Sodaro's Stories

October 26, 2015

Forcing a Fit (thoughts about a book’s ending)

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 9:51 pm
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I once went on a first (and last) date with a guy who told me I would be the perfect fit for him if he could just shave off some of my rough edges. While he was a horrible date, he did give me a good lesson (as most things do) for my novels.

If you are trying to force a book to flow a certain way, or especially END a certain way…you are doing what Mr. Creepy wanted to do to me (metaphorically). He wanted to take off the parts of me that didn’t fit with his preconceived idea of a mold for the perfect girlfriend instead of letting things develop to see if it could be better than the pre-existing list of what was needed for a girlfriend (yes, I am glad this conversation took place on date one).

When I am planning out my novel, I do a rough sketch of a kind of outline which is written both literally and figuratively in pencil…as in subject to change as the story grows and the characters develop.

“But wait,” you jump up and say, “isn’t this MY story? Don’t the characters have to go what I say?”

“You are fricken adorable.” I say as I pat your head. “Now sit down.”

Your characters chose you to tell THEIR story (if you want it to be YOUR story, write a memoir or autobiography). Trust me on this — this novel you are writing is about them, not you, not your ego, not your control issues. Let go of the “rough edges” you want to shave off your story and just let it become the perfect mess it was meant to be.

I use to try to command my characters take the plot this certain way so we could get to the “perfect” ending that I was SURE was what the novel needed. Now I am getting ready to self-publish my 5th novel and I can promise you — the most valuable lesson I have learned is to just let the plot happen and not try to force anything on the characters, the plot, and especially the ending.

I have learned to trust the system…part of that trust and not forcing is to let the novel percolate a bit and wait for the ending to come to me…it happens when it’s ready, like all things. With each novel, I get to the point of typing “The End,” I hope that this time, the ending won’t appear to me at 2 in the morning. Maybe this time.

And to the guy who didn’t like my rough edges…I really hope you found your perfect girlfriend.

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October 21, 2015

Still all day to Play

It happens every year about this time…it starts getting darker sooner, hoodies replace t-shirts (but it’s the Kansas City area, so you might need that t-shirt tomorrow)…but in my mind it’s like a sign goes up that says “Closed until Spring — come back later.”

I am in the process of making a lot of changes in my life and those changes include my mentality of shutting down for the winter. I have things I need to get done this year and I am not allowed to take the winter off. I am making strides toward having a stronger author life (while still embracing my teacher life) and just as I teach year-round, I need to write and edit and publish all year-round as well…as hard as it is to do so with limited sunshine…and to fight my natural inclination to hibernate (I am a true Bears and Cubbies fan, after all).

I definitely have plans to publish one more novel this year. (Redeeming Trust, my sequel to Broken Trust). I also need to publish the short story “Chance Meeting” which is an alternate first meeting for Sam and Ali. I will have it at the beginning of Redeeming Trust and will also likely post it here, as well as trying for magazines and such. I also want to have a non-fiction book out (right now I am leaning toward Words to Write to with the second possibility being A-Z of the Writing Process.) But that makes 4 publishing credits for 2015, bringing my grand total to 9 (two poems in separate collections, Whatever you Make of ItArianna’s Honor, and Arianna’s Destiny).

I have my plans for what I want to publish in 2016, including my Lucky Charms series with First DownStealing Second, and Hat Trick as well as a non-fiction project or two. In order to get all of this done and keep my full-time job and possibly my part-time job, I can’t afford to take off from end of October to end of March because of lack of daylight. I need to play year-round. So, put me back in, Coach. I’m ready.

October 20, 2015

Born to Fly

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 6:31 pm
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“How do you keep your feet on the ground when you know you were born to fly?” Sara Evans “Born to Fly”

One of my best friends sang this song for me on a compilation CD she made for her friends and family. I loved that she chose that song for me, but until recently, I didn’t fully realize how perfect a song it was for me…and how fully I needed to embrace the freedom the song talked about. I thought I had embraced it fully — choosing to be an author (Did I choose this or did it choose me?) but I still flew, or thought I was flying…but I was really flying with one foot firmly on the ground. (In case you didn’t know, it’s extremely tough to fly and keep your footing at the same time).

I did this because who was I to fly around while everyone else was getting married and having kids and mortgages and being grown-ups? Shouldn’t I want these things too? I continued to convince myself that I was allowed to be an author as long as I did this “adult” thing too…and I tried…I did try…no matter how much it felt that I was playing dress-up,  fidgeting in clothes that didn’t fit…and it was slowly killing me from the inside…and everything went horribly wrong and the more I tried to fix it, the more things went wrong.

My whole life I have looked at things and myself and the whole world differently. I haven’t ever been comfortable being what society has considered “normal” or “typical” and I have enjoyed choosing the view outside of the box…so why did I ever think that my view of adulthood should be what everyone else considered to be an adult?

