Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday's Muse

For today, here is a sestina (also from my non-fiction book). Sestinas are 39 line poems that repeat the same six ending words in a particular pattern. And if anyone else out there writes poetry, share it with us! Leave something in the comments, or a link to your blog or site :)

Wolf Moon

The night grew silent with the rising moon.
Yellow eyes watched from the depths of the trees.
Whimpers and howls disrupted the quiet night.
Trembling lips pulled back from sharp, pointed teeth.
Soon would come the moment for which they wait,
The one night a month when they walk as men.

Cursed and outcast, they were hunted by men.
Tonight they were safe under the bright moon.
Their leader held them back, making them wait until
Finally, they creep one by one from the trees.
The full moon’s light gleaming from exposed teeth,
Watched by the animals who share the night.

Howls turned to joyous shouts that shattered the night.
Fur sheds, bodies lengthen, wolves become men.
Laughing mouths show their blunt, human teeth.
Men scatter, but one stays beneath the moon.
He knows she is there, just beyond the trees.
Through the long month they dream, they hope, they wait.

Each time he shifts, he’s afraid she won't wait.
But she’s there, coming to him, his for one night.
Wrapped in each other’s arms, under the trees
His love tells him news of the world of men.
Then silent, they watch the descent of the moon.
Their time is over, the man grits his teeth.

The change begins again, fur grows, sharp teeth…
Can he dare hope that she will once more wait?
On four legs, he howls his pain at the fading moon.
In anguish, she wilts back into the night.
Amidst the cries of those who are no longer men,
They once again find refuge in the trees.

For centuries, they’ve dwelled, sheltered by the trees.
Their clothing fur, their weapons – teeth.
There IS hope, a way to live once more as men.
The way is risky, but they cannot wait.
One by one, they fade into the dark night.
The leader has seen, he hopes, his last wolf moon.

No more ties to the moon, hidden by trees.
They run through the night, baring sharp wolfish teeth.
The wait is over; soon they’ll live as men.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

An Award!

The very sweet Jan Markley has honored me with the Kreativ Blogger Award and just made my day for the rest of the week :) Thank you so much Jan!!

I'm not sure I can think of 7 more interesting things about me, but I'll give it a shot. :D

The rules are:

Here are the rules for the award:

1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

Okay, 7 interesting things.....

1. I'm a total insomniac and generally toss and turn for an hour or more no matter what time I go to bed.

2. My husband is 10 years older than me and since I'm the oldest in my family and he is the youngest, my mother in law is the same age as my grandmother, my oldest brother in law is a year older than my father, many of my husband's nieces and nephews are my age or older, and our children are all the same age.

3. I spent my first year of college in Hawaii and would cut off a limb to live there again...well, maybe not a limb, but certainly a nail or a few inches of hair :D

4. I was so painfully shy until my mid-20s, that I wouldn't even go to pump gas by myself, but would take one of my siblings with me or bribe someone to do it for me (I've gotten over that...mostly) :D

5. I've lived in 6 different states but have never left the country

6. My daughter was due exactly 2 years from the date my son was born, but ended up being born 2 months early

7. I just bought a violin because I've always wanted to I'm going to see if I can teach myself :D

And now for my 7 no particular order :)

1. Lee Verday
2. K.M. Weiland
3. Dell Girl
4. Annie Louden
5. Sandra
6. Suzanne
7. Stephanie Thornton

Thanks again Jan!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Blog Chain - Writerly Advice

Time again for the Blog Chain! This round was started by the fabulous Cole, and this is the topic she chose:

This blog chain is a game! Your subject is writerly advice. Pretend you are addressing a crowd of aspiring authors eager to soak in your words of knowledge. The problem is, you've only been given a time slot of five seconds. In one sentence (no more than 20 words), please summarize the most important words of wisdom you can impart.

If you do not belong to the blog chain please feel free to play along. Just post a link to your own blog in Cole's comments section (Click Here to do this) and she'll make sure your sentence is listed in the final blog.

This one was hard for me, mostly because I am near the end of the chain and those who have posted before me have shared AWESOME advice. Bonny posted her pearls of wisdom before me, so be sure to check her post out.

As for my advice...well, since I am one of the few writers on the chain who also does non-fiction, I'll say something a little more geared toward that genre, though this also works for fiction, especially when talking about queries and submissions. This is something I posted on recently, but I think it's good advice that bears repeating....

Write with authority; remove all the "I thinks," "I believes," and "I hopes," from your writing and

Ah ha! Twenty words exactly :D Though I will just cheat a bit and add, this works not just in your literal writing, but in your writing attitude as well. Be confident when you write along with being confident with your actual words, and you can't go wrong.

Next up is Shaun, so head over and see what wonderful words of advice he has for us!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Friday Funnies

Yep, that's right...Friday's Funnies are coming to you on Thursday :) Tomorrow is my day for posting on the Blog Chain, so we are doing our funnies a day early. Enjoy!

It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word. ~Andrew Jackson

A dramatist is a congenital eavesdropper with the
instincts of a Peeping Tom.
~Kenneth Tynan

To be able to write a play a man must be sensitive, imaginative, naive, gullible, passionate; he must be something of an imbecile, something of a poet, something of a liar, something of a damn fool.
~Robert E. Sherwood

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

WIP Wednesday and a Reading List Update

Now that the non-fiction book is out of the way, I've been neck deep in edits on my YA. I think (think being the operative word here) that they are going okay. There is a lot, and I mean A LOT, to work on this time around. It's my first YA, my first book written in first person, and, coming from writing adult historicals where the style is much more formal, slower pace, etc, there is a huge learning curve I am trying to navigate.

