Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 Goals

I've been trying to plan out my goals for this coming year. It's been interesting to say the least. I start out thinking "I need to do this," and end up going off on tangents of thoughts of the number of other things I have signed up for, want to sign up for, or just plain need to do. Then I can't remember what I started off wanting to do. So, I decided to do a blog about my plans for the coming year. This post is more of a way to hold myself accountable for my writing this coming year.

If you read my last post about my domino effect year-in-review then you are aware that I am new to this blog thing. I wonder if I had a blog at this time last year what I might have been able to complete. We'll see this coming year. I plan to look back on this blog in a year and see what I managed to accomplish.

Here are my writing goals for 2011:

WIP #1 - "Stone Magic"
In 2010 I not only wrote this first YA novel, but I also managed to get the 2nd draft (1st edit) complete.
In 2011 I hope to do more editing & begin the query process for this novel. (Fingers crossed)

WIP #2 - "Barely There"
In 2010 I began work on this. I only got about 10,000 words deep by the end of the year.
In 2011 I hope to (a) finish this novel, (b) edit the heck out of it, and (c) query it.

WIP #3 - "Outcast of Maine"
In 2010 I started formulating this novel in my head. In recent days it's been driving me crazy. I have to get working on this one. I hope to have more details smoothed out by May, so I can begin writing this one. Seriously bugging me to get writing about Augusta!
In 2011 I hope to (a) write this novel and (b) possibly edit the heck out of it. I highly doubt I will be ready to query this one by December 2011, but we'll see.

NaNoWriMo 2011 - "Earth 2.0" (seriously bad working title)
In 2010 I got the idea for this one during the NaNoWriMo 2010 process. It was actually my husband who gave me the idea. He found a series on our Netflix streaming. After watching one episode the idea was already there. Since then I have been working it out in my head.
In 2011 I hope to (a) research the heck out of the topic (serious research needs to be done 1st) and (b) write the thing during NaNoWriMo 2011. As long as I get the work done during November I'll be thrilled.

2011 Debut Author Challenge
In 2010 I heard about this challenge and decided on a whim (as usually happens with me) to participate.
In 2011 I hope to read all of the books on my list. Click the link at the top of the page to see the titles and authors. I've linked to their websites, if available.

So, that about covers my writing aspirations for the year. Hopefully by December I will be querying 2 novels, editing 2 more, and almost done with the 2011 DAC.

What are your writing goals for 2011?

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Writer's Tool Kit

This post came to mind after seeing a Tweet from @MyraMcEntire. She tweeted: "Pooh has a Thinking Spot. I have a Thinking Shower. Every writer needs these:" She attached a photo of bathtub crayons. I loved it and agreed. I find that I tend to think about things to write or fix in my writing at the most inopportune moments. Like the shower or when I drive. I started thinking of other things writers need and came up with this:

Eight Tools Every Writer Needs

1) Computer - Without one the job is extremely daunting. How on Earth did writers write entire novels before computers? I'd be lost without mine!

2) Coffee, coffee, coffee!!!! Let's face it most of us can't write a word until we've had our first sip of coffee in the morning. And some of us hang out in coffee shops drinking and writing. You know who you are.

3) Twitter - We need something to distract us from writing. Oh and think of all the writer friends you've made through Twitter. Let's face it, we understand each other.

4) Time - Yes, that's right time. We all need time to schedule our writing in. Now if only we could find that time.

5) Books!!!!! We need to keep up with the market and our friends. As much fun as they are to read I hate to break it to you, we're actually studying when we read.

6) Music - I'm sure most of us listen to music when we write. It sets the mood. Pumps us up or soothes us. We all need it. I prefer to listen to my iPod when I write. I have a playlist specially created for my writing. I know others listen to Pandora. I might just have to check it out myself this next year.

7) Bath Tub Crayons - Yes, I did just add that. It was an excellent idea on Myra's part. I'm always thinking in the shower. It's my thinking spot.

8) Voice Recorder - Yet another tool for when you can't jot something down. My husband got me a digital recorder for Christmas this year. I tend to find myself coming up with ideas while I'm driving. Inevitably by the time I can write it down I always forget whatever grand idea I had.

I'm sure there are more items we all need in our tool kit for writing. But, since I was lacking more of #4, I only came up with 8.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Traditons

As a youngster I always heard other kids talking about their Christmas traditions that were special to their own families. My family just plain celebrated Christmas. I didn't count what we ate or who we celebrated with as traditions. I wanted something more.

Somehow, my younger sister and I convinced our parents to let us open one gift on Christmas Eve. Every year following we said it was a Christmas tradition and we had to do it. Now my own daughter is convinced that this tradition has to take place every Christmas Eve.

So, there is a family Christmas tradition from my house. Do you have any holiday traditions you love?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Quote #18

"A house without books is like a room without windows." - Heinrich Mann

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Domino Effect

I've read several year in review blog posts recently and thought it would be nice to do one myself. I think I have had a really interesting and eventful year. I hope this next year will be just as productive.

I started out the year attempting to write WIP #1. I had already been working on it for 9 months. Yeah, I know it was taking a long time. Since it was my first attempt at writing I still had not worked out all the kinks in my writing process. Or my plot for that matter. There were tons of kinks. I kept fussing with the plot outline. Then when I would sit down to write I found way too many glitches and had a difficult time putting everything together. I found that as I wrote the characters and story would take me someplace different than I had intended.

I was not on Twitter, Facebook, nor did I have this blog. I did have an infant and a teaching degree. I was told by so many professors not to get on Twitter, Facebook, or have a blog. They said it would hinder my finding a teaching job. Eventually I made the decision to create a Facebook page to keep in touch with family all over the country. Then I broke down and started my blog and got on Twitter.

And thus the domino effect begins. It was through Twitter and blogging that I found so many new friends and others like me.

  • Without Twitter I might not have heard about NaNoWriMo.
  • Without Twitter I might not have met Kayla Olson, whose tweet prompted me to sign up to participate in NaNoWriMo two days before it began.
  • Without NaNoWriMo I might not have finished my WIP #1 - Presently titled "Stone Magic."
  • Without NaNoWriMo I might not have figured out that the best way for me to write is without an outline.
  • Without NaNoWriMo I might not have cracked down on myself to make time to write.
  • Without Twitter I might not have found many great blogs - too many to link to in this post.
  • Without Twitter I might not have learned of SheWrites or Goodreads. Both of which I have joined.
  • Without Goodreads I might not have ever won two ARCs, Wither by Lauren DeStefano and The Book of Tomorrow by Cecilia Ahern.
All in all I am extremely pleased with this past year of writing. I got a shaky start, but eventually pulled it all together and hit a goal. I have since created new plans and goals for this coming year regarding my writing. I have learned what my process is and what I need to do to meet my goals.

How was your year in writing?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Pen Names

I know it sounds silly, but I had originally thought of using a pen name when I first began to write. I had a good reason stuck in there, but as I've gone on I decided not to and to go with my own name.

