Thursday, September 29, 2011

writing, laundry, and foam pumpkins

Mini's foam pumpkin magnets
I'm doing laundry at the moment, and trying to come up with a title for the Shivers story I've been collecting notes for over the past few days. I have a beat sheet for it, and a couple of scene cards. Just enough stuff to compile into a binder. It's not ready to be written yet. But soon...

Over the weekend, I'll be changing out my goal calendars and putting my files in order so the September Experiment Phase 2 can move forward. I want to update a couple of the character profiles, and I still need to straighten out the spine of my story. I've been working on it on and off, even though I said I wasn't going to until next week, but it's all been little things - small tweaks. By Monday I need to be able to have all my material together so I can focus on what I've got. Le sigh. Time to get back to work and all that.

This afternoon I took time off to do some crafty stuff with the little bear. The kids from down the street came over to play, and he was a bit whiny when it came time for them to go home. Oh boy. To take his mind off of it, I got him busy making foam pumpkin faces out of a craft kit I bought for about $5.00. He had a blast making these things. I had a box of sticky back round magnets, and let him have at it. The kit makes 36, I think. My personal favorite is a cyclops pumpkin Little Bear made, but it's on the fridge and I didn't get a picture of it.

Well, it's that time...I better go get the clothes in the dryer so I can settle in and read while I can. Tomorrow, I'll be paying bills and buying groceries. Fun for everyone, right? <g> Happy Thursday, everyone.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Doctors, Ideas, and Miss Blossom

I'm off to the doctor today. I have a major sinus infection, a possible ear infection, and right now, my nose is so sore and swollen it's as if I've taken a hit to the face with a football. The only thing killing the pain is BC Powders, and I'd rather not take anything stronger than that if I can get away with it. Not a happy situation any way you look at it, but I can't go around feeling like I've been hit by truck. Thankfully, I managed to get an early appointment so I won't have to sit there all day. I tell ya, I've never been so ready to sit through a doctor visit.

After I get out of the doc's office and pick up any prescriptions, I'm driving over to mom's to pick up what's left of Miss Blossom's dog kibbles. My parent's furbaby passed away yesterday at the grand old age of 13. She had advanced lung cancer. Very sad. Dad's beyond devastated, which is completely understandable. She is the last of their house pets - a thirty year lineage. No kidding. I actually named Blossom, and when she was a little pup, I started singing the "awesome blossom" jingle off the Chili's commercial to her every time I'd come over to see the family. I have no doubt it's going to feel strange going over there to a doggy-less house. I think mom's trying to make it easier on dad by clearing Blossy's things away, bless her. Out of sight, out of mind. It has to be done, I guess. But, goodness, she'll sure be missed.

On to more pleasant topics... I worked through a few scene issues last night with the September Experiment. I'm  trying to clean up my index cards and beat sheet as best as I can before starting revisions. Also, I made a mock cover - it's horrible, granted. Yes, truly horrible, that's why I'm not posting it. My Photoshop skills are seriously lacking, but that doesn't really matter. The mock cover isn't for show, it's to see if the premise is succinct enough to pitch. I now have a simple title with log line, and a pretty good blurb to go with it. When I start fleshing out and rewriting scenes,  I hope having this stuff will help me keep the core of my story on track. At least that's the idea behind it. We'll see.

For the two stories buddy project, I have a rough sketch of the plot, and I'm trying to flesh out character histories. I've started a notebook for this one, and I'm piecing together bits of information as I go. No fuss, no muss. I'm tossing ideas into the notebook when they come to me, so it's not like I'm spending more than five to ten minutes on it a day. Even so, the goal is to have a complete set of notes for when we actually begin writing our stories side by side. I want to have everything mapped out and ready to go.

Okay, it's around 7:30 am, and I need another cup of coffee if I'm to have any chance of making it through the day. Too, I'm rather crowded all the sudden. Sassie pup is on my lap, and Kippy cat is on the back of my chair, and they're both very dozy. They're probably going to be disappointed in me when I get up, poor beasts. So neglected... :P  Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Reading and Mini-Vacation

What I'm Currently Reading
In my time off from working on the September Experiment wip, instead of loafing around watching a bunch of TV like I thought I'd do (ho hum, boring!), I gave up on finding anything interesting to watch and picked up another book to read. Actually, I'm always reading something, but I decided this is the book to read during my mini-vacation writing sabbatical.

Save the Cat! Strikes Back by Blake Snyder is the book du jour for me. [The link goes to Amazon] I read the first book, Save the Cat!, and loved it. Great book. Very helpful, and would definitely recommend it. StC Strikes Back is supposed to offer more insight about how to build working log lines and survey your ideas to see if they are strong enough to develop and pitch. I'm all on board for that - especially with conference season right around the corner.

A little earlier today, I hopped over to Awen (in Second Life) and met up with my critique partner and BFF, Cass Curtis for a round of brainstorming. We're going to be working on our next stories side by side for motivation, and to share organization and writing techniques. We won't be co-authoring, but we'll be trying to reach each stage of our wips at the same time. I curious to see how this will work. Hopefully it will help us both each get a satisfactory story completed and ready for submission by the end of the year.

My story will be geared toward EC's Shivers line. I already have my beat sheet together, and I'm tinkering around with the character sketches. The easy, fun, organizational stuff before tearing off into a book. I'll be shooting for a story length of around 12-20k. I'll post updates about this once we get going. Right now, we're still getting our ideas together.

