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Monday, December 28, 2009

I Caved In

Well, I did it. I've been flip-flopping on the whole issue of getting a Twitter account for a while now. Thought it would just be another distraction, ya know? But I've noticed so many of you are already on there. And if ya'll can keep up with Twitter, blog, and do other real-life stuff while working on your books, then I'm going to give it a try. So I'm officially Twitterfied:) If you'd like to follow, just click the button on the side of the blog.

Now I'm trying to figure out how to navigate my way around it. Everything seems so confusing, so if you have any tips, please share. And I will get a picture up as soon as my computer decides to cooperate. It's getting on up in age and doesn't like do what I want it to do sometimes. (Hmm, sounds like one of my kids).

Hope to see ya there!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas to All

I'll be caught up in Christmas activities tomorrow. You know the kind. Cooking (but not cleaning), getting presents together to haul to various relatives' houses, opening said presents, dragging kids and more presents back home, depositing presents in house, dragging kids to bed, getting kids to stay in bed, and maybe getting some sleep. Then having the kids get us up way too early on Christmas morning, take pictures of them with Santa's gifts, open more presents, then on to the in-law's for a huge Christmas dinner. I'm exhausted just thinking about it!

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas! Enjoy the time with your family, and I'll see you in a few days. 







Monday, December 21, 2009

Official Kissing Day Blogfest!

It's here! *squeals* Okay, I didn't really squeal, but I am sooo excited. I'm ready to head out and read everyone's wonderful smooching scenes, but first I've got to post mine. Wow, suddenly I'm feeling all inadequate.

I'm going to post a first kiss. This is a scene from my WIP, Visions and it's very brief. That's because the main character, Eden, is on the run from The Consortium (the group who governs the walled city in which everyone now lives). Eden is traveling with her father, her younger sister Noren, her BFF Gwyn, and the potential love interest David. They have just found a place in the city where they can hide, so David decides to sneak in a quick kiss in case they're caught.

"The door's here,"David says. I turn to see that he has opened it and is waiting for us. Gwyn has already gone inside.

Dad picks up Noren and starts toward the entrance. "Let's go. We've got to figure out what we're going to do now."

I'm about to follow when David grabs my arm. I try to ignore the tingling sensation that is now creeping over me, but when I lock onto his intense gaze, a small sigh escapes my now parted lips.

"Eden, I...." he whispers, then swiftly leans down and brushes his lips against mine. The tingling is now replaced by a full course of adrenaline rushing through my body, making every inch feel fully alive.

All too soon, he pulls back. I open my eyes and, in the span of a few seconds, try to convey all of the longing I feel for him in one simple look.

He smiles and reaches over to brush a lock of hair behind my ear. "Come on, everyone's waiting."

I know, it's rough. But I'm still in first draft mode. So, what do you think?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Can't Wait Until Monday!

Usually, Mondays suck. Mondays are blah day. But this Monday is gonna be fabulous. Why? Because it's The Official Kissing Day Blogfest! Just think, we can cruise around the 'net and read one spine-tingling scene after another.

Sherrinda at A Writer Wannabe has a Mr. Linky. Just stop by and post your blog address so everyone can find your amazing smooch scene with ease. And don't forget to spread the word. Post about this on your blog or tweet about it if you have a Twitter account (which I do not, yet...). You can post a scene from one of your books, you can create a new scene, or post a scene from your favorite book or movie. It's up to you:)

So, who else is in?

Friday, December 18, 2009

This 'n That

Today's post is a little bit of everything (or nothing, depends on how you look at things). First up, I officially finished my Christmas shopping today. (stands up and cheers, gets bizarre looks from the kids) Okay, now that I've calmed down, I do have to mention that shopping this year just sucked. I absolutely HATE having to figure out what everybody wants, and I HATE trying to weed down my kids' lists to a handful of things that we can actually afford. They have no concept that we have a budget that we have to follow:)

Anyway, I thought I was finished two days ago, until I found a little e-mail informing me that the ever-coveted New Super Mario Bros for Wii game that I had ordered last week was....guess....on back order. I promptly e-mailed the company and politely inquired if they could get the game to me by Christmas seeing as it's for my daughter. They finally replied to me this morning with a generic e-mail that said Your order has not been shipped yet. So I replied with a curt cancel my order. I mean, what's the point of dealing with them if they can't get my merchandise to me. I know, try not to laugh at my ignorance. So I called my sister and my aunt, who were shopping today in two different cities. I asked them to pick up the game if they could find it. Go ahead, guess again. Yup, I got the usual. Out. Of. Stock. Everywhere. Apparently, I underestimated the popularity of this game. Then I spent an hour looking online for ANY place that had the evil little game. Finally found it at Amazon.com. I am now praying that I don't check my e-mail and find another nasty little This item is on back order notice waiting for me. *sighs*

On one of my shopping excursions this week, I was in my very favorite store on the whole planet. Barnes and Noble. Stayed in there a solid hour just basking in the atmosphere of the place. Did my part in helping the book industry and got some cool books for the kids. And on the way out, I stopped by the writing section to browse for a few minutes. Immediately I spotted The Fire In Fiction by Donald Maass. I've been dying to get my hands on this book since Susan R. Mills did a series of posts about it. I picked it up, thumbed through it, and thought I really should wait until after Christmas to buy this. Maybe someone will get me a B&N gift card. But impatient is my middle name, so I bought it. I know. Bad, bad me. I should have been sticking to my Christmas list and my name was not on it. But you know, sometimes you have to take care you. While some people go out and get a new pair of shoes, I like to buy books. So I shoved that guilt to the far corners of my mind and got it. But I haven't read one single word yet. Been too busy. Yeah, that's the story of my life lately...

