Picture Pick FriYAY: Yosemite, California

 

Yosemite

Sonora Pass

Yosemite

Our little RV resting it’s brakes

Yosemite

Sonora Pass – second highest pass in the Sierra Nevada range. Tioga Pass takes the lead.

Yosemite

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite

Yosemite

Yosemite

Me.

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Tyrolean traverse above Yosemite falls.

Yosemite

Yosemite

High above the valley floor.

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Time to hurry down. Carrying metal climbing gear high on a rock with approaching lightning is a situation that needs to be mitigated.

-Miles

Don’t Trash That Novel

If you are struggling with your manuscript and you need someone to ask you questions that challenge and stretch your novel to the max, then you should read “The Breakout Novelist: How To Craft Novels That Stand Out And Sell” by Donald Maass.

Here is my experience:

A lot was missing in my novel when I wrote the first draft. I expected the first, second, and third drafts to be rough, but I was getting frustrated because I didn’t know how to shape my story. I needed help, but I didn’t want to hand off a first draft for review. I felt like a protective mama bear guarding her little newborn cub.

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I also felt helpless and that I failed as a writer. I was ready to trash my novel.

Another writer suggested that I read “The Breakout Novelist” (TBN). He said, “Maass’ book is THE writing book to read if you are writing a novel.”

I took his advice and read TBN. It really is the best tool I have used to develop my story.

The Breakout Novelist

The problem with my first draft was that it was shallow. TBN asked probing questions about premise, stakes, characters, plot, theme, and so much more. I’ve been able to add depth to every aspect of my novel. My second draft has substance and a clear understanding as to what my novel is about. Every character has substance and aren’t just “filler” characters.

TBN has taken me a very long time to read, but purely by choice. I applied every point Maass made to my story. I didn’t ignore a single suggestion because I could clearly see how each one stretched and shaped my novel into something better. Maass also provided exercises to help the writer apply these concepts to their manuscript.

I’m glad I wrote the first draft blindly. There was something very holistic in writing from my heart with no other voice chiming in, but then I was stuck. My mental wall was growing taller every day and I’m so grateful that I found TBN when I did. It truly saved my sanity and my novel. I had to share this helpful tool in case someone else needed guidance.

Happy writing,

Rachel McKee

 

Title Reveal

I finally have a working title for my manuscript. Up to this point, I have been lovingly calling my second child “A Book Has No Name” or “The Book Who Shall Not Be Named”.

So today I am excited to tell you that my manuscript is called, “Not By Blood”.

I shared with you in my 100 followers video, that my two protagonists are cousins, well, step cousins who fall in love. Throughout the story they are quick to point out that they are cousins but not by blood. My female protagonist is also quick to point out that her abusive adoptive father is not her biological dad. There is a theme of distancing oneself from relations. Family ties get cut and re-strung throughout the novel. Brian (my male protagonist) obviously wants to clarify that Emma (the female protagonist) is not his biological cousin because he is attracted to her. His denial is more than the “ick” factor of incest. His prominent upbringing clashes with the impoverished way his uncle (Emma’s adoptive father) and her family lives. He goes from living in a timber frame mansion in Alaska to a dilapidated shack in Washington State. He experiences social class shock from the first chapter. He really doesn’t want to claim any of these poor relations as his own.

Emma also wants to clarify that she is not blood related to Brian because she is strongly attracted to him. As I mentioned before, she also wants to remember that her abusive father is not a blood relation, this helps her to mentally cope with the abuse. Emma loves her biological mother, but also abhors her. She is condescending to her mother and is angry with her for marrying such a terrible man and for running and hiding from the domestic abuse by overusing prescription medication. Her strongest sense of family is with her best friend’s family who have supported her dreams and taken an interest in her well-being.

While writing this novel and my characters I realize that by dissecting this family, I am trying to discover what family relationships mean. Is blood thicker than water in only the tangible sense? How are the relationships we form by freewill different from the relationships we are born into?

-Rachel McKee

COVER IMAGE PROVIDED BY MILESMCKEEPHOTOGRAPHY

 

Saturday Vibes

Today my husband gave me the precious gift of writing time. I can hear my boys playing outside and having a blast. I’m glad they are having fun, and I’m also ecstatic to get uninterrupted time with the computer.

I’m sipping on a tea called “Breakfast in Paris”. (A city I have never seen but long to visit.) Apparently “la Ville Lumière” tastes like Earl Grey and lavender. It’s quite pleasant. I’m stuffing my face nibbling lemon cream-filled cookies and editing my first draft.

I’ve been hovering around 35k thousand words on my YA manuscript. I’ve deleted thousands of words,  but I’ve also added quite a bit of dialogue. I love re-writing. I see things more clearly the second go around.