That's it for now. I'm running short on time. I have to be up at the school in about 15 minutes to pick up Mini bear, so I better hop-to!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

September Experiment: Now Entering Phase 2

It's done. This afternoon I wrote THE END on my September Experiment wip. The ending word count for the rough draft is 50,127 - not including an additional 2,900 in a separate file that germinated the idea for the entire story. Now, for some stats...

  • I started writing the book August 31st, and finished this afternoon, Sept. 25th. 
  • I worked on the draft for approximately 26 days. 
  • Five of those writing days, I claimed zero word count. (No writing.) Basically, a week off.
  • Median average words per day 1,928 
  • Highest number of words for one full day: 5,078 on Sept. 1st
  • Lowest number of counted words for one full day: 816 on Sept. 9th
  • On average, Wednesday was my most productive day of the week - a total of 12,263 words
  • Least productive day of the week - Saturday, with a total of 3997 words
I'm taking the rest of September off to recoup from writing the draft. I'll probably blog, and I'll probably tinker with index cards, but I don't plan to crack open the September Experiment book file again until October. I need a few days away from the book so I'll be able to see it more clearly when I pick it up again.  

In early October, I'll start sorting files and preparing for revisions. Ideally, I'd like to have a readable, full manuscript (although it may still need a fine polishing) within two months. I may finish sooner, I may go over by weeks or even months. It's all a learning experience. The gist is to see if I can duplicate the process I used to complete Wicked Obsession. I should probably mention there's no deadline attached to the manuscript at this point, which was by far the driving force behind getting Wicked Obsession finished as quickly as possible. Overall, I'd be thrilled to have the September manuscript finished and polished to the best of my ability by the end of the year. 

Now that I've got all that set out for myself, I'm going to have cheese cake, fall across the couch, and watch a movie. Night, night, everyone! 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Writing Systems Check

I'm awake, I'm awake...barely. I went to bed around 2 a.m. after finally hitting 43k on my wip. Cassie and I have been timed writing in the afternoons and at night, and that means we're often up well after midnight working. Good thing we're both insomniacs, I guess.<g>

I'm currently 6900 words from my minimum goal of 50k. So close, yet so far away. Current issues are this: a gaping plot hole [in the second half of] the middle to fix, and I'm debating whether to remove one character from the book entirely to simplify the story line.

The thing is, if I remove that character it will strip out a complete subplot, and at this point I'm not sure if I should do that. For now, I figure I better let it be and then look at how it works within the larger picture once I'm finished with the book.

Whatever I decide, I can see already, once I've reached that 50k, I'll be playing with index cards again to sort through this stuff. Anyway, after I write "the end", I'll post all my September Experiment stats and word counts into a single chart for perusal.

For those who stumble across this post who might not understand what's going on, the purpose of recording and charting all the boring info is to see if I can duplicate the process I carried out with Wicked Obsession... and hopefully I'll be able to do it again on all my subsequent books, not just this story I'm currently working on.

The September Experiment started as a test to see if I could write a usable book in a month. (As opposed to writing a full manuscript in a month that ends up socked away in a drawer never to see the light of day again.) As it turns out, this experiment has become a kind of writing system check up. Am I being efficient? Can the process be repeated? Sounds like using scientific method for testing my own writing, no? <lol> All I really want to do is nail down the art of writing a novel in a way that works for me.

Today and Sunday I'll be trying to make the final push to 50k. That's the goal. Roughly 3k a day, which is do-able, especially when written in fifteen minute bursts. That's something interesting I've discovered about myself during this experiment - short writing jaunts work best for me rather than, say, a two or three hour block of time put away for writing, and expecting myself to be hammering away at the keyboard for that whole time. My brain just doesn't function for the duration of a long haul writing jag.

Call it ADD or whatever, I can't focus for that long. I run out of steam when writing a scene, and my mind starts to wander. Not only that, with the fifteen minute sessions, I can stop afterward and walk around, take care of something the kids need, or haul the dog outside for a walk. Too, I now know I can make my daily 2k word goal in roughly three or four timed writing sessions. It's much more manageable for me this way.

That's it for today. Hopefully by the next time I come in to post, my rough draft will be completed. We'll see.   Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cora's Picks: Chandra Ryan's Ravenborne

In Chandra Ryan’s novel Ravenborne, a wary king summons a telepathic young woman named Saraphina Raven to his keep because he believes someone is out to take his throne. 

A full-blood dragoness, Leissa, was once betrayed by others of her kind and sentenced to live ten lifetimes as a servant in human form. She plans to put her own child on the throne so she might see her bloodline thrive in a position of royalty long enough for her to live out the remainder of her sentence in peace.

Leissa knows that if Sara makes it to the keep, the young woman will telepathically discover her secret plans.

Kavin, the king’s guard, has promised to retrieve Sara and deliver her safely into the king’s hands. Sara doesn’t want to be a guard, nor does she want to use her power for the king, but she’s in no position to refuse. 

To make matters worse, she finds herself falling in love with Kavin, a man who’s loyalty first and foremost, belongs to the king.

Ravenborne is an entertaining fantasy novel with an interesting premise. The author has built a world where dragons, magic, and supernatural abilities believably co-exist with humans. I recommend this book for fairy tale and fantasy romance readers who are looking for a something that delivers a different and intriguing take on the classic dragon versus maiden tale. 

You can buy Chandra Ryan's Ravenborne at Samhain Publishing

Buy link:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

10k To Go

It's after one thirty in the morning, and I really need to get to bed. I thought I'd update the blog first, though, since I hit another milestone in my September Experiment.