Oh, my poor little WIP. I've dreamed about working on it. I've even opened the word document and pulled it up, but I'm officially stuck. And I'm beginning to think it has to do with the chapter I last worked on. I'm not really happy with it, but I left is alone, thinking I could fix it later. But I may have to go back, delete some things that are bothering me, or just do a complete rewrite before I can move on. That's just how my mind works.

And you may be thinking Well, why isn't she working on it right now? The answer to that is simple. My husband and kids are still awake. And they're currently in the living room, which is right next to my study, and they're throwing a ball at each other. In my house! And making enough noise to wake the dead. Seriously, I may look out my window and see zombies coming up my driveway at any minute.

So, what have you been up to lately?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Character Traits Everywhere!

When I was in my wanting-to-be-a-writer phase, I remember doing a lot of research about how to start a novel. I have some "how-to" books that were helpful, and I read a lot of articles online. Then I discovered blogs. I learned a lot over a long period of time, but one thing stood out like a neon light: You must create memorable characters.

And I thought Hmmm, how am I going to do that? I mean, the advice was dead-on. Memorable characters are a common throughout every single book that I've ever loved. My current favorite character is Katniss from The Hunger Games. I love the fact that she is a survivor, that she was able to use her skills and intelligence to outsmart the other contestants and the government.

So, how do you go about coming up with an amazing character like that? Well, one of the things I've learned is to steal traits from people you know. Now don't make one of your characters a thinly-veiled carbon copy of someone you are close to. That could just start a huge argument if they happen to read your book and recognize themselves. Just pick a few traits and mannerisms from several different people and mix them into a new person of your doing.

You can even find traits from people you don't know by watching movies, t.v. shows, and the news. For instance, I love the t.v. show Monk. In case you haven't heard of it, the main character was a private investigator with major OCD issues. He had to have an assistant follow him everywhere, and one of the things he always had her do was to give him a wipe whenever he was forced to shake someone's hand or touch something. Talk about a weird trait.

And don't forget to use yourself! Who knows you better than you? (Does that make sense???) I know all of my own hopes, desires, fears, dislikes, and what have you. Since you are so intimately familiar with what makes you tick, why not use a few of those things to liven up a character? One of the things my mc shares with me is a fierce sense of protectiveness. I'm like that in real life toward my children and anyone else who is close to me, so that was a natural thing to add to my mc.

So, where have you picked up character traits from? Are your characters a mixture of a lot of different people, or do you have a different method of creating them?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

You'd Think I Could Find Some Time...

I don't know where the time goes. For one, I can't believe the year is almost over. It seems like I was just making/breaking the all-important resolutions for 2009, and now I've got to come up with another list soon. *sighs*

Procrastination has reared it's ugly head in another way, too. I put off shopping way longer than I usually do, so I finally started on Friday. And realized a huge mistake in waiting so long. I spent all day shopping in the freezing cold with my toddler (yeah, big mistake) and had a hard time finding a lot of things. I got really frustrated having to go all over the place trying to find a certain coat that my oldest just has to have because all the other kids have it and could not find it. Then I spend a huge chunk of the day on Saturday searching online for the things I couldn't find in the stores. I kept seeing the dreaded OUT OF STOCK everywhere! *grumbles*

Well, the whole weekend has flown by, and I haven't written anything in my WIP. Not. One. Stinking. Word. I feel like the worst of the worst writers. Here I was going on about reaching the mid-point of my book, and I've just come to a stand-still. But that's life. This time of the year is hectic for everybody. From shopping, to family get-togethers, parties, and a host of other things, there's just not a lot of time left in the day for extras now. The guilt is starting to pile on, as well as the anxiety. What if I spend so much time away from my WIP that I can't get back into the groove? What if I can't figure out what to do next?

So, what's been going on in your life lately that's been eating up your time? Are you progressing along in your WIP, or are holiday preparations taking up a lot of your time, too?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Neverending WIP

That's what my story feels like right now. Like it's never gonna come to an end. When I started it back in September, I wrote with lightening speed. Every day. Then I hit a little snag and went a few days in between writing. Then I hit a major brick wall and went for a solid week without writing a word. I worked out the kinks there and everything started going smoothly again. I thought, I bet I can finish this bad boy by the end of October!

Flash forward to the end of October. Yup, still not finished. I had a lot going on in real life. You know, family stuff, house to keep semi-clean, chasing around a toddler who recently discovered the joys of climbing. So I said, Okay, time to buckle down. Must finish first draft by the end of November.

Flash forward to the end of November. Still. Not. Finished. *Smacks self on forehead* Maybe, just maybe, I can get this done by the end of December.

Well, the good news is that I crossed over 30,000 words last night. And I realized that I'm officially in the "middle" of my story. Things are getting really tense for my characters. I'm getting impatient to see how they react to what I have planned next. But I don't want to rush things. While I do want to type "The End" very soon, I don't want to fly through and have a crappy second half to deal with later. I'm so torn over this. Some people say to just get it all out and fix the crappy parts during revisions, but others say take your time so you won't have to fix as much.

So, what do you think? How did you feel when you hit the middle part of your book?

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Death of a Character

First up, I need to give a huge **SPOILER ALERT** for my crit group.

