Delia J. Colvin's Blog - Posts Tagged "writing"

I still find the editing/re-writing process fun and so very interesting! I often ponder how many new aspects of the entire trilogy came out in final edits of Book One, The Sibylline Oracle.

My daughter, Jen, who is wonderfully analytical, and is typically the first reader of any new section that I write, has the wonderful ability to look at a new section and see opportunities in some subtlety that influences other sections.

Small arbitrary decisions are made in the initial writing. Then as other tweaks are being made, I discover that there is something more significant to that little arbitrary decision.

One of those decisions was in Book One; I needed a device in chapter 1 that would identify Alex, so that in Chapter 2 when we are in present time, the reader easily identifies that this is the same person, the triangular mark on his hand did that.

Later, in Book Two that mark has significance, and I wanted it to signify a soul mate. I discovered the Triquetra, (pronounced traɪˈkwɛtrə; Latin tri- "three" and quetrus "cornered") originally meant "triangle". It has come to be known as the Trinity Knot.

The Ancient Celtics claim the symbol of the Trinity knot. Their meaning is that some friendships are so deep that they reflect an ancient bond or connectedness of two souls that allows them to understand, trust and support each other at a level beyond most mortal relationships.

However, there have been discoveries with the triquestra as early as 7th Century BC.

This all worked very well for the storyline, as you know, Alex and Valeria have a special relationship that transcends time and mortality.

We are now working that into the cover of the second book, The Symbolon-which also implies a "symbol" of their love.The Sibylline OracleDelia J. Colvin
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Published on August 18, 2012 08:52 • 153 views • Tags: fantasy, historical-fiction, romance, suspense, trilogy, writing
I had a very major realization about a week ago; I am a writer!

That may seem obvious. But despite the fact that I have now completed a trilogy, with one published, the second about to be released and a third that will be out by November, and currently spend at least 60-80 hours per week writing/re-writing, editing, etc, it hadn't really occurred to me that I was living my dream!

For years, I held pieces of various novels and screenplays in my head or in a file, always believing that someday I would find the time to live my dream and complete my novels. But I had this crazy idea that I required a great deal of wealth to do that. Funny, the ideas that get stuck in our heads!

Then in December 2011, while driving into D.C (right before the tunnel onto the Roosevelt Bridge)in a matter of seconds, the entire concept of The Sibylline Oracle...well for lack of a better word...arrived in my head. Of course, it didn't have a name yet.

As soon as I arrived in D.C. I had a mile to walk and I began furiously typing on my iphone. Every opportunity I continued to make notes, writing chapter after chapter on my iphone at stop lights in DC (yes, I was the idiot you were honking at! lol!), while walking (see previous note), and during meals...even in the middle of the night, while holding my phone down, so the light didn't bother my sleeping husband.

Within three weeks I was stunned to discover that I had written a fairly complex novel! I never believed that I was really capable of finishing a novel! But I also knew that there was considerably more to this story than could be told in one novel.

At that point, I decided that this story was was probably a trilogy...just because I liked the word "trilogy"...yeah, really.

I had NO idea what the second book was about and I intended to give myself a month to think about it. But Alex & Valeria's story just had too much of my heart to do anything else but write!

Just beginning the second novel was interesting, because I really had no idea what was going to happen. I did, however, have a very vague concept of where it needed to end. Fortunately, simply writing solved all of that! The story just poured out of me and in many ways I felt like I was merely transcribing.

Three weeks later I had completed the second novel. And I was even more excited about the second novel than the first!

During the writing of the first and most of the second novel, I had been spending time helping my daughter and her husband through the difficult pregnancy and birth of my beautiful and brilliant granddaughter.

My daughter began reading the novel, and then to my surprise, told me it was the first thing I had ever permitted her to read of my novels. And she was very excited about it.

When my husband read the first two novels, he said something very excitedly expressive, and insisted that I write full time. How lucky can a girl get?! Not only did my husband love my writing, he also insisted on supporting me while I wrote and attempted to market my stories.

I began the third novel of the trilogy and by then there were so many details of times, characters, names, locations etc, that I had to keep a spreadsheet of where each character was through time and details of days and years and millenniums. Very crazy, and as you may know, there are many characters to keep track of here!