I've been up doing timed writings with Cassie since about 10pm, and about an hour ago I hit the 40k mark on my wip. <dance, dance> Of course, I still have to add another 10k to this thing before I reach the minimum required word count.

If nothing comes up in the next few days, I should be able to have that word count knocked out by Monday the 26th. I'm trying not to count my chickens before they hatch, but I told Cassie, after I reach that word count, I want to put the story away for a week and take a much needed break before I start revisions.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cards, Cards, and more Cards

Monday was a bit of a scramble, so I'm making up for it this morning. On the plus side, the bills are paid, and I managed to take care of everything that needed my immediate attention yesterday while running errands.

Right now, I'm working on the wip...which is currently in the form of a rubber banded bundle of index cards on my desk.

I picked up another pack of neon index cards (just in case) and an extra cork board at Wally World yesterday. Once I'm finished shuffling through these cards, I'll be pinning the first half of my novel to the one on my wall, and the other half of the book will go on the board I have on my door. It will give me more room to work, although first things first, I need to sort through the cards and figure out what I have and what I don't.

I'm currently working on filling in scene gaps. I'm fishing out the scene cards in the deck that I haven't written into a word file yet. Not my favorite thing to do, but part of the game. The good thing is it saves me from writing junk scenes I'll likely have to toss out later.

That's pretty much the order of the day - filling in those scene gaps. Once I've gone through those cards, the draft is pretty much complete. After those final scenes are written, I'll take a week off from the September Experiment to let the dust settle before breaking the book down again for the 2nd (and hopefully final) draft.

I do have another project simmering on the side - the YA I pitched back in March. I'm not working on it heavily at the moment; I'm not good at juggling projects. But, I did sit down with what I have already on the story and worked out a beat sheet for it. The rough draft - which is too short as is to be a full novel - perfectly fit into the beat sheet, which is kind of exciting. It will need beefing up, but I have a theme, a cast of starter characters, a log line, and a rough synopsis. Plus that dodgy first draft.

Anytime I think of something new for that story, I jot it down on an index card and stick it into a binder I'm keeping just for this story. By the time I get around to writing it, I should have lots of information to play with. Sounds dangerous, doesn't it?

So that's what I've got. Not much, but that's not uncommon for me, I think. <g> It's after 9 (a.m.) so I better get crackin' on my story - gotta get in my word count. Have a happy Tuesday!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sprinting toward the Ending

Awesomeness. I've been tweaking my story (oy, me, it's after 3am right now), and adding more scenes. I'm roughly 14k away from finishing my book. I'm going to try to knock it out this coming week, so I can take the final few days of the month to sort through the scenes that I have, and make notes of what's missing.

Today, my writing goal is to tack on at least 3k in new scenes, which will put me very close to a solid 40k - a nice place to start the week. I still need to do some background work on 2 characters, and make a concrete choice about where this futuristic city is parked. It's loosely based on Georgetown, but I'm not sure I truly want it to be set there. On the upside, I've been to that area, and I know someone who used to live in that area, who can help me with details if I need it. That's something to consider. Whatever I decide, I need to do it before I settle in to organize all my information, and most definitely before I start working on the 2nd draft.

The next phase of the book is where all the "tough work" starts for me. I admit, when I reached that point with Wicked Obsession, and granted I was on a very tight deadline at the time, I kind of panicked. After I had the draft in hand, my mind went totally blank. I started at the very messy rough draft, I didn't know exactly how I was going to transform it into a finished product without the story being flimsy or broken. It was a challenge, but doable, and oh boy, I'm anxious about facing that stage age. This will be the real test of my September Experiment, fleshing out the story into a readable book, not the actual completion of the rough draft.
I have no doubt it's going to be a challenge, and I admit it...I'm excited, but at the same time, I'm a little nervous!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Plotting Storyboard

Each card is one scene.
Tah dah! As promised, here it is, my storyboard. No lecture on the crappy pictures, 'kay? I know the shots are a kinda dark and a little blurry. They looked far better on the camera, but when I did my magic and resized them (they were enormous) it did very little to make them beautiful. But for the purpose of this post, the resolution and crappiness is just fine.

I'm pretty sure you can click on these and see them larger, but I haven't tried that, so if you do it, you're on your own. Moving along...

If you've read any number of craft books on plot and structure, you probably already know what the story board is and what it's for, so take a gander and...I don't know, admire the index card rainbow, I guess. There probably won't be much for you to see here. 

Anyway, I cut my books into four parts when plotting, although some people stick with a solid three act structure, I can't seem to finish a story when I do it that way. Also, cutting my story into four parts is what helped me to defeat the sagging middle problem I was having with my stories.

Right now, there are 22 scene cards on my board, and by the time I have enough scenes to get to 50k, I will probably have double that many, and I'll likely have to turn all these cards sideways to fit them all on the cork board.

Before I start talking about what I'm using the colored cards for, and why they're where they are... If you haven't read any craft books on story structure, I highly recommend Syd Field's Screenplay, (which is super cheap on Amazon), or Blake Snyder's Save the Cat! - which was actually recommended to me by a NYT bestselling author after I asked her what I should do to push my stories from novellas and full novels without compromising the story. 

I've literally read dozens (and I do mean dozens) of books on structure and plotting, and to me, those two books listed above are the easiest of the easy to understand, and they are relatively short, so you're not left reading for days and days, trying to figure out what you need to know. Also, the Blake Snyder book has a section on story boarding in it, although I don't do mine quite like that. I'm going for simplicity. Too, I'm not writing a screenplay, I'm writing a novel.

