Tag Archives: Making a Difference

My Writing Journey

A guest post by Monique Bucheger.

The journey of becoming a writer and/or a published author is different for everyone who does it. My journey began in high school when my creative writing teacher, Mrs. Johnson, encouraged me to transfer the stories in my head to paper. This endeavor started out as multiple class assignments and quickly turned into a love of storytelling. I wrote a lot of short stories in high school and then branched out into larger works.

Shortly before I turned 18, my husband proposed and I agreed to marry him. Everyone wished us well, except my creative writing teacher. She shook her head and said, “You are too smart to get married so young.” When I asked her what that meant, she sighed and said, “If you get married now, you’ll have a bunch of kids, but you won’t write the books that you need to write.”I assured her that I could do both.

Twenty-two years later, I had twelve kids (and am very grateful to have them) and no books, and was (and am) still married to the same man. Then one day, Mrs. Johnson’s son went up in the Space Shuttle Endeavour, and I started thinking about her more. In return, she began haunting me (she had died a couple years before). After I kept hearing her ask, “So, when are you going to write those books, Monique?” I decided it was time to keep my promise to her.

I remembered a fun, spirited twelve-year-old half-orphan I had created as a tween. Before long, I started writing her story. Then I wrote more of her story. And I kept right on writing. My “story” took on a life of its own until I had a book the size of four novels—which I broke into three.

Then the real work began. I exchanged chapter critiques with other writers and realized that simply writing 300 pages of a story didn’t make it readable and publishable. I met amazing people who took the time to explain what I was doing wrong—and right—with my storytelling and I learned the value of both editing your book until it shines and hiring a good editor to make it even better.

I found people like David Farland, an internationally best-selling author, who is also a wonderful teacher. His love of story and his knowledge on how to craft a great story is inspiring. Dave is open and approachable and willing to help those who ask. He has several online classes as well as weeklong workshops.

Life experience, interests, passions, and hobbies also have great bearing on how and what an author chooses to write. The years I didn’t write, I devoted to my family and became a foster mother to over 100 kids.

Now I write realistic fiction—think Judy Blume or Beverly Cleary—two of my literary heroes. The four published books in my “Ginnie West Adventure ” middle-grade series deal with tough subjects like child abuse, abandonment, being orphaned, and alcoholism in uplifting and empowering ways. It also deals with other subjects important to kids: friends, family, fitting in, figuring out how the world works, horses, finding acceptance, and other assorted adventures. I like to think the series does so with a bit of humor and grace.

I want abused kids—and the people who care about them—to make sense of a world they’d rather not live in and to realize certain things are not their fault. Most importantly, I want kids to know they have power to change things. Choosing how you react to an event—good or bad—is powerful. And whether you let it defeat you or strengthen you can be life-changing.

The truth is, real life can be messy and it can be hard. It can also be fun, invigorating, exciting, and full of wonder. I try to embrace each of these elements—and more—in each book I write. Recently—I have met several readers who have told me that my series has influenced them in a positive way.

Formerly abused kids (who are now adults) have found comfort in my series. Mothers have shared with me that they have read my series with their kids and had meaningful conversations about how child abuse happens and what it means to be a good friend—both subjects I deal with in my series in an age appropriate way.

Last month three different tween girls told me they love the relationship between my main characters, Ginnie and Tillie—fun-loving BFFs who are trying to figure out this thing called life—together, in spite of being tossed some pretty crazy plot twists. The girls really care about Ginnie and Tillie and want to know what will happen to them.

Not long ago, a friend devoured my first three books in two days and informed me, “You know the Wests are family now, don’t you? I love them.” It is during these moments I find validation and strength in my decision to become a published author … and these moments are why I keep writing.

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Guest Writer Bio: When Monique Bucheger isn’t writing, you can find her playing taxi driver to one or more of her 12 children, plotting her next novel, scrapbooking, or being the “Mamarazzi” at any number of child-oriented events. Even though she realizes there will never be enough hours in any given day, Monique tries very hard to enjoy the journey that is her life. She shares it with a terrific husband, her dozen children, a son-in-law, an adorable granddaughter, two cats, and many real and imaginary friends. She is the author of several books and plans to write many more. Monique’s Musings can be found at: http://moniquebucheger.blogspot.com/

 

Those Writerly Moments

A guest post by David Farland.

