Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Overcoming Writer's Block

It happens to all of us, that brick wall that keeps us from the next scene or chapter or even word in our manuscript. Here are some things that help me when I'm standing in front of that brick wall .

1. Lift your fingers off the keyboard and walk away. I've heard people say "write through it," and it just doesn't work for me. I tell my piano students that when their brain hurts and sort of shuts down during a practice session, to play for 5-10 more minutes and then walk away. The next time they sit down, they will have improved. I think the same works for writing. When it just gets too tough, giving it 5-10 minutes could be beneficial for improving your writing skills, but anymore than that and you will not only be writing crap, but you will lose confidence, or worse, grow to hate what you used to love.

2. Do something other than writing for a while. Go for a walk. Ride a bike. Watch your favorite TV show. Read a book that you want to read. Go to the gym. Play with your kids. Watch the sunset. Shovel snow (again). Take a nap. It will still be waiting for you tomorrow. The difference is, your brain will be fresh instead of fried. Take care of your brain and it will take care of you.

3. Take a few days off. When I'm writing intensely, sometimes that little break just doesn't cut it. But if I give it 3-4 days, that usually does the trick and I am ready to jump in again. And when I say take a break, I mean it. Don't think about your plot; tell your characters to shut-up (politely if you'd like); stay away from the computer as much as possible. That's one of the reasons we write, isn't it? We get to choose our own hours. Choose to take a few days off if necessary.

When I give myself the balance I need, I find those brick walls turn into bridges.

How do you overcome writer's block?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Book Club Book Review

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Vices: A little too much adult content for me, including repeated use of the "f-bomb" which annoyed me since I don't actually own the book and couldn't use a magic marker to scribble it out and jot in my favorite substitutes.

Virtues: The writing is gorgeous. Gorgeous AND flawless. The story has a solid hook (the mysterious brother who doesn't show up on New Years Eve. Who does that?) The main character is likable and witty, the kind of girl you'd like to count as a friend. And the descriptions of New York made me feel not only as if I had been there before, but as if I had spent several years there. I had a hard time putting the book down, but had fun reading it slowly, savoring all that pretty language. Here are some of my favorite passages:

Of sleeping: "It's a purposeful irony of life, I suppose, that we never get to see ourselves in that state. We can only pay witness to our waking reflection, which to one degree or another is always fretting or afraid. Maybe that's why young parents find it so beguiling to spy on their children when they're fast asleep."

"She was like someone in mourning, only worse. When a mother loses a daughter, she grieves over the future that her daughter will never have, but she can take solace in memories of close-knit days. But when your daughter runs away, it is the fond memories that have been laid to rest; and your daughter's future, alive and well, recedes from you like a wave drawing out to see."

"As a quick aside, let me observe that in moments of high emotion--whether they're triggered by anger or envy, humiliation or resentment--if the next thing you're going to say makes you feel better, then it's probably the wrong thing to say. This is one of the finer maxims that I've discovered in life. And you can have it, since it's been of no use to me."

The book is filled with themes--religious, societal, literary--and makes a great book club read.

I recommend it for literary readers who don't mind some adult content, including some sexuality, repeated use of the "f-bomb," and a whole lot of drinking. Did anybody stay sober in the 1930's?

What is your latest read?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Blue Sky Cover Reveal


It's lovely, don't you think? And vague. It could be about anything. But it's significant when you get into those pages and learn more about Sunny and Lewis. Thanks to the lovely and talented T. Parmelee for the cover photography and design. I know such awesomely gifted people.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

So You Want to Write a Novel Part 4

This step is a pain. Yes, a pain. Now that you've put all that work into "bleeding onto the page," you're going to have to stitch it up.

Now, I haven't said the actual word yet, because I want to prepare you. Are you ready? No? Okay, I'll give you a hint. It starts with an "e." No, it's not elephant or espionage or estrogen. (Those are actually the first three "e" words that came to my mind. Sorry.) Once you've typed "the end," you are going to have to go all the way back to the beginning and--don't hate me--EDIT.