Once I completed the third novel, I had numerous ideas that I wanted to add to the first novel. One of them was to add stories of Alex and Valeria at different times, so that the reader could truly perceive how Alex felt about this opportunity to save Valeria.

Frankly, I knew NOTHING about Ancient Greece and the gods, so I did quite a bit of research while writing.

I typically keep several google earth, google maps and 2+ wiki pages and a couple of thesauruses open while I'm writing. I like Roget online, but really prefer a hard copy thesaurus. I also have a spread sheet of descriptive phrases and words that I like...oh and ALWAYS great music! I keep a playlist for different sections. That's vital for me! The Sibylline Oracle (The Sibylline Trilogy #1) by Delia J. ColvinDelia J. Colvin
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Published on August 19, 2012 13:22 • 167 views • Tags: fantasy, historical-fiction, romance, suspense, trilogy, writing
As of...oh, I believe less than eight months ago, no one had read more than 2 pages of my fiction.

Now my pages lay naked for public scrutiny! And it IS very much like walking naked down the least for me. I must say that due to the kindness of my wonderful friends it has not been nearly as brutal as I thought it might be.

My three novels, which form The Sibylline Trilogy, while still in their infancy, I entrusted to my daughter who was nine months pregnant and not doing well. She didn't. I continued to pester her about it.

Finally, after the baby was born, she asked me to send it to her in email form, so that while she was doing late night feedings she could read on her iPhone.

The next morning she said, "Send me more! I like it!". That is how she got hooked on the first novel. When I returned home from my daughters a few weeks later, I asked my husband to read it. After several requests I sat down with him...very unfair of me, but I wanted to see if he laughed where I thought it was funny and if he picked up the tension when he should.

He read the first few chapters and laughed appropriately, and appeared tense at the right moments. Then he said, "This is your gift! This is what you need to do!" He actually said much more that I won't bore you husband is very expressive!

My point is that having these two people that I trusted to read my work IS the reason that I was able to write a 1000 page trilogy in less than a year when I couldn't even complete a 300 page novel before!

Having the right sounding boards help you steer characters in the right direction, even when you don't quite see it, and helps you know when you need to increase the emotion. Hopefully your sounding boards communicate with love and encouragement.

I will tell you in the early days (just a few months ago, lol), I was hyper-sensitive to any criticism! I now have some faith in my work and that has helped tremendously.

Still, I am my own toughest critic. When I received my first proof, I cried for a week while telling both my husband and daughter, "This is amateurish! Why didn't you tell me!" They tried to tell me that they thought it was fine. But I will tell you, I was sick when I read the first proof!

The good news is that finally with the hard copy I am very pleased and proud of the first book!

I now have a few other people that I permit to read my work. I have found that I need the critical reviews. I count on them, in fact! They help me know if I am on the right path. But I ONLY take those suggestions from people that I trust and who know to leave the "brutal" out of it!

In order for me to hear the criticism I also need those cheerleaders that believe in my work no matter what! God bless them! I will often run the critical reviews by the cheerleaders.

Still I find that in the end, I need to be happy with it. At this stage, I trust my evaluation, and that was a giant leap forward!

Regardless of other opinions, if I like something and want it in, I leave it there and/or rework it to make it work better.

The terror that very nearly consumed me the first weeks after the release has finally subsided, for the most part. I no longer check my book stats dozens of times a day, looking for reviews and sales. I am grateful every day for the wonderful reviews and ratings!

One last note: I had the silly idea that I needed to "learn how to write" before I continued writing my novels. I have discovered that this is bunk! Write! Work on improving what you've written. Grammar and book formatting knowledge is VERY helpful. Before submitting your book to an agent, I recommend hiring an editor, particularly if your knowledge of grammar is weak.

Read a lot. Write and edit a lot. Lastly,find a few sounding boards; people you trust that will lovingly help you improve as an author! The Sibylline Oracle (The Sibylline Trilogy #1) by Delia J. ColvinDelia J. Colvin
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Published on August 24, 2012 12:36 • 234 views • Tags: fantasy, historical-fiction, romance, suspense, trilogy, writing
One of the things I hear...fortunately, is that most people like my characters. To me they are very real...and if I can't see them doing something, and can't think of why they would do something...they don't do it!

