Saturday, January 4, 2014

January Challenge Day 3

     Today I edited 26 pages of my novel, Slayer, and wrote 575 words in my YA fantasy novel, The Land of Faiyan. I've been doing all of this with a raging sinus infection so I'm pretty pleased with myself. I also figured out it takes about two handwritten pages on my cute legal paid (it has pink plaid at the top which makes it cute) to equal five hundred words in my word processor. It's nice to have some sort of idea where I'm at with my goal when I'm handwriting. Even better for my OCD, I managed to end this session of writing not only at the end of a section in the story but also at the end of a page. Sweet! In other news, I got to get out of the house for a little bit today with a good friend. We went to a local boutique market - a bunch of vendors share booth space in one large store - and I picked up a new writing mascot.
     I call him Pepe (like Pepe the King Prawn from The Muppets) the Penguin. He's been a great little muse this afternoon, something to fiddle with with one hand while I edited with the other. I love penguins so he's a perfect addition to my little stuffed animal collection. I'm a very tactile person - I learn kinesthetically and I love different textures and fabrics, especially super soft things like silks and microfiber blankets. I have two micro raschel blankets I absolutely love to snuggle under because they're so soft and soothing (One is Deadpool and the other is the TARDIS in case you were wondering). Anyway, many welcomes from me to my little Pepe mascot. Just a random, little girly type thing that made me happy today. I've been having a little bit of a rough couple of weeks so even though it may seem childish my penguin makes me happy and I thought I'd blog about it. Anyway, Pepe and I are off now, looking for some eggs.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Challenge Day 2

     Day two of my challenges and I have met my goal! Actually, I exceeded it by 189 words. I'm very happy with that, even though I'm not quite up to the 1-2k per sitting I used to crank out. This feels good, though, I feel my creativity stretching and waking up again, even though I feel like it dries up more quickly than it once did. In addition to the new section in my YA novel, I also edited nineteen pages of my sci-fi novel. This was much better than I have done the last two days trying to edit. I think the difference is, I printed my novel and edited by hand with my favorite purple felt-tip pen. I also made sure yesterday that my YA novel was at a clear stopping point/section end so I could easily begin handwriting it instead of typing directly into the computer. As soon as I got going with my purple pen (All hail the mighty purple pen. Hail!) again, the ink flowing onto the paper, it was like my brain woke back up and shook the cobwebs and rust off of a part of itself I was afraid I no longer knew how to access. As a matter of fact, I knew that I was close to making the 500 word goal for today, based on what I'd already typed into the computer, but the scene and the words would not stop flowing and I literally (Yes, literally.) could not stop writing. It felt so good to have ideas flowing like that again, to hear what the characters were saying and writing as quickly as possibly to transcribe their words from my mind's eye to the paper. I have always handwritten all of my work first and I loved that part of my writing process. It's such an organic experience, watching and feeling the words flow from my brain through my arm and my hand to the pen and onto the paper. I write in cursive, as well, which adds something to the smooth, flowing process of the writing. That's why I'm so picky about my pens, I think. I absolutely cannot have a break in ink flow - it destroys my entire train of thought, throws off my concentration, and my relaxation in the flow is gone because there is no flow - it's been interrupted by the skipping ink of the faulty pen. This, though, today, felt like magic. I think when I first started back into this on New Year's Day, that was part of the problem. I was coming back to electronic manuscripts - a novel that needed edited and another that had already been transcribed from notebook to computer. They felt like foreign pieces to me. I didn't recognize them as my own works. I couldn't connect with my stories or my characters - a lack of connection I felt most strongly in my YA novel. It was like the ink was skipping. Once I had the stories back in my hands, could touch the paper and let the words flow freely, uninterrupted by keyboards and computer screens and word processor spacing errors, I felt free again. I felt like me again. I felt my characters again. I remembered what I was so impassioned about with this YA novel, where I wanted to take it, came up with new ideas for it. No, I didn't write as many words today as I used to, but I think, for the experience alone, these were some of my favorites I've written.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


     It seems I felt I needed a lot of motivation for this first month back at writing. Not only have I signed up for the January plan, I also signed up for the My 500 Words thirty-one day challenge. With this challenge, I am supposed to write at least five hundred words every day. I'm excited about this challenge - I think it will help me set a steady routine and keep myself focused on my goals I set for Write Motivation. This is a really short post since I only have a few minutes but I may post again this evening with an update on how I've done with my first day of writing challenges and goals. Excelsior to me, as Stan Lee would say. I'm definitely going to need some energy to get through this, though. Maybe I need some eggs.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

"I'm back, baby dolls!"

     Yes, the title of this post is an HIMYM quote. No, I don't go around randomly calling people "baby dolls." But I digress.

