How I Stay Organized While Writing a Story – Written By Sharon K Connell

Whether you’re a traditionally published or an Indie author/writer, whether you are the type who outlines your entire book or write by the seat of your pants, or even if you’re somewhere in between, a writer needs to be organized. That organization may look like utter chaos to others, or your writing space may lean toward the OCD type personality. It does matter, as long as it works for you and helps you accomplish your goals in writing.

Throughout the writing of my now seven books, my writing space has always leaned more toward the chaotic look to others. But I do know where everything on my desk is at the moment it’s needed. Well, maybe not every time, but it doesn’t take me long to find something.

From the beginning of my writing career, I’ve been an Indie Author, and I write by the seat of my pants. No outline beforehand is needed. When I first start to write a story, I start with a 5 subject spiral notebook or a 3-ring binder. Each section is labeled for quick access.

 

The first section is designated for my characters profile. Each character, starting with my main character and then as they show up in the story, has their own page, which is numbered. On that page, I write down everything I know about the character, starting with their appearance. As the story progresses, each time I give a specific attribute to or detail about the character, I list it on the page.

At the top of the page, under the character’s full name, is noted hair color and texture, eyes, height, physique, etc. Later I might add the kind of car they drive, where they work, and even how they drink their coffee. In this way, if it comes up again, the character doesn’t change their appearance or habits. A list of the characters and the page where their information is found is on the front divider for that section.

The next section has what I call a “Running Outline” of the story.

In other words, I mark the chapter and scene in the margin and give a brief explanation of what’s happening in that scene. The day and time, if changed from the previous scene, is also noted.

While I’m creating the running outline, I jot down all special events on a calendar. For instance, if my character is celebrating Thanksgiving dinner in 2020 with a friend out of town, and a fire breaks out which is pertinent to the story, I notate it on the calendar. If an important character shows up for dinner the next day, I notate it on the calendar. In this way, I can see at a glance how many days have elapsed from that event to the next without having to reread all my notes.

It helps to keep your timeline straight.

Major ideas are jotted down in the last section. That also becomes my catchall for all ideas, changes, things I need to check, etc.

The other two sections are used for research notes and misc. like things to check before sending the ms to the editor.

At the end of the spiral, I work backward on the pages to make notes for a book launch, book trailer, etc. Extra tabs come in handy here.

From the picture of my desk above, you can see that I have many notes hanging on my desk. These are information notes I refer to all the time while writing, so I don’t have to keep looking things up in my many resource books.

Being an Indie Author, I don’t have to keep to a strict schedule like writing so many words per day. But I do keep myself on a loose schedule. I know I want to have a new book published during the summer, and something smaller (novella, short story collection, etc.) at the end of the year. But I don’t stress over it. Since I’ve fallen into a pattern of doing the stories this way for the past two years, it now comes naturally.

I hope I’ve given you an idea of how to organize your writing system. Most of you seasoned writers probably already have your own organizational method, but maybe this will help one or two of the newbies on the block. J

Best wishes on your writing journey.

 

Here are the links to my books in order of publication.

A Very Present Help http://amzn.to/2yuF4eE 

Paths of Righteousness http://www.amazon.com/dp/1732923701 

There Abideth Hope http://www.amazon.com/dp/173292371X 

His Perfect Love http://amzn.to/2iCMALI 

Icicles to Moonbeams (Novella) https://amzn.to/2OfcHYi

Treasure in a Field www.amazon.com/dp/1732923736

Sharon’s Shorts~A Multi-Genre Collection of Short Stories https://www.amazon.com/dp/1732923744

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/sharonkconnell

 

Here’s a comment or two about my writing to tempt you. J

“The author writes with a uniquely vivid and dramatic touch that keeps the reader engrossed in the narrative throughout. Her characters are strongly drawn, distinctly memorable, and wholly realistic. Her plot-lines are, in this writer’s experience, top-drawer in their nail-biting intensity.” From Author, Alan O’Reilly

“Connell knows exactly how to prime the reader for a knockout climax. She litters her scenes with genius, loaded details to heighten the tension. She increases the stakes with every page. Behind the humor and romance, she builds the danger until any little sound — elevator doors that open in the story and the phone that rings next to you on the side table — sends your heartbeat into a cardio workout.