I hate having to deal with killing a character. It makes me feel awful, like I need a shower, a stiff drink, or something. No, I haven't killed the character I have in mind...yet. See, way back in the summer I came up with a rough outline for my WIP. And in the course of this outline, I planned for the characters to be at certain places at certain times. Well, so far my mc and her little sister have been on the run from the bad guys with their father. But I need to get rid of the father. In order for my mc to truly grow in this story, she has to be on her own, to rely on herself. And she needs to feel that she's alone in the world. So I just planned to ax her father.

But....I don't want to now. Like I said before, my characters are like real people to me. The thought of doing away with him is awful. But on the other hand, I know that the story will be way more powerful if I do this. So....that's where I'm at now. I started writing the scene last night where he was first shot, and let me say it was rough.

How many of you have killed a character before? How did you handle it? And if you have not done this before, do you think you would be able to?


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hooks

I've read a lot of articles about writing. I've surfed the web and visited blogs in search of writing tips. And one that keeps jumping out at me is about the concept of hooks. You know, the tantalizing tidbits that lure readers in and keep them wanting more.

One kind is the first sentence/first paragraph hook. I've read different accounts that say your first paragraph must be written in such a way as to immediately grab the reader's attention. Some even go so far as to say the very first sentence must fulfill that role. It's a daunting task, trying to convince someone (and agent, an editor, and readers) that your masterpiece is worthy of their time, and the first few words may make them want more or flat out reject it. After all, you have to establish the characters, setting, and tone of your work in a few hundred words.

Another type of hook is the "leave them wanting more" kind that should be utilized at the end of each chapter. The idea is to have the reader get to the end of a chapter, saying they will finish tomorrow, but realize they just HAVE to read one more chapter because they can't put it down. I've ended some of my chapters in several ways: by having the characters learn something that they didn't already know, having them realize that their safety is in jeopardy, and by having their worst fears confirmed. Now these are not the only things I've used, just a few that made me want to plunge immediately into the next chapters. After all, if I can't wait to find out what happens next, maybe the readers will feel the same way, too.

What are some things you have learned about hooks? Do they frustrate you when trying to come up with them, or do they come easily to you? What are some tips you can share?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Great Contest And A Meme

The wonderful Shannon at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe is having a fabulous contest. Up for grabs this time is a signed copy of Twilight! Isn't she great? The contest is open until December 10, so hurry over and register.

The lovely Sara tagged me with my very first "meme!" Now don't get too excited about reading this. It's writing related, and since I'm so new to this, my answers may get a little repetitive. Sorry! Oh, and before I begin, I'm going to tag Tina Lynn and Erica.

1. What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?
The last thing I wrote was in my WIP last night. The first thing I wrote that I still have is a short story from way back in sixth grade. I entered it in a school contest and won, which made me soooo happy because I beat seventh and eighth graders to win.

2. Write poetry?
No, I like to read it, but I suck at writing it.

3. Angsty poetry?
Well, I like to read it:)

4. Favorite genre of writing.
Anything under the umbrella of speculative fiction.

5. Most annoying character you've ever created.
I had a project I started outlining and promptly abandoned when I was in college (See I've WANTED to be a writer for a loooong time). Anyway, the main character was whiny and self-indulgent. Don't know why I made her that way...

6. Best plot you've ever created?
Obviously, the one I'm working on now...since I've never written a book before:)

7. Coolest plot twist you've ever created?
I can't tell you that...my crit group doesn't even know yet!!!! (Inserts evil laugh)

8. How often do you get writer's block?
Hmmm... I wrote like crazy for the first few weeks when I started my WIP, but then I hit a major snag. Took me a week to figure out where I wanted to go, and ever since then I've been on a roll. It's just hard to work sometimes with all of the distractions, but I'm getting better:)

9. Write fan fiction?
No, never had the urge.

10. Do you type or write by hand?
Type..I'm pretty fast. If I wrote by hand, I would never get anything done.

11. Do you save everything you write?
Of course, I'm not crazy!

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you abandoned it?
No way...I've looked at some of the ideas I wrote down in the past and they are AWFUL!

13. What's your favorite thing you've ever written?
My current WIP. What can I say, I love it:)

14. What's everyone else's favorite story that you've written?
Not a clue.....I haven't let anyone except my crit group read my WIP, and I haven't written any short stories since I was in school.

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
I had an outline of a cheesy romance from when I was in college (I really, really, really wanted to be a writer way back then), but I never started it.

16. What's your favorite setting for your characters?
My current WIP is set in the foothills of a mountain range. I LOVE the mountains!

17. How many writing projects are you working on right now?
Just one. Any more would blow my mind.

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?
Oops, I said this above...yeah, the contest from sixth grade.

19. What are your five favorite words.
Apparently they are now, look, just, then, and glance. I have used them way too much in my WIP.

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself.
The mc from the short story that won the contest was basically me.

21. Where do you get ideas for your characters?
People watching and using some of my own characteristics. But once I get the basics down, they come alive and tell me about themselves, if that makes sense.

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams?
Well, I had a vivid dream a few months ago and I wrote down some details from it. I'm saving it for later and I'll go back and see if I can make a story from it.

23. Do you favor happy endings, sad endings, or cliff-hangers?
I don't really favor any one over the others. If I'm sucked into the story, the ending should just make sense with what is happening. But if you tied me up and made me pick one, I would have to pick happy endings.

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
I obsess over it.