My awesome crit partners are shredding away, making the pages bleed red, and I am so grateful for them I don't even know how to express it :) They are such an incredible help. I might end up with something half-way decent by the time they are through with it.

I have three, possibly four chapters edited so far....only twenty more to go! :D

And, despite my best intentions, I have started on my new WIP, though I am taking it slowly. I came across the theme song for the book :) and can't get it out of my head. So, what's a girl to do? :D I must write or go nuts....well, more so than I already am ;-D

I have also been lucky enough to be able to get some reading time in. I finally got to read the new book in Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series, Skin Trade. I read a lot of terrible reviews on this book, and I can agree that some of the ends she tied up were a bit rushed (especially the killing of the huge, main villain for the last several books in a quick bombing that we didn't even get to see), and I would have liked to see some of the older characters I love and miss - but overall, I really enjoyed reading this book :)

I have a pile of others sitting on my desk, so I'm sure I'll have a few more to list by next week! :D

How is everyone else doing on their projects?

And has anyone read anything good lately? I've got Scott Westerfeld's Uglies, Pretties, and Specials lined up along with Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman (a retelling of the Persephone/Hades story), The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner (historical about Joanna (or Juana), Queen of Castile, Leon, and Aragon), and Melissa Marr's Fragile Eternity. Always on the lookout for more good reads!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How To Get Inspired

Quote of the Day:
A writer should concern himself with whatever absorbs his fancy, stirs his heart, and unlimbers his typewriter.
~ E.B. White

This is a topic I've been thinking about a lot lately, mostly because I am looking for some inspiration for a Middle Grade book I've been wanting to write. Unfortunately for me, I had an awesome idea the other day and neglected to write it down. Which means that idea has flown the crazy and cluttered coop of my mind and I'm stuck with bubkiss, nada, nothing, zilch *le sigh* Maybe it'll come back to me ;-D

People often ask me where I come up with ideas for my stories. The answer...everywhere. Seriously, watch what you say to me (no worries if you are a writer and start out by saying "this is my idea for a new story" - I'm not going to steal it from you) :D But in every day conversation....yeah, something you say to me may end up in my next book :D

I recently showed my husband a scene from my currently in edit mode WIP - and he burst out laughing because it was a pretty close rendition of a conversation we'd had once.

Inspiration is everywhere, in music, art, people, movies, books (have you ever wanted to write a retelling of a fairy tale or a cool twist on an old story?) When it comes right down to it, I suppose I’m inspired by life in general. Events of the past, my own life experiences, the experiences of others expressed through music, theater, art (a really great painting can get all kind of creative juices flowing – the walls of my house are plastered with historical romance inspiring art), movies, books, etc, watching the world around me, experiencing that world, living in other worlds through vivid dreams….all of this combines to create the stories that run through my head at all hours of the day or night.

And how is this for inspiration? A friend pointed me to this site and I just had to laugh. Do you need help getting motivated to write? Help sticking to those writing goals? Well check out Write or Die. Hands down, one of the best writing motivational tools I've seen. I'm still a good way :D

You set your time or word count goals and start typing. There are different settings for this application, everything from gentle reminders when you stop writing, to annoying music that plays until you start typing again. But the real kicker is the setting that will delete what you've already written unless you continue to write. Now how is that for motivation? :D

Also, I know I posted a video from her last week, but I absolutely love author Jackson Pearce. She just cracks me up. She tells it how it is, describes writers and our lives perfectly. Just hilarious. This is her take on where she gets her inspiration :D

So where do you get your inspiration?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday's Muse

Poetry Quote of the Day:
Poetry is an orphan of silence. The words never quite equal the experience behind them.
~Charles Simic

First off, I must give a huge shout-out to Suzanne over at Tales of Extraordinary Ordinariness. I received my prize for winning her short story contest (and I just realized that while I posted about winning on Facebook, I don't think I did so here. *ahem* I WON THE SHORT STORY CONTEST!!!!! Seriously, one of the coolest things to happen to me - it was so fun!!)

Anyhow, my prize came the other day, and I've got to say it was one of the funnest prizes EVER. In addition to a Barnes & Noble gift card (which was promptly and giddily spent), I also received some awesome notepads, sticky notes, pens, Sharpies, a beautiful heart-shaped crystal paperweight (that my daughter has is her diamond), a couple fun books and best of all, a lucky rock that Suzanne found (I can use all the luck I can get...this now has a place of supreme honor on my computer desk).

So I'd just like to say a huge thanks to Suzanne for the awesome contest and wonderful prize. I highly recommend everyone enter her next contest. Super fun! :D

And now, onto our Monday Muse. This poem is a pantoum, from the chapter on this form of poetry in my non-fiction book.

The Club

Our eyes met across the floor.
The music beats in time with my heart.
How could I help but thirst for more?
You looked away and ripped my soul apart.

The music beat in time with my heart.
The lights above us pulsed and flashed.
You looked away and ripped my soul apart;
My sudden hopes and dreams were dashed.

The lights above us pulsed and flashed.
The smoke cleared and there you were.
My sudden hopes and dreams were dashed,
Bodies dancing around us in a blur.

The smoke cleared and there you were.
The crowd between us simply vanished,
Bodies dancing around us in a blur.
My sorrows and heartache were banished.

The crowd between us simply vanished.
How could I help but thirst for more?
My sorrows and heartache were banished.
Our eyes met across the floor.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Funnies

Funny author - check her out :)

So how about everyone out there? What are some things you want to do when you become a famous author? :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Yep, I'm nuts

Monday I went and picked up an entire set of mostly-never-been opened 1980's encyclopedias that someone in my town was giving away. Why, you ask? Seems sort of pointless, right? I mean, the information in those books is outdated by several decades. And it's easier to just look up stuff on the computer, right? Google! Who needs anything else?