What was my reason? I'm so glad you asked. Well, I graduated not that long ago from a very long stint in college. My degree was in history, something I enjoy very much. I have several projects that I would like to see through to the end and possibly publish in the future. In the beginning I thought that since my degree is in my name I should publish my historical research under my own name and leave my fictional writing under a pen name.

According to Wikipedia many popular and well known writers have used pen names. The most notable pen name I came up with off the top of my head was Anne Rice. The website lists Stephen King and the Bronte sisters as a few of the many popular and well known writers to have used pen names.

As I've gone on, however, I've decided that I want to stick with my real name for my fictional writing. I'll decided how to proceed when I get back to the historical research. For now I'm completely immersed in writing paranormal for young adults. Obviously I will need to figure something out. Who would take a historical writer serious if she also writes paranormal YA books? Me, but that's a given. lol

Where do you stand on pen names?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Quote #17

"When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing." ~Enrique Jardiel Poncela

Monday, December 13, 2010

2011 Debut Author Challenge

I'm such a sucker for these things.

First it was NaNoWriMo. I had not intended upon entering, but did two days before November started. I didn't hit the 50,000 word count, but I did get close. I finished a novel, which was the first big hurdle to get over. Now I'm in the editing stage, as I like to call it Editing Stage 1. Yes, there will be more stages.

This time, however, instead of a writing challenge I've decided to participate in a reading challenge. The 2011 Debut Author Challenge is hosted by The Story Siren. The goal is to read 12 books by debut authors from January 1st to December 31st. I think I can accomplish this - along with being a mom of 2, writing, looking for a possible teaching job ...

Since I love to read this should definitely get me going. I will create a page on my blog where you can find a link to my reviews on Goodreads. By the way I've hardly read a book I didn't like, so they'll probably be great reviews. :-)

Is anyone else participating this year?

Friday, December 10, 2010

My New Stickers

Recently while out shopping I ran across a set of stickers that caught my eye. I couldn't pass them up. They completely reminded me of my writing moods sometimes.

Some of these remind me of what I think about my work, occasionally. There are those times that when I reread what I've written I think, "do over, destroy, do wut," and so on like the stickers say. There are other times when I think "cocktail!" That's when I'm super proud of what I've written and want to celebrate. And then there are those times that I feel like hitting the "eject" button and kicking myself right out of the driver's seat on my computer.

I have decided to decorate one of my writing binders with these stickers.

I wanted to insert a picture of my binder with the stickers here, but the pictures didn't turn out so good. Oh well. They are basically slapped on where ever I could find space.

One thing that's for sure, these stickers make me smile each time I set eyes on them. They also remind me of things teenagers say. Since I write YA this helps get me in the right mind set. :-)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

My 1st ARC - Wither

Just last week I received my first ARC in the mail. To say I was excited is a huge understatement. I had just been telling my husband two days earlier how I really, really, really wanted a copy of this book now! It had all started when he asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I said Wither, but it doesn't come out until March.

Two days later my mailman was handing it to my husband along with another package. I was not expecting to get Wither at all. I knew I had entered a contest for it, but I couldn't remember what site I had entered it on or when. I didn't get an email stating that I won, not to my knowledge, so I'm still curious as to it's exact origin. But, I will not look a gift horse in it's mouth!

Immediately I began reading and was glued to it. When I opened the book I told myself, "I hope this book lives up to the hype I've been hearing."

Well, it did and now I can't wait for the second installment in the Chemical Garden Trilogy to be out.

Yes, I have finished it. I started reading last Wednesday and finished yesterday. My 12 month old loves to play with books, so I had to read while he napped. Otherwise, it would have been done in less than two days.

My review will follow on and I'll link it to my blog once I have it up.

It is definitely worth the read. I really enjoyed it. But, enough I say! Wait for my review. :-)

Friday, December 3, 2010

NaNoWriMo Learning Curve

With my first NaNoWriMo came a learning curve.

Yes, that's right I said it. I learned a lot from NaNoWriMo. Originally I thought I'd just sit on the sidelines and watch. Then I got the crazy idea to join in on the fun.

So, just what did I learn?

1) Discipline - One of the most difficult things for me as a stay-at-home-mom and writer is to actually sit my behind down and write. I have a 12 month old and he requests a HUGE amount of my attention at all times. Up until NaNoWriMo I had the horrible habit of saying, "I just didn't have time to write today." Not anymore! I learned that I just needed to get up a little earlier every morning before he wakes up and get in as much writing as possible. This is where my wonderful coffee comes into place. I love having it every morning while I sit and type away. Unless I have somewhere to be early, then I have time to drink coffee and write.

2) Outline - I have had the habit of obsessing over an outline in the past. I'm not sure where, but I read that you need an outline before you start writing. Uh - not me. I would obsess over getting my outline just right and then when I sat down to write I wouldn't like the outline and would obsess over altering it - Constantly. I have since learned that I don't need an outline. What I need is a general outline of where I want to end up and what points I want to hit. Then I let the characters have fun.

3) Editing - This was a bit difficult for me as I had major computer problems and had to have my hard drive reformatted. Luckily, I had all my work saved. BUT, I had to reinstall everything! My printer was a difficult thing to reinstall. I lost my installation disk. (I put it somewhere safe; it's now safe from me.) Downloading the correct software from the website was a bit daunting, so I put it off for a while. Finally, I got it all downloaded and installed. By then I was way behind on my editing. I should have written in the morning, printed my work, edited on the hard copy, and then made changes on the computer at night. This would have saved me a lot of trouble. I ended up spending most of the last part of the month editing. Way too much editing.

4) Goals - My goal was to either hit the 50,000 word count or finish a novel. I may not have hit the word count, but I did finish a novel. GOAL ACHIEVED!

5) NaNoWriMo 2011 - My husband found a great show that gave me a great idea. I have decided to do a bit of research over the next year and once again enter NaNoWriMo. This time I will be able to edit as I go and actually hit both goals - 50,000 words and a finished novel. That is barring any computer glitches!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Quote #15

"I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions." ~ James Michener

Monday, November 29, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010

Well, NaNoWriMo is over, almost. One more day to go and I still haven't hit my 50,000 word count. Technically I lost, but I'm giving myself a win.

This was the first NaNoWriMo I've done. I didn't intend on doing it at all. In fact, I didn't want to at all until October 30. Talk about jump on board at the last minute. I was off to a great start, but as the month wore on and I had a gazillion things to do I dropped off on the word count.

BUT, that doesn't mean I didn't meet my personal goal.

I wanted to give NaNoWriMo a go and try it out. I only missed by about 10,000 words. Yet, in the end I did finish a novel.

I love reading and writing Young Adult novels and most, when finished, run between 40,000 to 60,000 words. The fact that I hit the 40,000 word count on my first run through was great. I still have lots of editing to do; things to change, add, or delete. BUT, I finished a novel and I actually like it.

