Progress in my first week…

Here is the folly of Camp NaNoWriMo… I am editing – not just writing.

When I put in my starting word count, the NaNo meter went wild. It was like it could not believe I had gotten THAT many words already. And that was great – a WONDERFUL feeling! But… in the week since, my word count has jumped slightly and then inched and then stopped – as I have actually subtracted words at this point. 

As happens with editing.

Some days you add 500 words and don’t subtract any. Some days you add 300 and take away 250. Some days you add 10 and delete 400. Some days you simply read through and do absolutely nothing. Hey! It happens. I KNOW I can’t be the only one who actually writes some parts perfectly the first time.

But what do you do when you are revising and you actually subtract more than you put in? Do you just leave your word count where it is or do you correct it and cry as you do and your little line goes down and the computer goes… HEY WAIT! What are you doing!

Well I chose to leave it… it has to go back up at some point – right?

 

Anyway that has been my first week in Camp. I wrote. I edited. I deleted some words. I added others. I laughed. I sat and stared at the computer with a weird look on my face. And I drank more coffee in one week than I have in the past month. Oh yeah… and we held our first meeting of the NaNoWriMo Inspirational Authors group at a local Starbucks and we’ve planned our next one – this time at a local Barnes & Noble.

Now I’m off to week 2! FUN!

 

 

© Rachel L. Miller 2014

I am almost there. The Finish Line is in sight!

finish-line

I am on my last draft before I officially begin the query process.

WHOO HOO!

Yes, I’m excited! Who could have thought that a story I wrote, basically on a dare, would end up being a serious project for me?

Since I am aiming at a young adult crowd, I plan to keep my project in the 70,000 word range since that is what experts recommend. Plus, I’ve seen plenty of other books in the Amish fiction genre that are around that length so I feel very comfortable with it.

Do I think it’s perfect?

No. I’m not that foolish. I’m certain there will be things an agent or an editor will want me to change, areas that need to  be expanded on or even subtracted from. But I feel that knowing this ahead of time will actually help me in the process.

Too many new authors think they are the next C.S. Lewis or Shakespeare and are offended when their work is critiqued. That is what an agent or an editor is supposed to do. They know what sells. They know what the public wants. And they know what works within a specific genre.

That is not to say there aren’t things in my book that I won’t fight for. There are things within my story that may be flexible and there are things in it that are not – things I will go to the mat over. But I’m confident that none of them are what an editor would consider a deal-breaker. And… spelling errors, weak scenes and phrasing issues are not among them.

Of course, the terror I have to deal with then – is the proposal. Oh the horror!

Pray for me…

 

© Rachel L. Miller 2014

A Special Sneak Peek! | From the Prologue for “A Mother For Leah”

A Mother For Leah Quote from Prologue 3

Some time ago, you might remember my lamenting that my mother suggested I might want to add on a prologue.

Well I didn’t want to but since she is my biggest cheerleader, I decided to give it a try. And there’s no nice way to put this…

It stunk!

I mean it stunk bad. And I didn’t like it. I edited and edited and edited but no matter how hard I tried, I could not make it sound good.

Then, a few days ago, I received a very upsetting phone call.

And apparently, that was the catalyst that God was waiting for because it gave me whatever I needed to pour life (even by way of grief) into Leah’s story.

Since then, I have worked doggedly to pour as much of my ragged emotions into the story as possible and I just want to share a little bit of it with you.

The picture above has a quote from that same prologue – well, not the same prologue… the much edited one. The one I poured my emotions into.

And that one – I LIKE!

In the last couple of days, I have edited the following two chapters and made a point to pour that same level of emotion into them as well.

And… BONUS! I’ve added over 1,000 words to the manuscript as well!

So…now on to the rest of the book.

GOD BLESS!

© Rachel L. Miller 2014 (Author of Amish Fiction)

70,000 words… Easy right? Is it????

Anyone who follows my other blog might remember that I began “A Mother for Leah” back in November for NaNoWriMo. I made it through the month and I got to my 50,000 words required for the contest.

