Sodaro's Stories

July 29, 2015

One, Two, Three…

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 9:40 pm
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A one…A two…A one, two, three…

One of the best parts about embracing my author life more fully is that I get to talk to more writers more of the time, and as anyone who has ever talked to me about writing can attest to, I absolutely LOVE to “talk shop.”

Recently a friend and fellow writer (and ex-student) asked me about the number of drafts I put into my novels.

My first novel, Whatever you Make of It, went through about 10 drafts before I was ready to let it go, but since then I’ve significantly streamlined the process. Now it is down to three drafts.

First Draft is me writing/typing the novel. There are days when it is as if my characters are acting out their scenes and my job is to just transcribe, be quiet, and keep the hell up. Words go down on paper in a blur and I don’t shower for days. I’ve eaten only what I can shove into my face with my left hand, my wrist brace is on my right hand, and I just shut off my brain and my critics and I just write and then type and POOF, the word count multiplies and what started as an opening scene, now has scenes and chapters and rising action and an actual plot…and I haven’t read a word of it.

Second Draft — First Edit So here’s where I actually become aware of the words I wrote and typed. This is where I do more than just watch and record my characters acting out the scenes. This is where I actually read my novel. Now some of you may be questioning that. “What does she mean, she’s just now reading her novel, didn’t she write the damn thing?” To be honest, during the creation phase, if it went well, I have very little awareness of the events of the story. I just filled pages with words from my pretty pen. Now in the second draft, I make notes as I read for details and consistency. Oh, she had two brothers in chapter 3…hmm, where did this 3rd brother come from in Chapter 17? Oh, oops…I changed Jyn’s name to Steve. Yeah, people might notice that…this is where I make changes and type them up.

Third Draft — Final read-through This is where I read the story out loud, check for how the story SOUNDS. Are character voices distinct without tags after every line? (He said. She said. He said. She said.) Does the conversation sound like people (not English teachers) talk? Is the swearing level appropriate? Is the sex adding to the plot and believable? Here I fix any remaining grammar rules — we can bend the rules — we can’t disregard them completely.

And then it’s done, unless I discover a plot hole or the beginning needs to be stronger or I wake up in the middle of the night with a better ending line…but then it’s time to click send.

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July 27, 2015

Peaceful easy feeling

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 5:49 pm
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“Cause I’ve got a peaceful, easy feeling, And I know you won’t let me down…” Eagles, “Peaceful, Easy Feeling”

It never ceases to amaze me — no matter how much chaos is in my life — no matter how swirly I get (and those of you who know me — know I can get full-on tornado) after five minutes of writing, I am peaceful and calm and absolutely easy breezy. It is magical and fascinating and works 100% of the time. There is nothing else I have found that works with absolute certainty with that perfect of a track record. (Not even my friend, Jack. Mr. Daniels is good to me, but not as good as writing and I can’t visit him daily.)

If I ever questioned my calling of being an author (and I don’t now, I’ve come too far…but in the beginning, questions were everywhere)…all I would have to think about is this complete and total peace that spreads through me and fills me from my long hair to my toes. I feel stronger and brave and calmer and just 100% more ME than I did before I started my writing time…and it works regardless of the type of stress I am feeling or the amount of stress I am under — writing never ceases to calm me and bring me blessed peace.

People ask me if I am ever going to get bored when all I do is write every day. Who could get bored of feeling peaceful and whole? Who could find absolute freedom boring or ‘same ole, same ole.’ Plus, if I ever get “bored” I will just work on another story or project until I’m not bored anymore.

I am always grateful for the peace inside my soul as the ink (or lead) flows from my mind and heart and onto the paper and forms letters and words. I am always thankful and I express my gratitude today and every other day. I absolutely love this peaceful easy feeling, and I know it won’t ever let me down…because it never has.

July 21, 2015

Love love love

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 8:21 pm
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“Love the writing, love the writing, love the writing…the rest will follow.” Jane Yolen

Yes. Absolutely. the good days when the words dance across my page and flow out of my pen or pencil on to the page, like magic. the bad days where writing feels as slow as etching words into stone with a rock. (I have never actually done this, but I think the analogy still works.) The days in between where there is a start and stop to the word flow as if someone keeps pushing pause on the weirdest remote control ever. Love. Love. Love.

Love the writing.

Love the process.

Love the end result.

Love. Love. Love.

There is so much in life. People and relationships and responsibilities and hopes and disappointments and fears and triumphs and friendships (both real and imagined) and bills and jobs and heartbreak…just so much in life and if you don’t love and I mean LOVE — through sickness and health, through good times and bad, etc.etc,etc if you don’t LOVE writing, then walk away from it and find another way to spend your time.

But if you love it enough — if you put up with EVERYTHING else life throws at you to get to your writing time, then you are golden because the writing will love you right back and the benefits will out weigh everything you have been through. Love the writing enough and every thing else will fall into place and be just fine. I promise.