I think with some tweeking I will have a great YA novel ready to query.

Therefore, I do not feel I "lost" NaNoWriMo. No, I'm giving myself a "win" this year.

Bring on NaNoWriMo 2011!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


So, originally I was going to post this really cute Thanksgiving poem that my daughter wrote this past week. One slight problem: She took it to school before I had a chance to copy it. Therefore, I had to come up with something else.

I ended up deciding on doing a list of things I'm thankful for. That, however, became difficult. I had a hard time ordering them and then grouping them. Then I decided to just randomly pick twenty things that I love and am thankful for. So, here it is. And no, there is no specific order to the list.

1) Family
2) Children
3) Books
4) Music
5) Friends
6) The internet
7) Hot baths
8) Skype
9) Coffee
10) On-line friends
11) Bookstores
12) Family gatherings
13) My Kindle
14) Facebook
15) Summertime
16) Air conditioning / Heaters
17) Veterans
18) Libraries
19) Wikipedia
20) Spellcheck

What makes your list?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Quote #14

"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." ~ Anton Chekhov

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fall Inspiration

Well, it's that time of year again and I absolutely love fall time in the northeast. Growing up in Central Texas it was green most of the year. I have always loved the pictures of trees turning beautiful shades of red and orange. It wasn't until I moved to New Jersey that I really understood what fall was like.

There are those days that it is beautiful and warm and then others where the weather is nasty and cold. It tends to be back and forth until finally all the leaves have fallen off the trees and it's nothing but cold out. The other day I was driving on the Parkway and I couldn't help but admire the different shades of orange and red that the leaves were turning. There were also still green leaves, as well. It was just so beautiful I wished I had my camera on board and a chance to take pictures as I drove. That wasn't going to happen, though.

I got to thinking of just what fall inspires. To me it's the ending of a great summer and the beginning of the holiday season. I think of wearing sweaters that will eventually be replaced by jackets, scarfs, and gloves.

I think of Halloween and Thanksgiving. I love watching the kids trick-or-treat every year. Not so much on my dead end street, but in my husband's brother's neighborhood where we go each year. I only get the kids on the street early on in the day and then everyone goes to other neighborhoods where there are more houses. That's fine with me, but I still love to check out the costumes and watch how much fun the kids have.

Thanksgiving means dinner with my husband's large Italian family. It's really a large, loud gathering of several generations running amuck in someones house. Trust me when I say loud, half of them are losing their hearing.

Fall brings to mind hot chocolate and fireplaces. I wish I had a fireplace in my house every year at this time. Although, I like not having to keep up with one.

I find myself thinking about pumpkins - pumpkin pie, carved pumpkins, my husband and daughter playing smash the pumpkin after Halloween with the pumpkins they carved ...

Cornucopia decoration, fall leaf decorations, pumpkin decorations, Halloween, and Thanksgiving pictures ....

I could go on and on, but I won't. It's my favorite time of the year, yet I still have to write a story that takes place in the fall. I guess that will be on my to-do list for this coming year.

Your turn - What does fall mean to you?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Quote #13

"A synonym is a word you use when you can't spell the other one." ~ Baltasar Gracian

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Quote #11

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart." ~ William Wordsworth

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo - I must be crazy!

I had this whole post already written about how I was participating in my own personal, unofficial, way in this years NaNoWriMo. However, I changed my mind while I was in the shower this past Saturday. I came up with a general idea for a book and decided to wing it. I went all in - traded my mind for a crazy mind.

So, I deleted my original post and created this new post. I figure that I will need to write at least 1,665 words a day to reach the 50,000 final word count by November 30th. I have enlisted my husband and mom as my official cheerleaders. They are to ask me daily if I've reached my goal for that day.

I'm working on a young adult novel about a witch. I'm not sure where it will take me, but I'm giving it a go. I've decided not to over think it, like I have a tendency to do. Instead I'm going to totally wing it.

My goal: Each day write a new scene and I won't come up with the next scene until I'm done with the current scene.

Good luck to all who are participating this year!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Chapter vs. Scene

What is the difference between a chapter and a scene?

While reading Robert McKee's "Story" I found that having each scene negatively/positively charged and altering is a key to a successful story. However, his book is geared towards screenwriting, not novel writing. That led to the question: What is the difference between a scene and a chapter?

I have read books where each chapter is a new scene and others where it takes several chapters to get through a full scene. So then, what should I do? For my first novel I have chosen to make each chapter a new scene. I'm not sure how that will work out when I begin to submit it, but it's good for me for now. At the end of the novel I do employ the several chapters to finish out a whole scene. Or could this just be the scene sequence McKee talks about?

Unfortunately for me McKee is writing about screenplays and not novels. This just seems to be a hurdle I have yet to jump. I am currently reading a book that uses both methods currently. I hope that by the time I finish writing my novel I will feel more comfortable with this issue.

What are your thoughts on scenes and chapters? Should each scene be a chapter in itself or should a scene play out over several chapters?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

How to Write a Novel?

The big question us non-published authors seem to obsess over: How to write a novel?

When I decided to write that big novel I started writing it. Then it hit me I didn't know what
I was doing. I looked up "how to write a novel" on Google.

The first thing that pops up is The Snowflake Method. Don't get me wrong when I say huh? If I even tried to use this method I'd be burned out and uninterested in whatever it was that sparked my imagination. It's similar to what I did on my first novel, which is currently being shelved for a later time. I got too obsessed over what to do I didn't just do it.

How often have you read an article or interview where an author said it took two years to write their breakout novel? I have all too often. So the next link had me laughing. How to write a novel in 100 days or less. Okay, for those of you who are like me and writing your first novel this looks wonderful. But with the first day you're doing nothing more than making a promise to write that novel. The second you're carving out time in your already hectic schedule to write. Hmm? Flipping from day to day I found that most of this is simply little tips of encouragement. Where's the how to? Oh well, so much for a plan.

WikiHow even has a site on How to Write a Novel. This is helpful, if you just decided today that you are going to start. It only gives the basic tips. Sound tips, but basic. even has a similar How to Write a Novel site. Helpful, but very basic. Possibly more basic than WikiHow. Not a lot of help.

My favorite online How to Write a Novel is a blog entry by author Justine Larbalestier. This is probably the most sound information I have found so far. I highly suggest reading her blog post.

So much for having lots of helpful online sites. The most popular ones that pop up aren't really that much help after all. Out of five sites only one was really helpful to me.

What sites have you found helpful?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Taking a break

Okay, so I've been writing and rewriting this novel for over a year now. I think it's time to put some distance between us. I'm not getting really anywhere with it at the moment. Other than irritated that I'm not already where I want to be with it.

So, after a little thought I've shelved it for the moment. Yes, I do intend on pulling it back off the shelf and working on it eventually. But for the moment I have decided to continue writing, just on a different project. Or more like two different projects.