But I just had to have them. When I was a kid, and even when I got a bit older, I'd spend hours sitting on the floor by my mom's bookshelves, reading through the encyclopedia. Most of the time it would begin because I wanted to look up something specific. Like after I watched Braveheart for the first time, I wanted to look up more information on William Wallace and Edward II and Scotland, so I pulled out a few books and started looking.

And along the way, I'd come across other articles that looked interesting, so I'd read those. Before I knew it, hours had passed and my entire family was standing there staring at me like I was insane :D But hey, no one's ever accused me of being normal ;D

So when this opportunity presented itself, I jumped on it. I'll admit, I have visions of my own children sitting for hours, thumbing through books most people wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole. They may never happen (I can be realistic...sometimes). But, even if no one else ever gets near them, I'll have them. They'll be there, waiting for me.

(If I disappear for a few days, you know where to find me) ;-D

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

WIP Wednesday

I finally get to say the words I've been longing to say.....

I'M DONE!!!!!!!

The non-fiction book is done. Woooohoooo!!!!!! Ahhhh, the relief! :D

I am now focused on the major edits needed for my YA Urban Fantasy. I have a little poetry project in the works, but that is something I work on here and there, by hand, when I can't get to my computer. And I might get some research going for a new YA book, but I don't think I'll actually start on that until NaNo. I want the current YA done and submitted before any new fiction projects get started :)

In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy having another book finished :D Yipppeee!!!

How is everyone else doing?

Oh, I think I forgot to mention it, but I also finished Libba Bray's Rebel Angels a couple weeks ago. I need to get some more new books read. I did take a writing break last week (being sick and all) and reread the entire Sookie Stackhouse series (Charlaine Harris) but I can't count them on my reading list as I've read them before :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

If You Love Books, Check This Out!

Had to post about this - Do you want to win a ton of books? You know you do :D Here's what you can win:

The Winner Will Get All These Books.

1. Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick ARC
2. Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen ARC
3. Kiss of Life by Daniel Waters ARC
4. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater ARC
5. Troy High by Shana Norris ARC
6. Love You Hate You Miss You by Elizabeth Scott ARC
7. Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn ARC
8. Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker
9. Death by Series by Linda Gerber (3 books total)
10. a 5 dollar giftcard from Walmart (you can buy yourself half of a book with it, lol)
11. 3 Sarah Dessen books ( Just Listen, This Lullaby, Someone Like You)
12. Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
13. Fire By Kristin Cashmore ARC

14. Last but not least, I have some extra amazon cards, so I will also include a preorder for CATCHING FIRE BY SUZANNE COLLINS. It will be shipped to on or around Sept 1st (whenever they ship it)
AND a book of your choice (under $15.00 please and it can be a preorder as long as it comes out in September-so many good books get released)

There are several ways to enter so don't miss this great opportunity!! Just click HERE for all the details :) Oh, and be sure to tell her I sent you and we'll both get an extra entry :D

How to Write With Authority

Quote of the Day:
The best advice on writing I’ve ever received is: “Write with authority.” ~Cynthia Ozick

This quote reminded me of a conversation I’ve had with a few friends. Especially those who write non-fiction. You know, it can be pretty intimidating to be seen as the expert on something…even if you ARE the expert. But one thing I’ve learned over the years is that no one is going to take you seriously if you don’t take yourself seriously.

There have been many times in my life, in writing this blog, writing my non-fiction book, writing guest entries, answering questions on a variety of things, writing news releases and other things for my brother’s company, that I’ve sat there and thought, “What am I doing? What if I mess up? What if I don’t know as much as I think I know?” My doubts about my own knowledge and abilities have siderailed me many times. There have been times when I’ve felt like a total fraud and I just knew that someone was going to call me on it.

But you know, I DO know what I’m doing. I’ve been writing for a long, LONG time. Do I know all the answers? Of course not. But I do know a lot. I’ve got enough education and experience that I should be confident in my abilities. But that isn’t always the case.

You know how to deal with that? Fake it. Push through it until those feelings of inadequacy go away. No one is going to have confidence in you unless you have confidence in yourself. If you see yourself as the expert, as the authority, others will as well.

So, what is the easiest, most effective way of writing with authority?

It’s simple. With this one little act, your writing will go from sounding hesitant and unsure to being strong and authoritative.

Remove statements such as “I think,” “Maybe,” “I believe,” “In my opinion,” from your writing.

Those phrases weaken your authority and calls what your saying into question. For example, look at these sentences:

1. I think you should put a thesis sentence in your introduction.

2. Your introduction must include a thesis sentence.

Both statements say the same thing, but the first one makes it sound more like a hesitant suggestion, like maybe you aren’t sure. The second one decisively gets the information across in a sure and authoritative way.

1. Maybe you should change the wording of this sentence.
2. The wording of this sentence would be stronger if you changed it.

1. I believe the right answer is B.
2. The right answer is B.

It’s simple…a minor little tweak, but the effect is profound. This is now one of the main things I check when I edit my work. I do occasionally use these phrases if I’m trying to be gentle about something, like in critiques – but only if it’s something I don’t feel strongly about.

Put your knowledge out there. Make your statements, share your expertise. And don’t be wishy-washy about it. Even if you don’t feel 100% confident in yourself, write like you do. Write with authority and you will be seen as an authority.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday's Muse

Okay, in an effort to yank myself out of my comfort zone (and to appease my mother who wants to see all these hidden little things I have been hoarding to myself), Monday's are going to be my Muse Day. More specifically, it's poetry day. I will force...nope,, I mean delight you with various tidbits from my twisted mind and I want to see the same from you.

