Monday, October 2, 2017

The Sophomore Slump by Christa MacDonald



Christa MacDonald
Hi friends, Annette here. Have you written series? Sometimes there are challenges in getting book two to cooperate with the writer. Please welcome fellow Mountain Brook Ink author Christa MacDonald as she shares about writing sequels in a series, and carrying on when it's tough going.

The Sophomore Slump 
by Christa MacDonald

A little-known fact of the publishing world is that it’s notoriously difficult to write the second book. This is true even if it’s a planned sequel. Sometimes the pressure to produce is too much, or it feels as if there’s just not enough there for a next book. I had no idea how difficult it would be until I got stuck halfway through the sequel to The Broken Trail. It was awful, the book that is, and I knew it. As the weeks crawled by it got harder and harder to even open the manuscript and attempt a few paragraphs. I was blocked, or so I thought.

One day I resolved to sort out what it was that was making me hate writing. After reading through the whole thing I realized I had failed to connect to my main female character, Erin. I didn’t know who she was or what she wanted beyond surface stuff. Her heart and soul seemed thin as if she was still a secondary character. Writing Dan, the male MC, was a different story. Writing in his perspective flowed because I knew his struggles, his hopes. 
The scenes where his faith is tested practically wrote themselves. His thoughts flowed so well because I’d had them first. Surprisingly, more of my own experience went into the creation of him than in Erin. She didn’t feel familiar. I didn’t know her. So, I did something really hard. I chucked most of what I had written, and I started again. 

This time I made an effort to get to know Erin, asking questions about her childhood, what had been her hopes and dreams? How had her marriage to an abusive alcoholic changed them? How had her faith survived? In what ways was she still struggling? Finally, Erin was fully formed and the difference was immediate. It still took a lot of work, but the words were flowing again. I knew how Erin had to change. Her journey of faith was a quiet one compared to Dan, but no less profound.

When the writing process becomes a chore, I think authors get stressed out. We start listening to the voices telling us we’re no good, that it’s too hard, and that no one will want to read it anyway. When it starts to be a struggle to even open the manuscript we often give up, call it writer’s block, and walk away. But that’s the time to write daily instead. Even if it hurts, even if it’s terrible, write every day. Sit down at the desk, say a prayer, and open that document. Seek encouragement too. Talk to your writerly friends, pray for guidance, read a book, see a movie. Make sure that your creative well is filled and then put your fingers on the keys and write!

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As friendship turns to love, can grace bridge two conflicted hearts?

At the Crossroad by Christa MacDonald
Erin Sullivan has had to endure the rumor mill of Sweet River, Maine grinding through her family's scandals for years. Despite maintaining her status as a respected athletics director at the local Christian school, being a single mother locked in constant conflict with misinformation and judgment had taught her not to hope for good things. No matter how strong her feelings were for Pastor Dan Cooper, she would have to keep them buried for the sake of his reputation and her already aching heart. 

Dan Cooper had dedicated his life to the international mission field--that is, until he's called back to the States with the news of his mother's stroke. After three years in a job slowly chipping away at his spirit, his mother continues to show no sign of recovery. The choice to stay in Sweet River had seemed so clear before, but now he is scrambling for any direction from God before his passion withers altogether. While he didn't expect that answer to be a woman, a chance meeting with Erin Sullivan stirs something in his heart with her quiet strength and compassion. 

Find Christa at these links:

Website: https://www.christamacdonald.com



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About the Author

Christa MacDonald began her writing career at the age of eleven, filling a sketchbook with poems and short stories. While at Gordon College she traded the sketchbooks for floppy discs, publishing short personal narratives in the literary journal The Idiom. After graduation and traveling cross-country she settled down to focus first on her career in operations management and then her growing family. When her children reached grade school Christa returned to her love of writing, finding the time between conference calls, dance lessons, and baseball games. Mountain Brook Ink published her first novel, The Broken Trail, in fall of 2016, and her second novel, The Crossroad, in October, 2017. When not at her desk working or writing, Christa can be found curled up in her favorite chair reading, out and about with her husband and kids, or in the garden. She lives with her family along the coast of Massachusetts in the converted barn they share with a dog and two formerly-feral cats.


4 comments:

  1. I love your post, Christa! I went through something similar with my second book.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I think a lot of us go through it.

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  2. Christa, you caught me. I've been stuck on revisions for a book forever. I feel paralyzed when I try and figure out what to do. So, no more putting it off. Time for butt in chair, hands in keyboard.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

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