25. Does music help you write?
I can't listen to music as I write. Then the songs get stuck in my head and I can't get in the story. However, I do listen to songs for inspiration.

26. Quote something you've written. Whatever pops into your head.

Soon, we enter the fringe of the outdoor recreation area and catch a glimpse of the city. The great wall surrounding it cannot hide the magnificent marble government building that towers over the center, reaching upwards like a finger pointing in accusation toward the heavens.

And that's all for now:)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

But I Don't Want To!

How many of you have every heard your kids say this? You tell them to do something and immediately they say (in a high-pitched, whiny voice), "But I don't want to!" My kids could recite this line in their sleep.

There's a lot of things I don't want to do right now. Putting up the Christmas tree is one. I have a tradition where I always get my husband to drag the Christmas decorations out of the attic and the kids and I deck out the house in holiday splendor on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Why on that day? I don't know, that's just what I've always done. But it probably has something to do with my mad shopping sprees on Black Friday and Saturday:) Anyway, I usually love doing this, but this year, well, I don't. My youngest has been sick with a nasty cold all week, so I'm extremely sleep deprived, I missed my shopping this week because of said sick child, and now I have the stupid cold. I don't feel like doing anything. Not cooking, not cleaning, and yes, that includes writing.

You may be thinking What! You're a writer. And writers write no matter what! Well, you are absolutely correct to be thinking this (if you are). There's a lot of things in life that people don't feel like doing, but they have to get done. Otherwise, they won't get done. If I don't put up the tree, the kids can't help with the decorating (Please don't ask why doesn't the husband help with the tree....that's not his thing). And I will have some very disappointed kids to deal with. Even though I feel like crap right now, I did manage to get the tree assembled and the decorations out. And you know what? It looks great. It even put me in a semi-cheerful mood to see the house like this. The kids are very happy, which in turn, makes me happy because they're no longer complaining.

The same is true for my writing. Even though I don't feel like writing right now, I'm still gonna do it tonight. I'm just over the 25,000 word mark, but I know I should be a lot further along than this. I stayed up late last night to finish a chapter and I posted it for my crit group even though the bed was calling my name. Tonight, it's on to the next chapter. I would love to get the whole chapter typed tonight, but that probably won't happen. I'll settle for at least half of it being completed. And all because I'm a writer. And writers write, even when they don't feel like it.

What's something you didn't want to do lately, but you did it anyway?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Wonderful WIP

I love writing. It has made me realize things that I've never dreamed. First, I never imagined I could actually write anything worth reading. I've been talking about wanting to write for over ten years, but I just got around to doing it a few months ago. I could kick myself for wasting so much precious time. Sure, it's hard work, but I LOVE it.

And my WIP. Well, what can I say? I adore it. Now I know some of you may be thinking Don't get too attached to it...first novels usually suck. But I can't help it. This book is my baby. And the characters....they are like real, live, flesh-and-blood people to me now. I can see them and hear the things they say. They have told me things I never thought they would do. One character even showed up unexpectedly. I blogged once about how I came up with my characters and created sketches for each one, but one just waltzed in and has become a pretty major player.

Another thing about my characters is that they have started taking over the story. I have a very general outline to help me remember where I want the characters to be at certain points of the story, but the chapter I've been working on for the past few days has tripped me up. I keep wanting the characters to go one way, but they want to go in the opposite direction. And you know what, it looks like they are going to win. Something about this particular chapter has been bothering me, but the more I think about it, the more I see how the characters are right again. So tonight, when I log off the Internet, I'm going to just listen to them and see where they take me. And I can't wait.

How has your WIP surprised you? Do you control your characters, or have they taken over your story?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The New Barbie and Ken?

I must have been hiding under a rock, because I swear I did not know there were Bella and Edward dolls. I found out a few days ago when I was blog surfing and found this hilarious post. As I was reading, I thought Where can I find these things? My kids would love them.


The next day, I mentioned the doll to my oldest. She proceeded to roll her eyes and tell me how dumb that was. (She's in 6th grade, therefore too cool for dolls). However, the middle child was thrilled. She said that they were going to be added to her Christmas wish list. (Along with the 37 other things already on there.)

Anyway, we went shopping yesterday and had to make the usual stop at Wally World (er, Walmart). Since the kids were behaving relatively well, I let them take me on a stroll through the electronics and toy departments to show me all the things they simply must have this year.

We ended up at the Barbie section, and wouldn't you know it, we found Edward. Bella was sold out, but three Edwards were sitting there. Let me tell you, they were ugly. Really creeped me out just looking at them, and the $25 price tag didn't help either. The oldest child started snickering and picking on the middle child for even liking the doll. Of course, the middle child started whining that it was not ugly and that she wanted the doll. Right Now!


A lady was standing near us and gave me that look. You know the look. It can be interpreted to mean I feel so sorry for you because you have to put up with that crap or I'm so glad that's not MY child acting like that. And when she heard the middle child moan "I want the Edward dollllllllll," she actually started laughing. I just smiled and got out of there as fast as I could.

So that little adventure didn't turn out like I thought it would, but I can say for certain my child won't have the evil little Edward doll. Now if they come out with a Jacob, I may reconsider:)
Oh wait, they did!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Anyone Twitter?

I've heard a lot about Twitter. Some good, some bad. But I've never signed up for it. Why? Well, because I have a lot going on in my life right now. In between taking care of my family, feeding said family, trying to make sure my house doesn't completely fall apart, blogging, critiquing, and writing, I have very little time for anything else. I am sooooo afraid that if I get a Twitter account now, I will want to spend way more time on that than I should.