I know there are a bunch of closet poets out there - I want to see what you've got! So every Monday, post whatever catches your whimsy in the comments section (but keep it clean...well, cleanish) ;-D and I'll try to be less timid when it comes to sharing poetry and post my own stuff :) Sometimes it'll be goofy (see below) and sometimes a little more serious (also see below).

For today, as we are starting things off, I've got one of each for you :) Don't make be post alone!!! Even if it's something like "Roses are red, violets are blue, poetry sucks and so do you" I want to read it! :D

Here are my offerings for the day :)

The Doritos Sonnet

Oh orange chip, divinely made of cheese,
You make that awesome crunching noise when chewed.
No other chip could be as good as these.
There’s nothing like those cheesy fingers, dude!
They are the stuff from which much good is made.
They bring much joy to hungry bellies, yes!
I bet with chips alone you would not fade,
For their cheese essence is just awesomeness.
Though gone, we won’t forget our bag of chips.
It will live on inside for hours to come.
The taste will be remembered on our lips.
The pantry always stocked with bags, oh yum!
As long as the upholstery bears the stain,
The cheesy chips of awesome will remain.


You are my muse, my melody,
The inspiration that I fear.
For when you’re near
I can do naught else
But obey your heart’s command.

I neither eat, nor sleep;
I disappear
Under the force of your desire.
Release me, I beg
From the spell of your soul -
Or let me just expire.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Blog Awards - Woohoo!!!!

I am incredibly honored to have received the Kreativ Blogger award from two wonderful people. I am so excited - what an awesome end to a sort of crappy week :) Novice Writer over at Chronicles of a Novice Writer, and Bonny at BJ Anderson both gave me this fun award and I am so touched that they both thought me worthy :) Thanks guys!!!!

K, so here's the rundown on the rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

Well most of those are easy.....choosing seven people to give this award to is NOT. I follow hundreds of blogs....seriously, HUNDREDS. I'm not the best with comments (because I just can't keep up) - but there are so many incredible, wonderful blogs out there that I really enjoy that I hate to only pick a few. I suppose I could pick 14 since I got the award twice, but that would make this post huge, so I'll stick with 7.

1. Eric at Working My Muse
2. Tricia O'Brien at Talespinning
3. Cole Gibsen at Hair Dye and Samurai
4. Kat Harris at The Long Road to Heaven
5. Susan Mills (Lazy Writer) at A Walk in my Shoes
6. Rebecca Knight at Rebecca Knight: A Writer in Progress
7. Jen (JStantonChandler) at Woolgatherings

And now 7 interesting things about me.......well, I don't think I'm all that interesting LOL but here you go:

1. I moved around so much when I was younger it took 4 schools before I finally got my degree

2. I like even numbers...well, it's a bit of an obsession really. If I'm buying apples, I get 4 or 6 or 8....NEVER 5 or 7. I do that with pretty much everything. I don't need medication, I promise.

3. I'm tongue-tied - a lot of people think that is just a figure of speech, but nope, it's an actual, physical condition that afflicts yours truly. It makes things like ice cream cones and licking envelopes a little difficult :D

4. I like bananas, but not banana flavored things - I like cherry flavored things, but not cherries - I love strawberries but can't stand strawberry chunks in strawberry flavored things like shakes or jam

5. I make up weird lyrics to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for my kids' bedtime song. Their current favorite is Twinkle Twinkle Little Butt (yeah, not winning mom-of-the-year awards any time soon, but it makes them laugh) :D

6. My right foot is half a size larger than my left foot. It happened when I was pregnant with my son and it just stayed that way. Not sure why or how...but it makes buying shoes interesting :)

7. I don't consider myself an overly emotional person...I'm pretty good at compartmentalizing just about anything - yet I'll cry over just about anything as well....songs, commercials, the planes that fly overhead during parades - I'm not sad or feeling anything particularly emotional, I just cry *shrugs*

Thanks again guys!!

Friday, August 14, 2009


Sorry about the absence of our usual Friday Funnies post. I generally try to get my posts for the week done over the weekends - this week I didn't do that. And just my luck, my internet went down yesterday and just barely came back up. Hence the ARGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! I HATE internet outages!!!!!

On the bright side, my house is shiny clean :D

Here are a couple funny pics for you :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Things I have Learned in the Editing Trenches

I now have two finished novels and one almost finished non-fiction book. And I think it is safe to say that I have spent a lot more time editing these manuscripts than I did actually writing them. Though there are times I enjoy editing, sometimes it can be one huge pain in the butt.

However, I have learned so much from this process…mostly from my fabulous critique partners. Things they don’t teach you in writing classes. Things you only really learn when you make the mistake and are lucky enough to have someone point it out to you.

Here are a few things that I have learned while mucking through the messes that are my pre-edited manuscripts:

1. POV –

Point of View…….now this used to be something I was horrible at. Not just mildly bad at with the occasional mistake. Oh no. When I made POV mistakes, they were epic. I literally had four POVs in one paragraph before. And I was notorious for head hopping every other paragraph or so.

My first critique group whipped that out of me. I am now pretty sensitive to POV problems and do fairly well at avoiding them myself. But it took some work. One of my crit buddies told me to imagine a camera on the head of my main character (if that is the POV I am writing in). Then she told me that I couldn’t describe anything that that particular character couldn’t see, hear, feel, think, etc. If I wanted to get in another character’s head, I needed a scene or chapter break. It really helped curb my head hopping tendencies.

