Monday, December 19, 2011

Blogging Schedule Change

For a while now I've been focusing on my writing more than my blog. It's at a point where something has to give. I tried for so long to keep up with my blog posts Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I even sprinkled in some Writer Website Wednesday posts and In My Mailbox posts. It just all got to be too much. I found myself spending at least a day or two writing and scheduling blogs for the week. I need to focus that time on my writing, not my blog.

So, after much deliberation I have come to the conclusion to cut back on my blogging. As of the New Year I will post on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I will also completely be getting rid of my Writer Website Wednesday (and the page that goes along with it). In it's place I will be posting a new page that has resource links for writers. I have already started working on that page and will post it when it is complete. I also will not be doing any more of the In My Mailbox posts. As much as I loved doing that, I just need to take the time for writing instead.

Also, I will not be blogging for the rest of December. I will be celebrating Christmas with my family and I'd like to not be spending my time blogging, but actually visiting instead. I doubt I will have time to blog at all, until the New Year anyhow.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Holiday Season! I will see you again next year! :-)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Climbing Out Of The "I" Pitfall

I don't know why I didn't think of it on my own, but when I read the comment left by Linda on my blog last week I realized I should have given some examples of how I got out of the "I" pitfall with first person. So, as I edited a new chapter this week I highlighted some instances where there were too many I's in one paragraph or where they could just simply be cut all together. Here are four examples of what I did.

Barely There is a story about a girl named Phoebe who has just realized she's a ghost. I don't want to give too much away, but it's really hard not to.

Example 1:

Draft #1: "Patrick had been the one to take the picture. I remembered him getting on me about how I didn't smile enough. He promised to leave me alone if I smiled for one picture. That was the one they chose for my obit."
- There were 3 I's in that small section & about 4 more in the following paragraph that I deleted all together due to confusing voice in that one. 

Draft #2: "Patrick had been the one to take the picture. I remembered him getting on me about I didn't smile enough. He promised to leave me alone if he could get a smile for one picture. It was the one they chose for my obit.
- I only cut out 1 I, but with the following deleted paragraph I got rid of 5.

Example 2:

Draft #1: "I want to meditate again. Now that I know more I want to try again."
- That's a lot of I's for two sentences. Usually, I try not to have this many in a row.

Draft #2: "I want to meditate again. Maybe having this new information will help."
- Yay! I deleted 2 I's!


Example 3:

Draft #1: "Then again Josh was my first real boyfriend. I wasn't exactly a pro at dating or breaking up with guys."
- This was just me getting rid of an I that was not necessary.


Draft #2: "Then again, Josh was my first real boyfriend."
- I deleted the entire second sentence. It's obvious enough from the first sentence that Phoebe isn't a pro at all.


Example 4: 

Draft #1: "I watched a car that was lower to the ground cross just fine. That made up my mind. I pushed forward."
- This was a simple case of losing the "I watched." It's unnecessary.


Draft #2: "The car in front of me was lower to the ground and crossed just fine. That made up my mind. I pushed forward."



Your Turn -> Do you agree with the changes I made? Is there anything I could have done differently? Feel free to share changes you have made in your own "I" pitfall changes. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Big Edit

Since I'm in the midst of editing a manuscript that I truly enjoyed writing I have been searching for tips about editing everywhere. Last week I came across this blog post over at Kidlit.com. As I was reading I saw myself in both of the authors mentioned. I have had those moments where I have written something that I truly love and instead of making big changes I have done the "tinkering revision." I have also had those moments where I've done a huge edit and changed a lot, but somehow still walked away with some of the same problems on the page that were there before.

In the blog post, Mary Cole, says, "unless you make big changes, a revision isn't worth doing." As I read that comment in bold letters in the blog I thought, Well duh! Yet, at the same time, I know I'm guilty of not doing those big revision and, therefore, wasting time editing. I spent forever editing Midnight Raynne. I made enormous changes to the plot during my first round of edits. After that, the edits fell short of being big and looking back now, they were a waste of time. Maybe that's what got me burned out on the story. I have shelved Midnight Raynne for now, but when I pull it back out I hope that I am able to step back and see the big picture and what needs to be done.

Here in the present, though, I need to get my act together on Barely There. My goal is to have it out to Beta readers in either March or April. I would love to have it to the point that only small changes need to be made. I don't want the reader loosing interest or thinking why is this here. This all means that I need to make the big revision now. It's these kinds of edits that I'm going for now. Maybe this is why I've spent the past week going over three chapters so much. I refuse to go on until I'm sure that the chapters are in great shape.

I'm looking at everything from voice, dialogue, character, purpose, wording, the whole shebang of possible quirks I know I have is being ripped apart in those chapters. This kind of editing elicits several feelings in me, it's invigorating, exciting, daunting, and just down right overwhelming at times.

Your Turn -> Do you find yourself doing the "tinkering revisions" or are you the type that makes huge revisions? Are you like me, do you find yourself doing a little of both?

Friday, December 9, 2011

The "I" Pitfall of First Person

During the process of editing Barely There I started to notice a trend. I have these words that continually pop up. Big time! Trying to fix them I came upon an even bigger issue. "I"

I like to write in first person, so naturally my character says "I" a lot. In fact, too much. I sat down with a chapter and circled every instance of "I." Guess how many I found.

124

Seriously! That's insane! That comes to an average of a little more than 21 per page out of the six page chapter.

Through the process of editing I dwindled that number down to ... 90. I'll admit, I might have been able to cut it down more, but at the moment that was all I could bring myself to cut. Another round should drop it even more. 

And, no, that was not easy! Not by a long shot. In fact here's a little secret. I did a major revision of that chapter before I counted the 124 I's. Before that there had been 6-1/2 pages and 121 I's. So, in my "big revision" I created more of a problem with the I Pitfall. Now when I make my notes on the draft I have decided to circle every single "I" with a green highlighter. Then as I make those big revisions, the I's can dwindle.

This, of course, prompted me to look at the first two chapters that I had already edited, but not for the I's. I cut 34 I's in chapter 1 and 33 from chapter 2.

Cutting the I's wasn't the only thing that happened. Nope, in the process of cutting the I's out, I tightened up my wording a whole lot. This made me extremely happy. From now on I will search for the I's when I think I am completely done editing. Surely, there will be more to be done.

Your Turn -> Have you found yourself falling into the I Pitfall if you write in first person?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Revising the Goals

Originally my plan was to edit Barely There over the month of December and move on to my NaNo manuscript in January. I'm seven days into December and there is no way I'm going to get done with this round of edits by January. Especially with the holidays this month. It seems as though I have got a ton of things going on and then I will be headed to Texas this year for Christmas. I knew when I worked out my goals that I might be pushing it for my December goals.

Being busy this month isn't the only thing that makes this goal unrealistic. The fact that I am moving at a snails pace through each chapter is the biggest reason. It's taking me two days per chapter, at best. I have 27 chapter. Clearly at this speed I will not be getting this round of edits done by the end of December, maybe the end of January would be more appropriate. That's okay, though. My original plan was to deal with plot, character, and flow of the story this round of edits. Then on a subsequent round I would deal with tightening, wording, and anything else I found to be troublesome. Instead, I'm doing it all at once.

