Monthly Archives

April 2016

Three Tips to Help You Finally Finish That Novel

April 19, 2016

The Unwanted

Recently, I completed my second novel, Black Water Tales: The Unwanted, a follow up to Black Water Tales: The Secret Keepers. While this is only my second novel and I hardly consider myself a writing expert, I understand that when you are struggling to get your first novel on paper you are willing to try anything; with that in mind I want to share with you the three most important things that helped me finally complete my first novel in hopes that it will help you complete yours.

  1. Summary: Write a solid sentence that summarizes your entire novel. As simple as it sounds most people struggling to organize their ideas have not completed this fundamental task.

Ex:                               Marie has become a fast-paced, city girl who has lost herself in her climb to success in NYC, but when she travels back to her small lakeside hometown in Texas to see her mother who has been injured in an accident she is reunited with a cast of friends who live less than fabulous lives yet she soon realizes that they all have something she is missing despite all of her fabulous things…love and happiness.

  1. Outline:             The outline is crucial in order for you to transform the discombobulated plots, sub-plots, clever quotes and unforgettable characters into a story that other people can read, understand and enjoy. Write down everything that you have in your brain for the story; put it in some type of order similar to the way that you want it to unfold in the book. Details and exact timeline are not crucial at this point. The outline is imperfect in many ways, but you must have a solid beginning, middle and end.

Ex:                               We first see Marie doing something fabulous as part of her great NY lifestyle.

Marie gets a call that tells her that her mother has been in an accident.

Marie tells her agent, but he is hesitant as she has big upcoming show.

A reluctant Marie flies home.

Etc.

  1. Free Write: Well…semi-free writing. You have your outline so get a  cup of coffee (even if you don’t drink it, it will keep you awake), put a pencil behind your ear (this just makes you look smart), put your outline in front of you and begin to write. Start with your first point and let the words play out like a movie in your head. This draft will be very rough, but the key is to keep writing no matter what.  Don’t get caught up on details like the names of characters, the way the house looks, etc. Get the main stuff on paper, you can make everything perfect later, that is what re-writes are for.

Ex:                               Marie Delano sat outside of the chic Sorrenta Café sipping the white mocha that she drank every morning, while she waited for her agent.  She was confident that her personal trainer would be able to get her into her designer dress for her opening despite her less than healthy eating habits. Marie held out her freshly manicured finger nails and reviewed them when she was startled by her ringing phone. She looked down and gasped when she recognized the phone number that belonged to her mother. She had not spoken to her mother in years and she knew instantly that something terrible had happened, she could feel it in every inch of her petite frame. Marie reached out and grabbed the phone abruptly as if the sound offended her ears. She answered and was told that her premonition had been correct.

Do this for your entire outline and once you get to the end, you have a novel. Don’t get too excited there is much more to be done, but the first step is taken and the first step is always the hardest.

Happy writing!

https://www.facebook.com/JNicoleRivers/

@jeannicole19

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832487.Jean_Nicole_Rivers

 

This Old House

April 14, 2016
This Old House

This Old House

Constructing her coffee with scientific precision each morning, two vanilla creams, no sugar, was just the first part of her stringent routine, routine and repetition being some of the only things left in the world that kept Darby Morgan sane. Often she wondered why she even bothered since it seemed that all of her senses had been dulled to the point that she had trouble with smelling, tasting and even feeling, but for that last loss she was grateful as she could hardly go on living were she forced to feel the bottomless emotional maw left within her from recently losing her husband, Wayne, and 16 year-old daughter, Maya.

What emotions Darby did feel, she had lost the ability to properly categorize. Again and again they came sweeping over her in tidal waves of paradoxical sensation, guilt and rage, helplessness and sadness. She hypothesized that in the instant that she had beheld the oncoming collision, that she instinctively knew would be catastrophic, her life, in that well-established spiritual tale, flashed before her eyes in an electrically charged flicker of love, hate, fear, joy and all the others and had been captured within her like a rare photograph snapped at the moment of a distinct phenomenon otherwise utterly elusive to forecasting or preparation and it seemed now that as a result she had a hard time picking those emotions apart.

