“WRITING FOR YOU” releases tomorrow! What is the point of this writer’s handbook? Here’s the preface.

Screen Shot 2013-06-02 at 1.37.23 PMTOMORROW IS THE BIG DAY! My writer’s handbook, “Writing for You: A Novelist’s Guide to the Craft of Fiction” releases on amazon.com.

The ebook version will be on sale for a week for just 2.99, though the real list price I will set at 4.99, so make sure you get your copy right away to save.

Today, I wanted to share the first part of the preface with you guys. It explains who I am, why I compiled “Writing for You” from my blog posts, and what the purpose of the book is.

So, here goes. I hope you enjoy the sneak peek!

PREFACE

If you’re reading this preface, then you’ve either bought my book or you’re considering buying it, and I’d like to thank you either way for giving me the chance to speak to you, from the heart and from my experience, about creative writing.

Who is this woman, you might be wondering, to publish a book about how to write? Well, I’m many things. Among them, I’m a blogger. I’ve been blogging about creative writing for a year— well, sixteen months now— at Creative Writing with the Crimson League, crimsonleague.com. I post daily and I have wonderful followers, a number of whom suggested I write this book.

I listened. I owe all those who follow my blog a tremendous debt of gratitude for their support, encouragement, and feedback every step of the way. This book would never have existed without them. I, for one, would never have had the courage to write it without them.

Since the idea for this book came from my followers, I asked on my blog what people wanted to know about writing. What kind of information they were needing. The answers I received, and the questions posed to me, were great influences on the content of Writing for You, so I truly hope this book will provide you what you’re looking for in terms of support as you pursue or maintain your passion for writing.

The cover I designed for Writing for You has a dual symbolism. My first intent is to reference my belief that all writing is akin to magic. Inspiration is magical, in that we can never understand it. Its results are magical. The effects of writing and reading upon the human soul are transformative, healing, and motivational in ways we never could explain. The pen is, in its manner, the equivalent of a sorcerer’s magic wand.

The second symbolism is more direct: I write sword and sorcery fantasy, so I liked the idea of incorporating the theme of magic into Writing for You’s cover, even though my sorcerers don’t use wands. (If fantasy is not your genre, don’t worry. Very little, if any, of the content in this book is specific to fantasy writers. Each chapter is focused on developing your writing process and improving your writing, and the strategies and tips I propose can work for all writers.)

To date I’ve been writing novels for ten years, and I have five of them under my belt, three of which I’ve published as the Herezoth trilogy. I’m not famous, and I’m no genius, but the combination of my experience and the expertise I gained from a bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish, as well as a master’s degree in Spanish literature, gave me the confidence to start blogging about creative writing. That blog led here, and I hope this book proves a resource to give you not only the tools but also the confidence to be a writer, and the best writer that you can.

In the pages to follow, I’ll discuss writing mechanics. I’ll talk about rules and why you can break them on occasion. I’ll talk about strategy and organization. I’ll also be frank about the ups and downs—the doubt, the fear, and the pain—I’ve experienced as a writer, because every writer should know those moments come to all of us. You can’t let them beat you. You have to fight back, and I’ve found that since I’ve started blogging, the support I’ve received from other writers who have said, “I’ve felt that way too,” or “That’s happened to me,” gives me the will to fight when the writing gets tough, because I know I’m not alone. I can believe I’m not a talentless hack or an idealistic fool even though that first draft isn’t great, I got some bad feedback, or I simply feel stuck.

I always wanted to write novels because I loved reading them so much as a child. In third grade I discovered Nancy Drew, and after spending most of the school year reading the first books in that series, I wrote a series of short stories about my friends and me, imagining us doing what Nancy, Bess, and George did so well: solve mysteries. In fifth grade, still loving mystery novels, I tried to write a longer story called “The Missing Necklace.” I can’t remember if I ever finished it; I wish I had the draft still. I’m sure it was hilarious.

In high school I moved from reading Agatha Christie to reading J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter was exploding in popularity at the time, and he proved my first introduction into fantasy literature. There would be no turning back. Fantasy was my genre.

When I enrolled at the University of Alabama—Roll Tide!—it was as a journalism and Spanish major. I worked (unpaid) for a year as a staff reporter for the Crimson White, the campus newspaper, before I understood that journalism wasn’t for me. I hated interviewing people. I hated the restrictions on my style that journalism imposed. Writing news articles wasn’t the same as writing fiction, and fiction was where my heart lay. So I switched my major from journalism and Spanish to Spanish and English. As part of the English degree, I was able to take a three-course sequence in creative writing. I will forever be grateful to my instructors and classmates for all I learned from them.

While enrolled in those classes I was writing my first novel, Life’s Little Jokes. I toiled over the project for four years. I expanded it from a short story to a novel, and then edited, edited, and edited some more. It will never be publishable for a number of reasons, but I don’t consider the work a failure because it taught me how to write by teaching me what not to do.

