Sunday, February 12, 2012

Guest Post: Nadja Notariani

Fellow writers, you are in luck because the fabulous Nadja Notariani has stopped by my blog today to do a guest post!
I want to thank her for taking time out of her busy schedule (she is currently getting ready to release her third novel, The Third Fate) to talk to us about writing. I'll let her get to it!

1. The act of one who writes.
2. Written form: Put it in writing.
3. Handwriting; penmanship.
4. Something written, especially:
a. Meaningful letters or characters that constitute readable matter.
b. A written work, especially a literary composition.
5. The occupation or style of a writer.
6. Writings (used with a sing. or pl. verb) Bible The third of the three divisions of the Hebrew Scriptures, composed of Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles. See Table at Bible.

writing [ˈraɪtɪŋ]
1. (Linguistics / Letters of the Alphabet (Foreign)) a group of letters or symbols written or marked on a surface as a means of communicating ideas by making each symbol stand for an idea, concept, or thing (see ideogram), by using each symbol to represent a set of sounds grouped into syllables (syllabic writing), or by regarding each symbol as corresponding roughly or exactly to each of the sounds in the language (alphabetic writing)
2. (Communication Arts / Printing, Lithography & Bookbinding) short for handwriting
3. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) anything expressed in letters, esp a literary composition
4. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) the work of a writer
5. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) literary style, art, or practice
6. (Communication Arts / Printing, Lithography & Bookbinding) written form give it to me in writing
7. (Communication Arts / Printing, Lithography & Bookbinding) (modifier) related to or used in writing writing ink
writing on the wall a sign or signs of approaching disaster
[sense 8: allusion to Daniel 5:5]

So many emotions conjured with that single word. In some, it inspires dread, sweaty palms, palpitations. In others, it awakens the joy of exploration, the release of expressing freely, expertly. Some authors claim writing a necessity, an embedded need which must be granted release. Not so, for me. Writing is something I enjoy, a pleasure indulged.

Warning! Harsh truth ahead...

The act of writing is but one step in the marathon of crafting your novel. Enjoyable as this step may be, it is neither the first, nor the last in this wonderful, liberating, frustrating, drawn-out, satisfying process we call writing. You are probably wondering why I'm raining on the parades of eager storytellers everywhere, but I insist; I'm not. I am offering a safety net, of sorts, for when the process becomes overwhelming. Proper preparation is half the battle...

Insert disclaimer ...I'm sure there are those gifted few who 'wing-it' and find success dropping into their laps with a thud of satisfactory glee. It happens. The rest of us will have to mire through, taking the war on increasing word counts, plot decisions, adding tension, cutting unnecessary words, or finding the perfect adjective just as a battalion of soldiers must advance one hill at a time. It's a messy business. There are word casualties.

During the journey of creating, you'll laugh, you'll scream, you'll rant, you'll thrill. You'll make it. Believe it. But do yourself a huge favor first....Prepare.

When did you first know you wanted to write a novel?

I've always wanted to, but I didn't actually begin until I was 39 years old. Really. And I wish I knew then what I know now. (I'll probably say this same thing again in a year or two and think back on my naivete and lack of knowledge at this point in my writing career with a wistful smile...) So, if any of what I'm about to share helps even one writer...I'll be a happy Nadja.

Well Begun Is Half Done... (Has Mary Poppins ever been wrong?)

* Take the necessary time to plot and plan. K.M. Weiland's book, Outlining Your Novel, is a wonderful resource that I highly recommend. Keep a notebook, a file on your computer, sticky-notes, whatever works for you, tracking all the details of your story. Trust me...You'll be sooo glad you did when you think, 'Now where did I have those characters meet? Was it _____ or ______? Was she wearing green or blue? Did I name that servant/neighbor/teacher Betty or Angie?' Having to go back through chapters and search for some minute detail is a real pain. Believe me...I've been that girl.

* Make a character profile packet on each major character. Rebecca Sinclair over at Eclectics has a fine example of a thorough 'vetting' of your hero/heroine, your protagonist, your side-kick. Have some fun with it! Crafting personality is so important to the likability/emotional availability of your characters. Add quirks, habits, likes/dislikes, mannerisms, and humor to your peeps. Readers will thank you.

* Find an HONEST, but POSITIVE group of writers/friends/readers and surround yourself. I need honest feedback as a writer. It's not always what I want to hear, but needful if I'm to craft the best novel I can. However, negativity is an entirely different matter. Mojo stealing, inspiration swiping, and confidence busting, this irksome trait is one I recommend you distance yourself from.