Either way, I still need to look at my month by month goal sheet and alter it to reflect this change of plans. I'm just hoping it doesn't take longer than two months to get this round of edits done.

Your Turn -> Do you set writing goals? If so, do you tend to bite off more than you can chew when you write out goals?

Monday, December 5, 2011

"Not" My New Favorite Word

I know I'm slightly late on getting this blog done, but last week was a mess for me. I spent the first part of the week trying to finish up my NaNoWriMo novel. Yes, I won this year!!! And I turned in my word count last weekend, but I still had my goal for the month to have it completed as well. And with my toddler waking up early every morning and then taking short naps I wasn't getting that time. So, the time I would have taken to write a blog post was spent finishing that manuscript. And, It's done! I finished it Wednesday afternoon, just in the nick of time. 

Thursday I found myself delving back into Barely There to do edits. In fact it's been going a lot slower than I had anticipated. Which means that I probably won't meet my December goal of having a second draft completed on this manuscript. I was hoping to have it completed and shelved, so I could go back to my NaNo manuscript in January. I'm just not sure that will happen, though. I will have to go back and reassess my goals at the end of the month. 




But, that doesn't explain the title of this post. Does it? No! Okay, so why do I love the word 'not'? Easy, that was my 50,000 word in my NaNo manuscript this month. Since this was my first NaNo win I decided to allow myself to celebrate with dancing around the house with the two year old. I'm pretty sure my thirteen year old thought I had lost my mind. (Something I enjoy making her think.)

Yes, I still have a bit to do on my NaNo manuscript when I return to it. But, it's actually good for a first draft. The only thing I don't like is the ending. I feel it's lacking some umph. That's okay. I can rewrite the ending during edits. Not a huge problem.

Your Turn -> If you won NaNo also, what was your 50,000 word?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Time For Thanksgiving

I've seen my Facebook friends and family doing this little thing this year, where they say what they are thankful for that particular day. My problem is I had my NaNo goggles on and caught on to what they were doing way too late. There was no way I was about to try to fit in all the things I am thankful for in one day to catch up. So, I decided to to a blog instead.

Here are my things I'm thankful for, in no particular order (can't put family in order, they would all be tied for #1).

My daughter at Lake George, NY 2010.
- My 2 wonderful children! My teenage daughter helps me keep my writing real every day. I just have to eavesdrop a little (shhh, don't tell her. lol) And my 2 year old keeps me on my toes, literally. (By the by that's my daughter in the picture over there to the right.)
- My wonderfully supportive parents and sister! I couldn't ask for better. They truly are the best ever! Did I mention that my parents have been known to stand in ridiculously long lines at book signings just to get me signed books by my favorite author? Well, they do. (Wish more authors would come to the Jersey Shore. hint hint)
- My amazing husband! He never complains (okay, rarely) that I write instead of clean the house. He loves that I am writing and reaching for the stars everyday.
- Extended family and friends - They are amazing. I'm glad I have the friends and family I have. :-)
- A house over our heads - It's hard these days and sometimes we all forget just how many people out there are living in shelters or cars.
- My husband's new job - He's had to start a new job recently, and while it's not the best it's still a job and money towards bills and Christmas. He's such a wonderful man, we love him dearly.
- Coffee! I think you know what I mean.
- My laptop - If I had to write by hand I think my hand would have fallen off by now, seriously.
- Toddler sleeping in and taking nice naps - My son refuses to let me work on my computer when he's up. He has to be the center of attention, and that's fine by me. So I can only write when he's sleeping.
- My critique group - They truly have made me a better writer all around. They are amazing and extremely supportive. Love them!
- Twitter - Yes, I said it, Twitter. So what? I have found a lot of great writer friends there. Plus it's a great way to stalk follow agents I want to query.
- Books - I love books! Need I say more? Nope. :-)
- My Kindle - As much as I love real books, the Kindle makes it easy when you have kids. Especially when my son was very little and would try to rip pages out of books.
- Facebook - I know a lot of people hate Facebook, but since I only friend people I personally know and I have made everything on my account private I don't have a problem. It's the best way to keep in touch with family all over the country.
- Snack food - I love to snack while I write. Bad thing, but it's the only time I can eat things with peanuts in them. My son is allergic and he wants whatever I'm eating. So, I snack and type while he sleeps.
- Spell check - I can't forget this one. Man do I make a lot of silly errors as my fingers fly across the keyboard. 

I could keep going, but in the interest of keeping this blog at a reasonable length I'll end it here.

Your Turn -> Tell me something you are thankful for this year.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Another Year Wiser

It wasn't that long ago that I found myself blogging about how much I hated outlines and how I just couldn't work with them. Well, I'm changing my tune. Yup, that's right. I have found out what the problem was. It wasn't that I couldn't work with an outline, or that I didn't like following an outline. No. The real problem was that I didn't know how to properly create a worthy outline. I would write up an outline and find that I veered from it quite often. My characters would surprise me and become something I hadn't expected. A new subplot would pop up. My main plot would suddenly take a life of its own. All sorts of things were happening.

Another year wiser and more writing under my belt and I've decided that outlining isn't so bad, as long as you do it correctly. As I mentioned back in October I started using this great book called First Draft in 30 Days. I think this has really helped with my outlining. I have learned what I like from the book and what I'm not crazy out, so I have actually gotten almost TWO manuscripts completed with the use of outlines now. The first one I rewrote using the outline and the second one is my NaNoWriMo novel that I should hit the 50,000 word count with this week. I'm so excited that I've decided I'm going to go back through last years NaNo novel using this same method and see if I can fix the plot holes that exist in that manuscript.

I also have to be honest its not just the outlining that has helped I've also learned more about the characters I need to have present. I found a blog post last month that told of the Seven Character Types That Build Your Story. This time when I outlined I made sure I knew what purpose each of my characters was there to serve. They weren't just there to be there, they were there to build up that story. And what do you know? I didn't have any character surprises this time around. That helped me stick to my outline.

As suspected, knowing what roles my characters serve and knowing how to outline better have created stronger story lines for me all together. I am now truly looking forward to editing. I'm not sure what I will decide to do with this latest WIP in the editing process, but I am not as worried bout getting through it as I normally am.

Your Turn -> What have you found that has made your writing better?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Overused Words

Yesterday while writing on my NaNoWriMo piece I realized that I was using the word 'though' way too much. I kept typing it in and then having to go back and delete it. I was driving myself mad with the word. It's like it was imbedded in my brain and I couldn't help type it into every possible sentence. I had to laugh at myself at first for the silliness of using the word unnecessarily. Then I started to think about how many times I have used it recently and not fixed it in my writing. That made me cringe. I'm not sure if I've been over using it and just really paid attention to it.

