Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hesitation And Quarterbacks

I was watching my local team's football game the other night. The quarterback was having a rough time of it. I thought of writing. Odd, huh? Everything gravitates back to writing, doesn't it?

I watched each play. Some worked; some didn't. I know the coaches put the playbook together after a lot of thought and work, using their wealth of experience. They finalized their playbook and send their teams out to win. But they don't always win. Some plays just aren't right.

The same is true for me. Really, probably for all writers. I write a scene and see how it works in the chapter, in the book, in the world. If it feels right, I go with it. If it doesn't, I sometimes go with it anyhow. There are different reasons why I go for it, but I think it all boils down to fear. Not sure what else to do, or where to go with it if it doesn't work. 

The inciting incident in Book One worked for me. But it felt weak. Every time I'd go back and look at it, I'd shudder inside. 'Not quite right,' my heart chants. But my mind says, 'Yeah. Whatever. Don't know what else to do and this works.'

Lying in bed tonight, going over this rough spot, it came to me. I knew what I could do to make it better. Make it turn into a believable, exciting, and heart-stopping inciting incident. Whoo hoo!

I keep telling myself, 'If it doesn't feel right, keep chipping away at it. Eventually the Muse will tell you what to do.' And I was right. I kept chipping away at it and the Muse finally told me where to go. *g*

I'm up and writing away, fixing Chapter Two to encompass this change. It works. I'm sending it off to my editor to get her impressions, but I'm almost 100% sure she's going to come back with a 'well done.'

The unsatisfied feeling should have been like a klaxon in my brain, warning me that I needed to change things. I have done it for certain words, but not always for the big picture. Glad I let the Klaxon keep sounding.

Life is grueling. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

No Expectations Triumphs

I did it. I went into the critique session with no expectations. I got a good critique, but I wasn't jumping up and down afterwards. It wasn't great. To be honest, I had thought I had edited the bejeebers out of the chapter and that it was ready to be sent off to an agent/editor (just this chapter), but it looks like I've a bit more work to do. *sighs*  (PS - I would never send a chapter except as part of a query.)

I suppose, to me, that the most important thing about Friday's critique was that the man understood what I was writing about. This is about the first time that's happened. To put this into perspective --

The criteria for submitting a critique is to put in a certain number of pages. Each conference/critique is different. With the proper heading and formatting. Now, the proper heading means that I can't start the story until almost three-quarters of the way down the page. At the top comes all the qualifiers: name, address, phone, blogpage, and # of words. Then I cursor down quite a ways and center the name of the book then a double space, and my name. Then, and only then, can I start Chapter One. By that time, as you can see, there's only enough room for a few sentences. Double-spaced at that!

So I have not been putting my hook anywhere, or giving a cover letter. I think, the next time, I will write a cover/query letter. I hate 'losing' a page of the story, but I think it would be better. Doing that should help in that I won't spend half the allotted time telling what's next in the story. That elevator pitch / hook should then dispel any questions the critiquer has. I'll try it. What do I have to lose except a two hundred some page of writing. Shees!

I also don't feel too bad about the critique because my editor came to me and said she got blasted at her critique. She didn't tell me to garner sympathy, more to say that, even a 40+ book author can get a bad critique, so don't get discouraged. Though by the look on her face, I could tell she was discouraged.

Yesterday, last day of the conference, I was saying thanks to one of the volunteers and she told me her review had not gone well either. I commiserated with her. These are things to remember for the next time I get a review.

Life is treacherous. 

PS - Another woman came up to me at the end of the conference, told me she'd been part of the group critique on Friday and 'loved' the chapter I'd read to the group. *does happy dance*  

PSS - This is the same chapter I presented to the critiquer. Shees!

Friday, September 21, 2012

No Expectations

Had an awesome afternoon and evening at the SCBWI conference. If you get a chance, get to a conference. If you can't afford one, see if they have scholarships or if you can trade volunteering for a ticket. I've not been to one that I didn't learn something. (sometimes, just how to cry without anybody seeing me.)

The critique session went very well. I must admit, the critique leader was my editor, so I was on pretty sound ground. The reason why I decided to present is because I wanted to hear what other 'new' readers thought. 