There, I said it. Edit. That is the next step. And if it's your first novel, it may need sixty-five edits before it's really ready. (Trust me, I know this by experience.) As the saying goes, (or is it a Steven King quote? Google is proving very unhelpful on this) "The first million words are practice." And yes, journals, poems from the third grade, and notes you passed in junior high all count. Your next book will be better and require less editing. And the next book will be even better and require even less editing. But editing IS necessary.

Edit it yourself first. Not to do so would be an act of cruelty against your beta readers. Next pass it on to a trusted beta reader, not your mother (unless she's an actual editor) or your sister (she'll think it's flawless) or your high school English teacher (he'll hang himself now that he knows he's a failure). Try someone from your writing group (Love you, Jo!!) or someone with experience in writing, or an actual editor. But edit thoroughly. And you may end up having to toss that first novel aside for a while and try again. Writing, like anything, improves with practice.

I think Ernest Hemingway would have loved computers; I haven't had to use a single drop of white-out to compose this post. :)

Is editing something you enjoy or something you despise?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Meet Karey White

After interviewing Karey I think we must be long lost sisters or something. Read on.

Hello. Thanks for being a guest on my blog today. Can I offer you a virtual cookie? 

I rarely turn down a cookie. As long as it doesn't have raisins. Not really a raisin-in-baked-goods kinda girl.

Don't worry, no raisins in my cookies. Ever. Here, have this chocolate chip cookie of awesomeness. I'll pour you some milk. Pretend for a moment that your books are your children. Please introduce us. We’d like names, ages, quirks, birth stories, any details you would like to share. 

Wow. Fun question. We'll call Gifted Inez and For What It's Worth Olivia. Those names have nothing at all to do with the books, but they're both names I liked but my husband refused to consider when we had our children, so I'll use them here. 

Inez is the perfect child that you never have to worry about. She cleans her room, she does her homework, she doesn't smart off at all. But then you realize that being almost perfect is something that you need to worry about. She was my first-born so I didn't know what to expect when I went into labor and it was much more emotionally draining than I thought it would be. I cried several times during delivery. 

Olivia is very different from Inez. I went into false labor with her a couple of times before she finally arrived, but that's okay because with each false delivery, she became a better-looking child (and we all know looks are the most important thing).Olivia is very organized and efficient, but she can't keep up with everything. She may get an A in math, but her bedroom is a mess. She may be cute and well-dressed, but she picked up that cute blouse off the floor of her closet and it's probably been there awhile. But she's learning and growing and she'll be just fine.

Isn't it funny how they turn out so different? It seems impossible sometimes. And your husband is crazy not to consider such darling names! At least you get to use them for your books. Yea for being an author!

Next question thingy. You get in an elevator and suddenly realize you are standing face to face with a real live literary agent. (It could happen.) You're only 3 floors away from your stop and have to pitch your book fast. Ready. Set. Go! 

Okay, I'm going to pitch my WIP. "You know how we've all fallen in love with Mr. Darcy at some point in our lives? Well, Lizzie fell hard when she was sixteen and saw Pride and Prejudice with her mom. She vowed she'd never settle for anything less than her own Mr. Darcy. Unfortunately, that might cost her any chance she has at finding real love."

Ooooh, that sounds fun. I'm always up for a little slap in the face from reality. I hope things work out for your character.

Please give us a peek into your writing life. How much time each week do you spend writing? Is your desk messy or clean? Do you have a schedule or are you sporadic? What helps you stay motivated? We want to know what makes you tick as a writer. 

I try to write a few hours every day but sometimes life doesn't let that happen. I give myself deadlines--you have until January 30 to have WIP ready to submit. I'm pretty good at holding myself to the deadline. I write on a laptop so I don't have a desk. I usually have a glass of water, a notebook and pen, and some kind of treat within arm's reach. I try to do most of my writing while my kids are at school, but if I get on a good roll or my deadline is looming, I'll squeeze in extra writing time where ever I can. My main motivation is early readers. I send chapters as I write them to a few select people who include my daughters, sisters and parents. Then they nag me for the next chapter. It helps keep me moving. 

