Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Resolutions

 It's that time of year again when we look back over the year to see the goals we set for ourselves and how we did meeting them.

Here are the goals I set last year and how I fared at meeting them.

1) Return to a weekly walking schedule of 3-5 times a week on the treadmill. Umm.  Let's just say this one didn't go so well, but I will be adding it to my list again.

2) Find an agent to represent my polished Sleeping Handsome (when it is ready, of course!)  Another unresolved resolution.  Although, I am currently working on this very story, under the new(old) title of Quest of the Hart.

3) Finish The Ruby Dagger (my NaNo project) This was accomplished.  Yay!!!

4) Edit The Lost Princess to reflect the changes from Sleeping Handsome (and to reach my word count) Another accomplishment, although out of order.  I finished Sleeping Handsome and went back to work on Quest.  I don't know why, but it just needed to be done that way.

5) Begin drafting A Different Kind of Knight Another still in progress goal.

6) Begin outlining Daphne's story (no working title yet!) I guess I should have been more clear with this one as a year later, I don't recall what I meant.  Hmm.  I wonder if I jotted something done somewhere.

7) Spend lots of quality time with family and friends While I did spend much quality time with family and friends, I always look to spend more with them.

8) Keep active with my blog post Even though I cut back to two posts a week, I feel I met this goal.

So, now for 2012 (Can you believe it is only a few days away???)

1) Set and keep an exercise routine
2) Continue to write, edit, and complete the two series I have started (Quest of the Hart, Sleeping Handsome, and A Different Kind of Knight; The Ruby Dagger and The Silver Shroud)
3) Keep more balance in my life with work, life, writing, and reading

 How did you do with your goals in 2011?  What goals do you have for 2012?
 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Last Post Before Christmas!

Hope you are all ready to celebrate Christmas with your families and friends over the next few days.  For us, the season stretches into the New Year, giving us time to spend with everyone.

This year we are taking my folks with us to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  If you have never seen them, I highly recommend the concert.  Great music,and a light and pyrotechnic show that draws ages 8-80 together. 

Merry Christmas!  Joyeux Noel!  Feliz Navidad!  Happy Hanukkah!  And to all, a great day!!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Cookies

Sorry I didn't post on Monday- the day got away from me quite quickly, and I never caught up.

Sunday the three of us and two of our neighbors got together to make cookies.

We chose to make Spritz,









Snowballs (and what my husband was calling "Dirty" Snowballs due to the cocoa powder instead of powdered sugar),
Dipped Pretzels









and Carmel Corn (I substituted molasses as I didn't have corn syrup, making it taste kind of like Cracker Jacks)

What happens when adults have left over Spritz dough and 11 year old Red Hots? (Yeah- they really were that old.  I thought they were only a few years, but nope.  They still taste OK, just a little softer and less spicy.)  You get these:



















It was so much fun!  Hope your Cookie making is just as fun.

(Note:  Until sometime in the New Year, I will only be blogging on Thursdays.  So much to do and so little time to do it, and all that!)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

First Snow

Last night we had our first measurable snowfall of the season.  Dear son woke up hoping for at least a delay, but the snow had stopped falling shortly after we sent him (begrudgingly) to bed, so no delays today.

I am feeling much more festive as I gaze out the window at the white carpet on the ground and the trees flocked with snow.  It has made me realize there are only 17 days until Christmas, and I have all my shopping yet to do!  Well, there is always the weekend and the internet!!

Hope you all have a great weekend, and that you are further ahead with your holiday plans than I am!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Changing things up

A few weeks ago, I read this post by Rachel Aaron on increasing your word count as you write.  I don't normally care if I write 2,000 words, 200 words, or 10,000 words when I sit down, but the article intrigued me.

See, I am mostly a pantster.  Sure I know where I am going to start and where I am going to end, but the middle is filled with winding paths, backtracking, and dead ends.

With NaNo ending, and my word count not where I wanted it to be, I thought I would give Rachel's ideas a try- it certainly couldn't hurt.  As you know, I didn't write anything the last week of NaNo, but that didn't mean I wasn't working on my WIP.  In fact, I spent most of my free time thinking about each chapter and how to move from one chapter to the next.  I created chapter synopses, even marking some dialogue I wanted the character to use, so I could jog my memory when I sat down to write the chapter out.

As of yesterday, I have all the unwritten chapters summarized, waiting for me to sit down and take them from a simple paragraph to a complete chapter.  Will my word count improve?  Probably, but that wasn't my sole reason for doing this.  I found those pesky plot issues that stump me while writing and was able to work through them, fix the illogical things before they happened, so when I sit down to write, I don't have to spend time arguing with myself that this character wouldn't do that, or why doesn't she just do this- it is the logical answer, after all.  Those issues have been dealt with, and I am free to create.

How about you?  What kind of planning do you do when you write?  Would you change it up at all?
 
My friend, and CP, Fiona Claire is having the opening of her NaNo project critiqued over at Dianne Salerni's blog today.  Stop by and let her know what you think.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

NaNo wrap up

Happy December 1st!!!!  Can you believe the year is almost over?  Where did the time go???

The beginning of December brings with it the end of NaNo.  This year, my goal was 30,000 words, as I knew there was no way I was going to reach 50,000.  Life has become much busier since last year, and I needed to be realistic.

Well, I did not meet my goal, but I am OK with that.  If I hadn't been sick last week and most of this week, I probably would have reached it, and maybe surpassed it.

I am very happy to report that I had a word total of  20, 994.  I completed a MS (and prepped it for edits) and started a new WIP.

How did your NaNo go?

Monday, November 28, 2011

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanskgiving, survived Black Friday with no injuries and all the items you were hunting on your list intact, and are ready for Cyber-Monday.

Our Thanksgiving was very nice, the only Black Friday-ing I did was to the pharmacy (for some cold meds) and to Home Depot followed by the small Wal-Mart in our area for Christmas lights for the outside of the house.

Across Friday and Saturday we Christmased (yes, I know that is not a real word) the house, but without any snow it still feels like Christmas is a long way off.

Our son had his final skating lesson yesterday and was very pleased to have gone from Hockey Level 1 to Hockey Level 4 in five weeks time (we see a huge improvement in his skating, as do his coaches!)  He is looking forward to his first game this coming Sunday.

Have a great week!  I'll be back Thursday with my final NaNo count.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I love Thanksgiving.  It is a wonderful time to sit and reflect on what I have to be grateful for.  So here are some things I am thankful for this year.

My family and friends.
The men and women in the military who give up so much so I can have what I have.
The men and women in law enforcement who serve and protect here at home.
A job I enjoy with co-workers I look forward to seeing everyday.
The support I receive from the writing community.

These are just a few things I wanted to share.  What are you thankful for????

Monday, November 21, 2011

Revision or Draft

Today I have a couple questions for you.  Say you have a WIP you have been working on for a long time, and while the plot remains the same, the characters have changed as has the POV's you are writing from.  I fact, you are creating brand new chapters at the beginning with the hopes of merging them later on into the drafts you already have.

The questions:  Are you revising or drafting?  And does it really matter what we call it?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What a Crazy Week

Sorry I missed you all on Monday-- it was the start of a busy week after a busy weekend.

Friday, with all of us off for Veteran's Day, we headed to New Jersey for the Devil's Capitol's hockey game.  And what an experience it was.  We had planned to go to the Liberty Science Museum, but traffic delays had us arriving almost an hour later than planned, so it will have to be on a different trip.

We did spend time in the Ironbound district (learning afterward that this is known as Little Portugal).  It was fun walking around the shops and eating there.

Then came the game.  We had seats 11 rows up from the ice, near the goalie.  I love hockey, we go to a few (more now that dear son is playing) AHL games a year, but none of us had ever been to an NHL game before.  I cannot tell you how amazing it was.  The speed of the game, the agility of the players.  I had always known Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitol's Left winger) was an awesome player, but seeing it in person put it in perspective.  The speed, the effortless look to his skating, and the stick handling were so much more impressive in person.

Being Veteran's Day, they had several times they honored the men and women who sacrifice and serve to allow us the freedoms we have today.  It was so wonderful to see the applause and standing ovations from the crowd.

