Archive for Writing Process

Title This Book!

I am having the hardest time coming up with a title for this book.

The body of the book is all done now! And I just went and re-checked and plotted new GPS coordinates as well. I am finishing up collaborations with my illustrator for the cover – most of the interior images are completed!!! We’re in the home stretch and I still don’t have a title that I like.

I’ve been calling it Discovering Magic. I feel it’s just too obvious and not interesting. I have a couple of portals and interesting places in the book that I might refer to, but that also need proper names!

To give you an idea of what these proper names could be I’ll tell you that there are fantasy creatures from Shakespeare, and also general fantasy legend. There are great old talking trees, and also some creatures that are not so nice. :) There are portals and many other lands, and the worlds are kind of split into a dichotomy of fairytale creature lands and our (human/mundane) world.

So in the same way you fill in mad-libs with parts of speech I would like to see what you guys can come up with!

I would like to generate a massive list of proper fantasy names for trees or rocks or portals or lands as possible. And also a massive list of fantasy adjectives that could be paired up with the proper nouns. Please leave as many as you like in the comments below.

Thanks in advance for your help with this writer’s block!

Sara Murray

A New Way to Develop Characters

During the last third of the book, Discovering Magic, I introduce a new character. This character was pretty flat so I attempted to give them some more personality. But I did it in a really superficial way and it was not working. I kept thinking about this character and what I could do with him to make him come to life. A few days passed and I decided to devote a notebook to character development!

I opened to the fresh front page and put the character’s name at the top. I then delved headlong into describing him. Everything about him. How he looked, how he dressed, how he did his hair, his thoughts on certain things, his parents, his hobbies, his likes and dislikes, his friends EVERYTHING! Everything and anything I could think of I wrote down. When I was done I had a real sense of who this person was.

When I went back to my writing I knew *exactly* what to do to make him come to life. It worked out perfectly. I almost feel like I had to get to know him better in order to know what he would say, or how he would act!

I have done this with several other characters and I love the result. You really end up with a three-dimensional, very real person by taking the time to do this.

Just thought I would share!


Writing Mega Update

So many projects, so little time…

Dream! – The ultra-short trilogy that I started last summer – will be concluding very shortly. I know how the story ends, I know where Dream ends up and I can easily get the coords to complete it. This story starts in Minnesota, goes to Seattle WA, and ends up in Beverly Hills CA. So many people will get a chance to see what is all about.

Lem’s Cross Country Time Travel Adventure – The serial story I started last summer – I need to dedicate some time to this story. It has so many cool parts to it, and it actually follows a road trip that I took from Los Angeles, CA to Burnsville, MN last fall. It was quite an adventure and I can’t wait to share it with you all via Lem! I am going to attempt to put out 1 volume per week and maybe that will get things rolling again.

Discovering Magic – the first full length geocaching book – Here’s the scoop, I had it “finished,” I was editing it with Matthew Karner, We got to the last 2-3 chapters and I realized that I had suffered from a serious case of horrible writing for the remainder of the book. It was a horrifying discovery! We finished the editing even though I knew I was probably just going to send those pages to a fiery death. I then spent 2 nights overhauling the entire last 3rd of the book. I love what happened, but the state that it is in right now is printed pages with scribbles and writing all over them and numbered events. The next step is to sit down and actually write it all out, and hope I’m not hit with another case of horrible writing!

The other thing is that I started reading it to my writing circle, and I have subtle but pervasive edits to make throughout the whole book now. They are really great notes and changes, and I am excited about the direction it’s going, but I am starting from the beginning AGAIN!

I just want this book to be great. I want it to stand on it’s own and be super interesting to my readers. I want it to be good whether you can go look for the coordinates or not. I am so excited for the over-arching story as well. I have some great mythology that I am excited to share and reveal to you all!!

So here’s the strategy: Write for at least one hour or more per day (I have a day job and 2 kiddos to look after as well, so we’ll see how this goes), complete one serial of Lem’s story per week, and just finish Dream already!! Finish it!