Late morning light from a sun that Darby could not recall her last unfiltered sight of engulfed the living room. On the couch where she had once plopped easily into her preferred spot with her family to watch a Friday evening movie, she sat lightly and with visible discomfort as she did every morning since the accident like a person sitting on a psychiatrists’ chaise lounge for the first time. She could hardly digest how familiar and foreign her things seemed to her at the very same time. Wayne’s cologne haunted her here, his favorite, and the same cologne that he had worn since college. It was light and woody with the slightest of floral touches and she could smell it almost every day as if they were still having coffee together on that couch as they used to do each morning.

Every day, for a mother who lost a young child, was groundhog’s day, but it was especially so, for a mother who lost her child and husband, in one day, in one accident, the same accident that left her practically unscathed. Perhaps, it was punishment. If it weren’t a punishment, it most certainly felt like one. Darby knew that for people like her, routine was the last link to normalcy without which sanity would surely fade, losing ground quickly to the impenetrably dark army of depression and despair. Routine was the only thing that she had left, awkward but comfortable like a budding adolescent boy still holding tightly to a ripped and stained baby blanket, but still she sometimes wondered if the dizzying monotony of it all wouldn’t soon demolish what was left of her faculties anyway.

Leaving this old house was out of the question, she needed the customary creak of the hallway door, the aromatic curry odor that was cemented into the curtains from years of preparing her husband’s favorite dish at least once a week, the electric blue stain in the white carpet where Maya suddenly learned first-hand why Darby always insisted that she paint her toe nails over newspaper. All of these intimate catalysts were necessary, they held all of the pieces of her broken self in place like the backboard of a puzzle without which the parts that composed the complete picture would crumble into meaningless shards. Besides, everything outside of these four walls, now petrified her. There were many days Darby stood at that door with her hand on the knob ready to try again, but paralyzing fear always won out. Inside was safe.

Since the accident, she had not been out at all and the hours dissolved into days and the days into years, sometimes quickly and at other times it seemed as if the clock hardly moved. Hours passed as she engaged in one of her countless monotonous customs, the ones that filled the time between the aroma of her husband’s cologne and Maya’s sweet whispers, studying the burnt orange floral patterns on the couch pillows, counting and re-counting the exactly 167 flower petals contained on each side of the set. Now, Darby wasn’t sure if the accident had occurred one week ago or one year ago, not that it much mattered anymore.

After a nap Darby woke to the muddled scent of fresh baked cookies of some sort. It was Mrs. Candela, she must have stopped by to leave them the way she always had, once a week, before the accident and even now, after the accident, she did not abandon the once cheerful duty, now, decayed into dreadful chore. Before leaving for vacation once, Darby shared a house key with Mrs. Candela that she never bothered to reclaim and when after the accident she refused to answer the door or come out of her home, Mrs. Candela had resorted to sneaking in while she slept and leaving only her cookies to signal her periodic presence. Darby enjoyed the smell of the treats more than the actual flavor as they never tasted like much anymore.

Everything in the present was of such little consequence, memories were paramount now, Darby thought as she swung open the door to her daughter’s room, which had gone unchanged. There was the faint and fleeting fragrance of her shampoo which put one in the mind of island vacation, coconuts and fresh papaya. Nothing less than a complete miracle, Maya was perfect and Darby had found herself thanking God on multiple occasions that she had not been delivered one of those drooping, slack-faced teens, like Bethany, the bird-faced neighbor who lived on the corner with her aloof husband and a son from her first marriage. A boy for whom they all shared a secret, community fear that he would one day soon be starring on the nightly news for gunning down a group of jovial teenagers at Mountain View High School. No, Maya was whimsical and fun, but predictable in an all American way, her personality always putting her mother in the mind of easy Saturday mornings, sharp, sunny and saturated with optimism.

Admiring the plush, pink comforter, Darby studied the Polaroids of friends and family that her daughter taped to the wall in the shape of a heart. Once again, she heard her daughter’s voice, laced with a soft, emotional lilt, the way Darby often heard it, when she came in Maya’s room to be with her. “Mom, I’m here.” The voice called.

Darby felt the tears puddling painfully at the corners of her eyes.