So, how was your long weekend/week? Share below.

NaNo Update:
11/11- 0
11/12- 1241
11/13- 4781
11/14- 309
11/15- 739 (finished TLP!!! YAY!!!!)
11/16- 1913 (Started Quest!)

Total so far: 16351 (Hmm-- if I keep it up, I might just make that goal after all!)

BTW- thanks for all the support in the comments last week.  I really appreciated it.  Just want you all to know, I am happy with what happens, no matter the word count.  The story is my real goal!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Procrastination and NaNo Update

I had hoped to have my current WIP finished before the beginning of November. Due to a series of events, that didn't happen.  So, I figured I could finish it up the first week of NaNo and dive into the WIP I want to work on.  That didn't happen either.

On Sunday, I told my CP's (for probably the third time) I hoped to have it finished by Wednesday at the latest, then I would send it to them after a quick read through.  Yesterday was Wednesday, and you guessed it.  It didn't happen.  I am closer-- just three chapters away from the end, in fact.  But three chapters that need more overhauling than I had thought.

It was bothering me this week that I was behind, and I found myself pushing off sitting down to write.  It made me wonder if I was procrastinating because I didn't want to end working on this particular story, or if my mind was telling me I needed more time to work out where these changes were taking me ending.  I think it was both, and have learned something in the process.  Sometimes it is good to wait for that knot to unravel, but other times, you just need to sit down and write.

NaNo Update:

11/3- 538
11/4- 0 (Yup- but I got to see Jeff Dunham live!)
11/5- 500
11/6- 2007
11/7- 0
11/8- 1540
11/9- 591

For a total of  5176 (as you can see, I am far behind the 1667 words a day and approximately 14000 words a week needed to reach 50,000 words.  But, I am OK with that.) 

Monday, November 7, 2011

What I've Learned About the Query Process So Far

1) Patience.  Good things take time.
2) Rejection can be a good thing.  You never know what you are going to learn from it.
3) A synopsis is best written before you start your novel, to highlight the major events, or after a few months away when what you call to mind are the major events  (at least for me!)
4) Critique Partners are worth their weight in gold.
5) Support from friends in the writing community is amazing.


So, thank you to all my CP's and those of you out there in the writing community cheering me on as I practice patience and work on more stories.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Postal Irritation and NaNo Update

Due to the flooding in our area, the post office I usually mail packages from was closed.  Yesterday, I needed to send out a package to Jana, winner of one of the random Platform Building Campaign prizes from Rachel Harrie's blogfest. 

I went to the larger post office in my area, got a box that would fit the book I was mailing, closed the book up in it and stood in line, only to be told at the counter I needed to buy tape as they don't tape packages (something the smaller office did do.) 

Irritated at what I saw as a money making scheme (box is free, but we charge for tape), I went home, taped up the box and deliberated how to tell Jana it was going to be another day late as I didn't have time left on lunch to go back and wait in line. 

Then I remembered a packaging company nearby.  I went there.  The staff was friendly (and the tape for free), there was barely a line, and they offer special discounts during the months.  This is where I will be shipping from in the future.

Have you had experiences like this with your post office?  Share below.

NaNo Update:
Day 1: 909 words
Day 2: 719 words
How are you doing with NaNo? 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Hope your day is Spooktacular!!!

For fun, I thought I'd share one of my son's homework assignments with you.  Play along in the comments.

Directions:
Use rhyming words that fit the following definitions.  Follow the syllable rules listed and have fun!

1-Syllable words

Halloween Evening  ____________ _____________

A spook who flew too close to the fire ____________ _____________

A hag who rides a solid gold bloom ___________ ___________

Bubble gum for ghosts _____________ _____________

2- Syllable words

A pair of monsters _____________ ______________

A skeleton ___________ _____________

An awkward country Jack-O-Lantern _____________ _______________

A party for demons _____________ _________________

3-Syllable words

A bone framework made from jello ______________ __________________

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Value of Trunking

Last year I had a finished manuscript (MS)  (edited and critiqued) that I sent queries out to a few agents on.  I heard back from those agents with no.  I set the MS aside and began a new MS for NaNo.  Then, part way through NaNo, I thought I knew how to fix my MS, so I went back to it, but it still didn't work.

At this point, many would think I was completely discouraged.  I had over two years of work into this novel and it still wasn't right.  Instead, I put it away and started working on a companion novel for it.  As I worked on this new MS, things started to shift in my mind for the original MS.  And then, I had the breakthrough on how to fix what was wrong.  Not only that, I had a way to better connect all three companion novels my brain was spinning.

I learned the value of walking away from a project, letting it sit while I worked on something else.  How about you?  Have you trunked a novel?  Why and do you plan to go back to it?

Monday, October 24, 2011

My Eee


I love my Asus Eee netbook.  It is light, portable, the battery (when it's not in the end of its life) lasts a long time.  The drawback, it was taking too long to do things (of course, I was overloading the poor thing with all the windows I had open).  So, when the battery started to die, I started using my husband's laptop to write from.  It is bigger, not too heavy, and can easily run Open Office, Mozilla, and either my Zune software or Media Player all at the same time. It took me a few weeks to adjust to the flat keys, and it isn't as nicely portable as my Eee.

Enter hockey practice.  An hour or two where I can write.  Do I take the netbook or the laptop?  Well, I decided the netbook (with a few hiccups due to dying batteries).  I have been writing with my Eee at hockey practice the last two weekends, and remembered why I fell in love with it to begin with.  So, yesterday while I was Skyping with my awesome CP's my dear hubby ordered a new battery for it and did some research on a new OS that will help it to run quick again.  (Sorry, Windows 7, you just bog me down too much.)  I will be trying the Linux Peppermint OS, and from what I've seen so far, it should be just what my Eee needs.

I am still hoping Santa brings me a tablet PC, though.  I want to use it for e-reading as I have books from both Barnes & Nobles, and Amazon, and this way I can run both software apps.


How about you.  When you write away from home, what do you use?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Update

Quick post today as I forgot it was Thursday already. (Where did the week go??)

I have decided not to participate in the third Platform Builder's Challenge as I am working at finishing Lost Princess before NaNo.  I had an outline of where I wanted to go with my chapters, then I started writing them and my characters brought out some things that need to happen, so I let them, but it threw off my outline.  I then spent the next few days avoiding writing because I wasn't sure where to go.  Finally it came to me, and the dam unlocked.  So, I am hoping to make big progress the next few days and get this draft done so I can get ready to work on Quest for NaNo.

Hope you all have a wonderful, productive weekend!

Monday, October 17, 2011

To NaNo or not to NaNo


That was the question.  Last year I participated in NaNoWriMo and "won", and with November quickly approaching this year I needed to make my decision on participation again.  It was a tough one.  See, last year I was working part time when NaNo started and easily able to write 2,000+ words a day.  Then I went full time, and well, things changed.  Some weeks I have time to write.  Others, well, not so much.  So, what to do?



I really enjoyed NaNo last year, and decided I will participate, but I will not try to kill myself to make the 50,000 word count.  I am hoping to finish with my re-writes on The Lost Princess before NaNo starts so I can focus Quest of the Hart (the predecessor to Lost Princess).

Disclaimer: I am re-writing Quest, so I will be trying to use parts that have already been written (as long as the voice fits).  I will not be counting those words in my word count.  I will only be counting the ones I write during the month.

So, how about you?  Are you NaNo-ing???

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Inspirational Music

Last week I listed some of the music groups I listen to.  Today, I thought I'd share a few more whose music inspire me, especially the songs that tell a story.

Ed Guy-  The entire family likes this group.  Dear son's favorite song for the longest time was Save Us Now (which he called Alien Drum Bunny because of one of the lines in the song.)


Avantasia- This group was formed by the Tobias, the lead singer of Ed Guy, and features guest appearances with musicians from many well known bands in Europe.

Place Vendome- Fronted by former Helloween singer Michael Kiske, this band's album Streets of Fire is one of my favorites.

Saint Deamon- Their album, In Shadows Lost From the Brave, tells a really great story.


What groups do you find inspiration from?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Columbus Day!