I know I have other words that cause me grief. I tend to use the words 'like' and 'just' an awful lot too. I actually have a check list of things I need to check when I edit and these words are there as a reminder to get rid of them. I know there was another word that I found myself using too much recently, but I forgot to write it down and now I can't remember which word it was. I'm sure I will figure it out when I read through my WIP later, but right now the idea of no knowing is driving me crazy. I will also have to add 'though' to the list as soon as I can before I forget about it.

Your Turn -> Are there any words you tend to use more than you should? What are they?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Plot Snags

I had this great outline all set and working nicely for my NaNoWriMo project. It worked wonderful for 32,000 words and then I did the big no-no and veered from my plot. I've been at an almost stand still ever since I got off on this new tangent last Saturday. I wrote nearly 5,000 words that day as I was super excited about this new turn of events.

I've been trying to figure out how this new twist will work with what I was supposed to do after that particular scene. You see my main character was supposed to just be in a tight situation, but I had to go and make it an almost death scene where she barely got out alive. Now she's all beaten up and damaged. I fear this may have been a bad move. Yet, I still have time to go before NaNo is over and now less than 15,000 words to write.

I'm hoping that at some point today I'll have the plot figured out and be back on track to writing my 2,500 words a day again. If I can pull this off then I should hit my 50K by next Wednesday. I know 15K should only take 6 days at that pace, but I'm giving myself a day for today to plot this kink out. And, I'm attending the 12:01am showing of Breaking Dawn Thursday night / Friday morning. I most likely will NOT hit my word count Friday at all. I'll be lucky if I can force myself to sit down and write at all that day. lol

Of course hitting my 50K doesn't mean that I'll be done with my story. I'm planning to reread this story making notes as I go when I'm finished with it. Then it will be shelved until January, when I will revisit it and edit the heck out of it. With luck I'll have it in amazing shape by April. My goal is to have it ready for Beta readers by March. Fingers crossed.

Your Turn -> Have you ever found yourself taking a new route with a manuscript and end up needing to re-plot the entire ending?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Quantity vs. Quality

I've been seeing a lot of blogs in the past two weeks that are geared towards the NaNoWriMo crowd. Why? Because there's a debate that goes on every November regarding quantity versus quality. I get both sides. The idea of NaNoWriMo isn't to have the best quality of work on the first go round, but rather have a good start to something great. There are two reasons this debate has taken form. Two separate

1 - Every Writer Writes Different: 
  • OCD Writers - You have the writers who are OCD, like my dear hubby, and have to have their writing perfect on the first go round. For this crowd writing so quickly and not editing at the same time NaNo is near impossible.
  • NaNoers - Then there are those who can write fast and get their work down in one month, or close to. (We will come back to this group, soon.) 
  • Nay Sayers - Of course there are the nay sayers who just plane don't like the idea all together. That's fine, it's their prerogative. 

2 - NaNoWriMO Participants (I told you we would come back to the second group) This is probably the biggest reason the Quantity versus Quality debate even exists. Why? Every December as NaNoWriMo participants reread their newly completed manuscripts different groups emerge.
  • True Editors - This group of NaNoers will edit the heck out of their manuscript. They will shelve it and come back to it numerous times. They will obsess over every detail they wrote during November. They will have their critique partners look it over, send it to Beta readers, and eventually (sometime after March) begin sending them off to agents. This is the group the agents love! 
  • Almost Editors - This group will edit their NaNo projects, but they will either not go far enough with the editing process and shelve their projects for later or they just don't know enough now about the writing process. Their work won't stink as badly, but it won't be as good as the True Editors and when they query it agents will not be as irritated as they are with the next group. 
  • Barely Editors - This group is the group most disliked in all of NaNo. I've heard a lot about this group lately. It seems every year there are those who finish their novel, give it a quick once over to fix spelling and little errors, and then they query agents. Apparently it s a pretty big group. Enough to annoy some agents into hating November. DON'T be in this group. You're WIP is NOT ready in December. I don't care how great you say you are as a writer, it's not ready. I've never read a blog by a traditionally published author where they've said they write, check for little errors, and it's perfect. No, No, NO! 
  • Shelvers - Then finally there are the ones who shelve their project and don't come back to it for a year or more. 

Me and NaNoWriMo: 
  • 2010 - Last year I fell in the Shelvers group. I still haven't pulled it off the shelf, but I have worked out a goals schedule for the first six months of 2012 and it's on there to pull it back off the shelve and start work on it. 
  • 2011 - This year my goal is to fall in that very first category of True Editors. I will not shelve this WIP and I will get it edited to the point it's ready for the query process. I will! 

Your Turn -> Did I miss a group? Where do you fall? Where would you like to fall this year?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Under the Weather

I know I missed blogging on Wednesday and I don't have a post for today. I haven't forgotten about blogging, I've just been under the weather most of the week. Rather than attempting to fight my brain for a blog post I thought I'd give you a peek at a couple of beautiful pictures that adorn my living room.

Each of the pictures I use on my blog are by Al Reich, In Natural Light Photography, or as I like to call him, Dad!

Below are two of my very favorite photographs of his and they are hanging over the couch in my living room. Below them are a couple of links to see other of his photographs.

I hope to be back to feeling better and blogging on Monday. Until then, I hope you enjoy the photography. :-)




In Natural Light on Flickr

In Natural Light Official Gallery

Monday, November 7, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Progress Report

As you may know this is my second year participating in NaNoWriMo. Last year I decided to join in on the fun almost last minute, on October 30th. This year I started planning in January and I have already seen a huge difference. So what gives?

Good Planning is what has given me a leg up this year. One week in and this morning I logged in my word count, 19,983. A whole 17 words shy of 20,000. I wasn't anywhere near that number last year at this time. I find that since I know exactly where my characters are going it's been a lot easier to write the story. I am following my outline and getting exactly where I want and need to be.

Growth is the other aspect that I seem to have more of this year than I had last year. I was fairly new last year when I entered NaNo, this year I've got more writing under my belt, I've learned more about better outlining and organizing before I write, and I've got the best critique group ever. The story I'm writing now is one of my favorites so far that I've ever written. It's the second manuscript that I've written with this new outlining format and it's working like a charm so far.

I'm hoping that I can keep up this writing streak that I've gotten myself into. Last year I strived for 2,000 words a day, knowing that I would have a problem keeping up at the end of the month. My son's second birthday is coming up this month as well as Thanksgiving. Those two events usually cause me to lose writing time. Not to mention if I decide to actually brave the crowds and go out on Black Friday. That kills that entire day as far as writing goes. Last year I also finished the manuscript early, but didn't quite hit the word count. I knew I had missed things and needed to add new scenes in, but didn't get it done in time for the word count to be considered for the NaNo site. 

This year I have a great outline and I'm shooting for a higher word count per day, around 2,500-3k a day at least. I'm hoping that if I finish the manuscript ahead of schedule and I'm below the 50k words needed I'll be able to work on adding scenes. So far I have been adding scenes that I hadn't planned on being included already. I don't see any way to add in more scenes, but just in case I would like to have the time to consider it.