2. Getting rid of sentences that start with “I” –

This is something I’ve struggled with lately. My awesome crit partners have been breaking me of this habit. My current novel is the first I’ve written in first person. It’s taken a little getting used to. I start a LOT of sentences with the word “I.” Now, that isn’t always bad. It is in first person, so it’s going to happen.

But I have a lot of sentences that say things like “I felt,” “I heard,” “I saw.” My crit buddies point out that if I reword these sentences to get rid of the “I’s,” the sentences end up much stronger, more active. For example, one of my sentences was:

“I inhaled, breathing in the sandalwood scent of him .”

I changed it to – “The sandalwood scent of him filled my senses, making me slightly dizzy.”

A small change, and the first sentence wasn’t bad or wrong (in my opinion), but the change makes it a little more active…and gets rid of yet another sentence starting with “I.”

3. Telling vs. Showing
This is something I still struggle with. Especially when it comes to emotions. Part of this problem stems from when I write my first drafts. I tend to use a lot of narration and I also use phrases like “I was scared” or “I was mad” as place holders, intending to fill them out more with action when I go back through the second draft. Sometimes I just miss these, but there are a lot of instances when I think what I have is fine on the first read-through, when in reality, I just need to show more and tell less.

Now, sometimes it is actually better to tell than show; you can’t show every tiny thing that happens. But for the most part, if you can show the reader something with your descriptions rather than just spelling it out for them, it will make your book much stronger. (One of these days I’ll get this one down…. :D )

4. The dreaded Adverb

Okay, now don’t kick me out of the writing club, but I actually like an adverb every now and then. One of my dreams is to make it big enough that I can toss adverbs in anywhere I want and not have anyone say a word about them ;-D But yes *sigh* these are technically no-no’s, and in many cases unnecessary.

This was another thing I was horrible with when I first started writing – my first crit group gave me the very unwelcome news that editors didn’t like adverbs. It was a surprise, and not a pleasant one. But I’ve learned to do without them whenever possible. I do like to use them as placeholders during my first draft, but I try to weed them out in subsequent drafts.

Although, to be honest, I left a ton of them in my current book. I like some of them, but I also wanted to see how many I could get away with :D Not many, I’m afraid. My crit buddies have started highlighting them LOL Oh well. Some day :)

5. Repetition –

Again, something I was, and still am, horrible with. Actually, I have gotten much better. But I do tend to repeat words and phrases. And each book seems to have its own group of words that keep popping up. With my first book, it was the phrase “a bit.” I also once had a paragraph where I was describing a table. I used the word “table” six times in that one paragraph. And I was always saying my characters’ names when saying “he” or “she” would work just as well.

With this book, it is the words “though” and “headed.” Every time I have someone going somewhere, I say “they headed.” It’s horrible. I’m working on it :D

What’s interesting to me is that I am now very sensitive to this problem in other people’s manuscripts, and even in my own. Yet somehow, those words crop up and fly under my radar and my manuscripts end up peppered with them. Good thing I’ve got great crit buddies with awesome eyes :D

How about everyone else? What are some things you have learned since you began writing?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

WIP Wednesday and PixelMags

Well, I was hoping to be able to report the completion of my non-fiction book today. However, a nice long weekend of being ill sort of ruined that plan. I am finally feeling mostly back to normal. Still some lingering fatigue but I can breathe again! Mostly :D

The good news is I only have one chapter left....that's right....ONE CHAPTER LEFT!!! I am so excited. I have a few minor tweaks to make on one section of the book (shouldn't take me longer than a day or two) and probably no longer than a day to finish that last chapter. So I should (fingers crossed) be done with the book by the end of the week.

Wooooohooooooo! I am gearing up for end-of-the-book party mode :D

Then I can focus on my poor YA that needs some major editing and perhaps start on my new YA project that I finally had a nice little epiphany on the other day. I also may have an idea for a new non-fiction book (thanks Christine!) All in all, things are looking pretty good at the moment :)

How is everyone else doing? How are those projects coming along?

Also want to give a quick shout out for my brother's new company, PixelMags. The press release announcing it just went live (I wrote it, so I'm counting it as a WIP) ;-D This is an awesome new product, check it out!!!

PixelMags Press Release in Forbes

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How To Love Your Words

I have been sick as a dog for a few days, so instead of our regularly scheduled How To Tuesday, I'm going to post a few more quotes that I love. Hopefully we'll be back up and running as normal tomorrow :) Happy Writing!

Words are to be taken seriously. I try to take seriously acts of language. Words set things in motion. I've seen them doing it. Words set up atmospheres, electrical fields, charges. I've felt them doing it. Words conjure. I try not to be careless about what I utter, write, sing. I'm careful about what I give voice to.
~Toni Cade Bambara

You don't choose a word if you're a writer as a golf pro chooses a club with the shot in mind. You choose it with yourself in mind --your needs, your passions. It has to carry to the green, yes, but it must also carry you. ~Archibald MacLeish

Writing is an affair of words rather than soul...If the words aren't there, nothing happens.
~Paul Fussell

Monday, August 10, 2009

August's Creative Writing Prompt

A few months ago, some fellow writers and I decided to do a monthly creative writing prompt. Someone (this month it's me) :D picks a word or phrase or idea and whoever feels like playing can use the prompt and write a short creative piece on their own blog. You have the whole month of August to do this. Just be sure to leave a link to your blog post in the comments here and at the end of the month I'll compile all the links in one big post.