Alex and Valeria pretty much came to me as is. I added background to both of their stories. But there basic personality did not shift dramatically at any point in the book(s).

As for the rest of them, I thought I'd discuss where they came from and how I developed them and what I learned in a screenwriting class that was invaluable in editing these books.

The character Weege, although I borrowed the name, just kind of wrote herself. I had no idea she would make me laugh so much. As for the rest of the family, I needed "characters" to surround my main characters.

I wanted a group that was as diverse as possible. I've known a young man named Curtis since he was about 13. He is such a neat young guy with a laugh that makes me smile. He became Caleb.

One day I told Curtis that he was in a story I was writing and his eyes lit up as he asked me, "Do I get to be a superhero?" I thought for a moment and then said, "Yes, I believe you do!" That is how Caleb became a superhero! And he does say that line in the book.

Camille, is my friend Camille. But most of the family is a combination of people I know.

The character of Tavish took off on his own and became extraordinarily dynamic. Love that character!

Ava was a combination of several people that I love and frankly, Ava is Ava! Love that character too...don't you just want to be best buds with her? My daughter added a few lines and actions that further defined her.

In the second book, I thought it would be pretty cool to add two people that I met in Cararra Italy years ago. I don't remember their names, and try as I must, I haven't been able to locate either of them.

The woman, who in my book became Kristiana, is in fact, a famous, absolutely breathtaking, international sculptress. Her brother worked as an executive at one of the marble mines. They were very sweet, wonderful and generous!

As I began writing my very kind friends into the story, I decided it was far more interesting if they weren't that sweet. The next thing I knew, I had Paolo and Kristiana...some might call them villains. I still love them and have a tremendous amount of empathy for them. I've never cared for simple villains.

One of the most valuable things I did for my writing/re-writing was to take several free workshops offered by Hal Croasmun's Screenwriting U.

Hal does these workshops via conference call. Just a warning, he says they are only an hour, but I have stayed on the phone 2-3 hours and never heard the end of the workshop. However, the lessons were extraordinary! I would have joined his Pro-group if I had been writing and marketing screenplays in a heartbeat!

On the re-write for a screenplay, I applied what was appropriate to my novel(s). Hal says that most people just work their way through their screenplay/novel and fix what doesn't read well.

What Hal suggests this: Take your top five characters and identify each ones top 5 characteristics. At least one of those characteristics should be an oddity.

In a screenplay each time that character speaks, it should demonstrate at least one of those characteristics.

Now, of course in a novel it is different. Still, I had my list (which truthfully I didn't require), and checked dialogue.

But the most valuable thing I did, on Hal's re-write/edit advice was to select the emotional peaks of my story and then ensure that those moments reflect that emotional peak.

On doing this, I discovered one of the most emotionally charged and critical points of my entire first novel had one paragraph!

I re-wrote it and it now is I believe four pages. I found several other places where the emotion had to be increased.

I know there were several other points that were important. But these cover the major points for creating my characters.The Sibylline OracleDelia J. Colvin
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Published on August 28, 2012 18:43 • 227 views • Tags: fantasy, historical-fiction, romance, suspense, trilogy, writing
I have a confession...I rated Emma, by Jane Austen five stars and never actually completed it. Shocking, I know! But I LOVE Jane Austen and I had seen the know the one with Gwyneth Paltrow. And I simply knew I would love the rest of the book!

I am not new to the publishing world. I am new to Indie publishing, in a very new world!

Recently...actually today...I discovered that it is quite easy for anyone to pay for a host of good reviews. Evidently they can be fairly pricey. So how do you know if reviewers are legitimate or not.

Truly, in the end, a book will sell because it was liked. But in the beginning it takes a lot of marketing to simply get it read.

After all, Susan Lucci made it to the final rounds on Dancing with the Stars and...I love her, but the woman is NOT a dancer. So there is a bit of a marketing/popularity issue going.

For me, I am fortunate that my husband is a marketing maniac! I followed the advice of a number of sites about marketing my book. And had some early fans that insisted on helping the book become known.

I had offers to publish my book with traditional publishing houses and after looking at what they offered and paid out, I chose the Indie route.

Someone once said, that the internet is the bathroom wall of the 21 century. And that appears to be true, especially since Bobrick transitioned to plastic laminates removing the opportunity to defame others behind those closed doors.