Well, my editor had only good things to say. Not too gushy. And one small thought. She had not read the latest, re-edited (for the 4,000th time) edition, so I was happy she liked it.

No one else said anything. Now, I find it difficult to sit there and wait (the floor was opened for comments) and no one says anything, and I have to keep smiling. *g* Finally, one woman said the voice of the heroine sounded too young for fourteen. I said thanks, I'll take that into consideration.  Another one ran up to me as we took our break and said this is not the kind of story she reads but she loved it. *phew*

I have no idea whether the others thought it was horrid or so good they were embarrassed or what. It doesn't matter much. I'm learning how to cope with all kinds of situations in regards to my writing. I don't consider it growing a thicker skin, but more a maturation of said skin. *g*

At the dinner, there were quite a few authors lauded for being published this last year. Most of them had more than one book published. My editor had two. It was fun and edifying to hear them tell of their struggles and successes. 

At the end of the evening, my editor sat next to me and I asked her about the 'voice' of my character. She said it was perfect. Now I can go sleep. *g*

Life is upending.

PS - I added another 'speaker' to my list on the bottom left corner. Tina Wexler from ICM. Awesome speaker. Lots of fun to listen to and I filled a whole legal page with notes!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Muse

God bless the Muse. She must not like it when I disparage her in public. I must remember that! *g*

If you remember, I was grousing that she had me in a quandary over when to make the change in my character. I spent a lot of time thinking about this, since the Muse was no help whatsoever. Well, that's what I thought at least.

I started writing Ch. 40 last night and she gave me exactly what I needed. 'Where' I had decided to make the change was okay but not optimal. 'Where' she decided, last night, was awesome. And it had a clearly defined reason for the change at that particular moment. 

I love my Muse.

I finished Ch. 39. This is incredible. I am also halfway through Ch. 40 because I had ideas floating about that were more than ready, like a brown-edged over-easy egg, ready to be flipped.

I am  spending some time preparing for this week-ends SCBWI conference. I've been getting lots of emails from the coordinators. I must remember to bring numerous copies of my two stories. I've got to make notes to make sure I know which sessions to bring them to. There are many opportunities at this conference for critiquing and sharing of works. That's pretty exciting. Doesn't usually happen.

Returning to the Four Agreements: Remember -- no expectations. Otherwise, with this much reviewing going on, I'll be a mess. *g*

Not sure when I'll be posting again. Depends if I'm exhausted after Friday and Saturday's full schedule. If so, I hope to post on Sunday. Have a blessed week-end, if I don't see you.

Life is a blessing.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Stupid Muse

I really have to offer up some humble pie after my gloating - though it didn't seem like gloating at the time. *g*

The Muse sat quiet for all these days and I'm ready to kick her. Finally, last night, I forced myself to stay still and ponder what was happening in the story. I guess I needed a couple days to sit back and chew on it. It's still full of rough edges for Ch. 39. When I get to the castle, which should be Ch. 40, action kicks in again and I'm ready for that.

Transitions seem to be a hiccup in the road. When my characters are traveling and nothing is happening. I like action and I like writing it. I'm figuring out now that I don't like 'action-less' writing. *g* Though progress is progress. Nonetheless, I know I'll be more comfortable once they reach the castle and go into full 'rescue-mode.' 

I spent a good deal of time last night trying to figure out where my hero changes. Not his insides - that's been happening all along the way -- but the outside portion. I had meant for it to happen quite awhile back, but the Muse kicked that idea out. Typical. I finally figured out where I'll do it, but I still am a bit shaky on the why it's done there. The dragon helps. I think she will be the inciting character. Is there such a thing as an inciting character? *g*

I am disappointed that I haven't posted here since Sunday. I hadn't meant for that to happen. And for the life of me, I have no idea why I didn't post. I know I 'meant' to many times. I thought I had. 

Life is perplexing.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

On A Roll

Good grief. I wrote till about 2am. Ch. 39 is halfway done. I also wrote a bunch of one of the chapters in the castle. 

I love it when writing becomes like a race. I can see the finish line now. Adrenaline is rushing. Perhaps that's why it is getting easier to write. 

I very much love it when the Muse hits me in the middle of the night. Those chapters seems to be so real. I don't usually dream, but this is much better.