Thanks for reading everyone.


The Writing Continues

Hey everyone, I thought I would take a moment to update you on the progress of the book.

My real job has taken serious priority in the last two months, as well as Christmas and all that chaos and fun! :) Every time I email my illustrator to tell him, “Okay! Let’s make the push and finish this book! I’m going to have some free time and I am just about done,” a new project comes in from a client and I am swamped again!

Also – there’s nothing quite like going through the editing process and discovering that you seriously missed the point on the last chapter… or two… Slightly humbling to realize there is no good conclusion, no exciting cliff hanger, shallow character interaction and no colorful descriptions of anything at all!!!!!

I had to go hide for a while after realizing I would need to re-write all of that. The book was not finished at all.

I have everything fixed now, and I will be writing a completely new ending. I am very happy about where this experience took the book, it’s a drastic improvement.

So – about 1.5 chapters left to write and edit. Illustrations to finish up and cover art to complete. SO CLOSE, I can taste it!

Even though this first full-length book is not completed yet, there are free short stories available! Some of them have to do with the mythology of this current book/series, and there is a separate series about time-traveling tortoises! Sign up on the home page to get notifications about the books and free short stories.

Thanks for stopping by!


Seattle Tomorrow!

I can’t believe that in a few short hours my mom, daughter, and I will be on a plane to Seattle, WA for the National Geocaching Day Block Party!

There are so many unknowns and so much out of my control that I am having a very hard time thinking realistically about this! I can’t picture it in my mind because I’ve never been there so it seems very surreal.

I have secured a booth spot in the vendor section. We will be booth number 8, and that is all I know about it. We are vendor booth #8. Amy Faulkner has been super helpful about getting us there, suggesting somewhere to rent a tent and also lodging. Thank you Amy!

We will “load in” Saturday morning. This means that I will roll my suitcase filled with branded key-chains, postcards, signage and other various booth things to booth #8, and hope and pray that our tent guy is there with some more guys to set our tent up for us. (I went with this company because they will set it up for us.) I have a receipt that says we paid for it, and I have spoken with “Jim” on the phone a few times. But that’s it. So! We hope for the best.

I have also written Dream 2, the second of three ultra short stories for this event. When we arrive tomorrow we will be heading straight for a park nearby (there are three in the area) to get GPS coordinates added to the story. I am actually just about to edit this story with my awesome editor, Matthew Karner, within minutes!

I hope the hotel we are at has printing or our next destination will be Kinkos to print off a bunch of these stories so people can go explore a park in Seattle and experience a geocache story while they are here this weekend.

If you’d like to download a copy of Dream and/or Dream 2 please sign up on the home page, or stop by our booth. I promise I will not share your information with anyone, and I won’t send you spam!

So! Come what may tomorrow we will be in Seattle getting GPS coordinates, printing stories and settling into our hotel. Saturday you can find us at vendor booth #8, or venturing around Groundspeak headquarters – look for the girls wearing “Fiction + Coordinates =” T-shirts!

I can’t wait to see the videos that fellow geocachers created for the first ever Geocaching International Film Festival!

And Sunday we sleep in! :)

Wish us luck! We are going on a great adventure. We hope to see you all there and please come talk to us – we’d love to meet you!

Geocaching Book Ideas

Obviously my first drive for geocachebooks is to create children’s literature and combine it with regular geocaching.

However, I have several other ideas for different books that could be done in this way! Eventually I intend to write for different audiences and use different types of geocaches to bring them to life.

I want to explore adult fiction and really get into the audience of adventure seekers out there that go to great lengths to get those super hard geocaches.

I also want to explore other types of geocaches and use them for different types of books. The three types of geocaches that come to mind to use are night caching, snow caching, and dive caching! Or possibly all three in a mega adventure book!

The wheels just keep on turning!