Now, I'm nowhere near the querying stage right now. But...I found a link to this blog. Go ahead, check it out. I'll wait:)

Now, this blew my mind. I mean, who would ever dream of an agent having interest in your work because of Twitter? Wow!

So, for those of you who do Twitter....what are the benefits? Even if you're like me (remember, I'm still working on the first draft), do you think Twitter is helpful to you now? Or if you don't Twitter, why not? I'm on the fence about getting an account now or waiting until I'm done with my WIP. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Writing Through Distractions

I'm the type of person who has to have absolute silence before I can work on my book. The kids have to be tucked in bed, the husband has to be entrenched in front of the T.V. or sound asleep, and no noise can be present. No, not even music. That would be too distracting.

But I'm slowly getting over it. I have three kids. Three kids who actually make noise. Three kids who fight constantly. (Yes, even the baby gets in there with them. She has learned rather quickly how to defend herself.) Three kids and a husband who demand to be fed every night.

If I wait until every single one of them goes to bed, I usually have about two, maybe three hours to myself. But I'm greedy. That's not enough time. I mean, I have to blog! I have to read other blogs. I have chapters to critique. And I have my own book to work on. Two or three hours is just not enough time.

So I have learned to steal time during the day when (gasp!) the kids are awake. You may think No way, that's impossible! But it's not. I actually did it yesterday. Inspiration struck early and I had to write. In between being a referee, homework coach, and chef, I managed to turn out about a thousand words. And I cranked out another thousand last night when everyone was in bed.

Will I be able to do this amazing feat again? I don't know, but I'll try. I've never even attempted to write with them around, but I want to get the first draft finished. At the rate I'm going just working late at night, it'll be well into 2010 until that happens. So no more complaining from me about not having enough writing time! From now on, I'll be stealing bits of time at all hours of the day to get my writing done.

My question: When do you write? Early morning, late at night, or whenever you can? Do you have a set schedule, or do you write whenever you feel like it?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It's That Time Again!

Yes, folks, it's time to pass on some wonderful awards that I've received. I've been keeping them all to myself for far too long. First up is the Superior Scribbler Award that the lovely Kasie West gave to me way back in the middle of October.

Here are the rules:

1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy friends.

2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she received The Award.

3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to this post, which explains the award.

4. Each blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!

5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Now for my nominations:

1. Megan Rebekah at Megan Rebekah Blogs

2. Julie at Diary of an Unpublished Wanna-be Writer

3. Tina Lynn at Sweet Niblets

4. Erica at Laugh. Write. Play.

5. Mariah at Constantly Risking Absurdity

These ladies rock! I promise, you will always find something worthwhile to read when you visit them. Next, up for grabs is the Best Blog Award. The super-fabulous Roni at Fiction Groupie honored me with this award a few weeks ago.

The rules for The Best Blog Award are:

1. To accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his/her blog link.

2. Pass the award to other bloggers that you recently discovered and think are great! Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

My lovely nominees are:

1. Sara at The Babbling Flow of a Fledgling Scribbler

2. Annissa at Off the Record

3. Morgan at The Fire in Her Eyes

And that's all for now! More awards to come later.

Oh, and for the word count update: 2,697 words since Monday. YAY!!!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Itching to Edit

Sorry if the title of my post gives you a bad visual, but I want to edit my MS soooooooo bad right now. I've got some great feedback on my first few chapters, and I want to go back and fix them. Right now. But I made a promise to myself....no editing unless I have something major that has to be fixed before I can move on.

My head feels like it could explode. It's that perfectionist personality that I have. The thought of having those pesky little things just sitting there, begging to be tweaked, is driving me insane.

But on the other hand, my characters are starting to whisper to me now. When are you going to finish the story??!! We're waiting....

When I started writing, I had no idea how much I would like the revising part. I just figured I would be so excited to write the story, that the editing would be a pain. And I probably will feel like that when the first draft is done. But a part of me feels that I can't do a good job if I leave a mess behind me. It's like an addiction!

Now, I have made a little progress this weekend. I got 1100 new words in, but I need to do better. I'm thinking of setting a daily word count goal. I resisted doing that before because I figured it would kill all creativity, but I've got to do something. Or else this book may never be finished!

How do you resist the urge to go back and edit your MS to death before it's finished?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sharing

I'm curious. How many of you read books to help you with the craft of writing? I have a few. Some I've skimmed through, some I've devoured in a few days. My favorite one so far is simply titled Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card. I read it entirely before I started working on my character sketches. Now, many of you may be pros at creating characters, but remember, I'm brand new at this. So, for a beginner, this book is a great resource to have.

This book really got me thinking out of the box. It forces you to dig below the surface with your characters, to really examine what makes them tick. It brought up things I had never considered. The section on constructing characters has great tips to help you on your quest to create a character that everyone will love (or hate if it's the villain). I also liked the fact that Card used examples from books and movies in addition to making up his own examples to help you "see" what he's talking about.

So, do any of you have writing books that are helpful? Please share in the comments!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Name Trouble

I have a problem. I have a name for a character in my WIP that I love. Now, this character is not the main character...she's the six-year-old sister of my main character. However, she plays a major role in my story. Anyway, I named this character way back in the summer when I was still in the brainstorming stage. I completed a character sketch of her. I even went online and found a picture of an adorable little girl that looked like her, printed it out, and stapled it to the sketch.