So far, we've done pieces inspired by flowers, waves, and a piece inspired by a certain song. Well, this month has been a crazy month for me, so I'd like to do a prompt on something that always gets me through the tough/crazy/strange/busy times......CHOCOLATE :D

Write whatever you want, short story, poem, song lyrics....anything you want that is somehow inspired by chocolate. I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with :D And be sure to leave a link to your post in the comments here! I'll also leave a link in the sidebar so people can easily find this post again.

Here is mine :)

Say It With Chocolate

“Hey honey. Do you need hot chocolate, or do you still have some?” Tom asked, the sounds of Wal-Mart beeping noisily in the background.

I hesitated for a second, a little confused. This was probably the first time, in six years of marriage, that he had ever asked me this question. His usual response to my weekly, “Oh I need to pick up more hot chocolate” was an exaggerated roll of the eye that meant something along the lines of, “There goes the chocoholic again. Can’t live one day without her fix.” So, to have him ask me if I needed more was a little bit of a shock.

“No, I’m fine. I just bought that big tub a few days ago.”

“Okay. Just wanted to make sure. Didn’t want you to run out or anything,” he said, teasing me a little.

“I know I’m bad, but I’m not that bad!” I replied. “Even I can’t go through that much hot chocolate in three days!”

He just laughed. “Okay. I’ll be home in a minute. Bye!”

I hung up the phone, shaking my head a little. Inspiration finally struck. My birthday was a few days away. He was probably just trying to be sweet and make sure I had everything I wanted to make my day perfect. I smiled. He was definitely learning.

Don’t get me wrong. Tom is a very sweet, loving man. He just doesn’t do the holiday thing very well. And he really doesn’t get my dependence on chocolate. Our first Valentine’s Day together, we were shopping with his mom at Sam’s Club. I wandered down the aisle a bit, and I heard his mother whisper to him that he should go pick out some flowers for me. I was privately thinking that a box of chocolates would be better, but hey, flowers are nice too. His response was, “What for?” I thought for sure he was joking. He wasn’t. He has, luckily, much improved in that department, although he still has a hard time picking out presents for me. He always chooses wonderful, touching cards, but I generally buy my own presents, wrap them up, and act surprised when I open them.

It’s not really his fault. His family, although very loving, just doesn’t do holidays, at least not the way my family does. My family jumps on any excuse for a party…and chocolate consumption. For Valentine’s Day, my sister and I would make a big, heart-shaped cake, chocolate, with red icing. For St. Patrick’s, my mom would make corned beef and cabbage…and a big chocolate cake, green icing. And these were just the little holidays. Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and especially birthdays, were huge, blown-out affairs…and usually with my mom’s special triple layer, homemade, totally from scratch, “Pollyanna” cake (so named because it looked like the huge cakes in the movie of that name…only all chocolate!)

And just to give you an idea of exactly how strong this chocolate thing is…my sister, for some strange reason, suddenly became allergic to chocolate. It lasted for a year or two before finally going away. But while it lasted, she couldn’t eat chocolate without breaking into hives and having her throat swell up. This created a problem as every Sunday we’d have roast, mashed potatoes, corn, and salad, with chocolate cake for dessert. We started buying her something vanilla so she could have a treat too, and the rest of us ate the chocolate. Well, that brave little soul didn’t let a little thing like hives and suffocation stop her. She always managed to choke down a bite or two of chocolate. We just started filling her water glass with Benedryl.

Now this obsession is something Tom just does not understand. He is the type of person who buys a candy bar, takes one bite, and leaves it in the fridge for a month. He likes chocolate cream pie, but he’ll eat one piece and leave the rest of the pie to rot. He doesn’t even like chocolate chip cookies or chocolate cake and refuses to eat either one. How we ever got together is beyond me. He sees my love of chocolate as some kind of defect. So to have him ask me if I needed more hot chocolate was, to say the least, a little surprising.

My birthday came and Tom came home from work, proudly carrying a package in his hands. I was very pleasantly surprised. I had already bought myself a present and had it wrapped, waiting on the table. But nothing prepared me for what I was about to open. The paper came off and I merely stared. It was a thing of beauty, something I never dreamed existed. My eyes teared up and I looked with absolute adoration at the most wonderful man on the planet. He had given me a hot chocolate maker!

For years, every time we’d go into a hotel room, I’d rant and rave about how the hoteliers were discriminating against the chocolate lover. There was always a coffee maker on the counter. Couldn’t they throw a few packets of instant hot coco in the basket? How hard would that be? For years he had watched me make hot chocolate in the microwave, grumbling under my breath every time I had to reheat water to make more if I wanted seconds ( if? Ha…sorry, when I wanted seconds). He teased me, rolled his eyes, and tried his hardest to ignore me…and remembered just how much I loved my hot chocolate. I think it was the first present he had ever bought for me that I didn’t know about, or, I should say, tell him about, ahead of time. And he had chosen the most perfect present in the world.

To this day, that hot chocolate maker has remained my favorite out of everything he has ever given me. He’s done many sweet things for me, given me many wonderful gifts, but that year, he did the best thing in the world…he said it with chocolate.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Blog Chain - Multitasking All The Way!!

Back on the blog chain. We have several new members joining us so I'd like to give a huge welcome to Amanda Bonilla, Sarah Bromley, Shaun David Hutchinson, Rebecca Knight, and Bonny Anderson. We are so excited to have you guys with us!!

This round's topic was chosen by our wonderful Terri. She wanted to know:

Do you focus on one project at a time, or do you have many irons in the fire at any given moment?

Bonny answered this question before me and Shaun is up next so be sure to visit their blogs to hear their take on this question.