Hope you all had a great weekend.  We sure did!  My son had early ice time for hockey this weekend (on ice at 7AM both days).  We decided Saturday would be the perfect day to go to the PA Renaissance Faire, and it was.  The weather was gorgeous, and the crowd was HUGE!

We wandered around and watched a few shows, looked at the shops, played some games (my hubby was declared a king by Queen Elizabeth after winning the test of strength).  But for me the most two most interesting things were the Royal Falconer show and the Artillery Demo.  I learned about the Trained Band (which I had never heard of) and experienced the feel of a shock wave when they fired the artillery.  And learning about the way birds were used for hunting made me thirst to know more and incorporate that into a novel (I have the perfect character and story line to put it in with!)

So, what did you do this weekend?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What's in Your TBR Pile?

I have a confession to make.  I love to read, but haven't been doing as much of it lately as I usually do.   I haven't found a way to work, have family time, write, and read all at the same time.

Normally, I will read a book cover to cover.  I can't help it-- it is an obsession.  One I am trying to re-train.  This week I began reading Kim Harrison's Pale Demon.  I've been reading a few chapters a day, even when I want to just sit and devour it.  So far, it is working well.   I am about half way through after 2 days of reading, and I will be making my TBR pile smaller over the next weeks.

What's on your TBR pile and how do you read through your books?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Awards and Music



Last week, while I was away for work, I received the Versatile Blogger Award from Michelle Pickett and Crystal Collier.  I listed seven things about me here, and am passing it on to any of you who have not received it before.  Take your award and display it proudly.

After listing my songs for the Soundtrack of Your Life post, I had some people asking me who these groups were as they had never heard of them.  So, I thought I'd share with you some of the artists I listen to most often.

Nightwish- This Finnish band has an incredibly talented composer.  My favorite album has an instrumental version I use often when writing.

Christian Kane- An up and comer in the Country Music world, he is also seen weekly on TNT's Leverage.

Steve Carlson- In addition to playing guitar with Christian Kane, Steve has his own band.  I would describe him as a modern day James Taylor.


Trans-Siberian Orchestra-  Formerly the group Savatage, this band takes classical music and mixes them with rock.  Their Christmas show is a must see for my family every year, and Beethoven's Last Night is a springtime favorite.  Two years ago they released Night Castle, and there is talk of new works coming soon.

Within Temptation-  This is a great Dutch group.  Currently Dear Hubby and I are really enjoying their new album- The Unforgiving.

Delain -This group was formed by a former member of Within Temptation, and is also Dutch.  (What can I say-- the overseas groups are really calling to me!)

I am always in the hunt for new music, and my tastes run from Gregorian Chant to Hard Rock/Heavy Metal.  Who are you listening to???

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happy Weekend!

Sorry, no post today.  I came back from my work conference with a miserable cold.

For those of you who commented on my post Monday with mentions of your entries, I will be getting there today or tomorrow!

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Imago of Wolfman Jack (a.k.a The 2nd Platform Builder's Challenge)


The second challenge of the Platform Building Challenge is upon us.  Rachael has tasked us with the following:

Write a blog post in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should:


include the word "imago" in the title

include the following 4 random words: "miasma," "lacuna," "oscitate," "synchronicity,"

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional and included in the word count), make reference to a mirror in your post.

For those who want an even greater challenge (optional), make your post 200 words EXACTLY!



[DISCLAIMER-- I have 200 words WITH the title-- I read excluding as including :-)]

The Imago of Wolfman Jack


“That was Tonight, Tonight by Hot Chelle Rae. Our Truth, by Lacuna Coil, takes us to the top of the hour and your requests.”

Janis flipped the switches, sending the new tune rocking out across the airwaves and leaned back. She stared at the glass wall, the dark room beyond making the surface reflect like a mirror, picturing her mentor, Wolfman Jack, doing the same.

The night seemed to oscitate before her, begging her to fill the void as the hero of her youth had. Looking down at the request list, she cringed. It seemed each song Nick had scrawled on the page was a miasma. With all the other stations polluting the airwaves, she hesitated to add to it with this so-called music. What would the idol of her youth, her idol of today, have done?

“Nick,” she said into her headset, conscious of the time remaining on the song.

“We need to find a new playlist,” the two said in perfect synchronicity.


Janis laughed. “You know what they say about great minds.”

“Yeah,” Nick winked, handing her a new list. “They make great friends, and better boyfriends.”

Have a great Monday!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Soundtrack of My Life

A few years ago, this fun exercise appeared in a chat room I frequented.  I had so much fun, and found how many different artists people listen to, that I wanted to share it here and see what you all have on your playlists (maybe I'll find someone knew to listen to!)

Here's what you need to do.  Put your MP3 player (or Media Player) on Shuffle.  Then, as the songs play (or if you can cheat like I do and see the playlist before they play) write in the song (and artist) that corresponds with the following list.  Finally, post it in the comments for all of us to see.  Most of all, have fun with it!  As you can see with mine, sometimes the song fits really well, other times, not so much, but that's where the fun lies.

Hope you all have a great weekend.  See you back here on Monday!


Opening Credits: Tuareg Attack (The Mummy)- Various Orchestras

Waking Up: Like a Dog Chasing Cars (The Dark Knight)- Hans Zimmer

First Day of School:
Return to Alamut (Prince of Persia)- Harry Gregson-Williams

Falling in Love:
Mary Can You Come Outside- Christian Kane [I did not manipulate this!  Honest!!!]

Fight Song:
Happy Man- Christian Kane [If the above song and this were switched, it would be more accurate!]

Prom:
The Pharaoh Sails to Orion- Nightwish

Life:
Finger Dip (Highlander 2)- Seattle Symphony Orchestra

Mental Breakdown:
Thought I'd Died and Gone to Heaven- Bryan Adams

Driving:
A Coronal of Silver and Gold (Lord of the Rings)- Howard Shore

Flashback:
Embers- Trans Siberian Orchestra

Getting Back Together:
Discombobulate (Sherlock Holmes)- Hans Zimmer

Wedding:
Ever Dream- Nightwish

Birth of Child:
Stand Up (Kick Love into Motion)- Def Leppard

Final Battle:
L.A. Song (Pretty as a Picture)- Christian Kane [I did cheat hear as the song listed for this was "Extract from Number 16, Unknown Artist"-- I have no idea what that is, so I jumped to the next song]

Death Scene: 
She's Not There- Steve Carlson

End Credits: 
Believe- Trans Siberian Orchestra

Monday, September 19, 2011

Following



Matthew MacNish asked Why Follow? on his blog post last Friday.   It's a great post,  If you haven't seen it, I recommend reading it.  This post made me think about a related topic I have been considering posting on.  How I follow.  As part of the Platform Building Campaign, I have started following new blogs (and have picked up new followers here-- welcome all!,).  But what does it mean when I follow your blog?

I follow several blogs (posted on the left side here) without expecting to be followed back (although I am grateful to all of you who do!).  When I visit a blog (either following a link from another post or stumbling upon it another way) I read a few posts and look around.  If I think it is something I will be interested in following, I look for the follow button or RSS feed button on your blog (if you don't have one, you should so I can follow you more easily.), then add you to my Google reader.  And here is where the magic happens for me.  Every time you update your blog, it appears in my reader.  I will click on the link and read your blog in the bubble that opens (sometimes I have to go to the original item as the entire post doesn't show.)

For everyone I follow -- I do read your posts.  I just don't always comment on them.  I can't.  With working, being a wife and mother, and writing, I don't have enough time to.  But, I do read them, and will comment on ones that peak my interest, or when I have something to add to the conversation going on in the comments.

How about you?  How do you follow?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Award and Guest Post



Thanks to Kate Couresy of Weaving Colors for the lovely Liebster Award. This award is given to a blogger with less than 200 followers who then passes it on to five of their followers with less than 200 followers.  According to Babelfish, Liebster means Dearest.  So, here are some of my dearest bloggers with under 200 followers:

Michelle Pickett at Michelle Pickett, Author

Graeme Smith at Graeme's Blog

Fiona Claire at The Ageless Druid

Kathryn Sheridan Kupanoff at Everything Boho

For the fifth, I would like you to name a blogger in the comments section you believe deserves this award.