However, when I stripped it down to the essentials and took out all the nonsense that I had written when I was half asleep (LOL), it boiled down to just over 40,000. I began working on it again in earnest, in February. I wasn’t just editing, I was attempting to add more words and plot points.

This has been a much more difficult prospect than I expected and I do believe that it has taught me NaNoWriMo is not for me. Yes I can work under that insane amount of pressure and get to a word count but the words in that count are not always good words.

I applaud the tremendous number of people who are successful writing that way but I think my writing will be much better if I do not push myself to write until the wee hours of the morning on no sleep and an insane deadline hanging over my head with a subject I’m still a little iffy on.

Who am I kidding! That’s what writing is all about!

I like having time to properly research and I like having time to get a good draft going but that’s what a first draft is for. By the time I get to the insane deadline and the wee hours writing, I’ll have the research done and it will be down to tightening up the story. That I can do!

But back to the point of why NaNo is not for me…

I want to write about the Amish faith and community in an entertaining and inspirational way that is also REAL. I don’t want to sell a book based on soap-opera appeal or because it’s full of overblown intrigue. I want it to be as truthful as possible a portrayal of how that community lives, loves and worships.

And that is not what most of NaNo is about. In the world of NaNoWriMo, those of us who write Christian fiction are pretty much lone reeds in a sea of sci-fi, romance and a myriad of other genres and sub-genres that are nothing at all like Inspirational Christian fiction. And as nice as everyone was, I never felt the camaraderie that is supposed to be a large part of the experience.

It was fun…just not for me.

So I will continue to seek out good Christian writer’s groups and until I find them, I will keep doing what I’ve been doing.

I have a strong desire to present a book with a message. I want to show young girls who are sad or lonely or confused about life the true extent and strength of God’s love. I want to show them that God’s love is boundless and all-encompassing. I want to show them that God has a purpose for them, a plan for their life, a path that he wants them on.

I want to show them that it’s not about the “stuff”. It’s about the faith! I want to show them that their life has meaning and that God wants to fill them with joy and contentment and LOVE!

So I will continue with the start I have and I will go on!

I have over 55,000 words now and I’m not done yet!

GOD is leading! I am following!

 

© Rachel L. Miller 2014

A bit more about me and this series:

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I have found that most authors write a little note in the front of their books or in their Bio at the back talking about what inspired them to write this particular story. And when it comes to authors of Amish fiction, it seems that almost all of them are inspired to write about the Amish because they live close to a community and have many friends there already or they have Amish ancestry or they themselves were once Amish.

None of those things apply to me.

I don’t have Amish ancestry – not that I know of anyway. There is English, Irish, Scottish and Cherokee that I know of on my father’s side of the family. On my mother’s side of the family, there is also Cherokee, Scottish and Irish. I’m not sure whether the Mynatt is English or German – but I haven’t found the name in of the any Amish communities I’ve researched, so it really doesn’t matter.

And, as I haven’t done an extensive mapping of the family, I can’t be a hundred percent sure but I don’t know of any so it wouldn’t fit into the category of inspiration anyway.

My own inspiration is so much simpler and so much more complex at the same time – it comes from my own journey of faith. I intend to blog as I’m able about my journey over on my blog: Confessions of a Good Girl Gone Bad and Then Good Again if you’re interested in reading about just how far down I went before I finally stopped fighting God and let him pull me back up again.

A big part of that journey has been to begin discarding things which I’ve discovered are trying to derail the journey and damage my witness. I say begin because I’m certain there will be more in the future – it seems to be a constant battle. One of the more difficult parts of this catharsis has been reading material.

For well over a year now, we have made almost weekly trips to our local used bookstore with bags of books to trade in. And we usually find a stack of books that are appropriate and decent to replace the ones we’re letting go of – most of them Amish fiction. It’s so exciting to find new authors and new books or series by the authors we love so much as we peruse the shelves. It’s also a tremendous blessing to be able to purchase the new books with trade credit. Fortunately, the store has a reasonably good selection of Christian/inspirational books to chose from.