The IV monitor beeped rhythmically along with the silent tap of Mrs. Candela’s foot as she sat stiffly in the corner chair of the hospital room holding the plate of cookies that she brought every week. Wayne Darby sat, dutifully, at the head of his wife’s hospital bed as he had at least three nights a week for the last five years.

“Doctor, do you think that there’s still a chance that my mother will ever wake up? It’s been five years since our accident.” A young woman asked.

Dr. Diaz was sympathetic but firm, “Maya, we just don’t know. We are really lucky that all three of you even survived. Not much has changed, your mother’s brain activity is good, but I can’t promise you anything. She could wake up from her coma tomorrow, ten years from now or not at all. We just can’t be sure.”

“Do you really think that she can hear me?” Maya, now a college student junior wanted to know, seeking desperate confirmation for a question that she had asked repeatedly to anyone that would listen.

“Yes, I think she can hear you.” Dr. Diaz confirmed.

Maya turned and leaned into her mother who had been silent in a coma for the last five years. Taking her mother’s emaciated hand into her own, she whispered, “Mom, I’m here.”

Jean Nicole Rivers

Jeannicolerivers.com

https://www.facebook.com/JNicoleRivers/

@jeannicole19

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832487.Jean_Nicole_Rivers

 

Little Miss Dupree

April 7, 2016
Caydence Alise by Locked Illusions Photography

Caydence Alise by Locked Illusions Photography

There once was a girl named Little Miss Dupree who lived in a house on Hickory Street.

She’d peek through the windows and creep through the halls, opening doors and tapping on walls.

Her sisters played nervously, her mother could hardly sleep, her father never stopped looking and her brother wouldn’t say a peep.

Some days the girl laughed, but most days she cried and how she wished, she wished she were still alive.

 

Jean Nicole Rivers

https://www.facebook.com/JNicoleRivers/

@jeannicole19

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832487.Jean_Nicole_Rivers

When To Let Go of Your Novel

April 1, 2016
When to Let God of Your Completed Novel

When to Let God of Your Completed Novel

Last week I pressed the “approve” button for the final edits on my first novel, Black Water Tales: The Secret Keepers, and it was more difficult than I could have ever imagined.  Over the past year as I composed the novel I could not wait for the moment to finally be finished, to have completed one of the “biggies” on the bucket list, to be able to say, “I have written a novel, I’m a writer, I have arrived!”

But instead of the triumphant (Rocky music playing in the background) feeling I had envisioned, I felt more like a mother standing at the glass doors of kindergarten, bawling her eyes out as she watches her baby leaving her.  It was a bit traumatizing.

There was a fear of losing something that had become so much a part of my everyday life.  For so long now, it has just been me… and the book, I have watched it develop, struggled with it, loved it, hated it and finally finished it.

Also, there was the fear of the big reveal.  Writing is personal and despite the fact that my novel is fiction, when people read anything that I write, they are getting a look into my personal thoughts and the feelings; they are literally reading from the pages of my diary. If you are human, you know the fear of letting people see the real you, with all of your vulnerabilities, insecurities and flaws.  One of our biggest fears as human beings is not that we won’t be seen, but that we will be.  It’s like stripping in front of a crowd and allowing them to make unencumbered judgments of your nakedness.

What if people hate it?  What if I missed a mistake? What if people read the first chapter and think that I’m unimaginative, long winded or just a complete idiot?

One would have to be made of stone not be intimidated.

When it is all done, I have done everything right, I have gone through the process of writing, re-writing, editing, re-editing, professional editing, more editing, peer review and the time had finally come for me to let it go, but how?

As I sat there in front of my computer with my mouse hovering over the “approve” button, vacillating in doubt, I remembered something a wise person once told me when it came to making tough decisions, they said, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

I pressed the button.

I realized that the story was complete and that I needed the story more than it needed me anymore and that was a sure sign that it was time for the bittersweet process of moving on.

Writing your story is the most empowering things that you can do, but letting it go is one of the most courageous.

Jean Nicole Rivers

jeannicolerivers.com

https://www.facebook.com/JNicoleRivers/

@jeannicole19