First, I have a story that I would love to get into novel form and out of my mind and onto paper. As of this writing I am six chapters deep. And ... I feel great about where I'm going with this one. My last project I obsessed about the outline and sticking to the outline - I almost felt like I was pushing the story line. And that's the last thing I want to do. This time I'm going with the flow and write what I'm feeling at the moment. Yes, I am working off the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet, but it's open for changes. I am also using different points that Robert McKee uses in his "Story." This one feels much better to me.

Second, I have a blog that I am working on short stories for. I will begin posting them I think in November. I have two shorts written, but would like to start posting once I have about six written. That gives me time to work on more - I don't want to feel forced to write a short story for a deadline. As of now I am thinking I will post two shorts a month. That is unless I get really into it and begin spitting out stories like mad.

Third, I am working on a contest for my short story blog. I'd like to do a contest for Christmas and giveaway a book or two. Of course that is given that I have followers on that blog by then. I am enlisting my daughter and her friends to spread the word about the blog to get followers. lol

Fourth, this blog. I have to get more blogs written on this one, but I'm not sure what to write about yet. I have to come up with some more ideas and get cracking.

Until next time - Have an ecstatic day!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Outline vs. No Outline

I read a tweet the other day in which the tweeter asked if anyone else created their outline only after they had written their work. I wondered how many people actually do this. For me that is only a problem. I like knowing where my book is going. It keeps me more focused.

I tend to spend more time actually writing than worrying about what to write and if it will work when I have an outline. Of course, my outline is fluid. It is a mere path by which I tend to stray from occasionally. And for me that is alright.

However, the more I have pondered this topic over the last several days. I have begun to wonder if I could write a novel without creating an outline first. As I've said in an earlier post I use note cards for my outline. I think if I write a novel without an outline, I may have to create it as I go. I like to go back and forth between negative/positively charged scenes. I don't know any other way to keep it all together and organized. Without the organization I fear I will fail miserably. Although, maybe it will be my best story ever.

What are your thoughts on outlining?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Quote #9

"If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." ~ Toni Morrison

Friday, October 15, 2010

Character Names

It's all in a name. Have you ever noticed how people just are their names? My husband and I struggled over what to name our son. He wanted our son to be named after him and his father. I wanted something different and cool sounding. In the end I caved and our son is a third. Now 10 months later watching him play I can't imagine calling him the other name I so wanted. That name just isn't him - his name suits him perfect.

The same thing goes with my characters. I am so funny that I not only have their first names, but I also give each individual one a middle name and last name - even if it never comes out in the book. It's part of creating a real life character. How many people do you know that only have a first name? I'm suspecting that number is close to zero.

I have had names picked out for my protagonist and her counterparts for well over a year. Recently, I read a blurb someone wrote about another book written by another author. It's a book I'd like to read. Problem is one of her main characters has a very similar name to my protagonist. ACK! I nearly fell over.

Since then I have opened my mind to changing my protagonist's name. So, what's the big idea you might ask? Her name suits her already in my mind. At the same time I can't give her a name that is so similar to an already published characters name. I've decided that for the moment I will continue to use the name I gave her. When I edit my story, just before I submit it, I will again look at her name and see if there is anything else I like better.

How do you come up with your characters' names?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

What to write?

Okay, so I'm working on my first novel. It's a young adult novel and I hope to have it published. That said, I have several other ideas swirling around in my head at this time as well. They won't go away. Of those, two are really fighting to get their stories told. I also love to write short stories. Obviously I also have a blog.

So, in comes the question: What to write?

Do I work on my current novel? Do I work on outlining my other novels? Do I work on my blogs? Do I work on a short story? Hmmm?????? What to write?

Yesterday I chose to work on designing my blog schedule. I picked out quotes, pictures, and topics to write about. Today I uploaded and scheduled all of my pictures for October, as well as all of my quotes for both October and November. Now I'm working on writing and scheduling my actual blogs. Whoa! What a morning. I'm only four deep so far. I have a long way to go.

At the same time I'm still itching to get to all of the other writing projects I have. Too bad I can only work on one thing at a time.

I would like to start my second novel soon. As I write my first novel I am also working on outlining my second novel. Little by little is my newest motto.

Usually whatever is most on my mind is what I deal with. Today it was the fact that I didn't have a blog written and scheduled for the next posting. I had to get it done! Now I'm on a roll writing blogs.

Until next time have an excellent day!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Quote #8

"I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter." ~ James Michener

Friday, October 8, 2010

My Outlining Process

What to write and when to write it? All in the name of a good story. This is where I had a difficult time. There are so many things to take into consideration.

How long do you want the story to be?

What types of encounters do you want to include?

From start to finish, how long does the story take?

These were all my main questions when I wrote my first draft of my outline. I thought without one I would surely fail. I worried over an outline that was so in detail it went on for pages and pages. Then I scrapped it halfway through the writing process to create a smaller, less detailed, outline. I rewrote my entire outline after finishing the story. I decided that after all of that I wasn't as happy with what I had written as I had hoped to be.

That was when I read "Story" by Robert McKee. That's when I had to take into consideration the positive and negative charges of scenes (or chapters). I had never thought about this. Or thought about the many other terms and guidelines he lays out in his book.

I redid my outline.

Instead of my story taking place over several months it now takes place over only a few weeks. This prompted me to take out the Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas scenes.

Instead of writing out my outline on my computer I carried around note cards for several days. Each chapter (or scene) goes on a separate note card. If the first chapter starts out positive, it ends negative. As a result the second chapter must start out negative and end positive. I continue with this up/down method until I get to the end. The stakes get more difficult as I go. In a way the noose gets tighter around the protagonists neck as the story progresses until finally she overcomes the hurdle of the story.

Then as I write I use the note cards to make sure I have hit all the points I want to hit. To make sure that the positive/negative charges fluctuate throughout the story. So far I am halfway through my story and this note card method is working great.

I also have yet another story I am working on without using an outline at all. I have decided to use Blake Snyder's "Beat Sheet" and fill it in as I go. It's a bit scary, but I am determined to see where it takes me.

How do you outline?

Monday, October 4, 2010

My "Writing Bible"

So, I heard recently all writers should have a "Bible." I never thought of it that way, but I guess that's what I have. I carry it everywhere when I'm writing. It followed me to Texas this past summer and even follows me from room to room in my house depending on where I'm writing at the moment. Yes, I love my laptop. It can go anywhere!

My "Writing Bible" is almost stuffed. I'm sure I'm going to need to upgrade to a larger binder very soon. As of this moment it consists of a 1" binder full of everything pertaining to my story. I have a character sheet for every single character in my story. I have my own version of Blake Snyder's "Beat Sheet" and a quick over view of what I want to happen in my story. Then I have notes, random notes. Sometimes I will think of something I want to do later on in the story or fix. That goes into the random notes.

I have a map of my town included. Silly enough I even have a house plan I copied out of a house plans book for my main character. I'll never get lost in her house! As I finish chapters I will print them out. I think it helps when I have to do revisions. I can read through what I wrote and then comment to myself in the margins. Later, I can do the actual revisions on the computer.