Those are fantastic ideas. Way to hold yourself to a deadline.

Please tell us some of your favorites.
Favorite treat: I can't narrow it down, but whether it's See's or baked goods, it has to include chocolate.
Favorite stress reliever: I love a massage, but those are pricey and very rare. I love to watch a basketball game--either one of my kids or the Jazz.
Favorite office supply: I'm a paper product junkie. Seriously. I love notecards, stationery, journals, and planners. I've got a ten-year supply but if I see something I love tomorrow, I'll probably have to get it.
Favorite punctuation mark: It's a tossup between the exclamation point (passion and enthusiasm) and the comma (pause, breath, take a little break). Based on that answer, though, it might be parentheses. 
Favorite day of the week: Thursday because the weekend is close enough to get excited about but not so close that it will be over soon.
Favorite movie: Probably The Sound of Music, though it's hard to narrow it down to one movie.
Favorite color: Depends on my mood. Sorry, boring answer, but I like ALL colors. Even puce and chartreuse.

Describe for us what your surroundings would be if you walked into your favorite piece of art. Feel free to be as literal or figurative as you would like. 

I'd be playing with a group of children in a bombed out town on an old rusted out car. It's a Robert Doisneau photograph taken during WWII. It shows the joy and resiliency of childhood. I think it's beautiful and hopeful.

And finally, what is your most secretive New Year's Resolution? 

I have other goals far more important, but one thing I'd like to accomplish this year is that I'd like to learn to knit a pair of socks.

That's not a very juicy secret, Karey. Knitting socks sounds complicated. It makes my head spin a little. Good luck with that and thanks for joining me today! You can find more about Karey and her books at her new and improved, hearty, fantastically real blog.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

So You Want to Write a Novel Part 3

This post will be short. Because the next step in writing a novel is simple. Just keep writing.

It may take a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years to get that competed manuscript. But JUST KEEP WRITING. If you have never heard of NANOWRIMO, check it out. It could be the push you need. Set goals, but don't quit if you get off track. Just keep writing. Just keep writing. Just keep writing.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Meet Shannen Crane Camp

I had the awesome opportunity to interview Shannen Crane Camp. She's stylish and geeky at the same time, what's not to love?

Hello. Thanks for being a guest on my blog today. Can I offer you a virtual cookie?

Why thank you Melissa! I'm actually surrounded by a million nieces and nephews right now so they might get jealous of my virtual cookie... unless of course you brought enough for all 11 of them?

Wow, that is a lot of nieces and nephews. Let's just skip to the interview. Pretend for a moment that your books are your children. Please introduce us. We’d like names, ages, quirks, birth stories, any details you would like to share.

 Well my first is "Robin's Flight". She (because all of my book children are girls) is slightly clumsy and unpolished but I love her like you can only love a first pancake (not that I would ever throw out one of my children!). She was born when I was in junior high and reading WAY too much Harry Potter. So she thinks she's harry Potter. My second book baby is "The Breakup Artist". She's pretty fun and likes to think she's a little more like an 80s teen movie than she really is. She's a little angsty and self absorbed at times but she's endearing so you can't really hold it against her. She was born right before my brother's wedding when my billions of family members staying with us were talking obsessively about love and marriage and I wondered what would happen if someone had the opposite job of a matchmaker. My third book baby is my favorite (though I would NEVER say that to any of my other book babies... you are definitely not allowed to have a favorite child... which is why she isn't my favorite............... right?.......) and she is "Finding June". She's vintage, and quirky, and shares my love of silent films and 50's clothes. We have a lot in common and I maybe put a little too much of my heart and soul into her. Oops! Not to mention her best friend may or may not be Joseph Gordon Levitt without ever really saying it. I just love that boy :) She was born when I decided to put my film degree to good use and write about what I know. My next book baby is "Sugar Coated". She's my brave baby. A little too brave. Like stupid brave. I wanted her to be everything I'm not so I made her brave and curious and inquisitive and adventurous and just generally pretty awesome. She's my sci-fi/dystopian child and I'm way too excited for the world to meet her! She was born from reading too much dystopian YA. I just loved it too much! My last book baby (at least my last completed book baby) is "Pwned". She's my nerdy gamer girl and I love her. I got to take all of my useless online gaming knowledge and stick it in a book. Don't let her appearance fool you though. She may be a popular cheerleader but she's totally a closet gamer. She was born after I decided I wanted to join the ranks of Felicia Day and Lights and be one of the queens of the nerds. Wow.... I have a lot of kids... I should probably consider some form of book control.