Now months later, I just finished an awesome book (Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick) and, wouldn't you know it, the MC in that book has a name similar to my character's name. The main character in Hush, Hush is named Nora Gray. My character is named Noren Grayson. Hmmm. What to do. I know, it would probably be easier to just change her first or last name, but my problem is that I already think of her as Noren Grayson. That's her name, and I hate the thought of changing it. But, I don't want people (readers, potential agents and editors) to think I just copied the name from Hush, Hush. I didn't. I never even heard of Hush, Hush until a two months ago when I read a review of it on another blog. I've known about this conflict since then, but I've been putting off making a decision.

So, what do you think? Should I keep the name or change it? I would love to hear your opinion!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Questioned

So, I was working on my WIP a couple of days ago, and my oldest daughter came up behind me and tried to read some of it over my shoulder. Now, I HATE it when anybody does that. I turned around and gave her THE LOOK, meaning please leave the room and give me some peace and quiet. She just ignored me, like she usually does, and proceeded to ask me some questions.

Child: Whacha doin?

Me: What am I doing?

Child: Yeah.

Me: I'm working on my book.

Child: You're still working on it? I thought you'd be done by now.

Me: (starting to get a little impatient) Yes, it takes a while to do these things, and I've never done it before.

Child: (looking thoughtful) When you finish, are you going to be rich?

Me: (looking startled) No, probably not.

Child: (looking at me like I have grown horns or something) Are you going to make any money?

Me: Well, if I sell it I could.

Child: How much are you gonna make?

Me: (sighing) I have NO idea.

Child: Well, when you do, can I have a new cell phone?

Got to love kids. Even though she really doesn't have a clue about how publishing really works, at least she believes in me.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Dreaded First Draft

Before I give my take on first drafts, I want to share a post I just read that was AWESOME! Natalie at Between Fact and Fiction always gives fantastic advice, and today's was no exception. She nailed every single thing that I've been feeling about my first draft since starting this whole wonderful, crazy process of writing. So, please, check it out!

Now, I've been working on my story for a little over a month and a half now, but I started actually thinking about the story and getting to know the characters back during the summer. This phase, the brainstorming, lasted for about two months. I took my time making notes, creating character sketches, looking up information about the setting of the story, and reading articles and books with tons of helpful advice about writing your first book. I did this until I had a notebook filled with notes, but no story, so mid September found me sitting before my laptop with a blank word document. I was excited, but scared at the same time. I was ready to create my baby, but in the back of my mind was that nagging doubt: You've never done this before, it will SUCK! I ignored it and happily began typing away. For about three weeks everything was great, the word count was increasing steadily, then the doubt came back with a vengeance. This is no good, nobody will ever like this, why are you wasting your time? I told the little voice (you know, evil inner editor) to shut up and continued. I even started blogging about that time. But the more I worked on the story, the louder the voice shouted. IT SUCKS! STOP NOW! THIS WILL NEVER SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY!

I don't know about you, but this is a serious problem for me. I am one of those people who loves to have everything perfect, and the thought of creating something that is, well, just bad makes me feel ill. I was one of those annoying people in school who was never happy with B's, I only wanted A's, so this is really hard for me.

So, my word count is creeping up little by little, but nothing like it was in the beginning. I'm on page 56, and believe me, I'm very proud to have written that much, but I wish I could just accept that this draft is going to suck. That's why I linked Natalie's post. It is a reminder that I am not alone. I'm not the first person to write a first draft and I certainly won't be the last. I have got to give myself permission to write it, no matter how bad it is, and use the revision stage to satisfy my tendencies to make things perfect. I've even got to accept that it won't be perfect when I edit it, but that's O.K.

I hope that all of you getting ready for NaNo takes this to heart. I wish I was joining you, but I'm still working on this baby. I'm not going to give up on it, I'm going to keep plugging along, and I will finish it. Wouldn't it be great if I finish with everyone at the end of November! That will be a reason to celebrate!

So, how do you feel about your first drafts? Do they drive you insane? Do you have to constantly battle the evil editor? Or are you one of the fortunate ones who just plows on through without ever listening to it?







Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Contest, An Award, and Some More Random Stuff



Lots of info for you today! First up, Shannon at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe is having a contest. Just pop over to her blog and scroll down to the post titled "Contest Starts Today." The details are listed, and you can choose your prize if you win. The choices are: NERDS signed by Michael Buckley, Dreamdark: Blackbringer signed by Laini Taylor, or Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy signed by Robin Preiss Glasser. I'm going for Dreamdark if I win!


Second, I am proud and humbled to say that I was given two more awards last week by THREE different people! I just wanted to take a few days before passing the honors on to some more deserving folks. However, I'm just doing one award today and I'll pass on the other next week. So, I'm excited to say that I was given the Heartfelt Award by two of these ladies: Tina Lynn at Sweet Niblets and Diana at Writing Roller Coasters. I have enjoyed really getting to know them these past few weeks and I love visiting their blogs.

Do you reach for a cup of cocoa or tea when you're relaxing, seeking comfort, sharing a plate of cookies with family and friends? You know the feeling you get when you drink a yummy cup of cocoa, tea, or a hot toddy? That is what the Heartfelt Award is all about, feeling warm inside. Rules: put the logo on your blog/post. Nominate up to nine blogs which make you feel comfy or warm inside. Be sure to link your nominees within your post. Let them know that they have been nominated by commenting on their blog. Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award.