Why would I want to put an anchor (do these ‘grown up’ things and you can be an author) or albatross (for those of you Rime of the Ancient Mariner fans) on the very thing that gave me wings in the first place? Why would I be more concerned with winning the unattainable approval of someone who has nothing to do with or care about either my teacher side or my author side/? Why was I letting other people define what it meant for me to be an adult? Why was I staying in a city that never has felt like home and didn’t let me truly fly as far or as high as I KNOW I was meant to fly?

Making some changes — long over due…and the hardest thing I have done in almost two decades, but I am finally free to do what I know I was born to do. I’m finally free to fly.

October 16, 2015

Getting ready for NaNo 2015

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 7:43 pm
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It is already the middle of October…my email and Facebook are filling up with “Are you ready for NaNo?” (For those of you who are blissfully unaware, NaNo, or National Novel Writing Month, is where people such as myself write 50,000 words in 30 Days to have a pretty solid first draft when November is done). I can definitively say YES!!!! I am ready.

How do I know I am ready, you ask? Well…well let me tell you.

  1. Writing/accountability partner — CHECK

Now some of you may be wondering why I put this first instead of, say #3, and I will smile and pat your head (metaphorically). Yes, of course, having a story idea is necessary, but I have tons of those…what makes NaNo successful is having someone to push/pull/eat with you to keep you on track. Someone you can share ideas with and brainstorm and “what the hell am I going to do next in this story” with…Lisa Mandina is mine, so go find your own.

2. Writing times — CHECK

You may think it is easy to write 50K in 30D? That’s 1,667 a day. With a full-time job. And a part-time job. And other projects that care more about getting finished than my NaNo word count. I struggle with this. So there are times dedicated just for NaNo every day in November (yes, my calendar is color coded)…some blocks scheduled with my aforementioned Writing/Accountability partner and some just to make sure I make daily progress on my NaNo story. Maybe I don’t hit my 1,667 every single day…maybe I do more days than I don’t, but the time is set aside to give myself the best chance possible.

3. A solid story idea — CHECK

My idea for NaNo 2015 came from a single image when I went to the pool when I visited my dad and stepmom in Florida in February (it’s okay MidWest friends, it was hard for me to put “pool” and “February” together too). Two girls, about the age of 8 or 9 (as much as I know about such things), held hands when they jumped into the deep end and from that, the entire story was born and I wasn’t even questioned or arrested for staring at the two girls while the whole novel played out in my head.

October 14, 2015

Time well Spent

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 12:03 am
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I thought about this on Saturday when I looked outside at the beautiful sunshine-y day and continued to write inside. There was a part of me that felt like I should be outside, knowing the MidWest’s propensity for taking away a consistent Fall and going from Summer to Winter without too much in-between. Maybe I should go outside and enjoy the sun because all too soon, I will not be able  to go outside without 14 layers of clothing. (I have lost all of my Chicago-area thick skin and am now cold). Maybe I should…

Then I remembered my to-do list for my writing projects, not to mention my being allergic to Ragweed (which is off the charts right now)…so I didn’t go outside on Saturday and I don’t go outside as much as other people do, though every time (when it’s not raining) I drive my Jeep, my windows are down, my hair is free and blowing, and I am enjoying the fresh air, even though my sinuses thank me by making it almost impossible to breathe.

I enjoyed the sunshine. I sat next to my window and enjoyed the natural light, enjoying having no electricity being used as I wrote in my notebook. I enjoyed the peaceful feeling of not needing to be anywhere by any time. I was able to make progress on projects, and that is always time well spent. Some don’t understand that, and it’s okay. I still love them.

I do appreciate sunshine, nice weather days, and fresh air (the last one is definitely a love-hate relationship). I also can’t afford to lose another minute of momentum…not now that I have some focus and clarity again.

So yes, I thanked Mama Nature for the beautiful weekend and I got to work, because as I recently told a friend, these pages won’t write themselves.

October 10, 2015

Early to Rise

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 11:31 am
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The problem with getting up at 6AM on a Saturday is that there are very few people up to talk to…of course, since I usually do some of my best writing at this time, I also can list this as a benefit to getting up at 6AM on a Saturday…

People call me crazy for getting up this early when I don’t have to…well, people call me crazy for a LOT of reasons, but let’s stay on point here, shall we? I have always been an early riser…when the sun’s up, I’m up…time’s a wasting…up and at ’em

There is a calm at this time in the morning that doesn’t exist when the world is awake, and I enjoy that calm…I find peace in it and that peace creates some pretty strong writing. It is easiest for me to get into a good writing zone when I am in that calm…where I am simultaneously aware of the world and not at all aware of the world, and there is peace…and it is a frenzied pace from my head to my hand, from the pen to the paper, but ironically, there is also a calm through the frenzy.