Your Turn -> If you are doing NaNoWriMo, have you grown from year to year in your writing?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Creating New Worlds With Words

If there's anything I love about writing it's creating a new world. Usually I only create a scenario set in our world, but for NaNoWriMo I came up with an idea that is more dystopian in style than anything else I've ever written. It didn't start out that way either. I've been thinking up this world and story line since January. Seriously, that's insane for me to have been working on it on the side for so long and not writing a single word as far as word count is concerned.

It was originally a sci-fi story, then it transformed into a love story, and now finally it's a love story in the midst of a dystopian society. The characters have changed as have the paths they were supposed to take. In the last month things really started to take shape better and I finally found all of the missing puzzle pieces I had been fighting to piece together. It all just suddenly fell right into place. That, I like.

So, currently I'm creating a whole new world for my characters to discover themselves in. It's fun and exhilarating. I can see the world opening up before me and placing it on the paper. The crazy thing about this being a new world and my NaNoWriMo novel is that I have plenty need to describe the world my characters inhabit. It's a great means to add to my word count.

Now, off to write I must go! The words are calling me, or rather a particular scene is calling to me.

Your Turn -> What do you like most about creating a new story?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Reading Reward

This month being NaNoWriMo means that I am creating a new work and when that happens I tend to lay off the reading. I tend to lose my characters voice and get too caught up in whatever book it is that my nose is stuck in. Therefore, there will be no reading for at least the first part of this month. Instead I'm actually cleaning my house.

Yup, I said it. I'm cleaning my house. I see writers all the time on Twitter claiming to be using it as a procrastination tool so they don't have to write. Not me, it's my procrastination tool so that I don't have to clean. When I sit down to write, I write. When I have time to clean, I read, I play on my iPhone, or I surf various social networks.

This month, I am refraining from reading AND procrastination. I have decided to write in the morning and during the toddler's nap time. In between those writing sprints I have decided to do a little cleaning here and there. I'm not going to overload myself cleaning non-stop, so yes I'll be relaxing occasionally. But, there will be no reading. If I read there will be NO cleaning or writing. And that will be bad.

So, since I love to read I have decided to use reading as my reward. When my house is clean, and I've finished NaNoWriMo, I will reward myself with binge reading. 

My two main goals this November:

- I will win NaNoWriMo this year!

- I will get my house cleaned before the holidays!

Your Turn -> Do you find yourself procrastinating on one particular thing?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011

That's right, it's time once again for National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo. For those of you unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month, November. If you follow writers on Twitter or Google+ you are sure to be inundated with NaNo updates. If you are participating I welcome you to add me to your buddy list on the NaNo site.

This is my second year participating and I'm so excited. This year, being my second, is entirely different. The big difference is that last year I decided to participate on October 30th, giving me two days to prepare. This year I have been planning and researching since January. I feel good about this story and I'm hoping that I will hit my 50,000 word count. Last year I only reached just over 38,000. And, that was flying by the seat of my pants.

Last year I had never attempted to write a full novel in that amount of time. It was a learning experience. This year I've been practicing. For NaNo 2010 I rewrote a novel that I had been fighting with. It was the third full round on that novel. It was also my first full novel written. Since then I've written three more novels fully. I'm still in the process of editing said novels, but I'm better prepared now than I was last year.

I've grown a lot as a writer since last year, so I'm hoping to take what I have learned and pull it together for a win this time round.

Your Turn -> Are you participating this year? Is it your first? Have you won before? Tell me a little about your experience.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Busy Weeks = No Blogging

Well, I did it again. I disappeared without explanation. Sorry for the sudden disappearance. I didn't really intend to miss out on my blogging, really I didn't. In fact I've been going over blog posts that I want to do for the past week. The problem is that I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off all week. Today is the first day I have been able to sit down with my computer and write a post.

There used to be a time when I would write my posts ahead of time and schedule them for the week ahead. I find, though, that by the time a post goes up onto the blog it's a week or two behind when I actually was at that place in my writing, and things have changed. So, I made the decision to not schedule my posts too far in advance. Instead I write them the day before or the day they are supposed to go up. This, however, has become a problem for busy weeks, like this week.

Added on top I have been beta reading a story for a fellow writer. Unfortunately with all of the business in my week I've had to drag the story around with me sneaking in a page or two, here and there. I guess I didn't realize just how busy this week was going to be until I was in the thick of things. I've learned my lesson, though -> Don't schedule so much in one week, spread things out! I have finished the beta read and sent my comments off this morning. Yes, I loved the story! (Just in case you were wondering.) 

Hopefully, I can keep up with blogging this next month with NaNoWriMo going on. Speaking of NaNoWriMo, I'm so excited about my new story I can't wait for next Tuesday to get here. You can be sure that come 6 am November 1st I'll be jumping out of bed and turning on my computer to write. I already have characters sketches, plot sketches, and scene sketches completed. I'm still working on my setting sketches, but that shouldn't take too much longer. Then I can start my writing! I'm so excited!

So, in a nutshell that has been my last week. Crazy and full of busy.

Your Turn -> How do you keep up with blogging during hectic weeks?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Paralyzed Without Internet

Sorry for my impromtu disappearance this past week. Last Sunday my hubby came out of bedroom saying, "I was just kicked off the PlayStation Network and it won't let me back on." I know most households boast a husband that is the tech wizard and the wife depends on him for the internet connection to be fixed. Not so in my house. I couldn't ask him to look anything up on the web to save his life. My daughter, on the other hand, was installing software at the ripe age of three. No she didn't exactly have permission, but that didn't stop her from correctly installing a game. She had watched her Grandpa and Mommy do it so many times, it just came to her.

A few minutes later my daughter came out of her room freaking out that she was just kicked of the internet as well. After a bunch of fiddling with connections and talking to a cable guy, who I could barely understand, we realized that our wireless router wasn't functioning correctly.

My daughter and I immediately went into "OMG! What are we going to do now? How can we survive?" mode. My sweet hubby started laughing and told us to calm down. I texted my parents to let them know that we were without the internet for a while. Seeing this my dad called me immediately. Within half an hour my dad sent me a text saying that he had ordered a new router and it would be here Tuesday.

Still, we were foaming at the bit to get on the internet. Friends of my daughters told her on Monday that if she hadn't been in school they were going to call 911 since she wasn't on Facebook at all. I find it funny that they were so over the top freaking out, but it's not like her to not be on Facebook for an entire day.

By Monday evening my dearest hubby was freaking out that he didn't have access to Netflix or PlayStation. It was my turn to laugh. Mwahaha!

Tuesday when the UPS truck pulled up I threw the door open squealing with joy. Poor UPS guy thought I was nuts. He had no idea just how excited I was. Within a half hour I had internet again.

Yes, I know that's quite a delay in time from when I got my internet back to when I started using it again. That's because I've been trying to make a last push to finish Barely There before November. I need to plan my NaNoWriMo project and I'm beta reading a book for a critique partner. Needless to say being away from the internet was slightly imperative.