Now, for the Guest post.  My son has been writing on and off over the last year, and he has asked me to share the following poem with all of you.  Enjoy!




Monday, September 12, 2011

When did helping your neighbor become so difficult?

Last week our area experienced record rainfall (over 9 inches of rain in a 24 hour period) followed by record flooding.  Many families were evacuated, and still have not returned to their homes.  Having received word that one of the shelters was in need of clothing, books, games, and things to help people pass the time while the waters recede and they are allowed back to their homes, we packed up some supplies and headed out.  Upon arriving at the shelter, we were told by a Red Cross volunteer that "they couldn't take any books or games, and clothing must have tags from the store still on them."

I stood there dumbstruck.  Here we were trying to offer needed supplies and were being turned away.  Returning home, the news ran an update, stating that the Red Cross was looking for donations, specifically money.  Given what I had just found out, I can see why they are asking for money.  To me it appears they aren't willing to accept the donations that could aid someone instantly, they would rather fill their coffers and have the aid come when they are ready for it.

To say I am disappointed with the Red Cross is an understatement.  Instead of helping those people at the shelter, I will find another place who will take my donation and distribute it to those in need.

Have any of you had experience with the Red Cross like this?  Or is this just a local issue?

Friday, September 9, 2011

TGIF!!!

Talk about a crazy week! Sorry I didn't post yesterday, but I was busy keeping up with the news.

Dear son went back to school on Wednesday, but rather than the normal week of school we expected, he had an early dismissal followed by tow days off due to record flooding in our area.

We are fine--had some ground water flooding in the basement--but others in our area lost everything.  We are still not sure how bad it got, but we know it was worse than the flooding we went through in 2006.  Both hubby and I are home from work until further notice (most likely Monday for me-- not sure for him).

I was hoping to participate in the Judge and Jury blogfest, but have nothing ready for it, and will be taking out wet carpet today.

Hope you all have a great weekend.  Will be back to normal on Monday (I hope!)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Platform Building Challenge-- Short Story






Our first challenge for the Platform Building Crusade is to write a short story/flash fiction piece of 200 words or less beginning with the words "The door swung open."  For added difficulty, you can end with "The door swung shut"  and be exactly 200 words. 

I decided to go for all of it.  Here is what I hope will find its way toward the end of one of my WIP's based on a reverse Sleeping Beauty idea.  If you like it, you can "like" it here! (I am number 199)




The door swung open, and Kaylee peered inside, breath hitching as she found Devlin, perfectly still and white as the sheets tucking him into the four-poster bed. A tear slid down her cheek, and she dashed it away. Arabella thought she could keep them apart, but although her spell had been strong enough put Devlin and much of the kingdom to sleep, it wasn't enough to conquer true love.

Slippered feet silent on the wood floor, Kaylee hurried to the bedside, pulling out a strange vial. Blood from the Golden Dragon mixed with the purple elixir from the wise woman formed an antidote for the spell. At least in theory it did.

Hand shaking, Kaylee wiggled out the stopper, hesitating as she held the vial to Devlin's lips. There was no guarantee what she was about to do would work. If it didn't, she would live out the remainder of her days in the dungeon.

With a quick prayer, Kaylee tipped the strange liquid into Devlin's mouth. Nothing happened. Kaylee leaned her cheek against his, wishing his eyes open as a single tear trickled onto his lips. The chime of a crystal bell filled the room and the door swung shut.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Busy Weekend

Happy Labor Day, everyone!

Sorry for the late post today, but it was a crazy weekend.  I spent Saturday with my mom at my niece's.  She was flooded out from Hurricane Irene last week.  Then Sunday, we had to outfit dear son for hockey, as we found out he has evaluations this week.

I will be posting more later this week for the Platform Building Campaign Challenge and the Judge and Jury blogfest.

Have a great day!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Goal Updates, New Goals, and News


In July I posted a list of goals I wanted to accomplish before the end of August, and with yesterday being the last day of August, I thought I'd share my update with you.

1) Finish current WIP by the end of August.  I did finish my round of revisions on my WIP, and am now incorporating feedback from my CP's. I have the first 2 chapters of another WIP (another revision which is most likely going to be an almost complete rewrite) set, and will be working on this while waiting for feedback.

2) Reach 50 followers on my blog and on Twitter. Thanks to all my followers (old and new) I have over 50 followers here, but did not meet my Twitter goal.

My goals for September are:

1) Finish incorporating feedback from my CP's.  This may take longer than the month as we only exchange 3 chapters a week, but I am hopeful to get through it all.

2) Get a good start on my next WIP.  I have a basic outline (and now my characters very well as this is probably the 10th (or more) version of this story.  Just couldn't get it quite right before) and a better idea of how to fix what was wrong.


NEWS:

One of my CP's has a new blog.  You can check it out here.  Isn't the tree just gorgeous?  Don't you want to open the door and go inside? 

For those of you who are fans of Rob Thurman, and haven't heard.  She is recovering from a serious car accident.  Updates can be found on her blog here.

 Next week I hope to post a fun game for all of you to play along with, so stay tuned.  Have a great weekend!!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Over Kill

Happy Monday!  Welcome to all my new followers (many from the Writer's Platform Building Campaign), and welcome back to all my regular followers.  I hope you all made it safely through the rain and wind from Irene.

Last night we were at loose ends and decided to watch FOOLPROOF.  (Those of you who like LEVERAGE will really enjoy this movie.)  It is about a group of friends who plan heists, plotting every detail, but never carry them out.  One day, their plans get stolen and used. They are contacted to create new plans for a new break-in in order to recover the stolen plans.

I really enjoyed the movie, but I noticed something I see much too often.  There were a few scenes where the camera pointed out something important to the viewer, then showed it again.  I understand they wanted to be certain the viewer understood the significance, but for me once was enough.  Twice was over kill.

Which brings me to writing.  I have been guilty of this in my writing, not trusting my reader to understand the first time I said it, so I add it in two or three more times.  I'll put it in exposition, then repeat it in dialogue (or vice versa).  In fact, just this morning I received back chapters from a CP and she marked three sections I had done this in.  (Thanks Tammy!!!  I promise I will fix that!)

How about you?  Do you trust your reader to get the subtle clues the first time, or do you hit them over the head with it?  And, as a reader/movie viewer, which do you prefer, those subtle "Oh, their going to that!" moments or the  "Alright, already,  I got it the first time you showed me fifteen minutes ago?" ones?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Music to Inspire


I like to listen to music when I write.  Ii isn't something I must do, often opting to listen to the noises of my family as I type away.

Normally I choose movie soundtracks, loving the building crescendos, the sweeping lines, letting them surround me as I craft my world.  Lately I've been considering listening to songs with vocals.  Why?  Well, one of my favorite bands for inspiration (Nightwish) only has one instrumental album so far.  But the other reason is I want to get into the right mood.  I want to feel the denial of love, the frustration when the one you love is with another, and how better to capture these feelings than with the right song?

So, fellow authors, do you listen to music as you write?  Why, and what do you listen to?  If you don't, why not?   Share in the comments below.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Writers' Platform-Building Campaign

Rachael Harrie is running her third Platform Building Campaign.  Info can be found here.   Sign-ups are open through August 31st.  What are you waiting for???   Looking forward to seeing you there!

You Know You're a Writer When. . .

This past weekend my family and I went on a day trip to Roseland Waterpark.  (Yes-- I did the 60' water slide that goes 30 MPH.  It was awesome!  The twisty one was not as fun for me, but I would do the white one again in a heartbeat!)

Before meandering our way through wine country (stopping to get a few bottles from some of our favorites), we went to breakfast at a local diner.  As we were leaving, I caught a glimpse of a sign that made me laugh.

It read "We are not responsible for lost articles."

Now, I know it isn't really that funny, but when I turned to my husband and our friend and said, "So, if you lose an a, an, or the, they aren't responsible," it took on a totally new meaning for me, and I thought it was funny.