But how do you validate a challenge? You fill the void with information and facts! Here is what I discovered:

1) If a large percentage of reviewers were new to Good reads or Amazon, I would search to see if a percentage follow the author as a fan. A purchased review probably would not. I think I would expect to see at least 10%. Remember though, it may take a few weeks on a new site to build that fan base.

If the author and the reviews have been there for more than a month and are not at 10%, I would begin to suspect purchased reviews...or poor reviews.

2) I would check social media and discover if a percentage of the reviewers followed the author or book on Twitter, Facebook or other social media.

3) I would send the reviewer a message and ask them how they discovered the novel and perhaps even ask them if they had been paid to review the novel.

If at least 70% of the reviews follow the author or book and have legitimate responses, you have good reason to believe the reviews are legitimate.

Hope this helps sort out the gems from the chaff!
The Sibylline OracleDelia J. Colvin
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Published on August 31, 2012 18:39 • 434 views • Tags: delia-colvin, delia-j-colvin, reviews, the-sibylline-oracle, writing
I’ll admit it…I’m a twi-hard! And I am waiting with bated breath for the finale to the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn II.

I never thought I would be—I was certain my tastes were far more sophisticated and that just wasn’t my genre. But a few years ago l boarded a flight from SFO returning to my new “home” of Washington D.C. I perused the available movies to distract me over the six hour flight and finding nothing of interest decided to try downloading a book on my new Kindle app. Overwhelmed with choices and with only a few minutes to make such a crucial decision, I suddenly recalled my daughter’s insistence that I read Twilight.

My issues were many; it’s a KIDS story—and a vampire story, at that—a lastly and most importantly it was fiction! I had stopped reading fiction years before when I decided I needed to be more serious. At the time, I had delved deep into business and felt that giving up reading…and writing of fiction was a bit of a penance for the success I was experiencing.

Baring all reason, and noticing the flight attendants doing their preflight check, I quickly clicked the button and within minutes I was reading on my iPhone…and I was hooked! I fell in love with the author’s storytelling and her rich characters and a mood so thick it was palpable.

Beyond that, Twilight brought back wonderful memories of my childhood. I grew up under the drizzly misery of Seattle’s seemingly constant cloud cover wishing I could hibernate until the blue would break through…sometime in June. Once summer hit, my parents would pack all five kids up and we would head out with our tent for the Olympic Peninsula—near Forks.

I remember sitting in the tent with the rain pouring down on us, playing matchstick poker, while drinking my Orange Crush and munching on chips with French onion dip. There under the extraordinary canopy of old growth forest, the rain didn’t seem quite as oppressive. What a wonderful environment and it smelled heavenly! Besides the fire and food smells, I loved the rich combination of rain forest, ozone and canvas tent—still love that smell. Then I would begin watching with interest the puddle of rain on the canvas roof. I suppose it was a lack of discipline…or maybe the wonderment of childhood that forced me, despite constant warnings, to put aside reason and touch that canvas bubble of water, breaking the invisible seal and releasing the drips on me and into the tent. Still sometimes I noticed that if I didn’t flinch, it could actually be quite refreshing.

The next day the sun would always magically break through. After breakfast we would all run through the campground with its wonderful breakfast smells stepping barefoot over the soft dirt trails of the ancient forest with its million shades of green to the lake and splash into the comfortably cool lake, scaring the tiny fish and upsetting the nearby would-be fishermen.

When I read Twilight, I was transported to that place where the world seemed brighter. My reading that day turned into a two week marathon of all four books, and reminded me how much I love fiction. Oh, the hours of delight I have since spent with new books! The natural progression for me was to begin writing again and from there to the completion of my first novel…and then trilogy. Writing is the most joyful thing I do and to think of the years I pushed that passion aside brings tears to my eyes. I is so pleasurable that I sometimes feels irresponsible spending so much time engaged in it; like I have become undisciplined and again playing with that canvas bubble…knowing the drips will follow. But then I realize that this is what I was born to do. So to my thinking, Ms. Meyers gave me my life back!


NOTE: One of my greatest pleasures in life, besides writing, is hearing from you! I ALWAYS respond personally to my emails. So please take a minute to say hi and introduce yourself! You can send me a message on Goodreads or go to my website:
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