Good news, though, I've finished Barely There and I'm almost done with the beta read. That means all of my attention can soon turn to NaNoWriMo.

Your Turn -> How badly would you be affected without your internet?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hooking Readers Instantly

This past week I finally got the chance to sit down and read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Finally! I know what you're thinking, "You're just now reading it?" Yes, I'm a bit behind, but not completely lost. It looks like it took me forever to read the book based on my Goodreads account, but that wasn't the case. I was busy and stealing a minute or two here and there to read it. Until finally, I ignored everything else and sat down to read. I actually lost sleep reading the book, because I couldn't set it down and go to sleep. I would set it down only to pick it back up, telling myself "One more chapter, then I'll go to bed." Yeah, right!

My Goodreads account is set up to feed to my Twitter and Facebook accounts when I update my status. Almost every single time I did an update someone on both sites would make a comment. At one point a close friend of mine mentioned that she didn't know what it was that made everyone so addicted to it when they started reading it. Of course, this got me thinking. What was it?

My first thought was suspense. I mean we want to see how the Hunger Games turn out. Who lives? Who dies? What happens to Katniss and Peeta? They were in a fight for their lives. To the main character everything was life or death. However, the more I got to thinking about it I decided it wasn't just suspense that had me insisting on one more chapter, over and over. It was the hook!

Not only was there a hook at the beginning of the book, there seemed to be a hook in every chapter. Something that made me go "Oh no! I have to read the next chapter to see how that turns out." Collins gives us a reason to keep reading in each and every chapter. It's not us merely wanting to find out what happens next, she is forcing us to push forward.

Each chapter and scene build upon one another AND she gives another hook in each one. So maybe that's what I should be looking at too. Not just building and adding to the story, but continually hooking the reader. Make it impossible for the reader to set the book down. I will have to revisit all of my manuscripts with this in mind in the future.

Your Turn -> If you read The Hunger Games, what made you keep reading? Do you agree that Suzanne Collins continually hooked us?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Obsessing Over 1st Drafts

I'm currently working on the first draft of a manuscript that I have been working on for the past year off and on. I started it last October and dropped it for NaNoWriMo. I just realized I only have 19 days to finish this first draft, so I can start on my NaNoWriMo manuscript. The pressure is on.

Pressure isn't exactly helping. On Monday I wrote chapter 14. It wasn't setting right with me. So after some thought I decided I needed to push what I had written back, further off in the novel. I still liked what I had written, but the timing of it was off. So, Tuesday I wrote a new chapter 14. I loved it! Then after a few hours I started questioning that chapter as well. I've ultimately decided that it needs to be pushed to another point in the novel as well.

Or does it?

This morning while getting my coffee ready I pondered what would happen if I changed a couple little aspects of it and then left it where it is. Move on to the next chapter. I mean, this is the first draft. I still have time to mess with it and move things around. I shouldn't be obsessing over it now. I need to write it, get it out of my head and onto the paper, and then shelve it so I can come back to it in January. November is for NaNoWriMo and December may just as well be a bust as far as writing goes for me. I'm thinking I might devote December to writing short stories instead of anything major.

Your Turn -> Do you find yourself obsessing over first drafts when you know you can come back and fix it later?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Class Clown

Growing up I was never the funny one at school. I never had a clever comeback, at all. In fact it was usually hours later that I'd think "Oh, shoot! I should have said ...." Yeah, I don't consider myself to be a super funny person. I'm still not that witty and I still think about what I should have said hours later. It didn't get better with age.

That said I love to read books where the author has sprinkled in funny incidents. I find that not all books have this, only a few can truly make me laugh in the midst of a mystery or a drama.

I want to be like them! I want to add in that comedic flare occasionally. It's not fair that I'm not as funny.

Wait, I can come back and add in the snappy comebacks and goofy incidents. I'm a writer I can do that sort of thing in my edits.

So, for my current WIP that's exactly what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to sprinkle in scenes that are a little more fun than would otherwise be. Why? I think it fits in this story. I think readers will enjoy it. And, most of all, I'm enjoying the comedic outbursts myself. I think my main character can handle these situations well. At least I hope she can.

Of course, we'll have to see if my critique group thinks it works or not, but I think it does.

Your Turn -> Do you have a similar problem?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Creativity At Last!

It's been a while since I sat down and actually cranked out new content for a WIP. I have several in the works, but haven't actually sat down and started writing until this week. I finished editing what I had previously written for Barely There. Now I'm on to writing new content, which feels so good. I am so happy with where my story is going this time and enjoying every minute of the writing process. I can't believe I haven't written in so long.

I'm also working on notes and ideas for my NaNoWriMo WIP that I intend on working on come November 1st. I can't wait. That one has been simmering for almost as long as Barely There. I've been gathering ideas and doing research on different aspects for this one since last December. Okay, so I was determined to have a story ready to go this time around. Instead of deciding to jump in head first at the last second like last year. This time I'm working on a project that I hope will be amazing.

I'm looking at having a good two months of no editing, just pure writing, pure creativity. It's an invigorating feeling.

Your Turn -> Do you feel a sense of renewed energy when creating a new work?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Editing Fool

Well, folks that would be me, the editing fool. I started writing Barely There last year in October, dropped it for NaNoWriMo, then went back to it, then dropped it for Midnight Raynne, and now I'm finally giving it proper attention. It feels good. I have also sat down and worked out a good outline. I have tried outlining before and had a very difficult time, yet this time is different. I think part of that is because the characters have been simmering in my mind for a while now. I have pictured them doing different things and pictured scenes taking place. I now know what my characters are supposed to do. I think that helped when I outlined this time. I hope so.

Either way, I have gone back to editing. I had written 12 chapters in all before now. the first two chapters were dragging and I wasn't feeling the hook was there. So, this past weekend I cut both chapters. Threw them out and said good riddence. This felt great! I worked in what little information needed to be kept from those original two chapters into the third chapter which is now chapter 1. I'm hoping that is what it needed. Then yesterday I sat down and edited a few chapters. I still have more two more chapters to edit before I can move on to create some new content. I have new content that I want to stick in between already existing chapters, so I will have to edit, create, edit, then go back to creating.

My goal right now is to have an entire first draft done by the 22nd of October. Then I can go on to outlining and building the world for my NaNoWriMo novel this year.

Your Turn -> Have you found that your novel needs time to simmer before it can be written properly?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Watching From the Sidelines and Still Ecstatic

I'm still getting used to life on the Jersey Shore. Yes, I've been here eight years, but still I'm a Texan at heart and I miss my Austin. So, I live two-hours away from New York City. Great! Not really, I don't go there. Too busy and crazy for me. Getting to the Big Apple is not as easy as it sounds. I'm terrified of driving there. That means that I have to take the train into the city. This is all a turn off for me. That means that Philadelphia is my next choice for city life. That's an hour-and-a-half from my house. Another hike, but I will drive there.

So what does all of this have to do with me and writing?