Geocaching Book Beta Testing

So the first book is completed to the point where I am going to have close friends and family start testing the coordinates!

I tried to get a bunch of people together the other day for a cookout at the park where the first geocaching book is set, but we got rained out. I was very disappointed. We’re going to try for a later date and see if people can actually program their GPS units and get to the places in the book.

I can’t wait for everyone to see how these books work and find the places where important things happen. I really want to watch some kids do it with their parents and see if they are as excited as my daughter was when she realized that our made up stories actually took place in a real park.

Just another step in this amazing process of publishing, and breaking ground for a new genre of books.

Geocaching Book Publishing Options

My original idea was to publish these books myself using Create Space. I am still probably going to go that rout, but I have also been giving some thought to getting picked up by a publisher.

There are pros and cons to both avenues.

If I self publish I retain more control over the process, which I like. However, I just saw another children’s literature author get picked up after his third book and they re-did all of his cover illustrations. I am not sure how I would feel about that because I have pretty close ties with the artist, Travis Eastwood, I am using for my illustrations.

If I self publish I maintain more control over where the books are going to be taking place. I wonder where a publisher would have me go or if they would want to control that aspect of these books. Right now my plan is to finish this first geocaching book which is set in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, and then start the second book which will take place in Los Angeles, California.

I also don’t want it to take forever to publish. I have heard of books that have been completed for months or even years still waiting in the queue with the publisher. That would be very frustrating for me.

On the other hand, my dream and vision is to get paid to go around the country or even the world visiting cool parks and writing stories for them. In order to do that I will probably need some financial backing, a traditional publisher could offer that.

It also appeals to me to have some kind of contract with a publisher for a set number of books. A favorite author of my kids’, Mary Pope Osborne, has written many many books and I definitely intend to be prolific if people like these books. I imagine a traditional publisher would expect me to keep churning out books year after year, and hit all the major U.S. markets and popular parks. That type of pressure will keep me focused and working.

There are so many things to consider!

There’s also the matter of a literary agent. Aside from a publisher, someone who can negotiate with a publisher better than I would be able to. Someone to go to bat for me. But also that would mean someone getting a cut of the profits as well…

If you have any thoughts on all of this I would love it if you would share them in the comments below.

Discovering Magic Geocaching Book Illustrations

It is truly an amazing thing to make up a unique world in your mind and bring it to life on the page. It’s a whole other thing entirely to have an artist read your book and come up with illustrations for it!

Writers spend most of their working alone. Once they get closer to publishing they start to branch out and need other people to help them with editing and illustrations. It’s a scary thing sometimes but so rewarding.

I want to share with you a few of the concept sketches that were created by the artist I am working with, Travis Eastwood, for my first geocaching book. It’s pretty amazing to see something come into the real world like this. Travis can be found on Face Book here:

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Geocaching Book 1 illustrations

Geocaching Book 1 illustrations

Geocaching Book 1 illustrations

Audio Recorded!

I’m working hard on our short film submission for the National Geocaching Day Film Festival! Today I’m going to make the skeleton video so we can drop in our clips, and I just recorded the audio!

The song I’m going to be using is very special to my kids and I. I made it up one night while we were playing around. Madison was probably 4 and Tristan could barely walk at 1 years old. I started it off really slow and soft and Madison danced around like a little ballerina, and then gradually I changed the tempo and strumming pattern and it got faster and faster until she was jumping around the room like a maniac! Then back to slow again.

Whenever I play that song or even part of it to this day she recognizes it and remembers that night. If we get to hear it while we watch our short film played in Seattle it will be very magical for us!

I am hoping to submit the film this Sunday. We have a little more video to shoot, but we should be able to get it in by then. The deadline is July 7th! I want to have enough time to make any corrections that Groundspeak might have for us so I gotta get it in!

If you haven’t signed up for our email list yet go do it! I have my first short (ultra short) story available for those who sign up, and another short story is in the works and should be out within a month or so!