Using a story board helped me get through Wicked Obsession, but I've gotten more organized with it in the past 6 months or so, and I've changed the way I do things when charting my scenes. Used to, I would use nothing but plain white cards or nothing but green cards, until I needed to add new information that wasn't in the draft, but that was too confusing. I ended up having to rewrite many of the cards, because I couldn't remember what Act they came from. 
Now, using the neon rainbow cards, if I move a card to a new section, I can easily identify where I took it from. This is majorly helpful when tracking subplots, or moving around major story events, characters, anything like that.

Okay, I added a picture of the board marked up into sections. Now for a general run down of what I'm doing. Please note that this is not the be all end all of story plotting, or story boarding. This is simply what I'm doing. The yellow cards are for the beginning of the story, of course. The scenes run from the opening scene of my book, to the inciting incident. The inciting incident is some major event that more than likely screws up your characters nice serene life, and leads to the next stage of the story - the (often dreaded) middle. 

Now let's move on to the green row of cards. Before I do anything here, I split the middle of my book in half. 

The scenes from the first half of your midsection go into the green row. There are many screenwriting books that divide the middle, I can't think of all of them, but again, the Syd Field book explains it in the very simplest way possible. (Buy that book, darn it!)

Dividing the middle of your book into two sections is also a really good way to get rid of the sagging middle problem many books/drafts/novels/novellas have. The green cards in my picture are what I call middle scenes #1. This is where your character starts on their new journey to fix whatever crap hit the fan during or because of the inciting incident. This section leads to the literal midpoint of your book or novella. When creating the mid-point, to explain it in a nutshell, you should have an event that changes the course your character is currently on.

The orange cards are the #2nd half of the middle of your book. This is where your character begins to successfully pick up the pieces of their life and put them back together - this time, for good.

The hot pink cards on the final row represent the ending scenes of my book. If I have an epilogue, I include it in this section. In the pictures above, you can probably tell I still need to fill out the ending on my story, probably more so than anywhere else in the book. Usually you can look at your board and tell if you have too many scenes in one area. Also, you can read through the cards, and see where you have plot holes. That comes in handy when you're on a deadline. 

Okay, here's a secret about doing scene cards like this. When you finish your book, you can take the cards you used, and sum up each card into no more than, say, two sentences. Anyway, summarize those scenes. If you do that, you can type up all the sentences in chronological order, and you will have a rough synopsis of your book from start to finish - no brain-busting involved. That alone makes story boarding worth the effort.

For some general information on screenwriting (I adapt it to novels) and resources like books and how-to articles, The Script Lab is a good place to start:

Squidoo also has a very good article on script writing books: 

There is also a free Teach Yourself Screenwriting lens here:

Also, you can see another example of storyboarding with index cards here:

Anyway, that's pretty much what I'm doing and where I am with this current book. I hope to have the rough draft finished within the next two weeks. I guess we'll see soon enough. Wish me luck! 

Friday, September 16, 2011

22 to Go

I'm so glad it's Friday. For one thing, I'm behind on everything, and the weekend will give me a chance to catch up - at least I hope it will. I have a book to finish reading this weekend, a review to write, and I need to make up for the word count I didn't meet on Thursday. I'm going to tackle that tonight, because I'd like to get this story finished sooner rather than later. I'm at 35k words, and when I break it down into scenes, I still need to add at least 22 scenes to this monster before I can call the draft complete.

Today I added a new character to fill a necessary role in the story, but I'm still fleshing him out. I'm also trying to solve a slight problem at the ending of the book - how a guy gets a gun past security. It seems simple, but it's tougher than that when I sit down and try to make sense of it. There are a couple of little things in there like that, and it's kicking my tail, trying to sort them out.

Anyway, I bought batteries for the camera, and will get a pic or two of my storyboard in the morning. This winter, during the holidays, I'd like to completely rearrange my office so I can have two cork boards instead of one. Right now, there's no where to hang another board. Not a scrap of wall space. If I had two boards, I use one board to post everything up to the midpoint, and the other to catch everything that happens afterward. It seems like it would be easier to get a handle on the cards that way.

It's a short post today, but that's all I've got. Tomorrow, we're taking Mini over to my parents to spend the night, and I'll probably use the time to catch up on this story, plus some PITA chores I've been putting off. Exciting, no? ;o) Happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Take It and Run

Is it over yet?  Oh my, I'm having a terrible week. It seems like every couple of hours there's a new fire to put out and I'm counting the minutes until Friday afternoon so I can escape it all.

On the plus side, I'm officially over the 30k mark. My wip is parked right now at 32,517 words. I'll be thoroughly jazzed if I can swing 35k by the end of the week.

I know I promised to get a picture up of my storyboard, and I haven't forgotten. I'll see if I can pull my webcam around and snap a pic of it tonight. If not, I'll do it this weekend. I didn't realize until yesterday the batteries in my SLR are dead. It's been a while since I've taken it out of the case, and I guess I shouldn't be surprised since I haven't changed the batteries since sometime around Christmas/New Year. At any rate, the book is coming along nicely, and so far I have no complaints.

When I hit around 50k, I'm going to declare the wip ready for stage 2. I'll take as much time as I need to pull the book apart scene by scene and element by element. The purpose will be to straighten any broken plot areas, fill in scene gaps and plot holes, look for any inconsistencies, and flesh out all the scenes to maximize tension and purpose. So yeah, round 2 is when the real work starts, and strangely enough, I'm looking forward to it.