Author signings.

I have my favorite authors that I just love and want to go see. Unfortunately for me the Jersey Shore just isn't the big draw for author signings that I'd like it to be. Instead they all go to either NYC or Philly. This means I have to make a trek. Not bad, except that I have a toddler. This adds a whole new level of difficulty. My toddler is a mommy's boy all the way around. I can barely leave him alone with my husband and daughter to meet with my critique group once a month. He gets rotten when he doesn't have his mommy around.

Therefore, I have not been to any author signings. Instead I send my parents in Austin. Yup, my amazingly wonderful awesome parents go to book festivals in Austin, because authors are always in Austin, for me.

This past weekend one of my favorite authors was in Austin at the Austin Teen Book Festival, Alyson Noel. She writes the Immortals Series. Of which I have all of the first five books on my Kindle. I still need the sixth and final book of the series. My parents stood in a ridiculously long line to reserve the book, and some for my daughter by Heather Brewer. Then they had to stand in the "buy the books" line. Then there were the actual "author signing" lines. This is where they split. My Mom stood in line to get books signed by Heather Brewer for my daughter. My Dad got in Alyson Noel's line for my book. They were in line for an hour-and-a-half, the time it would have taken me to drive to Philly from the Jersey Shore.

Not only did Alyson Noel sign a book for me it was seriously personalized. Not only was Saturday the Austin Teen Book Festival, but it was also my birthday. My Dad sent me the following picture which made me giddy with joy.




I wish I could have been there myself. Unfortunately not many authors I like seem to come my way. So, until authors decide to come to the Jersey Shore I will have to make do. I've already enlisted my parents to go to the Texas Book Festival in three weeks to get Beautiful Chaos signed by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. That's for another post, though.

Your Turn -> Have you met your favorite author? Been to any signings? Share your experience with me.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Banned Book Week 2011 - Part 3

Part 3 - The Interview!

Since my daughter just read Crank, which is number 4 on the 2010 top 10 Banned Book List I thought I'd get her take on banned books and Crank. I'd, of course, like to thank my dear daughter who graciously agreed (with eye rolling and sighing involved) to do this interview. She was, however, more excited to answer my questions when it came down to it. Because I wasn't feeling well I typed out the questions and she wrote her answers in for me. So, all of the ...'s and !!!!'s are all hers. I thought they were funny and left them in. Enjoy! 

Me: What are your thoughts on banning books?

Em: "I don't think it's all that smart. If someone does not like a book then they shouldn't read it. Some of these books help teens in a way."

Me: What are your thoughts on Crank by Ellen Hopkins? 


Em: "Um ... Well ... I really like it. My friend does, too. It tells kids and teens that you shouldn't do any drugs. And the fact it is based on the author's own daughter's addiction is more of a ... Don't do it because this is all real stuff going on here."

Me: Did you like the book?


Em: "I absolutely love it!!!"

Me: What did you like the most about the book?


Em: "What I like most about the book is that it [doesn't take long] to read it. Besides that it has a really good message to teens and young adults."

Me: What did you like the least about the book?


Em: "I don't think that if I sat here for three days I could think of one possible thing I don't like."

Me: What did you learn from reading Crank

Em: "I learned that crack is not healthy at all. (I already knew everything.)"

Me: Gotta love D.A.R.E.! Since you've read about a teen hooked on drugs do you feel more or less likely to give into peer pressure and try drugs?

Em: "Um ... I will never ever ever give into peer pressure and try drugs. Not to mention I've seen real lungs from someone who smoked and did drugs. It was horrifying."

Me: Again, great D.A.R.E. program to the rescue! Would you recommend this book to your friends? Why?


Em: "I would without a doubt recommend this book to friends. It has a positive message to not do drugs and a negative message about doing drugs."
 
Me: Are you surprised by Crank being on the banned book list? Why?

Em: "I am, but I'm not. I'm not because a lot of people would not like a book about crack. I am because a lot of people probably haven't even read it and /or don't understand the message."

Me: I gave you a list of the top 10 books challenged in 2010. Are there other books on the list you would like to read?

Em: "Yes ... I think ... I want to read the children's book about 2 male penguins raising a child."

Me: Were you surprised by any of the books on the list?

Em: "I was surprised at almost all the books."

Me: Are there any other thoughts you would like to share about banned books?

Em: "A lot of books deserve to get read, but a lot of people just see titles and want to get them banned. I'm kind of like, 'Uh ... Hello ... You haven't even read it'

So, there you have it. A teens take on Crank and the idea of Banned Books.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Banned Book Week 2011 - Part 2

Part 2 - Who, Why, and the Books 

I thought for Part 2 of my Banned Books Week Series I would take a look at who tries to have books banned, why they are challenged, and what books topped the list last year.

Who? 

For more on this I checked out the ALA site for Banned Books Week. I wasn't surprised to find that the largest group of people to challenge books are parents themselves. Just because a parent doesn't think a book is suited for their child doesn't mean that another parent has a problem with it. As is evident by the fact that I allowed my daughter to read Crank this week.

As a parent I think we know what our children can and cannot handle. Therefore, I think that banning a book is an individual choice, not something that should be imposed on others.

Last Christmas we made the trek to Austin, Texas to spend the holiday with my family. My daughter spends her summers there with my family and has made a group of good friends there. One night she had some of the girls over and we were all playing cards and having a blast. Somehow the conversation turned to Twilight. As it turns out one of her friends hadn't read the books or seen the movies. I was shocked. She replied that her dad is a minister and she isn't allowed to read books like that (paranormal/dark). My first thought was, "That stinks!" She was fine with her parents' decision to not let her read certain material. I think this is difficult as most of her friends are all fighting over Team Edward or Team Jacob. Yet, the thought occurred to me that even though her parents don't allow her to read Twilight, they don't have a problem with her hanging out with other girls who have. She never said a bad word about the books or forced her, or her parents', opinions on the other girls. That is fine with me, as it should be.

However, I do know people (one in particular) who will believe anything they hear. I have one acquaintance, who if she was told that The Hunger Games is a horrible series, violent, and not for teens she would not allow her children to read it, without even picking the book up herself. In fact I'm not so sure she appeared comfortable when my daughter mentioned she was reading Crank.

On that same note, there are plenty of parents who have read the books, and still don't like them. That's fine too, in fact I give them kuddos for reading the books in the first place. Yet, I still don't think they have the right to take the right of reading it away from other children, my children. That decision should be left up to me and my husband. His response: "Whatever you think." He mostly leaves the reading decisions up to me. He liked the idea that she was reading Crank, a banned book. (We're both very liberal in our views.)

Why? 

Why are books banned in the first place? There are several reasons for this.

According to the ALA website the following are the top three reasons for banning books.
  1. the material was considered to be "sexually explicit"
  2. the material contained "offensive language"
  3. the materials was "unsuited to any age group"
Okay, so these are all valid reasons to not allow your own child to read a book. But, under no circumstances do I want someone else telling me that I shouldn't have the right to allow my child to read a book because it's not suitable for their own child. To my knowledge my daughter's school does not have any books they have banned. I searched the website with no luck finding anything that would suggest they have banned anything from their library.