The second novel I wrote is titled The Crimson League. It’s the first novel I published, the first novel in my Herezoth trilogy, and the reason I titled my blog the way I did. I first created the kingdom of Herezoth and started writing The Crimson League in July 2006; counting some breaks to edit Life’s Little Jokes “one last time” and to write a sequel to The Crimson League, after consulting beta readers I self-published six years later, in April 2012.

That sequel I drafted before publishing The Crimson League is The Magic Council. It’s book two in my trilogy. Book three, released May 31, 2013, is titled The King’s Sons.

The fifth and last book I’ve penned, The Esclavan Abductions, is only a draft yet. I wrote it in November 2012 during the National Novel Writing Month challenge (which I’ll describe in more detail later on). It’s the first installment in a new set of novels about Herezoth, and I’m not sure yet what I’ll end up doing with it, if anything.

So, that’s me. That’s my life as a writer. Along the way I got my master’s degree in Spanish, tutored some people, taught Spanish for two years at two universities, published an article in the academic journal Bulletin of the Comediantes, and completed doctoral level coursework before I decided that becoming a professor wouldn’t be a good day job for me: not if I was serious about my fiction. Being a professor would dominate my life and my time too completely.

I left my doctoral program before oral exams and before writing a dissertation, because I was burned out on my research into seventeen-century Spain. I enjoyed many aspects of teaching but chose to seek out a nine-to-five job rather than write a dissertation about a topic I wasn’t excited about anymore.

I don’t feel the need to defend or excuse my decision to walk away, because it was the right choice for me, and it wasn’t a choice I made lightly. Anyway, that’s my academic background. I took classes on all kinds of things throughout college and graduate school, including linguistics, dialectology, phonetics, narratology, journalism reporting and editing, translation theory, and a seminar on Arthurian legend (the perfect course for a budding fantasy writer).

My studies of foreign language (and my experience teaching Spanish) forced me to learn and to understand grammar, which has also proven helpful. I’m considering branching out as a freelance editor and translator, and I have one translation of a novel into Spanish already completed for a fellow indie author, just needing editing, so that’s a great start to compiling a portfolio. I guess you could say I’m starting out on a new path, and while it’s frightening, it’s also exciting. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store!

Well, there you go! Part I of the preface for “Writing for You.” I hope you enjoyed it and that you’re excited about the book!

If you are, please feel free to spread the word about the book. You can tweet this post or share it on Facebook. You can add “Writing for You” to your shelf on Goodreads.

Thanks again to all of you for your support, your kind words, your comments and insight, and your push to get this book off the ground. I am so stoked for the release!

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33 responses to ““WRITING FOR YOU” releases tomorrow! What is the point of this writer’s handbook? Here’s the preface.

  1. Very cool. Thanks for the sneak peek, Victoria. Will your new book be part of the Kindle lending library? If so, it will be my checkout for August!

  2. Congrats, Victoria! I’ve been following your blog for a while now and I know how much work and heart has gone into this. I’m thrilled you were able to see it through to publication. I hope it does well!

  3. Reblogged this on Fendrel's Tale and commented:
    take a look at Victoria Grefer’s new book on creative writing, its going to be good.

  4. Good for you dear. How exciting. I love our Nancy Drew/Agatha Christie connection and honestly, I’d love to read ‘The Missing Necklace’ along w/ my first mystery attempt, ‘Trapped!’ 🙂

  5. Very good preface. It’s confident and humble and had a little humor. I think it will really catch people’s attention. Good luck on your debut. Are you going with KDP Select?

  6. Awesome! It was a great preface, and I’m really excited for you to have it go live tomorrow. I’ll definitely be stopping by for my own copy. Congratulations!

  7. I looked for it on Amazon to put it in my wish list as a reminder, but couldn’t find a listing. But it’ll be there tomorrow then?

    • It will be available tomorrow on kindle. Paperback might take a day or two longer, though I’ll submit it today…. For now it’s up on goodreads to add to bookshelves, but not amazon. 😦 I didn’t know you could “add” a listing without it being available!

  8. Hi Victoria! I am so excited for you. I know this is going to be a great handbook for the beginning author. I posted it on my Facebook with my recommendation. I wish you great success! As for the above response to the comment, yes, many times you can pre-order e-books on Amazon and they will send it for download when it releases. Since my blog is for debut authors, I will be happy to re-blog as well. Best wishes,
    Becky

  9. Reblogged this on Becky's Book Notes and commented:
    I follow this author’s blog and she offers invaluable advice for aspiring and beginning authors. I highly recommend this book and fully intend to get my copy as soon as it is released!

  10. You can add a book to your wish list if it is available for preorder.

  11. Thank you for this. I will share it.

  12. Pingback: FLASH GIVEAWAY: “Writing For You” is FREE March 10-14! | Creative Writing with the Crimson League

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