I'm crossing my fingers this all goes well, but at the same time, I'm trying to keep in mind that this is a learning experience. Once again, this is all in conjunction with my September Experiment. I managed to pull this off once with Wicked Obsession on a very tight time frame.This is the test to see if I can duplicate the process with similar - or hopefully, BETTER - results.

Off for now. I need to go dry my hair and get the house ready for Mini. I have to go pick him up from school in about an hour. Urg. It's not that I'm dreading Mini coming home, I'm dreading the school news of the day. But what can you do, yanno? Here's hoping the rest of the day gets better. <time lapse> Oooh, on the plus side, UPS just arrived...with my new shoes! Retro, sparkly sneakers. My inner raver is appeased. Cool Beans. This also means, not only have I met my quota today, I have a happy ending for my post to boot. I'll take it and run! ;D

Hope you have a happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mish Mash Tuesday

Whew! I survived Monday. Barely. I had unexpected visitors, worrisome telephone action, hubby had to work late, and my son got a note home - plus he got hit in the back of the head by the bully at school. Grr!

I just don't know what to do for poor Mini. He's a different animal than I was at that age. I grew up with much older boy cousins that were rough and tumble with a habit of taking my stuff from me. While I wasn't targeted like Mini, no one hesitated to scrap with me, so I ended up the same way. If someone walked up and punched me in the back of the head, I turned around and tagged them directly on the end of the nose. And if I missed my chance then, I'd find my chance later. And back then, being into outdoorsy play, I also had incredible, you-wouldn't-effing-believe aim with a baseball. Go ahead and knock me down now, buster. When I get up, I'll tag you five yards out in the head with a knuckle ball. That's a true story, btw, and just the way it was back then. As you can probably imagine, I didn't get picked on very often.

But Mini is a different sort of kid. I had to teach him to shout "leave me alone", and I literally had to teach him to shout it. I had to put on the old cheerleader voice and convince him it was okay, we were practicing, to get those words out there so everyone could hear him. He covered his ears the first few time and looked worried - we don't shout at home - so this was a very startling thing for him. Poor kid. But getting hit in the head? I don't expect him to put up with that crap. Why haven't they separated these kids yet? And why haven't they called the little monster's mother in for a talk about her child's behavior? I don't get it.

On the upside, I started back on the Atkins diet last week (Monday, Sept. 5th) with BFF Cass Curtis, and as of this morning I'm down five pounds. We're both shaping up before heading to the Written in the Stars conference in Shreveport next year. My goal is to be back in a size 7 around that time. I'm not worried at all what my end weight turns out, but I'm thin without being too thin - healthy looking - when I'm roughly a size 7. I was that size before and right after I had Mini in 2005. Let's just say I got comfortable, and fluffy, after that. <g>

On to writerly things... The latest update on the September Experiment! As of last night, my wip is parked at 28,280 words. Not too shabby. I'm a little over half way to the minimum safe word count of 50k, and by the end of today, I should be sitting at a cool 30k.

I have two scenes mapped out for writing this afternoon. I plan to hit at least three fifteen minute writing bursts to get the words down on paper. These are bare bones scenes, and kind of messy, but I'm working on this like I did with Wicked Obsession. (Which was written on a very tight deadline.) I'll go back and clean it up/flesh it out on the 2nd pass. Right now, I have a plot skeleton, and I'm trying to fill it in with all the essential bits - the heart of the story. I'm trying to make sure my story structure is as it should be. The rest can be fixed. If I don't have the essential beats in place, this sucker will either bomb, or need massive rewrites. I don't have the time or desire to deal with a mess like that. So, I have to get this part right the first time.

One more thing before I close...

A very good writer friend of mine is struggling financially right now. She is disabled and on a fixed income, and needs a little extra cash this month to pay her electric and water bills. She isn't asking for charity, but if you would please look at her ebay auctions and consider bidding on some of her items, it would be greatly appreciated. The proceeds will help her keep her utilities on for another month. You can find her eBay page and listings here: 

Thanks for looking!

That's it for now. Wow, I just noticed it's already after one pm! Where does the time go? I have to pick up Mini in a bit, so I better get up and make beds and all that jazz to prepare the house. Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Winged Warriors, Witches Island, and Mushroom Chairs

I just realized today is September 11th. The morning it happened I saw the footage on TV first thing out of bed. Still in my pajamas, I ran next door to my mother's and turned on CNN so we could find out what was going on together. It doesn't seem like it happened all that long ago at all. My thoughts and prayers to the men and women who perished, and their families, and our country. I will never forget. 

I've been sick all weekend with Mini's school born virus, so sadly, I missed out on my RWA chapter meeting yet again. This is something like the third month in a row. <cry> I'm very disappointed about that, and had everything set to go, but in the end, I worried I'd give everyone my sick germs if I attended. Rather than do that, I took some meds, curled up with my new copy of Save the Cat!, and slept most of the day.

Cora (left), a visitor in for a tarot reading, and Cass (right)
at the Midnight Moon Cafe shop on Witches Island.
Then yesterday afternoon, I joined Cass for the tarot event at the Midnight Moon Cafe in Awen (Second Life). That one was pretty light and breezy, but we had a second event at the shop on Witches Island to attend later that night.

The Witches Island event ran until midnight my time, and that one turned out to be standing room only, and there was a long line of people waiting for each of us. We were both busy pulling cards the entire time, so it was kind of hectic for a while.