So, that's my "Writing Bible." What's yours like?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Quote #7

"The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say." ~ Anais Nin

Friday, October 1, 2010

"Do I have to have dialog?"

I recently asked myself this very question.

"Why of course you do?" I countered myself, "How else are you going to bring your characters to life and give them (and the plot) dimension.

I just really feel like I am lacking in the dialog skills department. I have found in the past that I tend to struggle with what I want my characters to say and how they need to be talking to each other for the reading audience to visualize what I have already visualized in my mind. In recent days I have come to the conclusion that I must just get something out of their mouths and onto the paper. I can always edit and make it better.

Speaking of, this is where studying comes into play. I love to read. Reading other works is a great way to learn how to write dialog. I look at other authors who have managed to write dialog throughout their books. I mean think about it. How could you get through your day without talking to others? I couldn't. So, I look to see how they portray things and make note of it. It's a great tool.

But, I have to keep in mind that no matter what I write, it has to be in my protagonists voice. Not mine. Therefore, I have to figure out how she thinks. Likewise, if I am writing dialog I have to write the other characters' dialog from their perspective. This is where I get confused. I end up switching back and forth from perspectives and occasionally they get all mangled together. Editing, editing, editing!

I love editing!

Until next time have a wonderful day!

Monday, September 27, 2010


When I think of foreshadowing I think of something simple happening in an early chapter and then later that simple thing becomes something more. However, according to one of my "help" book foreshadowing can occur from sentence to sentence. This has opened a whole new awareness for me. After reading that passage in my "help" book I realized that I use foreshadowing more than I thought I did.

Of course foreshadowing is also done chapters apart. I have a flower that plays a part in my novel. My protagonist has two romantic interests. They both give her flowers at different spots in the book, but they both give her different flowers. I make a quick mention of what flower she likes in the beginning without really coming out and saying that she likes it. It's just a quick mention, but when she receives the one she likes the reader will know it instantly. Before she even says that it's her favorite flower.

I also like the idea of foreshadowing in one book and then having it pay off in a later book. Since the book I am working on currently is intended to be the first in a series I hope to make use of this type of foreshadowing.

I am still working on this aspect. I don't want to use too many or not enough, so I tend to work on my foreshadowing during revisions. Hopefully, I will strike the perfect balance for my story by the time it's completed.

Till next time enjoy your day!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Quote #6

"Being an author is like being in charge of your own personal insane asylum." ~Graycie Harmon

Friday, September 24, 2010

Showing vs. Telling

It was a beautiful day outside. People were outside doing chores instead of sitting inside.

Just across the street a neighbor was working on his jeep with a friend. Music from the radio and laughter from the men wafted through the air in my direction. Taking a deep breath I took in the fresh smell of recently mowed grass from yet another neighbors house. We wave at each other as he takes a break from his yard work. A child rings the bell on her bike as she rides past the house grinning as the wind blows gently through her hair.

It wasn't until I read one of my "help" books that I realized I had done a whole lot of the first, telling. I immediately slowed down the pace of my writing and began agonizing over each paragraph making sure that I was showing rather than telling. Then I realized that I had too much showing and no telling. I've learned, though, that I shouldn't agonize over it in the beginning. It slows me down too much and I really don't like that.

Now what I do is just write. Whatever comes to mind first is what gets typed. Then I go back over and revise my writing at a later date. I have found that the distance gives me a better perspective. With that perspective I decide what needs to be shown and what needs to be told. According to my "help" book both showing and telling are important, but I need to find a good balance.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Senses

Writing using the five senses, oh boy! When I read anything I try and picture it as best as I can in my mind. I really love it when the author paints the picture so clearly that I can either almost touch, taste, feel, hear, or smell what I am reading. As a result I try really hard in my own writing to do the same. I want my reader to feel something.

For example, a passage I recently penned I hope does this.
"I hugged my light sweater closer to my chest as [we] walked into the sunset. It was beautiful with warm shades of yellows, oranges, and reds. The air coming off the ocean was crisp and dry. A slight breeze creating a whispering from the trees high above. As perfect as the evening was, it was too quiet. [He] hardly said a word. I knew he was still upset about yesterday."

With this passage I wanted to paint a picture of fall on the shore. First, she hugs her light sweater to indicated the time of night and possibly time of year. Starting in September on the shore it begins to cool down at night. I also mention the air coming off the ocean, because it is different than that of the Texas Hill Country. Then she notices the colors of the sunset, which also happen to be associated with fall colors. Yet, in this passage it is September, so the leaves are still present on the trees. This is portrayed in the whispering tall trees. I also wanted to paint the night as quiet and somber. To do this I mention that one of the other characters with her is quiet and hardly saying a word.

In the end I hope I have created enough of a picture for a reader to feel as though they are either there or watching the scene unfold first hand. This took several tries just to get it to this point. And, I'm sure that I will still need to make revisions in the future to this passage.

Till next time, have an excellent day!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Quote #5

"No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous." ~Henry Brooks Adams, The Education of Henry Adams, 1907

Friday, September 17, 2010

Revisions - Modifiers

"Then I caught a scent on the breeze. It was a beautiful, clean smell. Like the clean smell after it rains in Texas. it was clean, pure, and I loved it. Despite the terror around me I was momentarily calmed. It was a good break from the stench of the cigarettes and beer [the offender] reeked of."

This is an entry from the novel I am currently working on. Of course this is not how it started out. When I first began I had several sentences that basically said the same exact thing, but in different ways. Then as I read back through it I realized one sentence contradicted another. After several rewrites this is what I have worked out.

My protagonist is trying to describe the smell of another person who has come into the picture during a dispute. When I wrote it the last thing I was thinking of was adjectives and adverbs. However, when I went back to revise the selection that was my main objective. I wanted to make use of those modifiers without using too little or too much and the right ones. I needed something that would paint the picture I wanted.

During a summer visit to Texas I noticed how the rain smelled different in my native Texas than it did in my adoptive New Jersey. I took a moment to really breathe in that fresh smell and was amazed at how fresh, clean, pure, and aromatic it really smelled. I remember that smell from growing up, yet here in New Jersey the smell of rain seems to be lacking.

For the piece my protagonist is from Texas, so she would have smelled the same aromatic rain that I smelled that summer day in Texas. Wanting to describe something clean and pure the Texas rain was the first thing that popped into my head. My goal is to describe the smell and have the reader smell it in their mind - if that's even possible.

I have many more revisions to do like this one. Hopefully they will all work out the way I hope they will.

Till next time have an awesome day!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Character Development - Empathy

Character Development seems to be an ongoing project for me. I don't think it will ever stop. I have a character in my novel who starts out one way and eventually through several books I plan on having him change a little. He will eventually soften. Anyone who has read Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse novels will understand this. Throughout the books one character seems to genuinely change. I would love to portray this character in my books as well as she has in hers.

