June 21, 2012

Coming Soon - Featured Fiction Heroes

Hero Junkies Unite!

I want to thank my blog readers and followers for their patience with my learning curve and reward you for it.

So far my blog has been another car on an overcrowded blog highway because good writing coaches told me to blog so I did. I've been all over the place with my posts. Some writing tips learned the hard way, some personal experiences that demanded to be shared, and author interviews with giveaways that were so fun. (Don't worry, we're keeping that part.)

I knew I was failing you by my stat counter and debated carpooling with fellow writers, which many have done successfully, but to talk about what? Writing? As a follower of great writing blogs like Seekerville, The Writers Alley, and more, I knew better than to try to compete with them for your time. If you only have fifteen minutes at lunch or between the kids' baths to read a blog about writing, you should be reading theirs. Seriously, I learned so much from them.

So what did I have to offer the blog-world that no one else could? And the answer came so fast I wanted to put on my pointiest cowboy boots and kick myself for not seeing it sooner. I am a hero girl. I am addicted to literary heroes and I know how to recognize a great one that a book cover or a blurb might not do justice.

My name is Nancy Kimball, and I'm a Hero Junkie. 
(In case my banner hasn't made that obvious.)

Shockingly, because I know a lot of other hero junkies, some who are authors, there is no blog dedicated to literary heroes that I could find. There were lots of posts about heroes in other blogs, but no blog dedicated to discovering and discussing swoon-worthy fiction heroes. And secretly I'm glad, because now there is.
<Rather, there will be soon. RIGHT HERE!>

  • The blog will soon be featuring a new fictional hero at least once a month from a title released in the last twenty-four months.
  • A blurb or summary of the hero's novel will be included and a brief bio 
  • The featured hero will receive a set of scores on the following criteria:
Swoon Score (That one doesn't really need explaining. ;-)
Swagger Factor (I'll be using the Urban definition but the Webster one works too.)

Softie Rating (Is that rugged exterior a cover up for a sensitive side?)  
Stupid Strike (Because the best heroes will do some pretty stupid things sometimes.)


So now you know what's coming and I look forward to bringing you a true hero-girl's insider view of some swoon-worthy heroes and their stories. Some will be new to you as my goal is not to rehash the greats like Mr. Darcy and Michael Hosea. (If you don't know who those men are, find a farm-raised catfish and smack yourself in the face as hard as you can. Then get your hands on a copy of Pride & Prejudice and Redeeming Love.) Since it would be unfair to tempt you with these heroes without giving you a chance to win their novels, the author or I will provide a giveaway copy as often as possible. Those who may already know the featured hero can share how their scores compare and those readers who are being introduced to the featured hero can share why they want to read them, or whatever makes them happy. If I know one thing about fellow hero-girls it's that funny and fun things happen when we gather. =)

When suitably appropriate, the "Cougar Alert" will be issued when our featured hero is on the younger side. I've been reading some young adult (YA) and fantasy lately and have to say, some of these seventeen and nineteen year old heroes can certainly bring out the inner Puma Concolor you didn't know was there.
It's okay. I have one too. And yes, occasionally it roars.
So then, hero junkies, WELCOME. Tell me some literary heroes you would like to see featured or who your favorites are, or your best hero-girl moment? Or if you want to just talk about that swagger picture, that would be okay too. I could have bought a few hardbacks with what the photos for this one blog post cost, but you guys are worth it. Lastly, how worried are you about the feature containing spoilers and is that important to you?

June 17, 2012

Daddy's Hands

Father's Day 2012

June 10, 2012

The Love of a Creator

"So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him;
 male and female He created them."Genesis 1:27

There is a scene that has stayed with me from the 2007 Ryan Reynolds' film The Nines. Gavin, a TV producer fighting to have his show picked up by the network, says "I have all these characters inside my head and they want to live. I'm the only way they can. This is the only way they can."