I love being a writer. In fact, I love it so much that it has probably spoiled me. I’m not sure that I’m even fit for a regular 9-5 job.

I’ve been asked to tell about some of my own writerly moments, those times when I just love my job. Here are a few:

Fun Writing Days. About five years ago I was at Cabo San Lucas on a writing retreat. I’d awakened just before dawn, and walked out on the beach to write as the sun rose—a ball of molten silver with magenta highlights, rising above a purple mist. The wind was perfectly still as the sun ascended above the ocean, and I got into the writing groove. I got lost in a scene, writing as fast as I could until the beach warmed enough so that the iguanas began to come out to sun on a nearby wall, then I went into my room and just kept writing until the sun went down. I love it on days like that, where you get lost in the work.

Changing Peoples’ Lives. Recently I got a letter from a fan who was ill with a terminal disease. For the past six years he has been hooked to a morphine pump, and he wrote to tell me that he had read my Runelords series many times. He said that he found that when he read my books, they transported him into another world, and he forgot about his pain—to the point where his nurse could turn off the morphine pump for a few hours. I’ve gotten similar letters over the years, and each one touches me anew.

Surprise Paychecks. Everyone knows that writers don’t make a lot of money, right? But every once in a while I’ll get a paycheck that surprises me. A few years ago, we had a nice foreign rights sale to a publisher that came in just before Christmas. An extra $100,000 sure helped add to the holiday cheer.

Helping Other Writers. Four years ago, my novel In the Company of Angels went up for the Whitney Award for Best Novel of the Year. I was invited to attend the awards event, and was given a lifetime achievement award for my work in helping discover and promote new writers. As the spokesman announced the award, he asked members of the audience “Who among you has taken classes from Dave?” Perhaps 20% of the audience rose. He then asked, “How many of you have read articles or books by Dave?” and perhaps another 60% of the audience stood. He then asked, “How many of you have read novels by any of the authors who are standing?” and everyone stood.

It really brought home to me that my work isn’t just about writing. Sometimes it’s about teaching. Some of my students have far surpassed me in reputation. The incident reminded me that each of us is like a stone dropped into a still pool, and our influence reaches out and moves others, touches everyone, in ways that may never be aware of.

I was happy to take home two awards that day—one for my work as a teacher, and one for “Best Novel of the Year.”

Many authors know the thrill of seeing their first book in print, or getting their first great review, or hitting a bestseller list. But there are so many touching moments associated with this job, I don’t think that I could list them all. It’s not something that you can really talk about. It’s something you have to live.

Guest Writer Bio:

David Farland is an award-winning, international best-selling author with over 50 novels in print. He has won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Special Award for “Best Novel in the English Language” for his science fiction novel On My Way to Paradise, the Whitney Award for “Best Novel of the Year” for his historical novel In the Company of Angels, and he has won over seven awards—including the International Book Award and the Hollywood Book Festival, Grand Prize—for his fantasy thriller Nightingale. He is best known, however, for his New York Times best-selling fantasy series The Runelords, which will soon be made into a graphic novel and, likely, a movie.

Farland has written for major franchises such as Star Wars and The Mummy. He has worked in Hollywood greenlighting movies and doctoring scripts. He has been a movie producer, and he has even lived in China working as a screenwriter for a major fantasy film franchise.

As a writing instructor, Farland has mentored dozens who have gone on to staggering literary success, including such #1 New York Times Bestsellers as Brandon Mull (Fablehaven), Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time), James Dashner (The Maze Runner) and Stephenie Meyer (Twilight).

Farland judges L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future, the one of the largest worldwide writing competitions for new fantasy and science fiction authors. In the video game industry, he has been both a designer and a scripter and was the co-leader on the design team for StarCraft: Brood War.  He set the Guinness World Record for the largest single-author, single-book signing.

David Farland has been hailed as “The wizard of storytelling” and his work has been called “compelling,” “engrossing,” “powerful,” “profound,” and “ultimately life-changing.”