I was running a bit of fever, but managed to stick it through with no problems, and I think all of the guests were happy with their readings. After it was over, Cass and I went to my fairy skybox and chatted for a minutes about the event. We've noticed that about 95% of all questions that come our way these days are about love and relationships. Interesting. I guess it's safe to say romance is still alive and well in the hearts and minds of people all around us.

Cass (left) on a mushroom and Cora (right) on a strawberry.
Cora's Skybox - shortly after midnight, Sept 11th
By the way, you can click on the pictures in this post to enlarge them. I shrank them down a bit, but not
by much. They still have lots of pretty detail.

Another cool bit of news... I got permission a day or so ago to announce that I have a brand new horror/weird tale - titled Prince of Thorns coming out soon as part of the Ultimate Angels: Tales of Winged Warriors anthology over at KnightWatch Press.  

About Prince of Thorns: A spell-casting fallen angel hunts a grisly demon who has been killing local humans for food. Yep, no sweet, baby-faced angels in this one. ;o) 

Le'see what else is going on... Oh, an update on the September Experiment. I wrote a total of 10310 words from Sept 5th to Sept 9th. I fell short of my goal on Friday, only 816 words. That was the morning Mini woke up tossing cookies, and I was soon thereafter following his lead.

I feel much better today, not 100% exactly, but good enough to get the rest of that word count today, so hurray for the Sept. Experiment Weekend's Off thing. I can make up for a sick day and not feel guilty about having missed a day in the first place. That's a first for me!

Anyway, I hope this post makes up for lost time. I'm ready to start charting my word count for next week, and it should be a bit easier to reach now that I have my entire outline on a story board. Over the next few days, when I have a few free minutes, I'll break out the camera and take a picture of it...the mess that is my mind. <g>

That's all for now. Happy wishes!

Friday, September 09, 2011

World Under Construction

First thing out of bed this morning Mini tossed his froot loops, and a few minutes ago I had to get onto Oldest for not feeding the cat. A great start to a Friday, I tell ya what. I haven't had even the first cup of coffee yet, and if I could get away with it at all, I'd go back to bed and sleep for eight hours.

I wrote 2,262 words last night, which brings my current total to 22,520. Not bad for a nine day writing stretch - at least for me.  I have a 2k quota today, and I may try to go a little over that since I won't be worrying about it over the weekend. My local RWA meeting is tomorrow, and I'm hoping Mini will be well enough so I can attend. At this point, I'm letting go of everything and letting the cards fall where they may. A sick kid in the house changes everything.

(looooong break, sorry about that) So it's after 6:30 pm, and I'm feeling kind of icky. On the upside, I did a timed writing with the lovely Cassie Curtis and now have 816 words on my quota. I'm about to hit another timed writing then break for supper. Another good tidbit from the day: I received Save the Cat by Blake Snyder in the mail this afternoon. It has come highly recommended to me by several authors I know personally, so I'm curious to see what it's about.

That's all for now. Sorry for the short post, but I better get ready to do timed writings. If you're reading this, I hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

One Mile Quickly Becomes Ten

It's 2:08 am Thursday morning. Hm. Apparently, I missed a blogging day. I'm not sure how that happened, but I'm going to declare alien abduction because of the missing time.

Wednesday was barely tolerable, so I'm glad that's over with. Oh, man... It started with hubby needing me to find a pair of socks for him - at four in the morning. Sassie pup didn't want to go back to bed after that, so I went on my own, and right as I was dozing off she came scratching at the door. At that point, I decided I might as well get up and write for a bit, but I got side tracked because I still needed to get out Mini's uniform, make coffee, feed the stray dog that lives in our hedges, and by the time I got to the point I could make it into my office to write it was six am - which is time to wake up the lil bear for school.

For some reason, getting him dressed was a chore. He was staring at the TV, so I couldn't get his shirt on. Then I couldn't seem to get his socks and shoes on right. He stood up and nearly had a cow because he somehow got cat hair on his navy trousers. <cry> By the time I got him on the bus, I was ready for a cup of coffee - I'd already poured two cups, but they were cold by the time I got to them so I ended up pouring them out. So, I take a hot cup of coffee back to my office and... there is no internet.

There continued to be no internet until well after hubby came home from work. The AT&T network was down in our area, so I couldn't use my tab timer to get my timed writings in the way I like. I still managed to write 1k that morning, and just about an hour ago, I wrote another 1200 words with Cass while on Skype. So, I made my September Experiment quota of the day just in the nick of time.

Speaking of which, updates on the experiment. For Wednesday, I wrote 2217 words. Since I started the 2k promise on August 31st, I've written a total of 19,089 words. I've been making a spreadsheet of all my progress, and have been breaking my writing sessions down into 15 minute increments 4 times a day. So, I don't feel burnt out by the time I shut down my computer for the night. So far, I'm very happy with my progress.

This Saturday I have my local RWA meeting, and once I'm back home, I have a tarot session in Second Life to attend with Cass. If possible, I still hope to get in my 2k word count. It's not required for weekends - I've arranged things this way so I can take Saturdays and Sunday's off, but deep down, I'd still like to make my word count.

Hopefully Thursday (today) will fairly uneventful so I can crack the whip on this wip. I'd like to get at least 2500 words, or more, if I can manage it.