As of now I have a character sheet filled out for each and every character that pops up as more than a simple mention. I still have yet to complete these character sheets. I feel that for an author I should know my characters inside and out. Even if I never mention that Character J loves the colors red and black I still should know this. Maybe it can be portrayed in the color of clothing Character J wears or the hat that sits upon his head is always red and black.

Creating a character that shows empathy is the main ingredient according to Robert McKee in Story. After reading his book I agree entirely. If my protagonist does not show empathy then the reader will not be sucked in. However, if I show that she wavers from indecision or that she feels bad for someone or true pain, then my readers will enjoy the book all the more. It makes sense that she would feel frustration at having a soda spilled on her by the snobbiest girl in school. Yet saying that isn't enough. I need to show that she is humiliated and embarrassed. I have to show her way of dealing with it and that of her friends that watch the scene play out in front of them.

I must create a connection between my protagonist and the reader. I know when I read I love the characters that I immediately feel for. I have tried to do this in my novel. In the very first chapter she suffers a great loss and immediately does something I feel that myself as a reader would agree with. She acts through her emotions rather than a level head. It's her friend that brings her back to reality and insists she needs to breathe and relax.

Hopefully I have done my job at creating an empathetic protagonist.

Till next time have a beautiful day!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Quote #4

"Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead." ~Gene Fowler

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sentence & Paragraph Length

Ah, now just how long is too long and how short is too short?

I just earned my bachelor's degree in history almost two years ago. I went to school part-time and full-time over many years. During those years I learned that my paragraphs had to be between 4-8 sentences long and each sentence had to be complete. That was a major requirement of most of my professors. I even had a professor who would measure the margins when students handed in their seminar papers. He would also take off points in all of his classes if the paragraph length and structure weren't right. Needless to say, I only took one of his classes and opted for the only other professor who gave the seminar class. My experience was much better than his students'.

However, when I read novels I don't see the same structure that was drilled into my head. I see partial sentences. Sentences that have a few words. The words "it" and "thing" are used. To never use those two words was also drilled into my head.

So, as I sit down to write my own novel I realize that I have no idea how to structure my sentences or my paragraphs. I try to pay as close attention when I read other authors in the Young Adult genre to see how they handle sentence and paragraph structure and length. Yet, no matter how much I read I still have drilled into my head just how many sentences a paragraph must be and that a sentence must be complete. Or else!

Finally, I have come to the conclusion that we don't always think or speak in complete sentences or defined paragraphs. Therefore, I write exactly what my character is thinking or speaking. Even if it's incomplete sentences. I don't have that one professor reading my books telling me I'm wrong.

Till next time, have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


"Great, so you mean that I have to write what someone else is talking about?"

Okay, so to be completely honest? I hate writing dialogue. I want to make my dialogue meaningful, yet sometimes it seems so silly what my teenage characters are talking about. Plus, writing dialogue means that I have to really know what each of them is thinking at the moment and what they mean by what they say. Some characters mean what they say and others have a hidden meaning. But, just how do I get into several characters minds at one time when I'm writing? This is my dilemma. it tends to slow me down slightly.

Then there is the style of the dialogue; tag lines, pace, author intrusion, punctuation, and something called in medias res. First, tag lines. Sometimes I feel as though I have over done the tag lines. My characters might be in the midst of moving or making a face or who knows what kind of odd gesture they're making. I want my reader to feel like they're watching a movie in their minds, without too many tag lines.

And I certainly don't want to be too intrusive. The more tag lines, the more intrusive I am. I have to try and hide the intrusion. I guess that helps with first person. My protagonist can make comments about the other persons behavior to herself. Yes, my protagonist is a teenage girl and is telling the story from her perspective.

I also have to worry about pacing the story. Somehow I have to get the story told and not too fast or too slow. There are scenes, though, that I want to either quicken the pace on or slow the pace. just my problem is in my head. Is it too fast/slow? Should I make it move quicker/slower? If I'm the reader reading this for the first time how am I going to react to this?

Ah, too many questions. Then there's punctuation. I don't want to have too many exclamation points or commas or periods. I try my best to only use exclamations where they are really needed. I have one character that I use them for a lot, mainly because she's super hyper and always squealing with joy about something or another. Then there are other characters that rarely need the exclamation point added to their dialogue.

So, I got a book on dialogue. Did it help? Yes and no. It gives great advice and examples. Yet somehow I end up having more questions than answers. One answer it gave me is in medias res, which is writer's jargon for starting a dialogue scene in the middle of the conversation. I like this. Maybe a little too much. This is how I started my second chapter off. Oh and chapter 3. Come to think of it chapter six is split into two scenes and I think I start off the second half in this manner, as well. Hmm? Maybe I ought to come up with something a little different before half of the book starts of in the midst of a conversation.

Wow, there's still so much to talk about with dialogue, but not enough time in this blog. I think I'll keep some of the other dialogue discussion for yet another blog later.

Till next time have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Word Count

My first thought is huh? I am a very wordy person. What you might say in a couple of sentences it takes me four to five. This whole word count issue has really become an "issue" for moi. I am on Twitter and I follow several authors. Occasionally I see that they mention their word count goals for the day or mention how many words they've written on that particular day. For me I never have really worried about the word count, but rather the content. I worry about whether I got down on paper what I wanted to convey and if it got me closer tot he finish line or not.

So I decided to do some poking around on the internet. That hasn't gotten me near as far as I would have liked. I thought if I found a general rule then I was good to go. Apparently, not everyone is on the same page when it comes to word count. If you are a new author you seem to be given a limit as to how many words you can use and then if you are a veteran you seem to get more leeway. One site even went through this ridiculous process of explaining that what my computer says is my word count and what a digital copy with say my word count is are two totally different things. HUH????

I found a website that claims anything under 60,000 is a novella - even in young adult. Yet, another site claims that most YA novels are between 40,000 and 60,000. I also found another site that claims that a new author for YA needs to keep their words below 100,000. And many others claim that is the same for an adult novel. My guess is that I am going to have to go with the 40,000 - 60,000 word count claim.

Now just how to do this? It scares me to worry about word count while I am busy trying to convey a message and get my story out. Therefore, I have come to the only logical conclusion I can for myself. I have decided to just write the darn book and not pay any attention to word count. When I finish I will calculate my word count and then try to trim it if need be. And I am almost positive I will need to trim my story. Without a doubt!

Till next time, have a wonderful day!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Quote #3

"The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes." ~Agatha Christie

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Inciting Incident

So today I was thinking about my inciting incident for my book. Well let's just say that I am torn up about it. My inciting incident, or what I think is my inciting incident, plays out in the very first chapter. It's more a hook and an inciting incident all in one. The problem is that I just feel there needs to be another part to it to get things rolling a little more a few chapters in, but I'm not sure what. This is the hard part. Trying to figure out if I have created a good inciting incident and if it really does its job. I think it has, but I'm afraid it hasn't done enough for the reader. For me it's enough. Does that constitute enough for someone else? I guess we'll see.