Ha! Book control. I love it. And this is for you.

Now, let's see those mad writing skills at work. Say you get caught in an F.B.I. sting that goes badly. As the F.B.I. agent in charge attempts to deactivate a bomb, he asks you to describe your book as a way to keep you from hyperventilating. You've got thirty seconds. Ready. Set. Go!

"Well seeing as how you're a big burly FBI agent you probably like crime dramas on TV right? Well my lovely little June (From "Finding June") is just a normal (sort of) LDS girl who gets cast as the love interest of Lukas Leighton (who's kind of a looker if we're being completely honest here) on TV's hottest crime drama "Forensic Faculty". Her classy, vintage clothes wearing, silent film loving, conservative ways are put to the test pretty soon though when she runs into a few too many compromising situations in her quest to become a famous Hollywood actress. So how's that bomb coming along? Because I'm pretty sure the door is locked and that blue wire really should be cut by now. I thought you were the bomb expert here."

Please give us a peek into your writing life. How much time each week do you spend writing? Is your desk messy or clean? Do you have a schedule or are you sporadic? What helps you stay motivated? We want to know what makes you tick as a writer.

I try to write every day... but in fact I work a lot and my puppy Hemingway is kind of a pill and The Husband and I like to go to the movies way too often. So usually my "every day" writing turns into three or four times a week for a few hours... until my online games (or Portal 2) tempt me away from my characters. My desk is notoriously messy. I have to push away piles of action figures, half full/empty glasses of water (I'm kind of like the little girl on Signs, I'm so ready for the alien invasion!), and post it notes from my desk in order to clear a space for my keyboard. Not to mention, my friend made me little clay figures of all of my main characters from my books and they take up quite a bit of room on my desk... though they also motivate me so it works well. I don't really have a writing schedule but I do outline each chapter. I didn't used to but it just makes the whole process so much easier, especially when I can only write at weird intervals throughout the week. Trying to get back into the swing of writing when I only have an hour is much easier when I know exactly what needs to happen in each chapter. As far as motivation goes, I have folders on my computer for each book. They're filled with music playlists, pictures, and videos that remind me of each book. It's a pretty fast way to get into the spirit of whatever book I'm writing at the time.

Great ideas for motivation. I need a friend who works with clay. Please tell us some of your favorites.

Favorite treat: Lays Kettle Jalapeno chips :) They burn my mouth to pieces but it's so worth it!
Favorite stress reliever: Playing video games. Yeah... I'm that person. I love games WAY too much. I'm a nerd :)
Favorite office supply: Erasers :) Big pink ones! I never use them since I never write in pencil but I love them anyway.
Favorite punctuation mark: You might have guessed it already.... since I've used it a million times in this interview... Maybe too much... I like dots.... and I like pauses... and I like that to come across in my writing... my characters pause too much... so yeah.... guess what it is............
Favorite day of the week: I would say Saturday... you know, back when I didn't work on Saturdays. So I guess now it's Friday since it's the beginning of the weekend. Plus you just can't argue with Rebecca Black right?
Favorite movie: "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". Yeah I know. Let the hate mail start.
Favorite color: Green 

Describe for us what your surroundings would be if you walked into your favorite piece of art. Feel free to be as literal or figurative as you would like.

My favorite piece of art is "Lecture at the Orrery" with all the dramatic lighting and rich colors. So I'm pretty sure if I walked into the painting it would be almost pitch black with a bright orange light in the middle that everyone was gathered around. The orange light would cast a glow over everyone's faces and it would pretty much be the most amazing and beautiful thing ever. It's a weird piece of art to love but I love it nonetheless. 