What signs have you reinterpreted in a different way than they are meant?  Share in the comments.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Reminder

Just a reminder that WriteOnCon started yesterday and continues through tomorrow.  You can check it out here!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Blueberries and History

This weekend I was supposed to go blueberry picking with my mom, but she wasn't feeling well, so she sent my dad with me.  We had a great time picking and chatting.  I updated him on my querying, and he updated me on the progress of the '57 Chevy he is restoring and the stories he is working on.

When I started talking to my folks about my writing, my dad told me he had a story idea he was working on.  I encouraged him to pursue it (as I would any writer) and he let me look at the first rough draft.  And it was rough, just like any writer's first draft.  There were no quotations for dialogue, no tags, no new paragraphs.  I was stunned-- my dad is very good at grammar and usage, so this surprised me.  He also fell into the early writer's telling me what happened instead of showing me.  I gave him some ideas of things to try, and he worked on it for a bit, but has let it go recently as he works on his car.

In the meantime, he started jotting down memories of things from his childhood.  He let me read through it one day, and I was amazed.  My dad has various stories he tells from growing up (the one that always comes to mind is Rabbit Berries, but that's a post for another day.), but here were things I had never known about, or heard about.  Like the ration coupons, and how farmers were given more of them for gas and would trade those coupons with others for things they needed.

I also learned about some of his antics during school.  See, my dad grew up during the Second World War with a German surname.  In school we learned about the internment camps for the Japanese, but I never heard about the treatment of Americans whose families were from Germany, until I read this.  My dad went through horrible bullying, and all because of his name.  He made it through, but it made an impression on him.

As we picked berries, I asked about his memoirs, and he said he hadn't really done anything with them, and asked me why I was asking about it.  I told him I really enjoyed reading them as it brought the past to life for me, giving me a connection I hadn't had before.  I also thought it was cool the things I learned about my dad that he's never really talked about much.

I hope that he really does keep jotting down things as he remembers them, giving at least the rest of my family a glimpse into the past.

What have you learned from your parents history?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Condolences

I'm not sure if it was because of the number of casualties, or because I have family and friends in the military, or a combination of the two, but hearing of the deaths of 30 soldiers this weekend really struck me.

I offer my condolences to their families in this time of deep sorrow.  May you find comfort in the memories of your loved ones.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Saturday was my 20th High School Reunion.  I had a blast seeing all the people I haven't seen in so many years.  It was great to catch up and see what everyone is up to.  I am looking forward to staying in better contact, too!

Sunday we had our weekly writing chat.  It was really great.  I love when my CP's all find the same thing that I need to fix.  It really shows me where I went astray.  I also like listening to the brainstorming that comes when we talk about our comments on the chapters.  It is so interesting how one persons comments can lead to a totally cool idea for my WIP.

I am making good progress on The Lost Princess, even if there are some things I need to go back and tweak in the first three chapters.  I have worked my way up to chapter 18 on my second draft, and hope to have the entire draft finished before the end of August (within my goal timeline!).

In other news, congratulations to Graeme!  Yesterday, he announced on his blog that he has a contract with MuseItUp Publishing.  Way to go Graeme!!!!

So, how was your weekend?  What's new with you?  Share in the comments!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Yesterday I responded to a post by Vickie Motter at Navigating the Slush Pile concerning your favorite comfort books.  After replying, I thought about the books I had listed and decided to explain why I chose them, as they aren't really the most comforting of stories.

First, there was Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli.  I had to read this in college for one of my reading classes and quickly fell in love with the story, even though it made me cry.  Jeffrey, aka Maniac, is race blind.  The shade of your skin doesn't matter (in fact he doesn't understand why he is called white or blacks are called black) what matters is your actions. The acceptance of people for who they are, not what they are, makes me hope our children will focus more on actions than race.

The other book I chose was Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.  I can still remember sitting in my third grade classroom, listening as our teacher read this aloud after lunch.  The description was so vivid I could see the story in my mind, as though I were watching a movie.  While the story is not a happily-ever-after ending, the memories it brings warm my heart.

What stories from your youth do you turn to for comfort and why?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Recipe Thursday!

I love Greek food.  Especially Souvlaki.  So, as is usual with me, I looked up a recipe on line and have played with it until I have my own version I use.  So, with great apologies to all my Greek friends for the liberties I have taken, here is my recipe.

Chicken Souvlaki
(serves about 4)

3 boneless chicken breasts
olive oil
lime (or lemon) juice
1 12-16 oz container plain Greek yogurt (regular yogurt works too, it's just thinner)
1/2 a cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
salt
lettuce
Feta cheese
Olives (black or Kalamata)
pita bread

In a hot skillet, add olive oil and a few dashes of lime juice (I prefer the taste lime gives, but lemon works just as well.)  Add chicken and cook until done, turning as needed.  Cut into strips.

While chicken is cooking- put chopped cucumber in a small bowl and cover with a layer of salt (if you put on too much, you can rinse it off.)  Let sit for a few minutes, then move mixture into a paper towel and squeeze out excess water (if rinsing, do so before putting in paper towel and then add seasoning to mixture to taste).  Return to bowl and mix with container of yogurt and about a teaspoon (or more if desired) of lime (lemon) juice.

To assemble:

Heat pita's on a hot skillet (I have a flat, cast iron pan I use and I set my empty tea pot on top, flipping pita over to heat both sides before removing.)
Spoon the yogurt sauce on warmed pita, add lettuce, chicken, olives, and cheese.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Goals

I've been neglecting my blog lately because life has become quite busy, and as much as I like sharing things with all of you, I've been taking that time to spend with family and friends or write.

With that in mind, I've decided to set some goals for myself, and I thought I would share them with you so you can help keep me on track!  So, here they are:

1) Finish current WIP by the end of August.  I am in the revision stage, so this shouldn't be too difficult, or at least I hope not!

2) Reach 50 followers on my blog and on Twitter.  My question to those of you with many followers is this: How'd you do it???  I would love some advice on how to get to more people as followers.

Hope you all had a great weekend.  I'll be posting some recipes later this week (have a few I wanted to share).  Have a great day!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Case of the Sticky Hand

Remember those sticky hand things you could get at the store?  You fling it on things and it sticks until you peel it off?  No?  Does this help jog the memory?

My son came home from visiting Grandma with a blue one of these. (Note to those of you with kids-- don't leave them on white walls for extended periods of time-- they will leave color on the wall.  At least his did.) Tonight as I was surfing the net, I reached over to drink my cooling cup of coffee, only to discover something was floating in the cup.  The sticky hand.  No one knows how it came to be in the cup I had been drinking from for about 30 minutes, but there it was.  Three adults and one child had no idea where it had come from. I figured my son set it in the cup instead of on the table, and dear hubby wondered if it had been a gift from my cat.  Either way, it wasn't what I had wanted in my drink.  My son graciously took care of it and got me a fresh cup of coffee (after dumping and rinsing out the other.)

What strange gifts have your kids or pets left you that you?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Learning from side trips

Sometimes when you get stuck and you think about how to get unstuck, your mind will come up with a really cool idea.  But when you go to put this idea down on paper (or screen as in my case), it doesn't translate in the same way.  No matter what you do, you can't make the scene come to life the way it did in your mind.

This was my WIP last week. I had let it sit while I worked on another project, and my mind came up with a fantastic opening, complete with a Fairy Godmother for my prince.  Unfortunately when I tried to put it into words on the page, it wouldn't flow right.

Eventually I went back to my hunting scene and found a way to add in dialogue.  Now, not only do I have an action packed opening, complete with dialogue, but my female MC has a character flaw I didn't realize--she's a perfectionist.  And the fact that the male MC caused her to flub a shot with an arrow is grating on her in more ways than one.

Do I regret the time I spent playing and writing scenes I am not going to use?  Not at all.  They helped show a few places I had plot holes, and helped me find some new insight into my characters.

How about you?  Have you ever gone done a path with your characters that you had to backtrack from and re-do?  Did you regret the trip, or did you learn something from it?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4thof July!!!

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!  I hope you all have a wonderful day filled with family, friends, good food, and fireworks!

Oh, and Happy Belated Canada Day to all my Canadian friends!  I hope you had a great day 7/1.