Here are my nominees:
Jade at Jade Hears Voices for her hilarious posts,

Julie at Silver Linings for her thoughtful insights (and I love the music, too)

Kristi Faith at Random Acts of Writing for her great writing tips (and for being one of my very first followers)

I would nominate more, but I'm tired. The oldest kids were home today sick, and it rained all day, and now I'm getting their cold. You know, the headache part, sore throat, runny nose. Let's just say my day was not the best one I've had lately. Oh, my latest word count is horrible, too. We had company Friday and Saturday, so no writing. Sunday, I did manage to get in another 800 words, but last night I was bad. I started reading Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick and I couldn't put it down. I forced myself to bed at 1:00 in the morning! I got up at the usual 6:00, but with the kids sick, at least I got another two hours of sleep in, but boy, the rest of the day was wild. You would think two sick kids would just lay around all day napping, but not mine. Yeah, they complained about the aches and pains, but the fighting was off the charts. My role today was that of referee, while the poor baby was taking it all in. Can you imagine how bad she is going to be at their ages with all she is exposed to?

So, how was your day? Are you reading anything that is keeping away from your writing?


Sunday, October 25, 2009

What a Character!

I've been thinking about characters this weekend. You know, what makes them so interesting. What kinds of things makes them sympathetic or not, what sets them apart from each other, and what makes them unforgettable.

I've done a lot of research on what makes a great character, and let me tell you it's tough. Sometimes I feel that I may never have any characters that anyone would want to read about, but when I open my WIP, I remember why I love mine. I spent a long time getting to know them before I even wrote one sentence. I read somewhere that making character sketches would help, so that's the first thing I did. Found lots of worksheets online, but I didn't really like them. So, I just opened my notebook to a clean sheet, wrote the name of the MC, and started writing everything I "knew" about her. Her appearance, her family life, her likes and dislikes, what she wants more than anything, what she fears, etc. I even went online and searched through google images for someone who resembled what I thought she looked like, printed out a copy and stapled it to my character sketch. If fact, I did this will all of the featured characters. I had a blast doing this. Now, I can actually see them when I write about them.

What do you do to develop your characters? Do you spend any time before writing figuring this out, or do you just start writing and figure out as you go?

Friday, October 23, 2009

To Outline Or Not To Outline

First, an update: I wrote 904 NEW words last night! YAY! It may not seem like a lot, but I'm relieved because it's the first new words that I've written in a week. I figured out what was bothering me with the last scene I wrote, fixed it, and moved on. It feels great! Now on to the real post.

I've been reading blogs for a while now, and I've noticed a wide variety of opinions about outlining. It seems that there are two main camps: those who swear by outlining, and those who detest it. Outliners feel that they cannot write anything without knowing every detail of their story. Non-outliners feel that their creativity is stifled, so they "wing it."

I have to be a little different in that I do a little of both. I have tried doing a detailed outline, but that ended up feeling forced. Having to know every little detail takes the fun out the whole writing process. On the other hand, writing without having a clue where I am going doesn't work, either. I have to know some details or I get lost/lose interest/get stuck.

I've tried on several occasions over the past few years to do these things, with nothing to show for it. I was stuck in the "wanna-be writer" stage for what seems like forever because of this, but with my current project, I tried to combine them. I did a very basic outline, only plotting out the main events that I want to take place. However, I left the little details out because I want to discover what happens as I go. I want to leave room for my characters to make decisions, instead of having to think out every little thing myself. I know that may sound crazy, but this seems to be the best way to make my characters come to life. So far it has worked, because when I'm typing I can see them clearly in my mind. Their personalities are really starting to shine.

So, where do you stand on this issue. Do you outline, do you come up with ideas as you go, or are you somewhere in between?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I'm Addicted

Yes, folks, I've developed an unhealthy addiction to blogging. I am spending way too much time on the Internet these days. My mind is screaming You need to write! You haven't written anything new for a week! What's wrong with you? But I can't help it. I am having a blast finding new writers out there and "meeting" new people, and I'm super happy to have 22 followers now. It's a strange feeling knowing that there's people out there actually reading my little blog. Now I've got to come up with topics that might be somewhat interesting for y'all to read. (I'm from the south, so I do say y'all frequently).

Any free moment finds me sitting at my desk online, but I've decided that has to stop. I am going to attempt to limit my blogging to an hour (maybe a little bit more) a day. If I don't, I may not finish my poor WIP until sometime next year. I originally gave myself until the end of October to finish the first draft, but that's not gonna happen now! So my new deadline is the end of November. Your task, if you choose to accept, is to hold me accountable. I need to finish!

So, my question....do you find yourself blogging too much? If so, what do you do to limit yourself?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My First Award!


A huge thank you to Kristi at Random Acts of Writing for giving me my very first blog award! Let me say that this is an honor because I have not been blogging very long. So first, I have to explain the rules.

1. Copy the Kreativ Blogger picture and post it on your page.
2. Thank the person that gave the award to you and link back to their blog.
3. Write 7 things about you that we don't know.
4. Choose 7 other bloggers that you would like to give the award to.
5. Link to the bloggers that you chose.
6. Let your winners know that they have the lovely award!

Now for my 7 choices. Please check out these blogs. They all have great information!

1. Diana at Writing Roller Coasters
2. Julie at The Climb
3. Patti Nielson
4. Natalie Bahm
5. Shannon at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe
6. Tina Lynn at Sweet Niblets
7. Natalie at The Sound of Rain

Boy, the hardest thing is last. Seven things that you don't know about me. Let me see...

