, live in a real world, with real things to do. And if, by now, you still haven’t decided what hobby you’ll take up this year, I challenge you to this one.

This year, make sure you get out and do some stuff. Get off your desk chair and start exploring the world around you. Stop sitting around in your time off, complaining about how tired you are. You sat down all day, how tired can you be? It’s time you started doing something, don’t you think?

Wanderlust is everywhere. Why not in you?

You, my dear writer, know very well what good exploring does for your writer soul. It expands it, it teaches it all the things it never knew it wanted to know. It shows you that the world is a much bigger place than what you’ve made it out to be. It helps you portray cultures through your writing, shows you how to create contrast between light and dark, teaches how the world really works, in ways you’d never imagined.

You, my dear writer, have much yet to learn.

Don’t we all? Every writer worth their snuff, knows that the learning is never done. No writing is ever perfect. No writer is, either. There’s always more to learn, and the best place to learn it is in the world around you.

So get out of your office, out of your house. Don’t just watch these places on television and imagine what they must be like. Go there. Go for a walk in the park (or in your neighborhood). Go to a part of town you’ve never been to before. Get outside the city, in the middle of the night, and look up at the Milky Way. Take a vacation to somewhere you’ve never been before. Get your passport and see where it takes you. Expand your mind, grow into a person you didn’t think you could be.

You, my dear writer, my dear, introverted writer, have much still to learn. And exploring the world is one of the best ways to do it.

Get out there, my friend. Go exploring. Open your mind to new possibilities, new options, new creations you’ve yet to consider.

If you take up but one hobby this year, though I implore you to dance, to create beautiful art, to cook, I urge you to explore. Even if all you can do is open your door and step outside into your own city.

Explore. Discover. And create.

 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, etc.

Resolved to Do More Than Write (part 3)

Happy January! Honestly, I think this month (along with December) is the fastest moving month of the year. Really, I still don’t know what happened to the entire month of December. But you know what’s really cool? I’m back in the RADblog for the next couple months! So, we’ll be hanging out for January and February, before Ms. Boehm’s return (isn’t she amazing?!). 

This month, since it’s January, let’s talk about resolutions.

More than that, let’s talk about resolutions for writers.

But let’s take it one step further.

Let’s talk about resolutions for writers, which have nothing to do with writing.

Why? Because as writers, it’s good for us to get out and do things, to see the world through a new lens (or two, or three, or four). So, this month, this beautifully chilly January, let’s talk about some things you can resolve to do this year, which have nothing to do with writing—but that I believe will help expand your writing career.

They’re also all things I’ve personally tried, so you know I’m not just talking.

 

#3: Cooking/Baking

 

If you’ve been following me at all for the past few years (whether in the RADblog, Too Many Books to Count, or on my social media), then you know how much I love to cook. I love to try my hand at new things, to write my own recipes, to discover new cuisines and try new things both in cooking and in baking.

That’s why I highly recommend it.

Cooking and baking have been mild hobbies of mine almost my entire life, but it’s become more of a hobby in the past few years. My mother and I both greatly love to cook, and we enjoy getting together and trying out new recipes (usually using my father as the guinea pig taste-tester).

I’m sure though, that a lot of you are wondering why in the world I would recommend cooking and baking as a hobby for a writer. It might not make any sense at all, in your mind. But remember, these are resolutions for hobbies, hobbies that have nothing to do with writing (though I do think there are ways it’ll help your writing career, in the long run).

Cooking is an outlet of discovery, the same way writing is. When we cook, we’re discovering which ingredients go well with each other, and which do not. We’re using those math skills we learned in elementary school to help us learn baking times and temperatures, to mix a batter in the perfect proportions. We’re using skills that we don’t often get to use in writing.

Which is why this will help you, in your writing career.

Hear me out.

For most of us, writing doesn’t involve any form of math. If it does, it’s the kind of math we get out a calculator for.

For most of us, writing involves sitting on our bum all day, and ordering in when it’s dinner time.

For most of us, writing takes up all our free time, and we like to think we don’t have any more.

 

And sure, for that last one, I know you’re right. I know some of you don’t have any free time. But for you, taking on a hobby right now probably isn’t going to be your resolution. So, really, I’m not talking to you right now. If this topic piques your interest, then I urge you to bookmark the link and come back to it when you have time to take on a hobby. The rest of you, stick around, just a couple more minutes.  

Cooking, for me, is an outlet to be creative in a different way. To follow instructions and end up with something beautiful and delicious (and hopefully healthy) in the end. It’s like following an outline, through from the beginning to the end of the book. It’s like writing, in that you start with nothing but a bunch of ingredients and end up with a dish that nobody wants to put down.

It’s also a way for us to stay healthy, because of that tendency of ours, to sit on our butts all day. Cooking and baking is a way for us to make sure we know what’s going in our bodies, that we know we’re doing the right things for ourselves, that we know we’re not filling ourselves with toxins and then allowing those toxins to pool somewhere while we sit inactively at our desks.

It’s an art form, something that takes our mind off the task at hand and onto something milder. It’s a routine, a mundane activity (like taking a shower), that often helps us find that eureka moment in our writing.

It’s good for you. And it’s a skill that everyone should have.

Don’t worry; I’m not asking you to be a gourmet chef. I’m not saying that you should start with the most difficult recipe in the book. But I am saying that you can do it. As a writer, you know how to follow an outline. You know how to do what the recipe is telling you. It’s nowhere near as hard as people make it out to be, I promise.

Just make sure you don’t stress-eat what you make. ;-)

 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, etc.