The Books 

I was surprised, and not surprised, by the top ten list for 2010 Banned Books.

1) And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
2) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
3) Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
4) Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
5) The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
6) Lush, by Natasha Friend
7) What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones
8) Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich
9) Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie
10) Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer

So, I wasn't surprised in the least bit that Crank and The Hunger Games were banned. That was already apparent by the topics they cover and the buzz surrounding themselves. However, I was surprised by Twilight. I thought everyone was reading this. Then I remembered my daughter's friend in Austin and thought, "Oh, religious reasons." That is the only reason I could come up with for that series to be challenged. I have already read it and been hounding my daughter to read it as well. 

Yes, I went to Goodreads and checked out all of the other books. Some interest me and some don't. Not that I don't agree with them being written or read, just that they didn't personally make me go, "Oh, now I have got to read that one." I didn't have a problem with any of them being out there in the library. Some of them I added to my to-read list. I will be reading them in the future. Maybe during a future Banned Books Week.

Your Turn -> Are you surprised by any of the books on the Top Ten List for 2010? Have you read any of them already? If so, what did you think of what you read?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned Book Week 2011 - Part 1

Part I - Challenge the Challengers!

Thank goodness I am on Twitter and read other blogs. I almost missed Banned Book Week this year. I saw the hubbub last year, but didn't participate. I told myself that I would get involved this year.

Why?

Well that's simple. I don't want anyone telling me what I can or cannot read. Nor do I want someone else to take away my children's rights to read a book that they don't agree with.

In honor of Banned Books Week I checked out Crank by Ellen Hopkins from the local library and handed it over to my 13 year old daughter. Not because I thought I'd be a pushy mom, but because she specifically asked me to get it while I was there with my son this past week. Then I started seeing the Banned Book Week mentions and thought, "Perfect!" So, I guess it was just more like good timing rather than in honor of Banned Books Week.

So, yes, my 13 year old daughter is reading a book about a teen who gets addicted to crack.

That said I also think that I should mention I'm very liberal in my thinking. There isn't much I don't tolerate. Except maybe for the lack of manners or being closed minded. Those two things irk me to no end.

I also have The Hunger Games sitting on my too read shelf. I'm waiting until I have all three books in my possession to read. The trilogy is at the top of my to-read list as soon as I have all three books. I was planning on reading a different book, starting yesterday. But, then thought that maybe I would just request Catching Fire and Mockingjay from my local library. I want to be able to read them one after the other. However, I was greatly disappointed to find that I have to wait.

There's a waiting list for both books. If this book is so bad, why do so many people want to read it?

Really?

Not one person I have talked to that has read The Hunger Games Trilogy has said anything bad about it. Instead, they have all been shocked I haven't yet read it. They all tell me to run out and buy it now! I've had people offer to mail it to me from across the country just so I'll read it ASAP. Seriously, no joke!

Funny enough, it's the ones who haven't read it that think it's horrible and needs to be banned. Surprise, surprise!

Not only did I put in a request for those two books, I also put in a request for the third book in the Crank series. I grabbed the second book, Glass, for my daughter while I was there, but Fallout was not in. In fact I'm on a wait list for that one as well.

The second I get the notice that both books in The Hunger Games Trilogy are en-route to my library for me, I'll be picking up the Hunger Games. I also plan on reading the Crank series. I have yet to read it, but it is on my to read list. I would start reading Crank now, but I think my daughter might freak out if I try taking it from her. She's truly enjoying it at the moment.

I'm hoping she is finished with Crank by Friday. Why? I'd like to interview her for my Friday post on what she thinks about Banned Book Week, Banned Books, and Crank.

So, this post was called Challenge the Challengers. Why? Because I believe that reading banned books does just that. Not to mention I'd like to give those who challenge books and try to have them banned. My challenge: If a person is going to challenge a book and have it banned, they should first read the book, then fight to have it banned. They should know first hand why it's not a good book for others to read. Don't rely on hearsay. 

Your Turn -> Are you participating in Banned Books Week? Why?

Friday, September 23, 2011

San Angelo, Texas

Visiting the places your stories are set in is always a great idea. I was lucky enough to get the chance to do just that over the summer. My parents, kids, and I made the trip from Austin to San Angelo for the day. Since it was only a day trip that didn't leave us a lot of time to do much other than visit the few places included in my story.

I thought I'd share a few of the pictures I took while there.

Fort Concho, San Angelo, Texas

The Hospital Building at Fort Concho


Concho River Walk, San Angelo, Texas

The new River Walk along the Concho River in San Angelo, Texas.
Tree on the Concho River near the Visitor's Center.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Writing With Music

Since I have started a new project I thought I'd get in the mood. This particular story is set in a smallish town in Texas where country music is a large part of the atmosphere. Therefore, I created a playlist on my iPod of all country music. Most of it is stuff I listened to back when I lived there, so it's not too current. Truth be told I haven't listened to much country music since I moved to New Jersey. When I moved here there wasn't a country music station. Now there is, but my daughter and husband won't listen to it.

I decided I would share a little of this list with you today.

  • Three Days by Pat Green
  • I Cross My Heart by George Strait 
  • I'll Think Of A Reason Later by Lee Ann Womack
  • You Walked In by Lonestar
  • Long Time Gone by Dixie Chicks
  • What'cha Gonna Do With A Cowboy? by Chris LeDoux
  • Walking In Memphis by Lonestar
  • Before He Cheats by Carrie Underwood
  • I'm Gonna Miss Her by Brad Paisley
  • Need You Now by Lady Antebellum
  • The Story Of Us by Taylor Swift
  • When The Sun Goes Down by Kenny Chesney
  • Little Good-Byes by SheDaisy
  • Cheap Seats by Alabama

Your Turn -> Do you create playlists to get in the writing mood?

Monday, September 19, 2011

It's Decided

In a recent post I mentioned that I was having trouble focusing on which WIP to mess with next. I've been waffling around for a while now. However, I've made my decision on which one to focus on. I had pretty much made up my mind almost two weeks ago, but I still didn't really get started on it. I just let the main character and her story simmer in my mind for a little.

Last Sunday I presented my critique group with a short story for a contest. It was a good thing, too. I feel like I'm a little too involved with Midnight Raynne at the moment and I need to get some distance. So, I've put it on the shelf for a little. I hope to come back to it soon. I really see the potential there. I just feel like I'm too invested at the moment and can't see through the haze. That was part of what made me decide to move on to another project.

Back to the meeting. While there one of the members, Kimmy, mentioned a book that she uses to help her with her manuscripts. My wonderful parents gifted it to me and it arrived in the mail this past week. I've officially pulled Barely There off the shelf and started moving forward with it, using this book. The book? First Draft in 30 Days by Karen Wiesner.