I understand that passion more and more with every story I complete. Becoming an author has taught me a lot of things, but none so profound as the love of a creator. For my characters and their stories, the love I have for them is so very different than the love I have for my spouse, family, and best friends but no less powerful. After a hard self-check that I hadn't built myself a golden calf with my writing, I realized that powerful love was the most natural thing in the world. As a created being, I've been receiving that love from the moment God knit me together in the womb. I've always known God loves me, but when I became a creator through my writing, I unlocked an aspect of God's love for me that I never would have known any other way. The depth and uniqueness of the love of a creator for the creation isn't something I'm a strong enough writer to attempt to explain. I am a strong enough writer to know not to try. Any true fiction writer already knows. Perhaps none so well as J.R.R. Tolkien who said "Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker."

I thank God for the blessing of His love for me as my creator, and the blessing of being able to give that love without hesitation or embarrassment to my characters and their stories--those that are and those yet to be written.

June 3, 2012

2012 GENESIS Finalist / Oregon or Bust

1:15 p.m. Thursday, May 31st
  • Receive the e-mail I am a finalist while at the day job.
  • Read said e-mail in shock and disbelief.
  • I have to tell someone right then, to be sure I'm not dreaming, and tell my boss.
1:18 p.m.
  • I call the person who means more to me than anyone else on the planet.
  • I get his voice mail, LOL, and leave a message.
  • Call my mom and dad. =)
1:25 p.m.
  • Send a few e-mails to my comrades in arms (friends and fellow semi-finalists) hoping they have received the same happy news.
  • Draft a super mushy I can't believe it e-mail and send to close friends and family 
3:00 p.m.
  • Back at the office after a work-related errand, I'm able to dig into the judge's feedback.
  • The judges, who are multipublished in my category and seasoned professionals, make the same suggestions like they were all reading each others minds though they judged independently.
  • They suggest the following:
    • Put the second scene in a different point-of-view
    • Introduce the central conflict (from the synopsis) much earlier
    • Re-evaluate story structure to make the early plot elements more consistent with the overall  story and better define what that is in those early pages
3:20 p.m.
  • I have a hard decision to make.
  • Finalists have approximately forty-eight hours to make changes before submitting for the final round of judging. The question before me is whether or not to attempt a complete rewrite of chapter two rather than simply correct the one typo and one misused word. (Coarse/Course)
3:30 - 5:00 p.m.
  • I agonize over this decision.
  • If I proceed with the rewrite, I am essentially scrapping the entry that got me to finals and sending the people I am trying to most impress something completely untested by any other contest.
  • If I proceed with the rewrite, I'm going to have to do it with less than half of my usual critique partners, as they are finalists themselves, one in the same category.
  • If I proceed with the rewrite,  I'll have to do something unprecedented for me. Go from first draft to third draft, with critiques and final polishing on the most truncated time-table I could possibly imagine. Two days to do what would normally take me at least two weeks.
4:00 - 5:00 p.m.
  • I consult my padawan (or protege, if you don't know what a padawan is, though if you don't, you get an epic fail from me. In love of course. =)
  • I explain what I'm contemplating and send her the recap of the feedback along with my ideas to fix the issues the judges raised.
  • She tells me I can do it, loves my ideas, and pledges to be available to me and help in any way
  • I declare myself officially insane I remind myself I'm an award-winning author, and commit to "Oregon or Bust" and that I will do the rewrite.
 6:06 p.m.
  • Official announcement is made through ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).
  • E-mails and facebook messages start pouring in congratulating me, because fellow authors are awesome like that.
  • I check the list. Some dear friends and crit partners are on it. Some are not. This is equal parts awesome and unawesome.
 7:15 p.m.
  • Read the last e-mail from my padawan before "going dark." I will not emerge from the writer cave or go to sleep until I have a complete first draft of the rewrite.
  • She reminds me to pray first, and gives me a scripture I write out and add to my collection of muses below my computer monitor.
7:25 p.m.
  • Light my scented candle and make a big glass of ice-water to signal my brain it's writing time.
  • Put on my worship playlist while I sit on the floor of my office and for the next half-hour, have some dedicated, one on one time with Jesus.
  • I tell him how awesome this is and how I really want to do a good job. I ask for help to not allow the pride that almost destroyed me in my past to creep back in and do its dirty work.
8:00 or so
  • Open a new Word document, see my first blank page since March, and get to work.
