Meet the Voices: Lynn Squire

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This week, Meet the Voices features Lynn Squire. Lynn grew up on a farm in Southern Alberta where she spent her days playing a pioneer or a character from a book (and every so often succumbing to her parents’ work ethic). Her imagination would take her to faraway places and on grand adventures. But her greatest adventure began when the Lord Jesus Christ rescued her from a passage to destruction and became her captain for a voyage to a better shore. While she admits to occasionally straying from His intended course, her faith in Him infuses her writing.

Lynn now resides in California with her husband and three children, and she corrals her vivid imagination into short stories, novels, and creative nonfiction. This led to the creation of her book Best of Faith, Fiction, Fun, and Fanciful.

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What is the biggest writing challenge you’ve encountered this past year – craft, career, writing life, etc?

Perhaps the greatest challenge has been balance. While the kids were in school, I could write focused, but when summer vacation came I set my mind to enjoy my kids and keep family first. Writing for me requires an intense focus and the whole of my brain. While the kids are about, this level of focus has not been available.

How did you solve it?  (Through My Book Therapy or any other writing help)?

Part of the solution has been adaptation. I am working on the sequel to my historical novel set in 17th century Massachusetts. The sequel is set in Rhode Island during the latter part of the 17th century. Much of the summer, therefore, has been committed to researching and outlining.

To adapt, I cut back on extra writing, i.e. blogging less, fewer articles and short stories, etc. I also get up at 4:30 am for my devotionals and just carry on writing until the kids get up. We keep them up later at night so they sleep in and give me another hour of writing in the morning.

I’ve involved the kids in my research. My story has pirates, and we’ve all enjoyed getting to know a bit of pirate lore. The kids have watched videos with me on the area and the history, and every week, we make a trip to the library. They join in with the summer library activities, and I sneak in a little extra research.

I’m anxious to get into the serious writing of this novel, but getting the kids involved with my research has made that aspect of writing just that much more fun.

What is the one thing you learned that you can share with other writers?

I finished reading and making notes on The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler in June. Since then I have been taking time to compare his plotting structure with others (such as James Scott Bell’s, Susan’s Plotting Roadmap and Michael Hauge’s Six Stage Plot Structure). As a result, I am discovering the Hero’s Journey in almost every movie and story I encounter. This journey is something I wish I had learned years ago and would love to share it with others.

Tell us about your current WIP.

Josephine in Dawn over Narragansett Bay finds life with her former servant, now sister-in-law, unbearable. Add to this bitterness against the religious for the death of her husband and with her brother for suggesting she marry his apprentice, she finds plenty of reason to leave. The alluring Baron Pepys offers her a position at his home and she readily accepts. Unwittingly, she enters the world of piracy.

The charm of Baron Pepys wears off as Josephine sees his ill-treatment of his slaves and others. She befriends an Indian woman who reveals the true identity of Pepys and the demise of the real baron. Josephine also discovers he looted her brother’s shipping company, but the evidence points to her. Arrested, she waits to hang for the false baron’s crimes. Will the apprentice, whose hand in marriage she rejected, sacrifice his reputation and future in order to provide proof of her innocence?

Lynn, thanks for being our featured Voice this week. To learn more about Lynn and her writing, visit her website and her blog.

Visit the My Book Therapy forum and the Meet the Voices thread to talk with Lynn and discuss her writing. On Friday evening, My Book Therapy will host a chat at 7 pm EST, 6 pm CST with Lynn as our guest. To access the chat forum:

  • Log onto My Book Therapy.
  • Click on the forum button.
  • Sign in with your username and password, if necessary.
  • Along the bottom of your browser window, you will see MBT Voices Chat. Click on that and the chat window will pop up.
  • Your name will show up in the box on the right hand side. To comment, type in the box in the bottom under the yellow smiley face.
  • If you have any questions, send an e-mail to meetvoices@mybooktherapy.com and put Chat in the subject.

Meet the Voices: Cathy Bryant

Cathy BryantMeet the Voices introduces Cathy Bryant.

Cathy Bryant has written for years, but seriously began to pursue her dream of writing a book in June of 2008. She joined ACFW, studied writing how-to books, and in November of 2008, participated in NaNoWriMo and produced her first completed novel. She is a finalist in the contemporary romance category of the 2009 ACFW Genesis competition. She lives in East Texas with her husband of 28 years, and is a private music instructor and church organist.

What is the biggest writing challenge you’ve encountered this    past year – craft, career, writing life, etc.
The biggest challenge I’ve faced this past year is the monumental task of learning to self-edit. When I first started my writing journey, I truly believed the hardest part would be getting that lousy first draft down on paper. And while that was difficult (Yay, NaNoWriMo!), NOTHING could have prepared me for how tough it has been to edit my manuscript. I had no idea it would take me ten times longer to edit my story than it did to write the thing.