“The edge of your seat may be frayed, but when your doctor remarks that your heart is healthy and robust, you’ll thank the suspense-induced cardio workout Connell gave.”~Andra Loy, ACFW Scribes member

Please take time to visit me on my website: www.authorsharonkconnell.com I’d love to hear from you.

 

My Interview In Sharon K. Connell’s Newsletter

This week I got Sharon K. Connell’s Newsletter where she published my interview. I’m very grateful for that interview and I love how she showed me and my books. Thank you very much, Sharon!

To subscribe to Sharon’s Newsletter click HERE


A. J. Alexander is a talented classical musician who has won several music contests in her youth. She is an accomplished skier and loves to swim, amongst other sports.

She works for a global corporation as a part of the management team and travels a lot, also internationally.

A.J. Alexander lives in Southern California with her three beautiful active and demanding cats. In her rare free time, she loves to meet friends or go for long nature walks.

A. J. learned reading and writing at the age of four and realized quite early in her education that she loves painting pictures with words. During her school time, she won poetry as well as short story contests. Later on, she participated in writing and poetry workshops to learn the craft. During her time at university, her education as a writer turned toward creative as well as journalistic writing. A. J. published several poems and short stories under a pen name.

Currently, she is working on ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series, her first book in the series, ‘Soul Taker’ was published December 15, 2018, the second book, ‘Sundance’ is on the market since August 2019 and the third book in the series will be published in spring 2020. Writing fantasy books has always been her dream, and she looks forward to sharing her work with her audience. The need to write a novel had been nesting in her head for quite some time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A.J. Alexander descends from an internationally extended, politically and entrepreneurially active family and was privileged to enjoy an excellent international education. In her spare time she volunteers for charity events, fights for animal rights and when needed serves as an interpreter to help great causes.

So now, let’s get into my interview.

What is the first book that made you cry?
Oh, I remember that day as it was yesterday. In the book, I read there was this beautiful, strong black stallion supporting our hero, and the horse died. I cried hot tears.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?
If it would exhaust me, I’d not be a writer.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?
The ‘need’ to become published as quickly as possible. Within that process, they just ‘leave out’ a few steps and don’t have a book at the end but some amateurish, poor result of a sloppy but fast project.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
In a way both. I am working on a book series, ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series. But I don’t want people to be ‘lost’ when they have the chance to buy book three in the series, I still want them to feel comfortable with the book and enjoy the read without the feeling of having missed something they should have read. I’d like each book to stand on its own as well as being part of the series. That’s my dream.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Start networking earlier.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
It did slow my process down since I had to take far more time for marketing now.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I think I was about ten years old when I realized how powerful words are. Ever since then I tried to use them wisely. As much as they hold – they also can kill.

Do you base your characters on real people?
Not entirely no. Some of my characters do have certain habits, speak in a particular manner of people I know or resemble them a bit. But my characters are fictional and that’s how I like it.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Six. Book 4 to 8 and an additional few stories in the series are either with the copyright lawyer, with the editor, I’m still working on them or are waiting until I pick up my work on them.

How many hours a day do you write?
That depends on what else I do. I cannot live off writing – I do have a job.

What did you edit out of your most recent work?
That was a part I like very much while I drafted the book. But during my work to type the draft into the computer, re-reading that paragraph, it just seems enormously awkward and does not really belong there anymore. I therefore deleted the entire paragraph.

Boy, have I been there, AJ. And it just kills you to have to do surgery on something that sounded so good when you write it, too.

How do you select the names of your characters?
First I pick names that I think match the character’s look. I search for them online, important to me is normally the meaning of the name and the origin. If I find the first names I like, normally I pick about 12 to 15 names, then I start doing the very same thing with the last names. After that, I start limiting the lists to the six or seven I like the most. I list the first names on the left, the last names on the right side, then I ‘connect’ the names that sound the best to me and combine the perfect meaning for my character. And that will be the name.

What are you working on now?
Currently, I work on ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series and usually I work on several books at once. For example, I type in the drafted book seven right now – to the same time I write additional stories and book 8.

Who is your favorite author?
There are so many talented authors, it is very hard to pick one.