As for me, well, if you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m one of those “many irons in the fire” type girls. I will get on a roll sometimes, with one project or another, and focus specifically on one thing for a few days, weeks, or even months at a time. But for the last several months at least I’ve had at least two projects going on at all times; my YA Urban Fantasy, and my non-fiction book.

Because fiction and non-fiction belong in such completely different worlds, switching back and forth presents no problems for me. What I’m working on at any given moment is mostly dictated by my children. I don’t need to concentrate as much with my non-fiction. It comes much easier. So I be on the computer working on it while my kids are running around screaming and climbing all over me. If I’m going to work on fiction while the kids are awake, I write by hand. They don’t bug me as much and I can follow them from room to room (or outside) scribbling away while they play.

It is also nice to have more than one project going because if I get stuck on one, I switch to the other. Focusing my mind on something different usually frees it up and the answer for whatever had me stuck very often comes to me while working on something else.

If I’m stuck on everything, I either do research for a project or I take a break from novels and textbooks and write a children’s picture book. I love doing these. I can do them quickly and they are so much fun to do. My kids and I will often write them together, so it’s something writing related that I can do and still include them, and at the end of the day, I’ve got a completed creative project…whether it’s my main project or not.

I don’t know if I could have two projects of the same genre going at the same time. Probably not…I have enough trouble staying in the right character’s voice at any given time without mixing in more than one main character. I definitely have ideas for several same-genre projects going on at the same time. This is where that research comes in – if I’m stuck on one thing, I’ll research either info I need for a current project, or something that will go straight in my idea file.

Having more than one project is actually kind of relaxing for me. I know I always have something to work on. If I finish something or get stuck on something, I know there is always something else I can work on. That way, none of my time is wasted because no matter what I’m doing, it is accomplishing something, be it for current or future projects.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday Funnies

Get the facts first. You can distort them later.
~Mark Twain

I like talking to a brick wall, it's the only thing in the world that never contradicts me.
(Lady Windermere's Fan, 1892) ~Oscar Wilde

Whatever you do...avoid piles.
~T.S. Eliot (on the occupational hazards of being a writer)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Few of My Favorites

Please forgive the short post, but I am in the middle of non-fiction chapter chaos. So I thought I would share a few of my favorite quotes about writing.

Take out another notebook, pick up another pen, and just write, just write, just write. In the middle of the world, make one positive step. In the center of chaos, make one definitive act. Just write. Say yes, stay alive, be awake. Just write. Just write. Just write.
~Natalie Goldberg

It is the deepest desire of every writer, the one we never admit or even dare to speak of: to write a book we can leave as a legacy. And although it is sometimes easy to forget, wanting to be a writer is not about reviews or advances or how many copies are printed or sold. It is much simpler than that, and much more passionate. If you do it right, and if they publish it, you may actually leave something behind that can last forever.
~Alice Hoffman

To sum it all up, if you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon crazy heads. I wish for you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories – science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.

~Ray Bradbury

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

WIP Wednesday

I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and am barreling ahead as fast as I can....well as fast as I can still doing the best work I can do, of course :D I have several more chapters finished. I now have only 5 chapters left in my non-fiction book, so it is 79% done. Woohoo!!

Well, that is unless I add another chapter I have been thinking of adding. And the intro... LOL still awfully close to being done though ;D

I am about half way through Rebel Angels by Libba Bray also - hopefully I can add that one to my reading list next week.

And once this non-fiction book is done, I will focus the vast majority of my energies on major edits for my YA before that too goes off to my agent in the hopes she'll want to represent my fiction as well as my non-fiction (can we say nervous!!!)

All in all a very good week :D How is everyone else doing?

I just have to post this for everyone - seriously a wonderful article. I laughed and nodded in agreement the whole way through. It's a definite must read (I even printed it out. Give them the finger! is my new motto) ;-D

The Writer's Middle Finger by A.S. King

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How To Show Instead of Tell

Quote of the Day:
Don't say the old lady screamed -- bring her on and let her scream.
~Mark Twain

Okay, this is something I posted a while back, but my poor crit buddies have been hammering me on this lately, and rightly so! My current manuscript is FULL of scenes with way too much telling. Which frankly I find both ironic and hilarious considering the fact that the entire premise of my non-fiction book is the fact that people learn better if you show them how to do something rather than just telling them. Go figure :D

In any case, when it comes to my fiction at least, I need to start SHOWING. So I thought it would be a good time to remind myself of exactly how to do that :D

One of the “rules” I hear all the time is to show not tell. The first time I heard that I thought, “What does that mean, anyways?

Well, TELLING means you are just, umm, telling the reader what is going on. SHOWING means you show them :D Seems easy, huh? Not always. It is ridiculously easy to fall into the habit of telling.

As this is something I still to do….A LOT …it is the problem area I have been working on the most lately. Which again, is why I searched through my files to find this post – I knew I had spent some time on this in the not too distant past and it is obviously time for a refresher course for me!!

When you are writing, you want to draw the reader in as much as possible. Action and dialogue are two elements that really help to keep the story moving, that draw the reader in, make the story exciting, and all that other fun stuff.

So, if you have a scene where your main character is angry, just telling the reader, “Eric was mad,” is okay…but probably won’t be nearly as good as, “Eric’s eyes flashed and the big vein in his forehead throbbed like it was about to burst from his skin.” Don’t tell the reader he’s mad…show him.

In my first book, Treasured Lies, my main character, Min, was irritated that she had fallen in a puddle and made a fool of herself. I had her storming up the stairs to her room with the description, “Min was freezing in her wet clothes and annoyed that she had yet again made a fool of herself.” (Or something to that affect…it’s been a while) :D

One of my fabulous critique buddies pointed out that this was “telling.” She said that I should show my readers that Min was irritated, instead of just telling them. So, the passage was changed to: “Shivers ran through her chilled body as she climbed the stairs. She huffed and kicked at the muddy skirts that tangled around her legs, irritated that she had managed to disgrace herself once again.”