And finally, if you had telekinesis what would you do with it?

What wouldn't I do with it? I'd be like Matilda and The Phoenix all mixed into one! Except I wouldn't be as evil as The Phoenix... hopefully. I guess you just never know what that kind of power will do to you.

Thank you so much for letting me interview you, Shannen. If you would like to stalk Shannen and her awesome book babies, visit her on her blog

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

So You Want to Write a Novel Part Two--Brainstorming

Once you've got a killer idea for a novel, you may be tempted to sit at the computer and begin typing that opening sentence. The problem is, you won't get very far before frustration sets in (and the opening sentence may be a crappy one). The second step in the writing process for me--and a necessary one in my opinion--is brainstorming. Once I have an idea and I've written down as much as I can, I start to let things come together in my head. This process can be quite a long one. I brainstormed Cinder and Ella for about six months before I actually began a first draft. Here are some benefits to brainstorming.

1. Character development
I spend time just thinking about my characters, what they say in different scenes, what they sound like when they talk, the quirks they have, etc. It gives me a chance to get to know them before I attempt writing their stories. 

2. Plot development
I think a lot about plot during this time as well, and often the fun twists come to life at this point. I like to be thorough with this step and know exactly where my story is going--from beginning to end--before I invest any time in writing a whole draft. It helps to avoid plot holes so that I don't ever get to point "C" and wonder how I'm going to get to point "H."

3. Prevents writer's block
Because who wants that disease? If I have things mapped out in my head, I don't typically get writer's block. I mull over my unwritten book in my imagination until it is as visual as any memory. It makes writing easier, smoother, less frustrating.

4. Gives you that glossy look in your eye
Don't deny it. We've all been there before. When people ask you what you're daydreaming about, feel free to set them straight. "It's not daydreaming," you might say. "It's brainstorming. There's a big difference."

5. Helps make important decisions
For example, which point of view would be best for your story. POV rewrites are not fun. I need to be able to "hear" the voice of the story before I try to write it. It needs to be a strong one, the strongest possible, and that doesn't happen with hasty writing. 

I mentioned in my last writing post the importance of writing things down. Because things become so visual for me at this point, I don't have to write them all down, but some things I do. Often during the brainstorming phase things come in the middle of the night. I'm more likely to forget these things so I keep a notebook close to my bed just in case. 

What is your brainstorming process like?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Meet C Michelle Jefferies

Hello. Thanks for being a guest on my blog today. Can I offer you a virtual cookie?

Yes, thank you. I love cookies, especially sugar cookies with frosting and sprinkles.  Unless they're those tracking cookies that slow my computer down.

Pretend for a moment that your books are your children. Please introduce us. We’d like names, ages, quirks, birth stories, any details you would like to share.

My oldest child is actually a short story in a Christmas anthology named "Sing We Now Of Christmas". The name of the story is actually "A Real Tree." Written with the song "Oh Christmas Tree." in mind. It was the first Christmas story I ever created. (You see this author mommy is quite a Grinch.) It was also the first piece I ever worked on in first person in a young adult voice.  "A real Tree"  is five months old. And while the season for this baby is over I love to read this story any time of the year. The story was conceived under the idea of what Christmas would be like in a hundred years in the future on a different planet. When the father had lived on Earth but his children had never had a traditional Earth Christmas. I actually wrote it a few years ago but when Michael Young Sent out a call for Christmas stories I knew I had to share my sweet little baby with the world.
The next oldest baby is literally my "baby" of stories. Emergence is the first story baby I worked on polishing and sending out into that big bad world. It is the baby that is nearest and dearest to my heart even if I am not supposed to have favorite children. This is the one story baby that took five years to write rewrite polish edit and submit to get it into the world. I had 44 rejections just on Emergence. This is also the only story baby that I completely rewrote after I had started to submit. It was after I seriously revised my query letter that I received three full requests and finally had two offers. It was a hard decision, but I am so glad I am with my current publisher. Not that the other publisher was bad, they were new and had less distribution. Emergence is just a newborn, he's only three months old, born on Halloween how cool is that? He's the best story baby. Everyone loves him and is telling everyone how cute he is. (giving him great reviews) and asking when he's going to have a sibling.