July 14, 2015

Real-Life Struggles

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 6:56 pm
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It is an amazing feeling when the pen or pencil hits the paper and I can just feel the tension leave my body.

I release a breath I didn’t even know I was holding and I feel free and stable and absolutely right with the world again.

Joys are more fully recognized, sorrows more clearly expressed.

I feel more and I have more awareness of my feelings.

My world is right side up again and everything just makes sense to me once more.

I think sometimes I struggle in actual face-to-face conversations because there is not time to pause, let me do some freewriting to figure out my true feelings before I answer you.

Let me write for a minute so I know what I am really mad about, happy about, what I really need or want. If I could just pause for like 10 minutes or so, my response would be so much more what I am truly feeling and I wouldn’t have to fix it later.

Real life doesn’t work that way — we on’t get to brainstorm and free write, go back  and edit and polish our responses. We don’t get a 2nd or 3rd draft, don’t get a chance to see if what we said was really what we wanted to say. I have struggled with this more and more lately. As I embrace more and more of my author life, I find myself sometimes less able to articulate my thoughts without at least an outline to refer to (the fact that I teach online where my options are always delete or send — has further made me spontaneous conversations or challenges).

I do worry a bit if there will come a time when I am completely incapable of unscripted conversation and I will have to pass notes to every one I talk to.

July 12, 2015

Master’s Thesis Proven

Filed under: Uncategorized — michelle sodaro @ 11:08 pm

“If I can write it, I can cope. And I’ve been writing many books, but in every book, I try to explore something in my own sould that I need to solve, I need to understand.” Isabel Allende

In 2001, I wrote my Master’s thesis on the idea that writing could help people work through any thing they happen to be going through. I took the idea of free association (credited to Sigmund Freud) which is the idea that we know the answers to our life problems, if we just talk through them to get past the things that are not the core problem. I took this idea to paper…where there are no interruptions or other people’s opinions, there is just the healing power of pen to paper.

The one time I ever went to talk to a therapist, she wrote out her bills and mail while we talked and as I did most of the talking, I wondered what exactly I was paying her for. A notebook and pen are much cheaper with an even better end result. Maybe it’s because I’m a visual person and could see what was on the paper. I don’t know they why — I only know it works for me 100% of the time.

One of the lowest points, hardest parts, toughest experiences of my life haunted me, tormented me nearly destroyed me. 10 years after I graduated with my Masters, it became a first draft of a novel and the writing of it freed me an healed me and protected me from that day ever hurting me again. That experience became a first draft and proved my Master’s Thesis once again. I needed to understand and really examine what had happened and writing that draft allowed me to do exactly that.

Now that the first draft is written, I will make HUGE changes to the protagonist to make it HER story. The first draft was MY story and while there are little bits of me in everything I write, as it currently exists, this first draft is too much of my story to even be considered fiction.

Now that the healing has happened, I will make it a better story and keep the first draft for me and I will write my next novel and work through my next thing that needs more understanding and depth. Writing has helped me with everything in my life.

July 8, 2015

Three times the fun…

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 5:20 pm
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So a couple days ago, I wrote about sequels and I thought it only fitting today to write about the unique challenge of a 3-part series. Currently (in addition to editing Redeeming Trust) I am writing on Stealing Second, which will be the 2nd book in the Lucky Charms series.

The entire series started at a hockey game and I wrote Hat Trick (which is 3 goals in one game scored by one player — thus the third book in my series).

Yes, I wrote the 3rd book first, then I wrote the 1st book second, and now I am writing the 2nd book third. (If this is something you can’t believe I would do, I have to ask if you really know me at all 😀

To me, it makes perfect sense to know where everything will end up before I start. Knowing where I need to get my cast of characters helps me to stay focused. I have no personal knowledge, but I imagine it is the same as a runner seeing the finish line. So it is very helpful to know where I need to get everyone and what the answer to the riddle is.

The problem exists when the timeline in my head gets crisscrossed (ugh…the backward pants duo just jumped in my head) but since I am currently writing book two, I sometimes get confused by whether a scene I know exists, whether it happened in First Down or Hat Trick. If it exists in the former – no worries, just add to that event, but if that scene exists in Hat Trick, and I refer to it in Stealing Second, well, that presents some problems as I have not established any of my characters as psychics…but this is where editing comes into play.

My publishing goals for Lucky Charms are as follows:

February 2016 — First Down

June 2016 — Stealing Second 

October 2016 — Hat Trick

But before First Down is published, all three will have been written and read through with a notebook to keep the time line straight.

July 5, 2015

Sequels, anyone?

So I know I touched on this when Arianna’s Destiny was my primary project, but I thought I would touch on it again now that I am 6 chapters in to editing Broken Trust’s sequel.