How did you solve it?
First, I read books on the craft of writing. I’ve read several how-to books, but the ones that helped me the most with self-editing were Self-Editing For Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King, and The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman.

Second, I found a critique partner and a critique group. It’s AMAZING how much you can learn from critiquing others’ work and having them critique your manuscript. My critique partner, Ralene Burke, writes in different genres than I do, but that hasn’t mattered. I also joined the ACFW Scribes group. The whole purpose of the large group is to find a small group, but for now, I’ve elected to stay in the big group because it’s more manageable for me time wise.

Third, I learned sooooooo much from Susan and Rachel by reading their work and editing suggestions on the Blog-A-Book posts from My Book Therapy. I can’t say enough about how helpful this was to me as a writer. Thanks, ladies!!!

Fourth, I’ve kept at it, sometimes putting in 14- and 15-hour days. I’ve had lots of difficult jobs (including teaching music to sixty Kindergarten students at a whack, and burning off baby turkey toes—ewwww), but writing is by far the most challenging work I’ve ever done. Who knew that something so physically passive could be so mind-numbingly exhausting?

What is the one thing you learned that you can share with other writers?
Only one? Well, if I can only choose one, I guess it would be to find another writer as a crit partner. Finding readers isn’t enough. Sure they can help you with grammar, punctuation and spelling. They can tell you if they like the story, or if you’re characters are believable. But they can’t show you craft of writing issues, because most likely, they haven’t studied the craft. And, I can’t help myself. I have to sneak another one in here: READ CURRENT FICTION RELEASES!

Tell us about your current WIP :
Steve Miller, mayor of Miller’s Creek, Texas, knows his home town is dying. He’s determined to do all he can to rebuild the town. When city girl, Dani Davis, moves to town, things get turned around in a way he never expects.

Dani is searching for a home. Alienated from her mother, and recovering from her husband’s infidelity and sudden death, she reaches out to her Aunt Beth. A visit to her aunt in Miller’s Creek is all it takes to convince her it’s the home she’s been looking for. Then Steve begins nosing around in her personal affairs, and she wonders if she’s made a huge mistake.

An anonymous donor provides funding for the renovation of the town, but will Steve’s suspicions of Dani hinder the work?  Will they be able to call a truce for a higher cause, or will an age-old secret destroy them both?

Cathy, thank you for sharing. To learn more about Cathy, visit her website. Head over to the Voices Forum and chat with Cathy in the Meet the Voices thread. Voices are invited to participate in a Meet the Voices chat on Friday evening at 6 PM CST, 7 PM EST, 5 PM PST with Cathy as our featured Voice.

Meet the Voices!

Did you know that the Club My Book Therapy Voices is 350+ strong?  Yep!  And we have a great time chatting about books and writing and how to get published. 

But, during this lull in Blog a Book, while Rachel and I write furiously on our current WIPs, we thought it would be a great time to find out more about the MBT Voices.  (Actually – one of our Voices suggested it – thank you to Lisa Jordan!)  So, check on Wednesday to meet the featured Voice of the week – and then join us on Friday night (7 EST, 6 CST, 5 PST) at the Voices Forum Chat room, to chat with our voice, and each other! 

Meet the Voices!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I loved this book. It took a little push to get into it because the opening is “soft” meaning the authors started at the “beginning.”

The story is also written in letter form, so the characters are telling the story in first person. Common tools authors use to show physical reaction  like “her heart raced” are not employed.

This is literary fiction. It follows no genre rules nor could careless that there’s a backlash in the publishing world against first person. Thank you chick lit. (I love first person, btw.)

The story doesn’t open with an explosive or even enticing hook. It’s simply an author writing to her publisher and friends about her life in London in the early days of ’46.

But then she gets a letter from a Guernsey Island reader who tells the beginning of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

And the occupation of their home island by the Germans during the war.

Now it’s getting good.

The story of the people, their bravery and in particular, the journey of one woman, Elizabeth, is heart rending. I loved this book for it’s writing, it’s people, it’s history and the reminder of how horrid evil can be when powered by the human soul.

There’s no “black moment” where the author, Juliet, has a life changing epiphany. No big climax. But yet the story is filled with richness.

In this case, the authors did have a goal, the characters had goals, and instead of creating great obstacles, the authors let them live and breath naturally.

There’s little internal verses external conflict. Yes, while the Germans were on the island there was lots of conflict. We meet the residence in the aftermath as they are healing and returning to life.

None of the characters do something they would never do. None of them question their core believes and go an opposite way.

None of the fiction tricks are used here. Just wonderful story telling with characters who engage the heart.

Brandilyn Collins and I were talking a few months ago and she said, “I’ve determined, it’s all about character.”

She’s right. And if you have great characters, you’ll have a great story.

Pick this book up. Savor it. And thank God for our freedoms.