What is your all-time favorite novel?
Shogun

In what genre do you write?
Young Adult Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

AJ, I’d like to thank you for being a part of my newsletter this month. I know my readers have enjoyed getting to know a little more about you.

Readers, if you’d like to contact AJ about her books, writing, or to find out even more about her, check out her links below.

Contact Links:

https://m.facebook.com/AuthorAJAlexander/
http://www.aurorajeanalexander.com/
https://www.instagram.com/aurorajeanalexander/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/aurorajeanalexander/
https://mobile.twitter.com/AuroraJean_A
https://www.tumblr.com/blog/authorajalexander
https://www.pinterest.com/authorauroraj/
https://www.amazon.com/A.-J.-Alexander/e/B07KVQCHVZ
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/AJAlex
https://www.bookbub.com/authors/a-j-alexander-1051e4da-dbd9-4505-9423-a3a7bf9c88dc
aurorajean.alexander@aol.com

Books Links:
Link Soul Taker https://books2read.com/u/m2roOj
Link Sundance https://books2read.com/u/mgGGeX

Subscribe to A. J.’s Newsletter:

http://eepurl.com/bIOy-n

Featured Author – Interview – The return of Sharon K Connell

back-book-cover-hplWelcome back! 

You were a guest on ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’ before, where we learned about writing in your life and your projects. 

Let’s see what you can tell us today: 

 

  1. Are you still writing in the same genre as you did before, and if not, why did you switch – or would you ever think to change genres? 

Christian Romance Suspense is still my genre, although I’ve decided to add a bit more mystery to my story in His Perfect Love, just released. I’ve also started a many themed collection of short stories that I will be publishing when I have enough of them. At some point in my writing career, I’d love to write an Historical Romance set in Ireland. I may try that after I finish with my current projects.

 

  1. Please, tell us a little about your writing process. 

This is the system that I came up with and developed through the writing of my last book:

  1. Come up with an idea for a story, decide what characters will be needed, the setting for the story, where I want my story to go and end, and what kind of a climax I will need.
  2. Start Chapter One in the computer, and get out a spiral notebook to keep next to me. As I finish each scene, I keep a short description of it in my notebook under chapter and scene headings (C1-A, C1-B, and so on). I don’t worry about my spelling or grammar, unless something obvious glares at me.
  3. After my first draft of the story is complete, I begin the self-editing process where I read the story and see what needs to be changed, moved, etc. With my last book, I used the index card system through this process. That way, when I needed to move a scene to another point in the story, it was easy to renumber the index card and move it as I cut and paste the scene in the computer.
  4. After a 1st self-edit, I read the story aloud to myself or use the translation feature on my computer (if I don’t feel like hearing myself speak). This catches many little problems.
  5. Then, I send one chapter at a time to my critique group in American Christian Fiction Writers and scrutinize every critique I get from the “Scribes.”
  6. I make my changes and then reread that chapter.
  7. After that, I send the chapter to my proofreader.
  8. When I’ve finished this process all the way through the last chapter of my story, I send it to the editor.
  9. When she sends it back to me with her first round of edits, we go through the last process of reading, making/accepting changes, and resubmitting it to her until the writing is as I think it should be.
  10. That’s when it is submitted to be published.

There’s still a proof to go through, but for the most part, that’s the whole of it. 

 

  1. What is important to know for young, new authors and writers? 

Never give up. If you think you have a story in you, write it. Never mind what others say, unless it’s in the form of encouragement. Also, take some classes in writing. You won’t be sorry. There are so many offered free now online that you can complete at your own pace, there’s no excuse not to. 

 

  1. Your experience in the writing world, do you think it has already taken you where you wanted to go?

Yes, I am content where I am today as an author. Yet, I will still keep working at furthering my writing career. I still have a lot to learn.

 

  1. In your opinion, are you a writer or an author – and what is the difference for you? 

I am both a writer and an author. A writer is someone who writes, period. Whether they’ve been published or not is beside the point. A writer writes stories, poems, news articles, periodicals, etc. 

An author, on the other hand, is someone who has had something published. They authored a written piece for others to read.

 

  1. Please, tell us about your projects again. Was there progress since the last interview or are there even completely new projects? 