The nice thing about a sequel is the characters are already created and developed…the difficult thing about a sequel…is the characters are already created and developed.  hahaha

With Arianna’s Honor to Arianna’s Destiny, I discovered I didn’t like the name of Nicholas’s best friend, but Arianna’s Honor was already out, so the name remained for the sequel. People who had died, had to stay dead (although a zombie twist would have been interesting). and the unresolved issues that made Arianna so unique needed to either stay unresolved or have made mention on how they were dealt with…and my girl Ari definitely has some issues.

With Broken Trust to Redeeming Trust, there is a shift of focus from Sam to Ali, but there is also that need to stay consistent. Problems that happened, may rear their ugly heads, because as in real life, if you don’t deal with things from your past, they tend to come back and bite you in the ass.

From the beginning, I have known there would be a sequel to Broken Trust. I think that makes a difference. (I also knew from the beginning that Ari would have a sequel) Knowing this, you can leave some things unresolved with the idea that you fix them in the sequel (yes, I do have a list…why do you ask)

A problem (for me) is when you don’t know offhand if a set of characters has another story to tell (Whatever you Make of It — I love Jac and Jyn so so so much, an would LOVE to play with them again, but I don’t know if they have another story to tell…I honestly don’t know). (Same with Arianna — I could see a 3rd book just as clearly as I can see her just getting a well-deserved rest.)

Another issue with sequels is backstory. I have read some series/sequels where I feel like I am re-reading the entire first book (too much backstory). I have also read sequels where the author almost assumes I haven’t read anything between the book and its sequel (too little backstory). It’s all about the balance between the two…and I keep this in mind constantly as I edit.

I love that Ali and Sam get a sequel. Love that I get to keep playing with them…it’s like going back to visit old friends and picking up like no time has passed at all.

July 3, 2015

Ninja Months

Filed under: Uncategorized — michelle sodaro @ 6:08 pm
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So…like ” a minute” ago, it was April and then on Monday, I was emailing students about class that startes on 1 July and I was thinking “WOW, I am giving them a lot of time to get ready for class to start.” (wait a minute.  **frantically looks at calendar** Holy Crap. July is NOW!!)
So in the last 2 months, I published my 4th novel, started my 4th decade on this planet, and went to my sister’s wedding. Other than those 3 things, the last two months are a complete blur to me. I seem to have eaten and slept and bathed…I still have a job, so that is a good thing. I have donw some writing every day, but just tidbits and free writing, not actual chapters.
Broken Trust came out in May and I know this, more than anything, is why the last two months became Ninja Months. May was all about getting Broken Trust ready for its closeup and then after that was published, I celebrated turning 40 with quite a few beverages and then it was time tobget ready for my sister’s wedding — which was beautiful and perfect and better than any fairy tale or romantic movie (and if you think I wasn’t taking notes for any/all wedding scenes, I would like to introduce myself because you obviously don’t know me well).
Now you may be saying, “What’s the big deal, Sodaro? It’s only July and we have all day to play.”
Um…well, on one hand, yes there are still 5 months to get things done for 2015. On the other hand, there are ONLY 5 months to get things done for 2015.
What I need to get done:
**Redeeming Trust edited and published. (by Sept according to Broken Trust).
**First Down edited and ready to start off 2016.
** Stealing Second first draft written.
**Blogs to 500 (this is #422, and yes there is a game plan in place).
**NaNoWriMo in November — want to reach 50k words in 30days for the 2nd year in a row.
So hopefully my Ninja Months are behind me and I can get everything done I need to.

July 2, 2015

Story ideas

The entire Lucky Charms series (which will be out in 2016) came to me at a hockey game one New Year’s Eve. I went with some amazing friends and was as captivated by the game as I was by a “Super Fan” who went throughout the crowd getting people excited and involved in the game. He became JD and that one guy sparked an entire 3-books series.

Don’t let Go (My NaNoWriMo for this coming November) started from two young friends holding hands to jump in a pool.

Arianna started from the suggestion where Nicky suggested an alternative to marriage that Arianna found offensive (trying so hard to not give any spoilers here). That scene was a dream and I was instantly enamored with this angry, honorable female character. What WAS this man to say this to her and why did he get away with saying it?

My newly released Broken Trust (and its upcoming sequel, Redeeming Trust, due out September 2015) came from a dream also. I saw the record store and met Ali and Sam (and for both of these two females, I am very grateful I dream in color…there is nothing black/white about these two). This dream grew into a novel and its sequel through a conversation with a math teacher friend who quickly became as excited about the story as I was.

People tell me all the time they have always wanted to write a book, they just don’t know what to write about…I tell them when the idea is all you can think about — when it invades your sleep and waking hours, when you see your characters every where…then you have found your book. I really feel my books chose me…and I am so very grateful they did.

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