I’m excited to say that I finally have a working title for my manuscript. Up to this point, I’ve lovingly calling my second child “A Book Has No Name” or “The Book Who Shall Not Be Named”. I’ll share the title and why I chose it on Monday.

As I mentioned in a post earlier this week, I started a #bookstagram account on Instagram. The username is Illuminated_Literation. I took a few picture for that this morning. I haven’t posted them to the #bookstagram account yet. Here is a sneak peak. Contain yourself.

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Keke says, “Hi Illuminated Literation friends.”

Do you remember my review for the YA novel Black Ice by Becca Fitspatrick? If not, you can find it here. Seriously, it was such a page-turner.

Back to novel writing.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Cheers,

Rachel McKee

 

Picture Pick FriYay: Fall Fever

“This year is growing old gracefully…just like a stately old lady who knows she can be charming even with gray hair and wrinkles. We’ve had lovely days and delicious twilights.”

-Anne of Avonlea L.M. Montgomery

 

Methow Valley, Washington Fall

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Methow Valley, Washington Fall

-Rachel & Miles McKee

 

 

Illuminated Literation Is On Instagram

After seven years of being with a photographer, I’m finally learning photography. I’ve been hesitant because my husbands camera is so much more complex than a point and shoot, not to mention the post production process and using Lightroom (an editing program). I don’t think I give enough kudos to Miles and the other photographers that I follow. (You guys rock!)

My Illuminated Literation Instagram account is  what the hip kids call a #bookstagram account. All of my pictures so far are focused on books. If you would like to learn more about #bookstagram visit the blog Paper Fury and read How To Fabulously Get Started on #Bookstagram.

If you would like to follow me, and watch me hone my photography skills, my Instagram account is called Illuminted_Literation. (If you click the hyperlink it will take you to the account.)

If you do follow, and you also have a public account for your blog or any other interest, please comment on one of my pictures and let me know so I can follow you back.

I (hesitantly) would like share a few of my photos that I have posted thus far. No laughing. I realize you are used to seeing Miles’ pictures on Illuminated Literation and in full disclosure he took the cover image for this post. (I’m not that good with a selfie stick. Although, I guess a real photographer would use a tripod.)

Aesop's Fables

Grimm Maurice Sendak

Grimm Maurice Sendak

When I began my #bookstagram account I thought it would be filled with pictures from my YA collection, but so far most of my photographs are illustrated children’s books. I use the term “children’s” books very generically here because Mama doesn’t share these books with Little Destructo.

Again, if you would like to follow Illuminated Literation the #bookstagram account is Illuminated_Literation.

Cheers to new hobbies.

Rachel McKee

My Loyal Friend

“Let’s go boy!”

Rising shakily until you are up on all paws, you hobble to the top of the stairs. Your front paws descend the first step, but your eyes beg for me to do the rest.

I lift your sixty pounds, bending at the knees to save my back.

Leaning against my chest, you shake because you fear the pain of being set down.

I place you in front of the door, you need go no further, the sun is waiting for you on the porch. I run my hands over your glossy black coat and words of love cram in my throat.

I bury my face in your neck. Remembering everything I will miss about you one day when you are gone. How you kiss my tears when motherhood is overwhelming, and the way you lean on me when I need support.

My heart breaks because I snap at you, more than you deserve. My patience level is low, and most of it goes to the toddler.

You were so tolerant when our son arrived.

You gently remind us when we forget your dinner or breakfastthe cat is not so subtle.

I whisper, “I’m sorry.”

Looking up at me and smiling into the sun as if to say, “Being sad is a waste of this day.” I realize dogs don’t want apologies for the past nor promises for the future. They just want to share the moment with you.

 

 

 

Author Cecily Wolfe Responds To “Why Young-Adult Fiction Is A Dangerous Fantasy”

I was going though my reader feed when I noticed a new post by the fabulous blog SugarQuills. In the post, author Cecily Wolfe gives her opinion on the article “Why Young-Adult Fiction Is A Dangerous Fantasy” written by Joe Nutt.

I’m sharing it with you because it was so good. I must say I am team Wolfe.

Click on the image below to read the full article on SugarQuills.

Have a wonderful Saturday.

Love & Cheers,

Rachel McKee

Picture Pick FriYAY: Indian Creek, Utah

Miles captured these photos of the Indian Creek, Moab, Utah area while climbing with his buddy in 2009.

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Indian Creek

Indian Creek

Indian Creek

Indian Creek

Indian Creek

Indian Creek

Indian Creek

Have a wonderful weekend.

Love & Cheers,

Rachel McKee

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS PROVIDED BY MILESMCKEEPHOTOGRAPHY.