The problem comes in when I forget that my day started before other peoples, and I text people and then frown at my phone because no one is talking to me, and then I look at the clock and cringe and hope my text did not wake them. If I have contacted you at this “ungodly hour” my utmost apologies.

October 9, 2015

Plot Twist

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 5:39 pm
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As a writer, I have learned the importance of chapter breaks, (and like so many things, things that apply to writing apply to real life as well). Sometimes where you end a chapter changes everything. At the very least, it will determine whether or not a reader will be content to stop there (hopefully not stopping for good) or will push on to read one more chapter. That need to know what happens next stronger than the need to sleep or clean or socialize…or whatever it is people do when they are not reading.

Plot twists are good ways to do chapter breaks (they are also REALLY effective in real life situations when it seems you are in an impossible position– and of course the best plot twists in real life are in the hands of the ultimate author/creator). In fiction, plot twists help reveal character motivations and true character desires. They take a character who is at his/her absolute end of their patience, their wits end, they have the very last drop of hope in their cup and the chapter ends…and then with the new chapter, there is a previously unseen solution — another way to go or a know tied at the end of the rope.
Plot twists keep the hero going, just as surely as they keep us going in real life.

So if you…or your character is in a desperate situation, just know there is a plot twist coming that is going to make a whole new ball game. Hold tight…you’ll make it.

October 8, 2015

My Author to-do list

Filed under: Uncategorized — michelle sodaro @ 4:53 pm
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It is rather easy to get overwhelmed by all of the things I need to do as an author, especially since I am still loving and doing the full-time teacher gig (actually full-time plus since I’ve picked up a class at my old stomping grounds, but I know I need to do these things:
1. Webpage– I need one. I even have a domain (I think) it’s michelledsodaro.com
I need to face my techno fears and just get this done.
2. POBox — there will come a day when it’s not okay for my fans to have my home address.
3. Goodreads– I am a Goodreads author now, so that is a good start, but I need to do more with this as well as support my fellow authors.
4. Swag– I need some. I have none in real life (haha) but I do need swag for my books. Including something I can sign for my ereaders (a request from my reader that I haven’t forgotten).
5. Networking– I do this some, though certainly not consistently or often enough. I am expanding my circle of writers, but not as actively as I could/should.
6. Non-fiction projects– need to finish these and get them out (probably will mostly be ebooks ar least for now) but will get my name out there more.
7. Contests– I need to have them and I need to join them for the books I have out.
8. Book signings– my first I’ve was amazing, but I need more exposure…also need more copies of my books.
9. Combo deal– I need to combine teaching and writing more. My two passions working together
10. Efficiency– I need to make my process more efficient to get more done. It would probably help to work I only or project at a time, but let’s not get crazy here.

October 7, 2015

The best is coming

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 7:28 pm
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“The best is yet to come, and babe, won’t that be fine?” Frank Sinatra

Everything in my life is telling me what Ole’ Blue Eyes sang about….the best is yet to come. How can that not bring a smile?

I am coming through a particularly intense storm. I made mistakes, paid the price, and am now looking at the most brilliant blue sky I have ever seen. The best is yet to come. Absolutely. Without a doubt.

I have gotten lost in what other people expected of me or needed from me and through this, I lost some pieces of my true self — but now I’m back and I feel free to be my truest self again. My truest teacher self. My truest author self. My truest complete self. It’s good to be back and the best is definitely yet to come.

This past weekend, I edited 15 chapters of Redeeming Trust. All I have to do now is type my edits and add the final couple of chapters. Then it is handing it off to my ever-so-patient and always-so-wonderful reader, talk to my cover artist, then one more final out-loud read-through and it’s off to the presses — 5th book about to be published and its off to work on the next project.

The best is yet to come for me as an author.

I am going to continue to push myself and expand my author life.

Watch me go!

October 1, 2015

Ahhh…October

So I am now allergic to all apples and I don’t like pumpkin-flavored anything…so in some ways fall is wasted on me where food is concerned.

Even though it is now the 10th month of the year, and I’ve not yet completed enough of the plans I had made for 2015, I’m very grateful that September is over and done with as it was rather busy, and not the kind of busy that I prefer. I didn’t write enough, edit enough, make enough progress on any of my projects…but I have learned to let that go and not beat myself up for what I didn’t do yesterday, but to make today as productive as it can be.

So for this 10th month of 2015, I need to refocus and regroup on Redeeming Trust first and foremost. I just want it to be done, but I also want it to be right. Ali deserves a story as amazing as she is.

I need to keep making progress on Stealing Second so that my Lucky Charms series is solid and ready for 2016.

I need to get Don’t Let Go ready for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) because oh, hey…um, yeah, that November thing is NEXT month.

I have to get my non-fiction projects (A-Z of the Writing Process and Words to Write to) ready to go…It’s going to be a busy couple of months, but I am up for the challenge and excited about the new chapter of my life.

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