This morning I woke up and heard about this Marist Poll.  Thought I'd share it with you.  I was quite surprised by it!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Changes

Life has been crazy busy these last few weeks, with school winding down for my son and things picking up at work.  We've been busy around the house celebrating Father's Day and birthdays and getting together with family and friends.

Needless to say, I am behind in where I want to be with my WIP.  My CP's took a look at my new chapters this week and pointed out what I already knew-- while there is a lot of action, there is little dialogue in the first chapter (2 lines to be exact), which makes it harder to read.  I also added some scenes for the sake of having them, not because the did anything to move the story along.  So, it is back to the drawing board for my beginning again (I actually have a plan in mind-- Thanks Trisha for being my sounding board for it!)

So, with that in mind, I will be taking the next week or so off from blogging to write and spend time with my family.  Have a great couple weeks!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Creating Character

Happy belated Father's Day to all the dad's out there.  We had a great time yesterday with both of our father's (and mother's and a brother) stopping over for food and fun on the back deck.  Hope you all had a great time. (We actually had two sunny days in a row!)

This week I was writing a scene in my WIP with a minor character who would only be in this one scene.  I wrote the chapter, saved it, then started thinking about what I had written.  It was very flat, and worse, I didn't know why my MC had chosen this person for the task they were fulfilling in the chapter.  As I thought about the answer to my why, a back story began to unravel for this minor character, and I realized that was why the chapter was so flat.

How about you?  Do you create back stories even for minor characters?  Why or why not?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Out With A . . .Riot??

Well, the hockey season is officially over now.  Congratulations to the Boston Bruins for winning the Stanley Cup.  While I was rooting for the Vancouver Canucks (they had never won the Stanley Cup before and Boston had), I must say I am quite disappointed in how their fans behaved after the loss.

Looting, rioting, and destroying property is not a way to show disappointment when your sports team loses a championship game.  I understand the let down and disappointment that comes when your team is THAT close, but doesn't pull through, but how does committing these acts of vandalism make you feel better?

Here's hoping that next year, the losing team's city will accept the loss with grace and dignity, not a flagrant disrespect of the law.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Why?

I've been wondering lately why people write.  Do they have a story trapped inside they just have to get out?  Do they write for their own enjoyment of the story they are writing?  Do they write to see their name in print when they go to the bookstore?

After some thought, I realized I write because I have found wonderful characters who want me to come and live in their world, if only for a few hours at a time.  (Interestingly, this is what draws me to the books I read-- characters who can take me away to another world or place).


So, out of curiosity, why do you write?

Oh, and Graeme has a new website.  It can be found here.  There's a great post about the "Ordinary" in Extraordinary.  Be sure to swing by and check it out-- I found it quite thought provoking!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Congratulations!!!!

I love hockey.  Fortunately for me, I live in an area that has an AHL team- The Binghamton Senators.

Tuesday night the Senators did something the other hockey teams from this area hadn't been able to do in 38 years.  They won the Calder Cup, after winning 4 games to the Houston Aeros 2 in a best of 7 series.

We went to the parade for them last night.  It was great seeing the support from all the locals and really cool to see the cup (very neat looking trophy).

So, Congratulations, B-Sens!!! And here's to a great season next year!

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Two Cents

This weekend I hopped on line to check on some things and found the internet (or at least my Twitter friends) ablaze with comments on THIS article from the WSJ.  There were many wonderful comments on Twitter (you can find the at #yasaves)

As I haven't read the books (at least the newer ones) discussed in the article, I don't feel I can comment one way or the other on that part of the article.  (I do know several of these books will be appearing on my TBR pile!)  But I wanted to share some observations I had.

First, if you are going to comment on books (either good or bad), you really should read them first.  I am not saying the author of this piece didn't read them-- I have no way of knowing if she did or didn't.  However, I know from personal experience how easy it is to be self-righteous about your POV.  See, when I was in college I wrote a paper about how violence in TV was bad for children, and encouraged them to behave violently.  The two shows I wrote about were the Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-- shows I had never watched.  Fast forward about 15 years to me and my 6 year-old son watching those very shows and me loving the lessons they taught.  I happened to stumble across my college paper and laughed at how naive and biased I had been. Unless you have actually read/watched what you find "offensive" you really can't comment on it correctly.  You are entitled to your opinion, but I will respect it more if you do your research.

Secondly, I found it rather ironic that the author of the article used previously banned books to support her view that these new books are not things teens should be reading.  In fact, I have found that the more you make a book controversial, the more people want to read it, just to see what the controversy is about.

Thirdly, there are too many people already telling us how to live our lives and what are children should and shouldn't do.  Children have parents for a reason, and if I think my son is old enough to read a book with "dark" content, or play a realistic war game, that is my decision, not yours.

One other thing. I find it really hard to believe there were no other books than Vampire or issue books at Barnes and Noble.  What about GRACELING?  or Frank Beddor's LOOKING GLASS WARS series? Those were ones I thought of immediately.


Agent Bree Ogden mentioned in a tweet about going from reading RL Stine to Ayn Rand, and it made me think of my reading progress as a teen.  For my sixteenth birthday (IIRC) my mom bought me a subscription to Harlequin.  Not something most people would do, but she knew I could handle the content.  And that is what I think this entire debate comes down to.  Knowing your children, and knowing what they can handle in reading/games/life in general.

What do you think?

Friday, June 3, 2011

What's Your Fortune?

I love Chinese food.  Even more I love Fortune Cookies.  I have my own ritual for eating them, and recently discovered my husband and friends are quite different than mine.

I was told by a friend, growing up, that you break open the cookie, read the fortune, and if it is a good one, you eat the cookie.  Yow never eat a cookie with a bad fortune.  My husband and one of our friends break open the cookie, eat half, then read the fortune and finish the cookie. 

Of course we read the fortunes to ourselves and then share out loud. My husband usually starts with, "Sorry, wrong cookie."  Sometimes we think the fortunes went to the wrong people, as they fit others in the group so much better.

Last week my friend got a fortune I loved.  "Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny."

I have to admit- my first thought was Darth Vadar, then I realized this was a great quote for authors.  We need to watch our characters, for we form their destiny.  If we make a character do something out of character, (without a good reason) it can cause problems in our story.

What advice have you taken from fortune cookies?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Happy June!!!!

Hopefully all of you made it through the storms last week with little/no problems.  We had heavy rains, high winds, and tornado threats here, but fortunately no damage.  Power was out to several people in our area over the weekend, but as far as I know most of it has been restored by now.

We had a great cookout with family and friends on the new deck Monday (finally the weather cooperated!!!) It was so nice to have the area to entertain on.

I'm getting to the end of my re-writes for my WIP, and catching up on some reading.  My son and I are reading through the Percy Jackson series (we're on THE TITAN'S CURSE), and I am reading JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW.  What titles are you reading or is in your TBR pile???

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

Thank you to all who have served and are serving in our Armed Forces.

Every year this time of year, the poppies in the backyard bloom, and I recall the first lines of  "In Flanders Fields".  I remember listening to it in a Charlie Brown special I only saw once, but can only remember the first two lines.  In honor of the men and women who have sacrificed their lives in defense of our freedom, I share this poem with you today.








In Flander's Fields
by John McCrae


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
 Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
 In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
 If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Time Flies

I can't believe it is almost June-- seems like just a few weeks ago it was Christmas!!!  Is time going just as fast for you?

I had hoped to be further along in my WIP at this time, but am pleased with where I am.  I had also hoped to be back to a regular exercise schedule, but that hasn't happened.  I find I have a hard time getting up earlier in the morning to do it then, and when I come home from work I feel I am missing time with my family if I do it then.  Maybe now that the sun has decided to make an appearance I can do the morning thing-- they say if you do it for 28 days it becomes a habit!

I read some interesting posts in the last week.  Lindsey Roth Culli (A Pinch of Panache) has a great post on Beta's, and Margo Berensden (Writing at High Altitude) has a post on extreme writing with a link at the end to suggestions for writing your synopsis.  Hop over here to check it out!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Juggling WIP's

When you are writing, do you focus on one WIP at a time, or do you have multiples going?  I've been trying to focus on one WIP, but my mind keeps dropping other stories into my mind to play with.