* Start shopping for a cover designer early. There's more to a cover than the image(s). You'll need a clear idea of what your characters look like, your setting's details, and a blurb written for your designer to create the best cover he/she can. Create a folder to store images you like during the build-up. Don't limit yourself to a couple, a setting. Think details! Text colors, fonts, unification between the different elements you want to showcase in your cover. Whether we agree or disagree, the fact is, an unattractive cover can inhibit sales even if a jewel of a story resides underneath.

* Seek out beta readers. Take your time. Read writing samples if they are a fellow author, and don't be afraid to ask questions. No matter how you respect someone, if they don't enjoy the genre you are writing in, they aren't the beta reader for you. Also, beta for fellow writers. Even if you don't have the confidence to line edit, you can offer ideas and thoughts on storyline, pacing, flow of dialogue, etc. It will help your writing, training your eye and ear to discern what you like - and don't within writing style, aid you in identifying plot holes/weaknesses, and sense where a story lacks that special something that Wows readers.

I had the fine opportunity to beta for a writer I didn't know well last summer - and it was incredibly satisfying. That main character is still in my heart - dark and humorously wretched as she was. While not my favored genre, I went into the challenge with an open mind. I offered honest opinions - commenting on the things I loved as well as those I didn't. It was an extremely positive experience, and promoted growth in me as a writer.

* If you aren't a grammar queen, hire an editor. Look at local universities, or ask around at fellow writers' blogs. Someone is sure to make a recommendation. Request references and/or samples of their work if they are unknown to you. A true professional won't be offended. Better to find and eradicate those errors before your publish date!

* Set goals. Break your work into tasks.
A) Loose plot details
B) Character development
C) Research
D) Outline
E) Chapter Content
F) The Writing
G) Cover/Blurb

The above is a quick breakdown to illustrate my point. Now, allow yourself so many weeks per task. Set those goals. Post them on your blog and ask your friends to hold you accountable. Push yourself. If you struggle with motivation, joining a group may be a good idea for you. Checking-In with A Round Of Words In 80 Days is a fabulous tool which encourages scheduled and regular posting, re-assessment of goals, and honest evaluation of progress. It also offers us community with fellow writers, encouragement, and opportunities to learn about upcoming classes, great new craft books, and 'exponential reading power' - (Fellow bloggers will link to interesting articles, highlighting those 'gems' we might otherwise have missed out on).

* Celebrate along the way. Wrote the first chapter? Celebrate.
Named your characters?
Completed that daunting outline?
Nailed a scene that had been giving you fits?
Captured an elusive emotion in smart dialogue?
Found that perfect image for your hero?
Celebrate. Share your joy. It encourages others.

* Relax.
Achieve at your own pace. Push, but don't get anxious. Strive, but don't compare yourself with others. Dig deep. Skipping/skimping steps may get you to the finish line more quickly, but is that your true goal? Your heart's desire? Or is it crafting the best possible novel you can?

With hard work, dedication, persistance, and faith, you can craft your novel. Here's to success! ~ Nadja

Nadja Notariani (1971- Current)

Nadja Notariani was born in Rochester, Pennsylvania. Her upbringing included very diverse environments, affording wide and varied richness of ethnic and religious tradition. Raised in both an Italian/Mediterranean American home and a traditional German household, Nadja gleaned the unique benefits of viewing the world through two widely different lenses.

Nadja currently resides in Northeastern Pennsylvania and published two novels in 2011, Claiming The Prize and Her Dark Baron. The Third Fate, a paranormal romance is due out in spring, 2012.
The author can be found at her website, on facebook, or through email, and enjoys hearing from readers.

You can find Nadja at her home on the web at


  1. Thank you so much for having me today, Komal! It's always a pleasure. Have a wonderful Sunday!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Nadja! That is some great and realistic advice.

      Something I used to overlook (until recently) was books about writing. They are so insightful and have great tips in the. I'll have a look at the one you mentioned by K.M. Weiland.

    2. Weiland's book is my favorite craft book to date - although admittedly - I've not read an over large amount. I love the organization of it, a system for all things writing!

  2. It's good to do some planning, but you don't need to do all that stuff. That's just overkill.

    1. I have to disagree with you there. Nadja is a self-published author which requires her to do all that and more.

      Even traditionally published authors need to plot, do character outlines, find beta readers, revise and have writing goals.

      Self-published writers need to do that as well as be responsible for their cover design, hire an editor and have their own deadlines.

  3. Great tips for writing a novel. I definitely love my outlines. They save me so much time in the editing stage.

    1. Wow, do they ever! My first novel was begun on a whim...and I simply started writing scenes. When I started my second, I determined to be a lot more organized. What a difference.

      Sounds like you have a good system in place, Lynda.


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