Monday, January 7, 2008

So You Want to Write a Book

Yesterday was bright and sunny -- a day of possibility. Today is gray and overcast -- a day of possibility. Doesn't matter. If you are a writer, any day is a day of possibility. Especially here at the first of the year. Time to crack open the new calendar/planner. I love filling in the plans and appointments I already have for the coming year.

Look ahead with me to new classes to anticipate -- see: Calendar.

But I also like looking back at my old calendar, flipping through the pages and remembering all the events of the past year. Of course, I always wish I had done more, but for a short while, I savor the accomplishments.

Now, here it is the beginning of a new year and you want this to be the year you write your book. Here are ten beginning basics you must know. It is often a struggle to answer these questions, but answer them you must. Here is the first one: (Read to the end for a sweet reward.)

Is your book fiction or nonfiction? Not sure? Nonfiction is written about true events or people. Biography, autobiography, memoir, life story, how-to, history, essay are all nonfiction. For example, Angela’s Ashes is a nonfiction book Frank McCourt wrote about his life. Okay, you’re ahead of me here, aren’t you? Right. Fiction is invented. Novels are fiction. Gone With the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird are fiction. While they are both set in the south, in a certain time, the specific characters, specific setting, and specific events were invented by the authors.

Look at the books on your bookshelf -- or in my case, and probably yours, too -- bookshelf, end table, kitchen counter, bedside table, and floor. Which books are fiction, and which are nonfiction? Not sure? Check the back cover; sometimes it says there. Or check the placement in your public library. Ask a librarian. Ask a bookseller.

I know, this seems like a really, really basic question, but I have been surprised by the number of writers I work with who can't answer.

Now for the sweet reward: If you are going to be doing lots of writing this year, you and your family will still need to be fed and friends' birthdays celebrated; but you will want to do the food preparation fast. My friend, Judy, brought a delicious cake to a recent birthday gathering. Have you ever had Texas Sheet Cake? This cake tastes like it, but is so much quicker and easier. I plan to bake this for my gentleman friend's (husband, Tom) birthday this month. Here is the 3 ingredient recipe for chocolate cake:

Chocolate Applesauce Cake

1 box milk chocolate cake mix (Judy says this is a new flavor.)
3 eggs
16 oz. applesauce

Mix all well and bake in 9"x13" pan according to the box directions. Top with milk chocolate frosting from a can.