Monday, March 11, 2013

Things That Helped Me Write My Novel by Sheryn MacMunn + Giveaway!

Page Count: 324
Release Date: 7 December 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace (self-published)
Genre: Contemporary, Chick-lit, Women's Fiction

Getting dumped on the sidewalk by her live-in boyfriend of seven years and finding he nearly emptied their savings account is the first of Sheila Davenport's problems. At 36, Sheila had thought her life was on track.

Now she's saddled with a mortgage that is about to skyrocket, a psychotic boss, and she has to train someone who is unqualified and just doesn't care about the rules. Life no longer makes sense.

Her friends advise her to date immediately, preferably someone rich and successful, or risk being old and alone. But Sheila's trying to figure out what went wrong and how she got to this place. Since Prince Charming has ruined Sheila's life, who can save her now?

Help comes unexpectedly from her 86-year-old neighbor who has had her own share of life's ups and downs. After each get together, Sheila begins to find the strength to put the pieces of her life together while fighting not to lose her head.

Will Sheila succeed at work or walk away? Can she save her home? And why do her friends think their lives are any better?

A story of love found and lost, true friendship, and how the human spirit endures.

The Most Important Things I Learned About Writing Through Finding Out

For some reason, I thought that writing a novel was something that happened to those who were lucky or had a gift for writing. So when I began writing Finding Out, I struggled. I wrote pages then re-read them and found them to be awful. I also stared at a blank page terrified at the thought of filling it. I even went so far as to record the stories so I could transcribe them. The lack of confidence started to wear on me and eventually, I got stuck.

As a result, I took a writing course, which is something I highly recommend. The course taught the mechanics of writing a novel which are very important, including how to organize the story, keep track of characters, write a great sentence, etc. It also connected me with other writers which was helpful because I didn’t know any at the time. It was at the writing course that I received the most important advice I wish I had known earlier: writing is work.

The word "work" is often a turnoff for people, especially those of us who have an imaginary world of people running around our heads. But before you get discouraged, let me explain"

Writing takes discipline. It is a muscle that needs to be exercised every day or else it atrophies. A person wouldn’t expect to become a better runner if they only ran once in a while; it’s the same with writing. Skill as a writer grows as we put the words on paper, read the words, edit, and move forward. And it is that skill and that discipline that moves the story forward which is the only way to complete the novel. I hadn’t made that type of commitment to writing until that point. I thought if I’m lucky, the magic will happen and the book will be finished one day. However, that’s not the way to be successful.

As soon as I thought of writing as work, I tackled it like I would any project at my full-time job. I started to write every day, which can be difficult with an actual full-time job and a family. Sometimes it was only for 15 minutes, but I did it. I then scheduled writing time into our family calendar and told my husband that he was on parenting duty Sunday afternoons and Tuesday mornings. This gave me large chunks of time to really dive into the novel. As soon as I began writing every day, my confidence grew and the process became fun which meant that I wrote more each day.

I found that the more I wrote, the faster the story spilled onto the page because I was still in the story and surrounded by the characters. Think about a friend who you only see every six months or so—the conversation can be stilted until you both warm up to each other again; the same goes for creating a story to share with others. By becoming more familiar with the characters, they developed in ways that I couldn’t have imagined when I wrote the first outline. Although we create the characters, they also have a story to tell and if you listen, they will share their moods, fears and react to situations in unexpected ways.

I guess the other reason that this advice was so helpful is that it demystified the process for me. My parents instilled a strong work ethic in my brothers and me. If I wanted something, whether it was a new pair of shoes or money for a concert, I had to earn it. As a result, work has never been something that scared me. It was a means to an end. I know I am a good worker so if writing is work, I knew I could do it. I also knew that it wouldn’t always be fun because, let’s face it, work isn’t fun but it can be satisfying. Now my dream is to be a full-time writer and I’ll be more than thrilled to work hard every day.

About the Author

Sheryn MacMunn self-published her debut novel, Finding Out, in April 2012. It became an Amazon best-seller in two months, hitting the Contemporary Women and Contemporary Fiction list. Finding Out then hit best-seller status in the Single Women, Friendship, Romance, and Love & Romance categories as well. In addition to being a self-published author, Sheryn works full-time in Mobile ad sales. Sheryn attended University of Massachusetts, Lowell and received her MBA from Simmons College School of Management. She now lives in Connecticut with her family.


Thank you so much for the helpful advice, Sheryn! It was a delight having you over. Readers, tell me:
What's something important YOU learned by actually experiencing it?
I know that's a really broad question, but that makes it all the easier! It can be about anything: reading, writing, friendship, love, sex, emotions, society, or just yourself. Something I learned that's shaped my life significantly is that country shapes culture. Even though everyone at my school speaks the same English language as I did in the US—even though they wear the same clothes, have the same feelings, and use the same educational curriculum—people living in Korea are greatly influenced by the country, no matter how "Americanized" they are. You can detect this in their values, in their approaches to relationships, and even their daily interactions. I learned this slowly but surely when I moved to Korea to study abroad, and it's something I'm still learning today.

What do you think? Leave a comment on Sheryn's guest post with your own insights for a chance to win a print copy of Finding Out. You can keep track of your extra entries using this handy-dandy Rafflecopter form:
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Good luck!