I do tell you WHY she was irritated, but I also show that she is freezing, and show her annoyance with her actions (huffing and kicking skirts). Yes, it takes longer, uses more words, but the result is much more effective.

Now, are there occasions when you should tell rather than show? Definitely. Physical descriptions are pretty difficult to “show.” If someone has blue eyes, it is perfectly acceptable to just say they have blue eyes. And instances like in the above sentence, when you need to explain why someone is acting as they are.

Show the emotion, tell the reason. Show me that your main character is sad by describing her face, her tears, her sobs. Don’t tell me she’s crying…show me: “Laura sat on her bed, her arms wrapped around her legs. Her tears fell unheeded down her face as her shoulders shook.” (as this is just an example, I won’t stress over the fact that I used the word ‘her’ six times in two sentences – but you get the point of the showing over telling). :D

Then you can tell me why she is crying. “Laura sat on her bed, her arms wrapped around her legs. Her tears fell unheeded down her face as her shoulders shook. She just couldn’t believe her mother had forgotten her birthday again.”

As you can see, the sentences “Eric was mad,” “Min was freezing and annoyed,” “Laura cried,” tell us what is going on, but there is no action, they aren’t exciting, they don’t connect you to what is going on.

The new sentences:

“Eric’s eyes flashed and the big vein in his forehead throbbed like it was about to burst from his skin.”

“Shivers ran through her chilled body as she climbed the stairs. She huffed and kicked at the muddy skirts that tangled around her legs, irritated that she had managed to disgrace herself once again.”


“Laura sat on her bed, her arms wrapped around her legs. Her tears fell unheeded down her face as her shoulders shook.”

These make me care, they are exciting to read, there is something going on. I don’t necessarily care if someone cries…I do care if they are curled around themselves with uncontrollably shaking shoulders.

Dialogue is another great way to change a telling passage into a showing extravaganza.

For example:

(telling) David and Tony argued back and forth about who was right. = blah

(showing) “You did too!” David shouted, his face growing redder by the minute.
“Oh whatever. I did not and I have witnesses,” Tony said, rolling his eyes.
“Yeah, well I have witnesses too.”
“You’re the liar! Just admit you’re wrong and get it over with.”
“No way.”
“Yes way!”

= oooo, action, dialogue, something’s going on!! :D

So, bottom line – if it is possible to show something rather than tell it, do so :) But don’t stress over the occasions when telling is necessary, because they will come up. For the most part though, try adding some action or dialogue to really help show the reader what is going on instead of just telling them.

How does everyone else do with this? Is this something you struggle with? What are some things you do to keep from telling too much of your story rather than showing it?

Monday, August 3, 2009

How does your writing process work?

Quote of the Day:
It’s like making a movie: All sorts of accidental things will happen after you’ve set up the cameras. So you get lucky. Something will happen at the edge of the set and perhaps you start to go with that; you get some footage of that. You come into it accidentally. You set the story in motion, and as you’re watching this thing begin, all these opportunities will show up. ~Kurt Vonnegut

For my first novel, I wrote in order (with a few exceptions). I started as close to the beginning as I could and worked forward. For my second novel, I just wrote as the scenes took me. I started somewhere in the middle, wrote forward and backward and sideways. If I got stuck, I moved on to another scene. Then I filled in the holes. It worked really well for me.

My mother thought my writing process was both interesting, funny, and totally confusing. I brought her my notebooks on our recent visit so I could show her how the book started out. She was amazed I could write like that. Yet, I know many authors who skip around.

I also know quite a few that outline their books. This isn’t something I’ve ever been able to do. Even when I try, things turn out differently anyways, so there really isn’t a point to it in my mind. For me at least.

However, my new project (brand spanking new, not much more than an idea right now) is one that, due to the nature of it, I will have to outline. And it’s torture for me. I know there will be some additions that won’t be outlined, but for the most part, I simply HAVE to know what will be going in the book. I need to know what each chapter will contain, in detail, or this project is never going to work.

I don’t want to say that this has taken the enjoyment out of it for me, because it hasn’t. This project is sort of a mix between fiction and non-fiction, so the preliminary research and outlining is necessary, interesting, and fun in it’s own way. But it isn’t the type of free “let-the-muse-take-me-where-it-will” kind of writing I usually immerse myself in. Once I start writing, I hope that part will come, but for now, it feels more like work than fun.

While I think this project will suck me in just as much as any other I’ve done, *sigh* I just don’t like the outlining which I actually find sort of funny. In real life, I’m a list type person. I go shopping, I have a list. We go on a trip, I make a list of what we need to do before we go, what needs to be packed, etc. My non-fiction book, I have my Table of Contents in front of me at all times and check off the chapters as they are completed.

But fiction…that is the one area of my life that ISN’T planned out ahead. I have the idea, of course, the basic storyline, characters, plot twists…but I like to fly by the seat of my pants and let things just happen. So it’s weird to try and enforce a structure where there previously hasn’t been one. I’m sort of interested to see how I handle this ;-D

How about everyone else? How do you write? Do you outline? Just let your fingers fly and see what they come up with? If you write different genres, do you handle them differently?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

End Game by David Toft

A writer friend of mine has his first book coming out today. It is available in print or as an ebook. Everyone head over to Wings ePress, Inc and check out End Game by David Toft. Congrats David!!!!