Oh! Some other things I did on Wednesday (yesterday), I created a list of all my settings. I tried to describe some of them loosely, and ended up with a problem. So, I found all this left over construction paper Mini brought home from his Kindergarten tablet, and I used it to draw maps of some of my trickier settings. This helped tremendously on one scene where I wanted my heroine to be able to see the hero from a certain standing point in her house - looking down a long corridor. If I hadn't drawn out that setting, I probably wouldn't have realized until in house (publisher) edits, that my scene setting just wasn't feasible for what I wanted my characters to do. I'm so glad I worked out that problem. Very awkward!

Anyway, that's just a general update of how things are going. I really need to get to bed. I have to be up in a few hours to get the kidlet ready for school. Whew! One more day til Friday. I'm counting the hours and hangin' in there.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

More Words for the WIP

It's one a.m., Tuesday morning. I have no idea what date my blog is going to add at the top of my post. It's been acting very wonky for the past week. Maybe blogger is updating something, I have no idea. Anyway, I had someone get on my case for not having a Networked Blogs widget, so I added one. I guess it remains to be seen, if anyone actually uses it.

On to writerly things... For Monday, I wrote 2019 words for the September Experiment, and spent much of the day working on subplots and character building. To date I have written 13,683 words overall. Not too shabby for a few days work. I admit though I'm still doing a lot of brainstorming as I go. I've written probably six pages of notes in the past two days.

When I bought groceries Monday afternoon, I had to pick up a new pocket notebook, because in the past week I've used all the remaining paper out of the half-pint legal pad I've been using since the June workshop at BPCC. I've since transferred all my little scribblings to the new notebook. Most of them are to do with the hero - a stubborn guy who is giving me all kinds of fits about revealing his back story. He's barely shared a glimpse of it, and there has to be something more, some meat to his personality and the reason he does things. I did a lot of digging into who he is earlier in the evening, but his personality still it feels very thin to me. There's not enough "character" in the character yet. Le sigh. Much more work to do in that department.

Before I close for the night...morning?... I want to share this article that's up over at Romance University. 10 Ways to Create Vivid, Compelling Characters by C.J. Redwine:

Also, The Suzannah Contest is now open for entries, both pubbed and unpubbed writers are welcome to enter. This is hosted by my local RWA chapter, and they always have fantastic lineup to judge this contest. More details are here: 

And one more...Ellora's Cave has opened a new line geared toward male readers. You can read more about that here:

That's all for now. The bed is calling to me. I'm so very tired, and I have to get up at 6 am. I'm definitely going to need my coffee in the morning. <lol> Over and out, ya'll. Nighty, night!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Monday Grab Bag

Oh dear, I'm out of Sprite Zero. I lifted my can to take a drink and...nothing. Not a drop. Boo. I feel very ill prepared to blog post, but I'm gonna do it anyway.

Last week, I wrote a total of 12,682 words. Those timed writings really paid off. I plan to do many more of them starting tomorrow. My goal is to write at least 2k daily = 10k a week. If I don't reach my quota by Friday, I have to make it up on the weekend.

Someone asked if this word count is exclusive to one story, or if I'm counting the words across several projects. All the word counting that I report is going toward one story. If I write something on the side, that word count does not go into my weekly count. Right now, I'm focusing on one project only, which is kind of the overall goal of my September Experiment - to see if I can write a novel length book (a complete first draft) by the end of this month.

I took off Sunday, and did a bit of brainstorming, and took a ton of notes. I added a new character - an antagonist. I had a sort of general omnipotent antagonist, but I changed that to give the threat a face, and make the danger more immediate and scene focused. I also added another secondary character, and worked on building my hero a bit more. He still needs more fleshing out.

I did a plot sketch Sunday afternoon, and realized I need more tension/danger/conflict. So, I'll have to rewrite that plot sketch again once I have more pieces of the puzzle. I note carded the major scenes, so I have most of my plot points. I have the beginning sorted out in it's entirety. That much I have just the way I want it. Sometimes this coming week, I need to choose between two endings, and I need to add more scenes.

At any rate, that's where I stand on the current WIP.

Saturday night, I had to make a run to the grocery store, and I took Oldest with me. It was raining, and once I got on the road, I realized it was very windy. I thought, hm...strange weather we're having. I made it to the store with no problem and sent Oldest in. I sat in the car reading while Oldest picked up something, like, three things we needed, and then we drove back home. I didn't think anything of it.

Sunday morning, when I turned on the computer, the headline was that Tropical Storm Lee had landed and hit South Louisiana. Aha. The weather made perfect sense then. I looked at the weather map and saw the tropical storm pushing up through the state, and spinning out right on top of us. We had a good strong arm come over us, and it looks like we'll have rain for a few days, and high winds. Yeah, yeah, I kinda live under a rock. What else can I say? I'm just grateful the power has stayed on. We had a blip earlier in the day, and I was silently praying that we wouldn't have a long power cut. It came right back on, and I was ready to dance through the house in my slippery socks to celebrate. As long as we have electricity, I can deal with the crappy weather.

Anyway, it's 12:45 Monday morning. I'm going to hit a quick timed writing and then probably hit the sack. Ah, I get to sleep in, too. I love these long holiday weekends! :o)

Saturday, September 03, 2011

September Experiment

Earlier this week, around Wednesday or so, I had this crazy epiphany, and decided I have no good excuse not to get back on a writing schedule. At the same time, I want to make sure I have days I can leave the computer and not have to worry about writing - or the lack thereof. You know that feeling I'm talking about? For example, you're in the middle of the grocery store trying to decide between peas and broccoli and you suddenly think: I could be at home writing right now. Yeah that. So totally unproductive and ridiculous. Time to ditch the "guilty writer" syndrome. Everyone has to leave the computer at some point.