Since my interview by you in June of 2015, I feel that I’ve come a long way in my writing career. During that interview, I had started writing my last novel, His Perfect Love. It was just about then that I decided to change my writing style into deep point of view. I began the writing process for that book all over again and finally published it in December 2016.

Now I’m in the process of rewriting my first three novels into my new writing style, which to me is so much better than what I had been doing. Those who read my first three novels said the stories were very good, and they enjoyed them. That’s why I decided redoing them would be worth the time. It will probably take me an entire year to finish all three books, but I know my readers will be happier with them. After I accomplish this, I’ll begin my fifth novel, of which I already have the plot, setting, and characters in mind. 

 

Thank you for being my guest. It was such a pleasure to have you here!! 

As always, Aurora. It is a privilege to be interviewed by you regarding my writing career and novels. God bless you.

 


  Sharon Connells’ current novel: 

his-perfect-love-9x6-print-11-28-16-final-jpg-copy            

Here is the link to my book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/His-Perfect-Love-Sharon-Connell/dp/1505782139/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1480876539&sr=1-1

 

And here is the link to my book video for His Perfect Love: https://youtu.be/e3tRr6mLzZk 

 


Readers can contact Sharon K. Connell:

 

Sharon’s new Website: http://www.sharonkconnell.com/

I will be starting a newsletter in January, sent to subscribers once a month, so please keep checking the site for the subscribe button. I’d also be pleased if anyone would like to give me their email address so I can include them in the initial subscription. Be a “Chapter Subscriber.” 

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/sharonkconnell 

Author’s book page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/averypresenthelpbook1 

Group Forum on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/writersandauthorsforum/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SharonKConnell 

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/sharonkconnell 

Blogging on WordPress: https://sharonkconnell.wordpress.com/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/SharonKConnell 

Blogging on Niume: https://niume.com/pages/profile/?userID=52569


 

Author Spotlight – Sharon K. Connell

Welcome!

 

Please introduce yourself.  

My name is Sharon K. Connell, author of A Very Present Help, Paths of Righteousness, There Abideth Hope, and soon to be published His Perfect Love.

 

  1. When did you start writing? 

The first time I sat down to begin writing a story was about seven years ago, sometime in 2008. 

 

  1. What motivates you to write? 

The first thing that motivated me to write was my friend, Alan J. O’Reilly, author of Sound of Battle and Desired Haven. We had known each other for years and every time I would recount something I had gone through, he would tell me, “You need to write that in a book.” When I went through Hurricane Ivan, while living in Pensacola, Florida, I told him about the experience. Again, he told me that I should be writing and use those experiences in a story. This time, I took him up on the idea. However, I did not write about the Hurricane. I started to, but for some reason a romantic setting and situation came to mind instead. I began writing down my thoughts and suddenly, I had a story.

Today, the motivation comes about the same way. An idea pops into my mind and I start forming ideas about it. Usually, strange as it may seem, the hook comes to mind first (for anyone reading this and not being familiar with that word in writing, it is the first part of the story that you write to grab the reader, to make him or her want to read on and find out what happens next). That did not happen on my first published book (which is actually the second story I wrote) but it has happened with each of the others. 

 

  1. What genre do you write in and what made you chose this particular genre? 

My genre is actually a combination of three, Christian Romance Drama. I am a Christian Romance writer but my stories include a lot of Drama and this last one (yet to be published) has some Mystery mixed in. I chose the Christian Romance because I am a Christian who loves to read a good love story… a good, clean love story. I also like drama, a good laugh (my stories always have some fun parts to them) and mystery. 

 

  1. What is your goal in writing? Do you have dreams where your writing should take you? 

Currently, my goal is to get my fourth novel finished, then to get it published, and then tackle the re-editing of my first three novels, to publish a 2nd edition on each. (The first three novels were written before I knew a lot about writing and editing—not that I know a whole lot about it now. The stories are good but the writing itself needs some cleaning up.) My long-term goal is to write as long as God gives me the talent and energy to do so, and to be the best writer I can be for His Honor and Glory. My long-term dreams are for my books to be on a best-seller list, and I intend to work hard for that. 

 

  1. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if yes, how do you deal with it? 