1. I love ketchup! I'll eat it with most anything, and I only buy Hunt's. It's the best.

2. I hate fish and seafood. Won't touch the stuff. I'm always the one in the group ordering a steak when everybody else is hitting the seafood bar.

3. My favorite color is green, as you can see on my blog.

4. I changed my major a lot before graduating from college. (Undeclared, Middle Grade Education, Criminal Justice, Psychology, History, English, and finally Early Childhood Education)

5. Even though I couldn't make up my mind about what to major in, I still got good grades. I graduated Summa Cum Laude!

6. I like to go fishing. I will bait the hook, but I won't touch the fish. My hubby has to take it off for me.

7. I am afraid of riding a jet ski. We own one, but I am terrible at operating it. My 11 year old does a better job of keeping it under control than I do.

Don't forget to check out the winners! Great info and very cool people!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Inspiration Took a Vacation

My inspiration, motivation, or whatever you call it has left the building. Since Wednesday, I have written Z-E-R-O words in my WIP. No new words, no editing, nothing.

Just one night I didn't feel like writing. Or the next, or the next. I guess you could call this a slump. I think I know why, too. I finished chapter 4, but I don't have a clue what will happen next. I have a rough outline of the whole book, but it is very general. I know what the main plot points are, but I left the little details of how a gets to b gets to c unknown. Up until now everything has been flowing smoothly, but for some reason now I can't figure out what to write.

How do you push past something like this? What have you done to get the ideas flowing again?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Where Does The Time Go?

It seems that there is never enough time in the day to get things done. I start my day at 6:00 by getting up, getting the kids up and ready for school, getting them to school and coming back home. Then I spend the rest of the day chasing the baby around the house. She has so much energy! Climbing over the furniture, tearing up the house, and basically demanding all of my attention during the day. Then I have to leave by 2:30 to pick up the older kids, do any errands that I have, come back home and help them with homework, get supper ready, and get them ready for bed. And I have to fit trying to keep the house somewhat clean in there.

By the time everyone is in bed (husband included) it's usually around 10:00 before I have any ME time to get my writing done. Blogging is now squeezed in whenever I get a little extra time, but no writing is done until the house is quiet. I'm lucky to get about two hours. I wish I could find more time during the day.

How do you find time to get your writing in during the day? Do you write any time you have a moment free, or do you wait until the rest if the family is asleep?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Spark

The spark that started my dream of becoming a published writer happened when I was in sixth grade. My school was having a short story contest and my language arts teacher made everyone in our class enter. While some kids moaned and complained, quite a few of us really got into our stories. I remember sitting in small groups in class with a few of my friends coming up with ideas. Anyway, to make a long story short, I actually won the grand prize! Can you imagine my shock? I was a lowly sixth grader compared to all of the older junior high kids, and I won. That was the very first time that I remember thinking Hey, I could do this for a living!

Flash forward to my college years. I was one of those students who started out as an undeclared major and I stayed that way for almost two years. Why? I knew that I wanted to be a writer, but I didn't want to be an English major because (I thought, in my ignorance) you could only teach high school English. I was terrified at the thought of teaching high school because I looked like I was barely out of high school myself. So, I went from one major to another, completely clueless, and eventually became an elementary teacher (after only five years of college, no less).

Flash forward again to one month ago. I'm now a stay at home mom, I'm 33 years old, and my husband is tired of hearing me complain about wanting to be a writer. After all, I've wanted it since I was 11. He told me if I wanted to be a writer then I need to write something. Yeah, I wanted to be a writer for what seems like forever, but I haven't written anything in YEARS. I think it's because of fear. Fear of failure. Fear that what I write will suck. Fear that nobody will like what I write. But I've come to realize that if I don't write I will be miserable. This past month that I've been working on my book has been amazing. I love my family and my life dearly, but something has been missing for years, and I've found it. I just wish that I had started sooner.

So, what was the spark that started you down the path of writing? How long have you been writing?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Forward March

I took everyone's advice and pushed on through. My WIP now has about 1000 more words. It wasn't easy...I wanted to go back and edit some more, but I resisted. I'm really happy with the new scenes, but I'm afraid in a few days I'll look at it and think What crap, I need to fix it now! Oh, well, that's part of the process.

Welcome to my five new followers! I didn't think I would have any for a while, so I'm very happy. I'll try hard not to bore you too much, seeing that I'm so new to the game and all.

I didn't say this before, but another reason I chose to start blogging was for accountability. I used to loathe that word. See, in my former work life, teacher accountability was the buzz word of choice used by the state to assess student performance. But now, I'm embracing accountability. I am a procrastinator by nature, and since I'm seriously attempting to write a book now, I need to have someone to be accountable to. I don't belong to a crit group yet, so anyone out there who is reading this be warned...you will hear all about my progress or lack thereof.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Number 1!!!

So, this is my very first post. I've been debating a while about whether to start blogging now or wait until I actually finish my WIP, but I'm missing out on meeting some cool writers out there. I look forward to getting to know you in the days ahead.

I used to be an elementary teacher, but now I'm a SAHM to my three girls. They keep me busy, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I live in a small town in the middle of nowhere (the nearest Barnes and Noble is an hour away).

My WIP is a YA sci/fi dystopian that I 've been working on now for about a month. I'm having trouble getting past chapter 4 because of the dreaded evil internal editor. I keep going back and editing those chapters. Any advice about how to shut it up?