I am thinking of rotating between the two WIP's, so when I get stuck on one, I can work on the other while my subconscious works out the problems.

In the meantime, I have been beta reading from Graeme of The Fool and The Fair.  He has great humor (and a cool website with an awesome dragon!), so go check it out!!!!  And Graeme, thanks for all the help the last couple of weeks!

So- how many WIP's do you have going?  Pros and cons to working on more than one??

Friday, May 20, 2011

Unstuck!

Yesterday it felt like I had been struck by lightning when I finally realized the reason I was stuck in my current WIP.  I hadn't made a character do something they needed to do, and they were sulking.  To add further to my dilemma, I needed to change POV, and hadn't.

So, with my character doing what she needed to do, and my POV changed, I was able to get some writing done.

I probably should have realized this earlier, as these are the two most common reasons I get stuck. What have you found that gets you stuck in your writing?

Hope you all have a great weekend.  We are off to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Beethoven's Last Night Tour tonight.  And, maybe if it ever stops raining, we can have a meal out on the new deck (now fully stained and cured!)  See you all Monday!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Out of Order

The last few days I haven't felt like writing.  It isn't that I don't have an idea to work with, I do.  In fact I gave myself a deadline to get this idea down so it can rest while I get a few other ideas down.

I tried sitting and forcing myself through the scene-- not a good idea.  The writing read forced, because it was.  Yesterday I tried writing scenes out of order. This worked a bit better than I hoped.  I was able to get at least one scene down, in rough form.  Now, I just need to bridge to there.  I think I figured out how, by working out of order.

What do you do when the mood isn't there?  Do you push on, hoping to just get the idea out there?  Do you take a break?  What are your secrets?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Using Twitter Effectively

How many of you have a Twitter account? (Yes, I realize there are those who don't and understand why not-- this isn't to make you feel bad because you don't Tweet, or force you to Tweet).

I have an account I opened at the urging of some friends (Thanks guys!).  We used it to chat back and forth with each other.  Then, last year I had this huge reading thirst and was offline for about a month (I know-- I can't believe it either, but it's true!)

When I came back, I slowly got back into blogging, but Twitter has been hit and miss.  I try to remember to post when I update my blog (and usually forget), and occasionally I post that #Iamwriting, or #Iamrevising. 

In the end, I find that I am not using Twitter effectively at all.  So I ask: How do you use Twitter?  Has it helped with your writing?  Have you made contacts in the writing world through it?  Has it made an impact on your blog?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Law of 3, and the Dreaded Synopsis (not related)

OK- you've had to heard the expression bad things happen in 3's.  Well, here are my 3 (I hope they are done!)

Saturday our water heater went unexpectedly.  Not a big deal (although kinda pricey!- and the rub was we missed the warranty by about 2 weeks.)  Fixed.

Yesterday when I was returning to work, my vehicle started driving funny.  IM'd hubby about it, and we figured it was something with the 4 wheel drive.  Then he came home and found a long bolt laying in the road near our driveway.  It was supposed to be in the rear end housing holding it in place.  When he tried to put it back, he discovered the piece that should hold it in had broken into multiple pieces.  A call to the dealer told us they could get the part-- in two days.  Oh well, at least it is fixable and didn't happen while towing the camper!

Finally, we've been seeing little ants in our bathroom all weekend and trying to find where they are coming from.  I keep looking in the window, but see no trace, until this morning.  I killed about 5 before I got in the shower, and when I got out, there were more.  I pulled back the curtain to find about 40-50 congregated in the upper corner.  Great!  Went looking for the ant spray.  None.  Called hubby--and we realized we were out.  Not wanting to leave the there to go who know where, I kept searching and finally found the bug spray for my roses (been looking for that all winter!).  It didn't mention ants as something it killed, but at least I could say I tried.

Unrelated to all this, I've noticed several blogs posting about writing the synopsis.  As this is something I am currently working on, I thought I'd share some of the links with you.

Chuck Sambuchino shows how to do a synopsis with the movie The Fly at
http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/Synopsis+Example+The+Fly+Horror+SciFi.aspx

Graeme shared this link on the Writer's Digest Synosper Sentral forum.  I found it interesting and helpful.


http://www.writing-world.com/publish/synopsis.shtml

Have you found any helpful synopsis sites to share?  Post them below!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Contest!

For those of you who haven't heard, QueryTracker.net is having a contest that begins today.  What is the contest?  Roseanne Wells, of Marianne Strong & Associates, is judging first pages of completed YA novels.

The information can be found here.  Just follow the directions.

If you are entering, good luck!

The weekend was crazy here, with an unexpected water heater change, and scattered showers that kept us from finishing staining the deck (I'm beginning to think it will never be done!).  But it ended nicely with an extended family gathering for Mother's Day.  Hope all of you had a wonderful weekend and are looking forward to an exciting week!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Congratulations!!!!

Special post to send congratulations to Lindsay and Trisha on their acceptance of representation by Ginger Clark!!!!!!

Information on their YA dystopian novel FATUM can be found here.

Congrats, you two!

Practice makes perfect

Last night we went to our son's String Fest concert.  They did a great job, and I had fun listening to the progress from the first year students, to the 2nd and 3rd year, to the Jr. High and High School.  As expected, the tone quality and caliber of play increased as the students matured.  It was interesting to note, that as the students playing improved, the number of students on stage decreased.

I was reminded of how with our first stories, all the components were there, but they just weren't fine tuned, but as we continue writing, our work improves  The quality improves as we apply all the new things we have learned.

Then we work on revisions,  tightening our work even more, until only the best quality remains, the same way these students practice and work until their performance is the best it can be.

What have you seen that reminds you of the growth in your writing?  Hope you all have a great, sunny weekend, and Happy Mother's Day to all you mom's!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Rain, rain, go away

Oh mighty weather gods, I beg you to send at least three sunny days my way.  One day to dry out my deck, one day to finish staining it, and one day for it to cure.  If you could see fit to send more than three, I would be greatly blessed and honored.

In all seriousness, I am grateful we haven't had the storms and flooding that have hit so many in our nation.  How are things in your neck of the woods?  Has it been sunny and warm, grey and wet, or somewhere in between?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Catching up!

It was so nice to see the sun again on Saturday.  We even managed to get a bit of our deck stained.  We had hoped to do more yesterday, but with rain threatening, we decided to wait.  I did get my new rosebush planted, though.

I spent time working on my agent to query list and tweaking the synopsis so I am ready to go once I hear some feedback on my ending.

So, how was your weekend?  Hope this is the start of a great week for everyone!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Excuses!

Sorry I'm late with this one today, but I didn't write it up last night, and this morning when I meant to be writing it, I got sucked into watching the Royal Wedding.

I qualified it as research-- a couple of my WIP's involve royalty and weddings (albeit in a fantasy world), so watching the wedding gave me an insight into the moarchy.  But, in reality, I got sucked in by the romance.  And it was so nice to see something so lovely after all the destruction and sadness in the news of late.

What have you qualified as research when it wasn't completely for research?

Hope you all have a wonderful (dry-- fingers crossed we can get the deck stained this weekend!) weekend!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hodge Podge

Thanks for all the suggestions and encouragement for my agent search.  I really appreciate it!

I think I have my query where it needs to be, and am working on a Synopsis (not as difficult as I thought it would be!)-- I hope to share more on this with you later this week or early next week.  And my agent to query list is growing.

We've been having thunderstorms roll through at night, and the ones two nights ago reminded me of my childhood, where the thunder echoed around the valley.  The lightning was bright and vivid, lighting up the sky with quick flashes.  Last night, as another storm rolled in, I started thinking this was the perfect thing I needed for a WIP I am outlining in my thoughts (before putting it on paper).

So, today I ask--what weather have you seen that you've said, "Oh, that would be perfect for here!"?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Choices

I am at that stage where I am starting to look for agents to query.  The MS is sitting, waiting for some final feedback, before I read through again searching for those typos and grammar errors (I never seem to find them all!) and I am formulating my list.