So far, I have been fortunate enough not to have this problem. Once I start a story, it simply flows out of me. Sometimes I might get stuck with “how am I going to justify that happening,” but even then, I do not get stuck long. I have heard other writers talk about this, and most agree that walking away from it is the best thing to do for a while. When they get back to it, usually they have some fresh ideas.   I think that this is what I would do. It worked well when I was employed in the clerical/medical field. It should work for writing as well. 

 

  1. What advice would you like to give new, hopeful authors? 

I think the best advice for me to give to a “new, hopeful author” would be to “Do it!” I have heard this more than once, having been given that advice by Alan so long ago. Even if you do not think you can, but you have had the desire to or thought about writing something, go ahead and give it a try. You will find out quick enough if it is what you should be doing, I believe. Do not let others discourage you. When I first started, Alan was my only encouragement. Once I had written several chapters to a story and had a couple of people at my church read what I wrote, I got further encouragement. Now I get encouragement from all kinds of places. DO IT!

 

  1. Please, tell us about your work.  

As I mentioned in my introduction, I have written three novels.

A Very Present Help is filled with romance and danger, suspense, and betrayal. A young teacher’s childhood sweetheart, a Marine serving in Afghanistan, breaks off their long engagement because he has fallen in love with a female Marine whom he was instrumental in rescuing from insurgents. The teacher’s faith is tested almost to the limit when a man whom she has just recently met begins stalking her. Added to these problems, the teacher cannot get her mind off another Marine she only met once shortly after becoming engaged, someone she thinks she will never see again. Events weave a tapestry with the lives of all these people.

Paths of Righteousness is the first story I wrote but was put on the back burner until I published A Very Present Help. This story is about a beautiful young woman working as an Office Manager in a Family Practice Clinic and a strikingly handsome but somewhat arrogant doctor who comes to work there. The antagonist in this story is a former co-worker of the heroine from another office who has vowed revenge on her because she rejected his advances. Lots of misunderstandings and assumptions cause problems galore. It may even remind you a bit of the feelings you get reading Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen…”will they or won’t they ever get together???” Oh yes, there is also another man in the heroine’s life who adds more complication and causes a lot of confusion to our girl until she has a crisis.

There Abideth Hope is about a former Navy nurse who decides to stay in Pensacola, Florida, when her enlistment ends, getting a job at the local hospital. While in college, before initially enlisting, she had been an eyewitness to the murder of one of her professors. The murderer winds up in Pensacola and the problems start when he recognizes her. An attempted murder at the hospital where she is employed takes place on her floor. A storm is brewing in the Gulf of Mexico while the nurse and the man she is falling in love with get involved trying to help some teen victims of the man who got away with murder in her past. Human trafficking, rave parties, drugs, and total disregard for life itself cause havoc in their lives. Their faith is tested to the breaking point.

My newest story, His Perfect Love is about one of the characters who has shown up as a “bad girl” in previous stories. She is tired of her past life. But does she really want to change? God begins working in her life by throwing obstacles in her path. One of the men from her past, a very nasty type, has sent someone to get rid of her because of the information she may have about his illegal business affairs. Whom does she trust? She is not sure she can trust any of her three current love interests, her new fiancé, the wealthy businessman she is secretly dating, or the electronics engineer who comes to her office to work on their system and flirts unashamedly with her. One of them is an FBI agent, one is a killer and one is just a normal sweet guy, but who is who? She decides to run. Will she succeed in changing and will she ever have a normal life?

This last book is still in the editing phase, hopefully to be published later this year.

 

Thank you for being my guest. It was such a pleasure to have you here!! 

Thank you for the opportunity of presenting my work and myself.

 

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My links:

 Sharon_K_Connell_1

Website: https://sites.google.com/site/rosecastleplace

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sharonkconnell

Facebook Page: sharonk.connell@facebook.com

Author’s book page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/averypresenthelpbook1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SharonKConnell

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/sharonkconnell

Group Forum on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/writersandauthorsforum/

 

And for my book videos:

 

A Very Present Help by SharonKConnell http://youtu.be/aRGooJjxaHUSharon_K_Connell3

 

 

 

 

Paths of Righteousness by SharonKConnell http://youtu.be/w2JkmYqhFyESharon_K_Connell2

 

 

 

 

There Abideth Hope by SharonKConnell http://youtu.be/16G7IZaZB9YSharon_K_Connell4