     It's been a long time since I've blogged about writing or did any writing for that matter. Because reasons. I'm back now, though, and I'm enjoying creating and editing again. I'm prepping my first novel for self publication and I have several other projects I'm working to complete and prep for publication. To help keep myself motivated, I just signed up at for the month of January. My three goals:

     1. Finish final editing on my novel in prep for publication.
     2. Finish the rough draft of my YA novel.
     3. Add to the rough draft of my novel's sequel - I want to go from 1/3 complete to 1/2. It depends on where I decide to end the sequel, I may be moving from 1/2 to 2/3. At any rate, I just want to add to it.

     According to the site, I need to blog once a week to update on my progress with my goals. So, this is me, with my inaugural post for the new year. Not that imaginative, not that long, but it's a post, it's writing, so I say it's good.

     Now if only my aching head and clogged sinuses and sore throat would stop making me so miserable I can't focus on anything except how much my head aches and how clogged my sinuses are and how sore my throat is. Maybe I need some protein. Eggs. Somebody pass me some eggs.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Good News is Bad News

     That's right, I said it (typed it).  You don't want the good news.  It's horrible and of no help to you whatsoever.  

     At least, that is, when it comes to your story.
     Now, yes, you definitely want to get some sort of positive feedback on your story.  It's important to hear that your beta readers are connecting with your characters, enjoying your plot, and all that jazz (If you don't care for jazz, you can substitute your favorite genre here, hip hop, rock, alternative, country, what have you).  While you are still mid-project, however, taking in feedback in order to improve your work, good news is only so good.

     From first draft to ready for submission, you have to be ready to tear your story apart.  I know, it's your baby and reworking plot, killing a character, changing the opening line, or cutting dialogue, makes you feel like you're living out "A Modest Proposal" (It's by Jonathan Swift, go read it).  All you really want to hear from your beta readers is how much they loved the story, how fabulous your characters are, and you shouldn't change a thing because it's all perfect.

     No, it's not.

     It's not perfect and that's not all you want to hear and you and I both know it.  In all of our works, there is always room for improvement.  Dialogue can always be tweaked, character can always be deepened, conflict can always be increased, and syntax can always be adjusted.  We strive to make every change in our works changes for the better.  Writing is rewriting.  It's an oft-repeated adage and that's because it's true.  It's why you don't send an agent or an editor your first draft (Good heavens.  The very thought of sending in my first draft is embarrassing.)  Okay, so we all agree that our work is never perfect (Unless of course you're sitting there saying, "Are you crazy?  All of my work is always perfect!  The first time around, to boot!" in which case we don't agree at all and in fact very strongly disagree on several different levels but not one of which is my sanity.) but what do I mean when I say that we don't want to hear about how great our stories are?  I'm getting there.  I know it may not seem like it but I am.  In fact, I'm getting there right now.

     No, seriously, I am.

     If your beta readers have nothing but good things to say about your work, they're not good beta readers.  The point of a beta reader is to help you work out all of the kinks in the system, find the bugs, the flaws, search and destroy, shock and awe!  (Sorry, carried away.  I like explosions.  Part, but not all, of the reason my sanity is never questioned.  My mother didn't have to have me tested.  Bazinga.)  Are you giving your book to the your best friend Mary Sue (A huzzah to you if you get the reference.) who never has an unkind, critical, or opinionated word to say about anyone or anything?  News flash: Mary Sue is not a good beta reader.  All Mary Sue will do (Dr. Seuss jokes may be inserted here.) is tell you sweet nothings about how much she loved your story and it's fantastic just the way it is.  As flattering as that is, and as great as it feels to hand your manuscript out to a dozen Mary Sues and receive such feedback at every turn, I have one question for you.

     How are you going to improve off of positive feedback?

     By the time you've passed your manuscript off to beta readers, your brain probably starts oozing out your ears every time your look at those double-spaced pages.  You need beta readers to catch what your revision-wearied eyes are missing.  A beta reader should be looking critically at your characters, your plot, your sentence structure, everything.  

     Now, when I say "critically" I'm not talking about unkind criticism.  Completely negative early reviews are just as horrible as completely positive ones.  I'm talking about the type of criticism that approaches a work with a critical eye, ready to praise and evaluate both honestly and objectively.  

     These are the type of beta readers you need to seek out.  Friends are fine, but they had better be friends who aren't afraid to share their opinions with you.  A good beta reader will tell you that plot point B does not follow plot point A and your main character is great but his/her love of My Little Pony doesn't jive with that daytime job as a gumshoe.  See what I'm talking about?  Yes, your beta reader should encourage you and praise what you are doing well.  That's motivation to keep writing and a morale booster at the end of a long, hard journey to complete a story.  A good beta reader should also tell you where improvements can be made; an outside perspective will see things you didn't and your story will wind up being that much better because you had a helpful beta reader.

     One final note: take your reader's comments with a grain of salt.  This is still your work.  I have ignored as many suggestions as I have taken to heart and I've never been sorry.  I only offer my stories to readers I know and trust to help me make my story as wonderful as possible but at the end of the critique session I am still the writer.  I know my story and I am the only one who can make the final decision.  To be fair to my work, I try to approach the story with the same honesty and objectivity I have asked of my beta reader.  I come back to the story ready to rip it to shreds if that's what is needed.  Most of the time, it doesn't come to that, but with that attitude prepared, I am ready to absorb all of the suggestions my beta readers have and work them into my story so the end result is something I would be proud to send to an agent or an editor.