And here is where my inspiration has come from. I feel very strongly that most of the decisions I made in my past were not due to rebellion or anger at God but instead due to a lack of knowledge and understanding. God’s word is full of so many wonderful life lessons but it’s difficult to apply those lessons to your life when you either don’t know about them or your knowledge of them is limited.

Since joining ATI (The Advanced Training Institute – a homeschool organization we belong to), we have uncovered so many truths that were hidden among the “fairy tale” Bible stories that we’ve heard all these past years. I say fairy tale because the stories we heard as kids in Sunday school barely skim the surface of the real stories in the Bible. So, even though I grew up going to church pretty regularly, I missed the point of so many things God has called us to do in his word.

The speakers and teachers we see at the yearly home-school conference we attend – have opened our eyes to the layer of truth that’s been swept under the rug, so to speak, for many years.

As we have explored these truths, we have begun to see the Bible for what it really is… and what it is not. It’s not just a book of stories but a book of important cautions – showing us how wrong things can go when we do not follow God’s plan for our life. It shows us what God wants from us as well as what he does not and it shows what can happen both ways – when we do what we’re supposed to and what happens when we don’t.

What does this have to do with my reasoning and my inspiration you ask? Well it occurs to me that, while many adults are reading Amish fiction, we are in desperate need of more books that appeal to the teen age group. So that is my focus. That is my target audience.

And these are the hopes for my work.

I want to reach young girls before they make bad decisions that will affect the rest of their life. I want to reach young girls when they are learning about life and what it’s really all about. There are so many young girls today who are being influenced by all the wrong things. My hope is that I can present a right influence and do it in a way that is entertaining and heart-warming. But I also want to yank the rug away and show them the truth – in the hopes that they will not follow the same path I did.

While I am grateful God is still working on me and I hope he NEVER stops, I lost so much momentum in my life because of the decisions I made and things I did, mostly because I didn’t see why they were bad or wrong! I hope that my stories are able to reach out to the young girls of our lost world and show them not just how but also why! If they can see how wonderful God’s love is and that His plans for their lives really are the best, they might be inspired to make better choices and stay in God’s plan!

So…

Here is a bit more about the series I am currently writing –

The Daughters of Windy Gap follows three young women as they struggle to find their place in life and in this small community of Cattaraugus county, New York.

BOOK 1 :

A Mother for Leah introduces us to Leah Fisher and her family. The Fishers lost their mother five years ago and no one has really gotten over it yet – most especially Leah, who is quite heart-broken but also more than a little frustrated because there are so many things she needs to learn about being a young woman and a wife. Her older sisters picked up where their mother left off teaching her to cook and clean but Leah knows there is more to it than that. And who can teach a daughter the secrets of womanhood like a mother? No one.

There’s only one problem. The woman God has chosen turns out to be nothing like the mother Leah has in mind.

Will Leah be able to let go of her own ideas and realize that God truly does know best for her or… will she drive a wedge between her father and the woman he never expected to fall in love with?

BOOK 2 :

A Sister for Rebekah introduces us to Windy Gap’s newest resident. In case moving from Ohio wasn’t enough of a shock to young Rebekah, finding her way and her place in the new community proves to be a tremendous challenge. In Ohio, Rebekah was doted on by grandparents who are now more than three hours away by train.

Will she find her place in this new community or will the distance and new challenges be too much for the fragile relationship she has with her mother?

BOOK 3:

A Family for Ashley introduces a young Englisher teen to the Amish community of Windy Gap. Ashley is the typical orphan – dropped off on a church doorstep as an infant, she has grown up in an orphanage, knowing nothing about her roots. Leah and Rebekah show her the tremendous possibilities of living a simple life surrounded by family.

Will the promise of love, family and community be enough to let go of everything she has ever known or will she cling to the safety of what is familiar?

© Rachel L. Miller 2014