The inciting incident plays out in chapter 1 and turns my protagonists life upside down. She's thrown into another life that she really doesn't want to be a part of. Not only that, but she also has been given an important role in this new life that she really doesn't want at all. All she wants is to return to her old life. That is something that will never and can never happen. The doors to her old life have been closed forever. I feel that is exactly what an inciting incident should do. However, since it occurs right off the bat I wonder if there should be more to it or not.

Of course this is the inciting incident to the main plot. I have another subplot which includes a love triangle. That inciting incident is still to be pinned down. I have an idea, but it is not as WOW as the main plot inciting incident. Still working on that one. Also after reading Robert McKee's "Story"I believe I should have another subplot, but I'm unsure what exactly it should be.

Well that said I guess I still have a lot to ponder while I lay in bed attempting to get some sleep. Good night for now. Smile!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I am currently working on the outline for my book. When I first started work on this book I had decided that it would only be one of three or four books in a series. Now, I've worked it out into about seven books. I really hope it can work out the way I have planned. I have decided to work out the outline for this first book and then begin writing it. While I write it I am going to continue to work on the outlines for the subsequent six books.

It's not as easy as my first attempt at creating an outline. After reading "Story" by Robert McKee I have found that I need to have each scene charged positively or negatively. Each scene should end opposite of that which it started. So if the scene starts out positive then it should end negative. Put together I should have a zig zag looking positively and negatively charged graph of my story. Also, the stakes should become greater and greater with each scene.

As of this moment I am about half way through my outline for this first book. It's not nearly as easy as I had thought it would be. Of course it is making my story more interesting in my eyes than it originally appeared.

Till next time, have a great week.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Controlling Idea

Alright I know it's been a while since I blogged. I have been super busy this summer. I spent three weeks in Texas visiting my family. That meant that I spent a week prior getting ready for that trip and then the following week after I returned getting back into my routine. Since then I've been busy getting ready for a yard sale. I still have more to go. Redoing my daughters room. Yet again. I have to have it done before she starts school this September.

On my down time I have been busy working on learning more and preparing myself better for my novel. In my last post I mentioned three books that I had started reading to better prepare myself. I am currently still reading "Story" by Robert McKee. I love this book!

I have learned all about the different parts of a story. There is so much that goes into writing a novel (or screenplay - as the book is geared for). The terminology is the biggest part. Story values, story event, scene, beat, sequence, act, story, story triangle, archplot, miniplot, antiplot. Then one has to take into consideration the characters and how they fit into the novel. How they drive the novel forward. It's through their decisions that the novel progresses.

I've also been working on the side to better pinpoint my controlling idea. somehow the idea of writing just one sentence that tells about my story is way too daunting for me at this point. I'm such a wordy person that this task seems impossible. I'm determined to get there though. I've also found that it has two components to it: value and cause. I have to decide if my controlling idea is positive or negative and I have to understand the cause or reason for why my protagonists life has turned either negative or positive.

I hope to have this completed in the next couple of weeks. I just have so much to do that this might take some time.

Till next time; enjoy the rest of the summer!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Vacation Learning Curve

The vacation has been great! Still on vacation, but thought I'd take some time to write a little about what I'm reading. I found out about two books that are really good for those writing novels. They are really geared for the screenwriter, but are excellent for authors of novels, as well. So I go one from the library and bought the other. I also found a third book at the library that I really have found to be useful. I thought I'd write a little about all three of them. In no particular order, other than how I just plucked them off the table.

The first book is "Save the Cat! Goes To The Movies" by Blake Snyder. His theory is that a movie is made up by fifteen "beats." He gives a definition of each of the fifteen beats and then gives examples. He gives several example of movies already out in each of the nine different genres. I went through and found the genre and a movie within that genre that I could most relate my story to (really I'm not sure what genre mine would be focused mostly in) a I created my own beat sheet using his formula. It actually took me several days to complete this task. I had to totally rethink my approach to a novel that was pretty much finished. I realized that there are several things I could do to change this novel to make it much better. I also realized that if I want to make it a young adult novel I really should have my character still in high school, like I had originally intended. Somewhere along the way my character aged and I never was truly happy with her being older. I'm glad I decided to make her younger again. This beat sheet workup really gave me a more focused approach to my novel. I knew once I read this book that I needed to rewrite my entire novel if I want to get published.

The second book I have been looking at is "Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint" by Nancy Kress. I have been looking for this one at the bookstore, along with the first one, but have yet to find them. I think I'll have to order them both when I return home from vacation. I really have enjoyed this book as well. I have yet to finish it, but what I have read really has changed my approach to my characters. They have all started to become more three dimensional as a result. I also think that they are coming more to life in my mind than they had previously. Before reading this book I only had a good handle on my protagonist and a couple others she interacts with. Now the whole cast of characters are becoming more tangible. Things I never thought about are presented in this book and have really helped me out. Things such as different characters might call the same person different names. I really need to finish reading this book before I complete my cast of characters.

The third book, and possibly best, is "Story" by Robert McKee. This book is also meant mainly for screenwriters, but it has to be one of the best I've seen in the way of helping focus writing a novel.I have been not only reading this book, but I have been studying it very closely. I have started keeping notes in a spiral and highlighting the book. I love this one! It goes way more in depth than the first book does, so naturally it will be the most helpful. I am addicted to it once I finish reading this book, which will be a while, I will need to look at my beat sheet and reevaluate it once again.

Hopefully, all three books taken into consideration, I will have a best seller on my hands. Hopefully! Fingers crossed! Not only have I started thinking more in depth on this book I have also started to think about the whole series. Yes, this book I am currently working on was meant to be part of a series. As a result of the books I am reading I have found that rather than having this a seven book series. We'll see; I'm still working on that angle.

Either way I have found that I need to restart my novel almost entirely. That's fine with me, so long as it's for the better.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Trials

By Heather Simone

As I looked around the bare one room courthouse, built specially to house my hearing and the others that were surely to follow, I couldn’t help but to be reminded of the Salem Witch Trials. It had been a long journey up to this point. My lawyer had promised he would have me out in a matter of days when I was first arrested. Arrested on charges of sorcery. In this day and age I would never have thought that possible. But it had happened. To me and eleven others.

They were calling us “The Witchy Dozen.” A play on words of the old movie “The Dirty Dozen.” It was a horrible, silly name if you asked me. But no one ever asked me anything. No, people were afraid of me. Strange things had been happening in our little town and soon people began talking. Stories ran amuck that witches were in town and before long fear ran everyone’s thought process. So much so, that I had been rounded up with others who were not mainstream and dubbed a witch. We were charged with using sorcery.

There was even an emergency vote against sorcery nationwide. It was now a crime to use any type of sorcery. I, like the others, was placed in a white padded cell that was claimed to be a “sorcery free” zone. They tried us together in the first trial. It was soon decided that was a bad idea. All electronics in the building went haywire. People claiming to be experts insisted that we were separated and sent back to our cells. We were proclaimed guilty without the trial taking place.