  • My itunes playlist becomes none other than the Gladiator movie soundtrack of course. =)
2:00 a.m. Friday, June 1st
  • Complete the first draft and e-mail what I call "First Draft Ugly" to my padawan with the big question, did this meet the objectives and is it better?
9:00 a.m.
  • Get to the office. No e-mail yet from padawan. Thankfully it is an easy day and my bosses are all traveling so I'm comforted I'll have the whole day to work on the rewrite.
  • I contemplate cancelling plans with another author friend for that night and not attending my ACFW Chapter meeting the next day but decide against it.This is great practice for when I'm under contract and receive edits back with a deadline and I'll have to learn to manage delivering timely without putting my life on hold.
12:18 p.m.
  • First e-mail from padawan to let me know she's working on it and that first impression is it is better.
1:45 p.m.
  • E-mail from my padawan with her insight and suggestions in the document.
  • I read them and thank God for her again and exchange a few questions.
  • I buckle down to crank out second draft.
4:30 p.m.
  • I am interrupted by a flower delivery man. He brings me these and the note on the card is from my boss and his wife congratulating me.
  • I thank God for both of them, and the day job that keeps the lights on and the contest fees coming, and write a quick thank you e-mail to them.
 5:19 p.m.
  • I send off draft two to my padawan and a handful of my beta readers and past critique partners asking them to look at it if they have time and get it back to me tomorrow before five.
6:00 - 10:30 p.m.
  • I attend my first proper English tea and feel like a princess. I try cream in my tea for the first time, and have my first English "biscuit" and meet some new friends.
  • We go see the movie "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful." It is really good and a nice break, and the twenty minutes of previews were all for movies about writers!
10:45 p.m.
  • Check e-mail. Padawan has returned draft 2 with comments and insight so good I want to hug her through the computer. I pour over them for the next half-hour and tell her what a great job she is doing and again how much I appreciate her.
Midnight to 1:30 a.m.
  • A special assignment from the Lord comes in and I'm honored to be used for it with no thought to the time required. I love being an author, but perpetuating a lifestyle of radical obedience to God trumps the work and sleep right now.
8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. Saturday, June 2nd
  • Alarm goes off.
  • Prepare for my ACFW chapter meeting and sit down to process feedback and revise draft two.
  • My newest writer friend and now carpool buddy arrives and we set off to writers group.
11:00 a.m. - 1:15 p.m.
  • My fellow writers congratulate me, and I share with them the feedback was so great I'm undertaking a complete rewrite of the second chapter.
  • They appear appropriately horrified, hehe, like I would have if anyone else told me they were doing the same thing. They encourage a professional edit prior to turn-in which I would like to do but not sure there is time.
  • We have a great workshop on agent and editor pitches and I learn a lot as usual.
2:30 p.m.
  • My newest writer friend stays to help with my synopsis and let me bounce an important idea off her for draft three.
  • God answers a prayer I hadn't had time to pray yet. In my e-mail is an author offering professional editing services at a deep discount. It is also someone I have worked with in the past and I almost fall over at how good God is.
  • I e-mail her my cell number along with what I need and would it be possible to turn the edit around in a few hours because of the deadline. She texts me absolutely and I thank God and happy dance.
4:30 p.m.
  •  Draft three is finished.
  • I am beyond exhausted and my brain hurts.
  • I send off draft three to the professional editor and my padawan and my beta readers.
4:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
  • Best nap ever.
7:45 p.m.
  • Grab a few slices of leftover pizza from Thursday night out of the fridge and check e-mail.
  • Everyone has sent back draft three and caught the few typos and misused word.
  • I very carefully apply these to the final draft and resist the urge to make any tweaks to the work, knowing if I do I change the sentence structure and defeat the purpose of the final edit and check I had done.
9:04 p.m.
  • I say a prayer of thanks, make sure my attachment is there and it is the correct one, and e-mail it in three hours ahead of the deadline.
9:05 p.m. - 11:45 p.m.
  • I write thank you e-mails to those in the trenches with me for the past 48 hours, do some social media and celebrate, complete with a midnight run to McDonalds for fries. We did it. Oregon or Bust!
     Here's what I know. My story is so much stronger. I'm a hundred times more confident in my abilities as a professional author. My friendships strengthened through this. For those reasons alone, no matter what happens in September, I've already won, and for that I'm so grateful.

"My heart is overflowing with a good theme... my tongue is the pen of a ready writer." Psalm 45:1
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