A CP asked me who was on my list, and made some suggestions to me for people to add, and it got me thinking--how do others create their agent wish list?

I've been looking at Publisher's Marketplace and then checking out the sites the agents work at (or their own sites in some cases), learning what I can about their likes/dislikes to see if my story is one that will interest them.  If I like what I read, and they show an interest in my genre, they go on my list.

What about you?  How do you create your agent wish list?

Friday, April 22, 2011

200

In honor of my 200th post, I would like to list the 200 things I've learned from my writing experiences.

Just kidding!  I do thank all of you for stopping by, reading, commenting, and encouraging me as I make my way through the process of writing, revising, and querying.  The writing community on line is a wonderful place to find encouragement at the time you need it most.  So, thank you to all of you for being there!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and Happy Easter!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ready or not?

Last night one of my CP's asked me when I was going to send out my MS for querying.  I replied, I want to look through it again to make sure I haven't missed something--there is something off with the ending, but I don't know what (Note:  I figured out what just before bed last night, now have to fix it).  She laughed and reminded me that I could keep going over it and tweaking it forever.

And she's right.  I could.  I try to read through and make only the necessary changes, and find myself line editing instead of reading for flow and only stopping when I get pulled out of the story.

So, how do you know when it's time to put down the editing (and the track changes) and polish up that query letter and send it out into the world?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Short, sweet, and to the point

I'm giving a big shout out to Tammy from TC McKee to say THANKS for the wonderful words on her post Friday.  If you've never read her blog, check it out-- she always seems to put a smile on my face.

Friday, while waiting to hear back from my CP's, I decided to start working on my query.  I forgot how difficult these things are to write.  Wanting to use just the right words in just the right way to get your story across without telling too much or making the person reading it go "What???"

It's getting it to be short, sweet, and to the point that was evading me.  By Saturday morning I had thirteen versions, and while each was an improvement over the previous version, something was still missing.  I decided to let it rest (send it to a trusted friend to look over and comment on) and come back to it later.  That was the best thing I could have done.  That second (and third) set of eyes helped me find what was missing, and clarify those murky spots.

Have you written your query yet?  Did you find any secrets you care to share that made writing it easier?  I know Elana Johnson has a great book on it here that was very helpful for me.  What resources have you found?

Friday, April 15, 2011

We have new patio furniture! Well, almost

At the end of last summer we built a deck off the back of our house (well, actually we paid someone to build it for us :-) ).  Since then we've been looking at patio furniture, wanting just the right set for the new space.  We found two tables we loved, but didn't like the chairs that came with them, and you couldn't swap them around (note to all stores--customers should be able to mix and match tables and chairs).

Finally, we found a set that we liked both the table and chairs on.  It arrived Wednesday (during the pouring rain) and last night dear hubby and our neighbor started opening it up to put it together.  The chair parts were all fine, but the table was another story.  It has four stone pieces that set into the rectangular frame.  Unfortunately for us, three of the four pieces were broken.  The store we ordered from was very nice about the problem and will be sending replacement pieces, but it will take time.

So, we're on our way there.  Now to get the deck stained, but first we need more sunny days like today.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

After you reach the end, where do you go?

First, I want to say, you all had such wonderful comments in Wednesday's post.  I do agree that while being honest, we should always be kind with our comments.  And it is good to point out what was liked and done well- that positive reinforcement thing works quite well!

Now, on to today's post.  Currently I am in a waiting pattern- waiting for my CP's to get back to me on my second round of revisions (Yea! I finished them Sunday!) to see there thoughts on where I went.  (I know I have some doubts about my ending, so I'm curious about their responses.)

In the meantime, I've picked back up a WIP that was supposed to be a sequel, but is now looking like it will be the first book in a series I am working on.  I looked over my outline, and started editing what I had written when it hit me like a brick what was wrong.  I was telling my readers what I wanted them to know instead of showing it.  As I worked my way through, trying to find a way to show and not tell, I realized I had more wrong than that-- namely some plot holes that the telling was covering up.  A new outline (and quite a bit of thinking later) I think I am on the right track with my WIP.  The story line is changing a bit, but I think in the end it will be for the better.  If not, I'll go back and pull out the older version and brush it up!

So, what do you do when you finished a project and are waiting for feedback?  Do you start another one?  Take a break?  Devour all the books in your To Be Read pile? Share below!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Honesty's the Best Policy

When I ask people to read for me, I expect them to be honest with how they feel about what they are reading.  I may not like  what they have to say, or agree with them but if they can't tell me they got bored reading a chapter, who will?

In return, I am honest with the people I read for.  They have asked me to take time to read for them, and I assume they truly want to know my opinion. And I tell them what it is, always letting them know it is just that.  My opinion.

So, how honest are you for your readers?  Do you hold back because you're afraid you'll hurt their feelings, or do you put it all out there, hoping your words can help them be the best author they can be?

Friday, April 8, 2011

To change or not to change

This week one of my critique partners (CP) told me I seemed too willing to make changes offered to me on my WIP.  I thought about the comment, then shared how I decide whether to change or not.

If the change is grammar or word usage, quite often it's changed.  I am not the best with grammar, and easily over use words (that and then come to mind.)

In the case of bigger changes, it takes more thought.  Last week a CP told me they had a hard time keeping two of my characters straight. Their names (even though very dissimilar in my mind) were similar to her.  She suggested I change the name.  My mind said no, this is ridiculous.  One name begins with a K, the other with a V-- they are nothing alike.  The next day, as I looked over my WIP, I saw what my CP hadn't said.  It wasn't the names that were similar about my characters, it was everything else.  I had two people where I only needed one.  It meant making major changed throughout the rest of my WIP, but it was worth it.

As I spoke with my CP about my process, I told her two things I always keep in mind.  I only want to make changes that will improve my story, and seeing I save all my versions with a new name, I can cut scenes and make all the changes I want without losing anything, except time.

What is your process?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Plot Summaries

I am by no means an expert on plots summaries, I am still stumbling my way through them, but I thought I'd share my process with you.

I don't always write with a plot summary, but I have found that there are times when it has come in quite helpful.  The basics are this:  a plots summary is a more detailed outline of your story (from start to finish) that you follow as you write your story chapter by chapter.  It can be as simple or in depth as you want it to be.  This is not the same as the summary that agents may want you to submit to them.  That is a much more detailed summary.

My process.  I begin a Plot Summary by spending a few days thinking through the story from start to finish.  Then I write down my thoughts, from start to finish to frame out the story all the way to the end.  Here is part of my Plot Summary for The Lost Princess.

Prince Trevor has been researching the disappearance of his betrothed for years. Princess Elsbeth had disappeared at sea when she was 10, and he 14. She had been on a voyage from Delphine to Palindore, a voyage to see him. Now, six years later, he needed to find her, and time was running out. If he didn't find her before her 18th birthday, their marriage contract would be void. Part of him wanted the date to come and go without her being found, as he was discovering there might be more than a passing attraction between him and Elle, his kingdom's best guide.


Elle, with her red hair and green eyes, was a beautiful woman. She also reminded him of Elsbeth. He knew it was the eyes, as Elsbeth's hair had been more of a strawberry blond, not the fiery red that crowned Elle's head.


No trace of Elsbeth, or the ship, had ever been found. The only connection he had was that Elle had washed ashore in Faldeira around the time that Elsbeth had one missing. Recently he had discovered that a ship resembling one from Delphine had been seen in harbor in Faldeira around the same time.


He convinces Elle to accompany him to a meeting with a source who may know what happened to Elsbeth. At the meeting, the source tells Trevor that the princess and her friend were thrown overboard during a storm never to be seen again. He doesn't know the name of the person who threw them overboard but would recognize him if he saw him. When Elle walks over to the pair, the source is shocked to see how much she resembles Queen Lisette, Elsbeth's mother.


Trevor convinces Elle to travel to Delphine with him so they can learn the truth of her identity and find the person responsible for Elsbeth's disappearance.

As yo can see, this is not complete, but it gives me an idea where to start.  From this, I will craft my scenes, sometimes changing things from this outline.  How about you?  Do you work with a plot summary or something else?  Share below.