Now, a year and a half after I was first arrested we were in a one-room, electronic-free, wooden courthouse in the middle of a corn field in Middle America. My lawyer had been successful in getting me a retrial. This place was built just for this occasion. I hoped he was as good a lawyer as he seemed.

“Your honor the defendant pleads, not guilty.” My lawyer was standing next to me sweating like a pitcher of lemonade in a Texas July. Funny. It was only in the mid-seventies today. The windows were open and a light breeze was floating through the windows to my right and exiting the ones on my left.

“Your honor if we may? I would like to have an expert examine the defendant before we proceed. I would like to make sure no one in the court is at danger.” Nice, the prosecutor was already beginning to place doubt in the minds of the jurors. They looked just as nervous as my lawyer.

“Denied. The defendant was already inspected before being transported to the court. The prosecution will begin their opening comments.” The judge looked nervously between the prosecutor and me.

Clearly, things were not going to go well for me. It was going to take a miracle for me to escape this. Or perhaps a little “sorcery.” …

All rights reserved. © Heather H. Simone 6/10/2010

This Short story was written for a contest with Writer's Digest.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Quote of the Week #2

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. ~Anton Chekhov

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Character Development

I thought since yesterday I talked about point of view I would talk a little about my character development today. Something about writing about point of view reminded me of the whole character issue. My two main characters came to me easy. It was the rest of them that have taken a little longer to develop. Some it has taken almost the whole book to develop.

Naturally my main female character meets a guy she likes, but there has to be a tug of war between the new interest and another one. I decided that there would already be a guy who was in her orbit. Writing dialog for this guy was a little more difficult than writing it for the main male character. I had an idea of what he was like, but he just had not developed into his own voice in my head, yet. About chapter 15 he came through loud and clear. As a result I had to rewrite for him. Starting clear back at chapter 2.

He is not the only character that I have had difficulties writing for. I started out with a group of friends that my main female interacts with. Some characters just did not appear like I had intended them to. Even then other characters who were merely supposed to be just extreme peripheral characters came into her close orbit. One character was only supposed to be discussed, but not really a friend of my main characters, but now she is one of her best friends.

Some of the characters that I have who are side characters in this book I have intended to become more important characters in future books in this series. Yes, I have decided that this will be the first book in a series. I have ideas for th next two books, but I have yet to figure out what exactly will happen in them or how they will unfold. Yes, I also know exactly what will happen to my main two characters in the end. I am not sure how many books I will stretch it out for, though.

One way I have found to work on my character development is to write short stories from these other characters perspectives. I mostly have short stories for my main guy, because the book is not from his perspective. But there are others from the other side characters. It's nice for me to see how they perceive what is taking place. This technique has also helped me to refine my story.

I find that it is very important to be able to describe my characters as thorough as possible. I want my readers to be able to get a good sense of what kind of person they are reading about. I know when I read I like to be able to picture the characters I am reading about. Therefore, I want to make this possible for my readers. Of course, I am finding that I have to go over and revise to make this happen in some cases.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Point of View

Another little hiccup I have found is whose point of view I wanted to write from.

I have two main characters; love interests - of course. At first my plan was to write from both of their perspectives in each chapter. I even thought of adding in a third perspective occasionally to add another side dimension so my readers would see more of what is happening on the peripheral.

That did not last long. I started my novel, but soon found that I was having difficulties linking the two. I was doing back story on one character and then current perspective on the other. Not working! I gave up and threw out the secondary main character's point of view; the guy.

I began writing from the girls point of view only in first person. About five chapters in and I decided that I wanted to use third person. Possibly because I was reading a book which was written in the third person at the time. I went back over the entire five chapters and changed everything to third person. Let me tell you: Time Consuming! That was only the beginning. After I read all five chapters in third person I cringed. It was not right at all. I had to revise everything again to return my work to first person. Had I only kept copies of the originals? Argh!

Currently I have 18 chapters almost complete all in first person from the perspective of one character. I did not throw any of the first person sections I wrote previously from the second main character. I have revised them and created several short stories from his perspective on his back story from these. Hopefully I will get my book published and then I may publish a book of short stories from his perspective and maybe others. We'll see.

Looking back I'm glad I went with the first person from only one character's perspective. I think it works better for me and the story. Although, other characters in the novel are trying to get themselves out onto the paper. I'm working on that; slowly but surely.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Picture #1

The best style is the style you don’t notice. ~Somerset Maugham

The Character

I thought I would discuss my characters for today’s post. I started out with two main characters and their abilities almost instantly when I came up with my plot idea. They both came into their own fairly easily. It was the supporting characters that have taken a little longer to come into their own.

So I started writing my novel with a rough idea about these characters. As I’ve written they have evolved and shown their true colors. Originally it was just my main girl and guy swirling around in my head. Not anymore. They are all beginning to speak. Some louder than others.

I read a piece in a book last year by one of my favorite authors. She talked about the characters in her series that I so love talking to her and being in her mind. Mind you this was before I started writing my own novel. At the time I thought she was a little off her rocker. Now I totally get what she means. Not that they talk to me, but they are there in my mind and very real to me.

I see these characters in my mind going about their own business. I can see how they react in different situations. When I finish my novel I will do one more big revision to it. I will go over it to make sure I have everything the way I want it before trying to publish it and one of those items is characters. I’m sure they will all be coming over loud and clear in my mind by then.

I’m almost to that point right now. To help me a little better I have started character sheets. I have all of the information I need on each character written down to help make sure everything is straight in the novel for that last revise.

I almost can’t wait for that to come. :)

I’m working on a photo to upload this weekend. I want to bring some more color and life to my blog. Have a good weekend.

The Outline

So I started my novel over a year ago, but it seems like forever ago. In that time I have researched tips on how to write a novel. One thing most of these websites have in common is that you need to have an idea and create an outline of some sort.

I have my idea!

I have my outline!

I’m changing my outline.

And changing it again.

And yet again.

The further I get the more I seem to change. My outline is something that I now like to call a fluid outline. It changes as my characters evolve and the plot unfoldds. I have scrapped the first 6 chapters at least three times each. I have either reworked them to fit a new turn in the plot or rewritten them entirely.

When I first started my main character was seventeen, now she is twenty-one. Characters were there and now they’re gone. New characters have popped up. Point A and Point B have stayed the same it’s just the path by which they have followed that has changed.

I like the idea of having an outline, but for me it has to be fluid. I had a hard time at first dealing with the idea of straying from my outline. I thought I had to make it work. Now the outline changes as new ideas pop up. The further I get the more clear things become. Hence, I am now reworking chapters 2-8. Maybe my next novel will begin in the middle and then I’ll start the beginning after the ending is all figured out. Eventually I’ll get this all under control.

Give me a break, this is my first novel.

Quote of the Week #1

I’ve got the key to my castle in the air, but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen.”
— Louisa May Alcott (Little Women)