Well those are my only story babies, but I have great news I am expecting! Yes and it's triplets! This spring I will be delivering a middle grade non fiction about manners for young girls. I am using faeries to teach the manners lessons. There will be craft ideas and recipes and instructions on how to throw a proper party. The tentative title is Enchanted Etiquette. I was asked to produce another Christmas story for next years anthology. This story is called Second Christmas and is based on the song "I'll be home for Christmas". It is an alternate universe story using my main character from Emergence named Antony. The third story baby is the Sequel to Emergence tentatively titled Latent. this one is the first finished story baby where I used the boy meets girl boy looses girl, boy works hard to get girl back type of structure. It was different to write but so much fun to create.   I have a few more story babies in the planning, A futuristic suspense with a western theme, a YA scifi/steampunk that is written and in the hands of my alpha readers and the third and fourth books in the Emergence series. Some Urban fantasy ideas are brewing in the back of my mind.

WOW! You are one busy mama!

The world is going to end in 30 seconds, which means you only have that much time to pitch one of your books. Ready. Set. Go!

Antony Danic is the corporation's prized hit man until he refuses an assignment. Now he's going to find it's a lot easier to kill a man than to keep him alive. Emergence, futuristic suspense.

Sounds suspenseful. :) Please give us a peek into your writing life. How much time each week do you spend writing? Is your desk messy or clean? Do you have a schedule or are you sporadic? What helps you stay motivated? We want to know what makes you tick as a writer.

When my office was downstairs my desk was insanely cluttered. It was a junk depository for my kids as well as a catch all for me. My new desk is only  two feet wide so there is only room for a cup of pens my laptop and a stack of papers.
I try to spend a few hours writing every day, one hour in marketing and promotion and one hour on revision and editing. But I also have a toddler I have nicknamed destructo boy. I rarely get three hours of writing in. But the goal is there and if I get three, then I am ahead for the next day. Some days I get nothing done. Whether its me being distracted, the toddler or some sort of creative block. I try to write when the older kids are at school, once they come home there's no time to do anything but manage the house and kids. I love schedules and I'd love to keep to a schedule but with the toddler I am more sporadic than I'd like to be.
There are a few things that keep me motivated, One, I love to write, I love the process, even the revision and editing process. Two, I have these characters in my head and they don't stop talking very often. If I am writing, they are more cooperative. Three now that I am published, I have fans, and people asking me if there's a sequel and when its coming out before they even hand me the book so I can sign it. Most seem disappointed that it will probably be late summer or fall before it is out.
What makes me tick, that's an interesting question. I love words the way they look sound and how they go together to make an idea come alive. I used to read the dictionary because I love words so much. I love the sight of black letters on a white page. I love paper and the smell of a new book.

You sound much more organized than me, and I don't have destructo boy. I never thought of a smaller desk, great idea!

Please tell us some of your favorites.
Favorite treat: Sea salt and cracked black pepper kettle chips. So so so good and so bad for me!
Favorite stress reliever: Going to Karate or Yoga. I have little samples of Serenity and Balance DoTerra Oils and I smell them when I feel stressed.
Favorite office supply: Hard question. Walking into an office supply store is like kids in the toy aisle. I'd have to say paper and pens are my favorite. Second favorite, Post it notes. Yes I am a geek!
Favorite punctuation mark: The m-dash. Because in suspense it meas that something is interrupting the dialogue, usually something serious.
Favorite day of the week: Friday, my date night with hubby.
Favorite movie: I have to choose? Um . . . Master and Commander with Russel Crowe. I like his long hair and I love the whole ship thing.

Describe for us what your surroundings would be if you walked into your favorite piece of art. Feel free to be as literal or figurative as you would like.