I try to stay organized when I write, but somehow I still feel scatterbrained. I have binders for every project I'm working on or gathering research on to start later. Yet, I don't outline. I detest outlining. I can't stand to sit down and outline. Up until now I've been using Blake Snyder's Beat Sheet from Save the Cat! to do a sort of outline. It gives me the freedom to change things as I want. Yet, it doesn't tie me down to a scene by scene outline. I've tried that and it didn't really work for me. I veered so far from the outline that it was pointless to even spend time working on it.

So what's different this time?

Well, I've already started Barely There. I had the idea simmering last fall and started writing it in October of last year. Then NaNoWriMo came along and I ditched it to rewrite Stone Magic from scratch. It had been driving me mad, much like Midnight  has been doing lately. Then I went back to it in January only to hurt my wrist and be out of writing commission for a while. Then Midnight Raynne popped into my head. I've been really wanting to get back to Barely There, but I just seem to be busy working on other projects.

This past week when my copy of First Draft in 30 Days arrived I went right to work reorganizing my information. I now have a spiral notebook with all of my character sheets, scene sketches, and plot sketches in it. I've been working on it for days trying to get everything just right. I started to notice something while I was working on these character sketches. I don't know if it was because I've had this particular story simmering for so long or because I've already started it, but I could see other scenes springing into being as I wrote my character sketches.

I'm itching to get writing, but I'm also determined to follow the method in First Draft in 30 Days. I still have more work to do before I can get back to the writing. Hopefully my critique group will get to see the first chapter or two at our next meeting.

Your Turn -> Do you find you need to approach your writing process differently occasionally?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Negative Book Reviews

Since I had the opportunity to read so much during my computer's "vacation" I wrote a lot of reviews. None of them were bad for the simple fact that I don't like writing bad reviews. That doesn't mean I've read books that are poorly constructed for one reason or another. In those instances I simply delete the book from my Goodreads account and move on to the next book. I don't bother to write that the book was awful or couldn't hold my attention for any amount of time. Regardless of how much I may have wanted to write this.

No, I don't think this is doing a disservice to the author and here's my reason.

There are lots of books out there to choose from and very little time. Why waste my time on a book that doesn't capture me? Why bother writing a bad review when it may just not be my cup of tea whereas it's exactly what someone else may love. I would hate for them to not read the book just because I didn't like it. Everyone has their own taste in books. Who am I to say a book sucked? You might love it.

It's all in perception.

After I write my reviews I love to check to see what other people have said about the book I just read. Unfortunately, some people just don't know how to write a review that says they didn't like it. Instead I've found that some people are just down right obnoxious and rude. I read one review where the reviewer litterally attacked the author for being stupid. The reviewer didn't like the world the author created. She went on to say what she would have done. I checked this particular reviewer's main page to find that she is a writer herself, a self-published author.

Now, I don't have anything against self-published books. Some of them are absolutely astoundingly wonderful. I have noticed, however, that some self-published authors feel they are superior to authors who have gone the traditionally published route. The same can be said for traditionally published authors looking down on self-published authors. I don't think either side can truly tout their superiority. There are great authors on both sides. I've also read books by authors traditionally published that I didn't like much.

My take on this was that the reviewer, being an author herself, acted unprofessionally. She didn't like it, that's fine. Just don't attack the author's ability to write. The book in question was well written. I never found a mistake, so the editor did his/her job well.

This particular review wasn't the only bad review out there that attacked an author. I found at least two of these types of reviews on each and every book I read during my hiatus. I was astounded by the number of people who have no problem attacking others viciously through reviews. It made me angry at the reviewer for the attack and sorry for the author for having to read it, ever.

Your Turn -> Do you think that it's professional for authors to write negative book reviews that attack other authors?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Back From A Short Break

For those of you who read my blog, I'm sorry for my sudden absence. Unfortunately my computer decided it needed a break from me. I was not happy in the slightest bit with it's decision, however I had no choice in the matter. It seems my battery decided to stop holding much of a charge and would not recharge even when plugged it.

I'm not sure what happened, but suddenly the other day when I was on to do a quick email retrieval it started charging. Needless to say I set my computer aside and didn't touch it again until it was fully charged. Now I won't use it unless it is plugged in.

Yes, this is putting a damper on my writing, but it has been a nice little break.

So, what did I do during this break?

I read to my hearts content.  I'll give a quick breakdown of all that I read during this computer break. All were great books and I'm glad I had the chance to read them. I have now officially met my goal of reading 35 books this year a tad bit early. I blame that entirely on my computer's "vacation." Not that it's a bad thing. In fact there will be more posts later based on what I learned. But, for now here is the list of books I read.

Flyaway by Helen Ladalf




Clarity by Kim Harrington




Divergent by Veronica Roth




The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter




Solstice by P.J. Hoover




Hourglass by Myra McEntire




Your Turn -> What do you do when your computer gives you issues?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In My Mailbox #14


In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren as a way to showcase books you have received in the mail, from the library, or by any other method during the week. 

I bought all of these for my Kindle viewing.

Hereafter by Tara Hudson

Goodreads:

Can there truly be love after death?
Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she's dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she's trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.
Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.
Thrilling and evocative, with moments of pure pleasure, Hereafter is a sensation you won't want to miss.


Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Goodreads:


One hour to rewrite the past . . .
 
For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.
So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.
Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

Full of atmosphere, mystery, and romance, Hourglass merges the very best of the paranormal and science-fiction genres in a seductive, remarkable young adult debut.


Possession by Elana Johnson

Goodreads:
Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.


Firelight (with Bonus Material) by Sophie Jordan

Goodreads:

A hidden truth.
Mortal enemies.
Doomed love.
Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.
Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.
Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

In My Mailbox #13


In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren as a way to showcase books you have received in the mail, from the library, or by any other method during the week. 

While in Texas visiting my parents they bought me a couple of books. I've already read the The Day Before, but that was a galley and I really wanted a hardcover of my very own. So, they bought it for me. And I've been drooling over Abandon by Meg Cabot for a while now. 


The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder 

Goodreads: 
Amber’s life is spinning out of control. All she wants is to turn up the volume on her iPod until all of the demands of family and friends fade away. So she sneaks off to the beach to spend a day by herself.
Then Amber meets Cade. Their attraction is instant, and Amber can tell he’s also looking for an escape. Together they decide to share a perfect day: no pasts, no fears, no regrets.
The more time that Amber spends with Cade, the more she’s drawn to him. And the more she’s troubled by his darkness. Because Cade’s not just living in the now—he’s living each moment like it’s his last.



Abandon by Meg Cabot 

Goodreads: 
The first book in the brand-new dark and dangerously seductive trilogy from bestselling teen author Meg Cabot. Last year, Pierce died - just for a moment. And when she was in the space between life and death, she met John: tall dark and terrifying, it's his job to usher souls from one realm to the next. There's a fierce attraction between them, but Pierce knows that if she allows herself to fall for John she will be doomed to a life of shadows and loneliness in the underworld. But now things are getting dangerous for her, and her only hope is to do exactly what John says ...