So,  I made a goal to write 2k a day, or 10k a week. If I don't make the 10k on Friday, I have to write on the weekend to make up for it. If I make the 10k on Friday, I have the weekend off, or can use that time for whatever I want it for: shopping, sleeping on the couch, watching cartoons with Mini. Whatever. I printed up a September calendar, and began tabulating my word count.

On Wednesday, my bff and crit partner Cassandra Curtis and I set out to do a heap of timed writings. Early on, we did a couple of 30 minute timed writings, but as we headed toward Friday, we broke that down into 15 minute writings - which I find far easier to manage. With the timed writings, I found out that I can easily do four 15 minute times writings, and at the very least have that base 2k words a day goal met. So, this is definitely doable, and I still have most of the day for myself to do family stuff like shopping, picking kids up from school, etc.

Each Saturday, I'm going to toss up a weekly accountability post. This week, I managed to write 11,664 words. Anything after that, anything written over the weekend, I'm going to consider a bonus. It won't be attached to next week's quota, which starts on Monday.

Hopefully, pacing myself in this way will help me avoid burn out. At the same time, if I managed to write 2k every day, I should have 50k by the end of the month. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Anyway, like I said, this is an experiment. At the end of the month, I'll total what I've got, and report my findings. Sounds so scientific doesn't it?  Heh. ^_^ Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, September 02, 2011

Friday Giblets

It's early Friday morning, and I'm about to head off to bed. Before I go, I thought I'd blog while the house is quiet, and since I anticipate a busy day ahead. I likely won't be able to get back on the computer until late this evening. Ho hum.

Anyway, I did several timed writings with my crit partner Cassandra Curtis tonight (Thursday night-Friday morning) and at the end of this last session, I am sitting at 5078 for the day's total.

That's a very good amount for me. I don't usually pull in this many words unless I'm on a deadline, and thankfully, I'm not right now. What with all that has been going on with family and illness and trips across the country, I'd probably be insane right now. <lol>

For the week, so far, I've raked in 8,913 words overall, and I'm very pleased with that. I still hope to boost that up to at least 10k tomorrow...which is my new weekly goal. We will see.

For doing timed writings with Cassie while on Skype, I found this cool app for doing timed writings. It's free in the Google Chrome app store, or you can go here: Basically, if you're using Google Chrome, you download it, and it opens a new browser tab. The whole tab is a timer. You can set it to any time you want. When your time is up, a youtube video begins to play - it's a bell ringing. If that sound effect doesn't suit you, you can also change it out. I changed my timer video to play this sound effect - a school bell. It was very easy to change, so that's a plus. Overall, I'm very happy with the app and will continue to use it.

Yesterday, I read a really good article over on Nathan Bransford blog about being yourself on the internet vs. author branding. I thought that was really interesting, and encourage those worried about branding to give it a look.

Sassie pup just came into my office whining. Poor beast, I think she's ready for mom to go on to bed. <so she can too, heh> Lots to do tomorrow, so I better try to get some rest. 'Night all!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

In Advance of Friday Morning

Early this morning I somehow messed up some of the blogger posts from my archive. In the blink of an eye, things went all screwy. <Cry> I'm still not sure how that happened, although it could have something to do with me tinkering with things at almost 2 in the morning. Crazy, right? Ah well. Thankfully I downloaded the archive about four months ago and created a backup, so I should have all of the older, important baby posts on disk somewhere. That's the thing with adding family milestones on a blog rather than adding it to say a scrap book or something similar.

Anyway, today I'm going to do a few timed writings and try to get my word count up for the week. I have to go to Mom's on Friday morning and take her more stuff for the charity shop in Ruston, so I'll probably be away from the computer for much of the day. I imagine I'll have lunch with her, and chat for a while, and by the time  we're finished sorting and packing and loading bags and boxes into the truck, it'll be time to go pick up the Mini beast from school. In other words, writing wise, I've got to make today count.

I'm very happy with the progress I made last night/early this morning with my partner in crime Cassandra Curtis. We were up until well after midnight doing timed writings on our current projects. I wrote a little over 3800 words - about nine pages. Ideally, I'd like to add a similar amount of words to my project today. At least 2k words. I'd be very happy with that.

I printed a calendar sheet to map my word count, and I've pinned it to my wall.  I used a September harvest calendar for 2011 that I downloaded from the Microsoft website. I'm going to start charting my daily and weekly word counts on it. I'd like to log at least 10k a week, and I think if I make myself write down what I'm writing every day, it might help to enforce the habit.

That's all for now. I'm off to get some writing done while the day is young, and the house is quiet. I hope you all have a Happy Thursday. :3


It's about 1: 30 in the morning, and I've just done my last timed writing for the, night? My critique partner and I did a couple of sprints, and my total count of the day ended up at 3,835 words. Not bad at all. I hope to do a few timed writings tomorrow also. It really helps me to get those words down on the page.

I guess I better go on to bed. I'm the only one left awake. Even the Kippy cat has given up on me. About three hours ago he went over to Sassie pup's bed and went noddy blinkums. Poor beast.

This is a very short post, I realize, and I'm sorry for that, but the day has focused around writing sprints and not much else. Heh. Maybe by tomorrow afternoon, I'll have something more interesting to talk about. ;*) In the meantime, I found these interesting articles. I especially liked that out of print book list. Good stuff!

RT Book Reviews Magazine is Hot For Indie ePublishing

How to Raise Your Characters Above the Status Quo

2011's 10 Most Wanted Out of Print Books