I would be surrounded in soft pinks purples blended with greens. The lilies are floating on a pastel blue pond.  the brush strokes are heavy but the whole picture looks smooth. There's a white bridge and I could sit and stare at the Waterlilies paintings by Monet for hours.

And finally, if you could ask Barack Obama one (polite) question, what would it be?

I thought the movie question was hard. Okay . . . Why have you apologized to other nations for Americans?

Thank you so much for visiting today! If you would like to check out Michelle or her books, visit her website at http://www.cmichellejefferies.com/

Friday, January 4, 2013

When Did You Last Hear Silence?

I came across a bit of wisdom by T. S. Eliot this week and thought I'd share.

O world of spring and autumn, birth and dying!
The endless cycle of ideas and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Bring us farther from God and nearer to the Dust.

I find it interesting that T. S. Eliot lived prior to the age of vast information technology in which we live. No cell phones. No internet. No facebook, google, twitter, etc. Even all those decades ago, the world was losing its stillness, its silence, its God. So, if I'm ever not online (which is quite often) take comfort in the fact that I am searching for the stillness, listening for the silence, and getting to know God.

Where and when do you best hear silence?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

So You Want to Write a Novel Part 1--The Idea

If you want to write a novel, you are going to have to begin with an idea. If you are thinking about writing a novel, you probably already have an idea. I guess the question is, is it a good idea?

Ideas for novels come from everywhere for me. Often, they are sparked by a vivid dream, or by spoken words that hit me hard or make me laugh. The words often bring an image of a place or a character. Once those characters begin to develop, they never leave my head until I finish writing their story. I imagine what they sound like, what happens to them, why it happens, how they react to their circumstances and surroundings, etc.

When an idea comes to my head, the next task is to mull it over for a few minutes. It only takes that long to know if the story is going anywhere or if it's just another idea resulting from being the owner of an overactive imagination. I give every idea at least a few minutes. If it dead ends quickly, I throw it out. If it begins to evolve and I like what I "see," I WRITE IT DOWN. If it is a dream, I write down as detailed as I can the contents of the dream. If any plot has evolved, I jot as detailed an outline as possible. With the idea on paper (or computer) I know it isn't going to slip away. Ever. Unless I get Alzheimer's. To give you an example of the power of these ideas, I'll share a little bit about my next project. It is a fairy tale that has to do with a certain princess who sleeps a lot. The idea for this story came from a dream I had over 15 years ago. I wrote it down in my high school English composition book. Because I wrote it down, I'll always have it, even though it has taken this long to do anything about it. The time we have to work on writing won't always be sufficient for the ideas we have, so keeping track of them ensures they will be ready and waiting when we have the time.

I keep a zoo of notebooks in my house. When I have a keeper of an idea, it gets its own notebook. That way, as the story progresses in my head, I have a specific place to keep track of it. If you look closely to this picture, you'll see my notebook for Snow Whyte on the bottom. Now that it has been published, I've ripped out the pages with notes and given the leftovers to my children who never seem to have enough paper for drawing, writing, and composing music.

It's also a good idea to keep notebooks handy in case you have an idea at random. I try to keep a notebook in my car and in my purse. I've also written down scenes or dialogue that came unexpectedly on napkins and the back of receipts. Use whatever works to get the ideas out of your head, which for writers is a vast pool of images and situations that will drown ideas that don't get written down.

Where do your ideas for novels come from?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Writing Goals 2013

This post is more for me so that I have my goals typed up for reference and accountability, but here they are.

1. Get Sunny's Sky self published by February 14, 2013

  • Finish edit
  • Learn how to format
  • Learn how to self publish
2. Send a few (10 or so) queries for my Bianca series by the end of February 2013
  • Research agents
  • Work on query letter
  • Do it!
3. Finish first draft of Sleeping Beauty and the Beast by the end of April 2013
  • Set consistent writing schedule
  • Do it!
4. Begin another Bianca book; work on those during the summer along with editing and querying Sleeping Beauty and the Beast

5. Work on The Reformer and The Tracks during the fall and winter seasons of 2013