     Look for a beta reader who is kind enough to be honest, even when the truth is going to hurt a little (or a lot, let's keep going with the honesty theme).  Mary Sue is your enemy when it comes to this part of your writing process.  You've put so much into your manuscript; don't skimp on the final steps before submission.  You and your story deserve the best beta readers available.  Mary Sue isn't it.

     I'd love to hear from you!  What do you look for in a beta reader?  Care to share some of your good and/or bad beta reader experiences?  Go ahead and tell on Mary Sue, it's okay.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Influenza Type A

I did some research online, and apparently the H1N1 virus is a subset of Influenza Type A, which, just so you know, is the strain of the influenza virus responsible for the most epidemics and is the worst type of flu to have.

I have the flu, by the way.

And yes, it's Type A.


I've never had the flu before and have never had a flu shot.  That's the only benefit of actually having the virus apparently -- being sick builds up a better immunity than the shot itself.  So the aches and nausea and misery and fatigue are the trade off for a sharp piece of metal being jabbed into my fibromyalgia-tightened muscles.

I'll take what I can get.

As I was tossing and turning and tossing and turning and tossing and turning ad infinitum or didn't you get that already because I could keep going with the tossing and turning and tossing and turning bit I did come up with a way to get something else out of the flu besides salvation from said painful shot.

Do unto your characters as you would not have done unto you.  Book of Fey 1:1.

That's right, I'm going to give them the flu.  I know it seems cruel, but from where I'm laying (Lying?  I never know.  One grammar point that always confuses me.  I will say this, just as a grammar pet peeve: you're not going to "try and" do anything.  Think about it.) somebody else should be suffering as much as I am and as I'm not into inflicting pain and misery onto my fellow human beings in such a manner I might as well do it to my fictional characters.

Seriously, though.  (Yes, it's a fragment.  Those are allowed outside of term papers.  Laying?  Lying?  Doesn't come up as often when writing about Milton's Raphael narrator versus Milton's Michael narrator.  Although technically, that was a blue book essay, not the term paper.  The term paper was just about the Raphael narrator.  I don't know why they have to be blue books.  I wouldn't discriminate against green books.  And frankly, I think purple books would just make us all cheerful when we sit down to write an in class essay that counts for a third of our grade and we haven't even read the book.  Maybe it's the alliteration.  Blue book.  That's a poetry lesson for you.  Wait.  Stop.  I got lost.  Stupid flu.)  Smooth sailing is the death of your story as my screenplay professor used to say.  When in doubt increase the conflict.  Don't give your characters an easy way out.  Make them work for everything they have to have, even if it's just a vanilla latte the character is trying to get on the way to work.  Throw some traffic in there, a wayward bicyclist, something.  Think about the was The Proposal used this at the very beginning of the movie.  All Andrew Paxton wants is to get a cup of coffee and make it to work on time.  He gets there, yes, but he had to work for it, switching shirts with a co-worker, giving up his coffee cup with the cute barista's phone number, and so on.  Conflict. Drama.  Stress.  Letting the audience know that it is really important for this character to get to work on time with this coffee.  Hints about what his work life is like.  And guess what, poor Andrew's troubles don't end there.  His boss figures out his deception and knows that he orders the same coffee she does just in case he spills hers.  Which he did.

Would any of us want this done to us?  I wouldn't want to live through that crazy morning.  Neither do your characters, but guess what (yes, again, it's repetitive, but I'm sick and not into editing but I am into excuses) it's good for them.  Conflict builds character.  (hardeeharharhar.)  Give your characters the flu.  Turn off the alarm clock.  Make them late for work.  Rush hour traffic.  Thunderstorms while walking into the wedding chapel.  Car accidents.  Wayward bicyclists (I don't know why, it's just funny.).  Whatever, but make your characters work for whatever they are trying to accomplish in your story.  Don't take the second cousin's rich great uncle died and left a bunch of money in the will option.  That's a cop out.  It should never be easy.  Smooth sailing is the death of your story.  When things get easy it's not fun anymore.  There's no reason to root for anyone when there's nothing to fight.  Deepen the conflict.

When in doubt, send two men through the door with guns.

Or just send in the flu.  Type A is best.

(Laying?  Lying?  Milton's angels, that's all I know.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Writing a Poem is Like Opening a Window

Writing a poem
is like opening a window
and letting fresh air
rush through a hot
stuffy room.
The air so thick it
stifles and strangles.
The hot breath of the
room reaching its thick
muggy fingers up your
and into your brain preventing
all thought. You
can't even breathe be-
cause the air's in your lungs
and wrapped around your
chest crushing you and
trapped you flail about for
the window
raise the glass
lean forward and
inhale, mouth
something clear, cool, and clean.