Still working on Book Two. I can't decide if I'm going to leave the first chapter as short (for me). It seems to have naturally ended. I'm looking forward to my heroine meeting a long lost friend. That will be fun to write.

Life is a dream.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

What's Next


I'm very excited. My editor called and we met. She was delighted with the chapters I sent her. She wanted to know the premise for Book Two.

BECAUSE -- I'm almost done with Book One!!! 

*does happy dance - ears flapping - tongue lolling*

The day after I finished Ch. 38, I was walking along, minding my own business, when a thought cut through my mind and through my heart. The next chapter is the last one before they reach the castle! *be still my heart* From there on, it's downhill. There are only maybe ten chapters left, if that. I'm so excited.

I started working on Book Two. As I said, I presented the premise to my editor. She loved the twist. I was flabbergasted. I didn't think it was a twist because it's been in my brain since I conceptualized these books. For her though, it was a twist. *deep contented sigh*

Book Three is already set up, too. I know the ending and the premise for the book. We'll finally have some love interest in it. I'm figuring the kids who start out with Book One will be about ready and old enough for a love interest. *happy sigh* And then the final battle and my heroine realizing she's brave and loyal and steadfast and true. 

Life could not be better. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fighting With Myself

A couple of posts before this, I wrote that the Muse had kicked me in the behind with a new part to 'Blue.' 

I fought this, kicking and screaming. I had no idea where she was going with it. I felt totally at sea. After brainstorming with my granddaughter, I knew what I had to do, but I still wasn't happy with it.

I started working on Ch. 38 today. And guess what, in one sitting, I wrote it all. I've got some more work to do on it before I consider it truly done, but for all intents and purposes, I've got a completed Ch. 38.

Whoo hooo!

Honestly, I never would have thought I'd finish it in one sitting. I was so opposed to the change in my own plans for the story. I guess the Muse knew where she was going with it. Sometimes, I wish she'd tell me. It would save me a lot of angst!

I'm going to put it up on the "Progress" side right now.

Life is good.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


So many times we're told that stories mimic life. And it is true most times. Sometimes, life is beyond anything that we can read in stories. Things we cannot imagine occur. 

Horrors are upon us once again. Intolerance devours sane people like some great dragon, mouth agape and saliva dripping. The drops are blood. The blood of those from the land we love and from other lands. 

One of my favorite hymns uses the music of Finnish composer, Silbelius. It is a hauntingly beautiful hymn that never ceases to make me weep when I hear it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDXNHPeRB0k&feature=related   The lyrics are here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Is_My_Song_(1934_song)

This is the first verse:

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, this country where my heart is;
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my sacred shrine.
But other hearts in other lands are beating,
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

I was taught, from birth and forward, that God smiles and loves and cherishes all those in creation. I believe it with all my heart. I mourn for those diplomats and guards who were lost. I mount those from 9/11. I mourn those in every war that we have been a part of.  And I mourn for those who's lands those wars and atrocities and horrors flow over. 

I know that this hymn has different words. I think the original Finnish is fairly different.

But the thing that I want to share with you, is not what words they are, but what these mean. Other hearts are beating with love and dreams and hope -- just as much as mine is.

I pray our hearts beat as one some day - and soon.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Death By Hook

Suffice it to say, my condo's parking lot got paved. I stayed with my daughter. No computer. Back home today.

This hook is going to kill me. Honestly -- it is. Defiant little thing. Sticks its tongue out at me every time I try to change it, make it better. I don't know why it hates me. I'm only trying to do good for it. Doesn't it want to be the best of the best? I've changed it again, and still I'm not happy with it.

The reason for the focus on the hook is that it is up for a contest this coming Wednesday over at Susanna Hill's blog.  http://susannahill.blogspot.com/ 


There is a second reason for my near-hysteria. I need to have the hook be 'right' for next week-end. That's the SCBWI conference in my region. I'll be critiqued by an author from California. I've got goosebumps just thinking about it.

Be still my heart. Head -- get your act together. Muse -- where have you gone?

Life is quixotic.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Been rummaging about for the last few days trying to figure out what on earth the Muse was doing the other day with 'Blue.' I've asked her time and again, but she's still not speaking.

I put my dilemma before my writing buddy and she seems to think Flynn saw something and that's where he's off to.

I really cannot have another attack on the characters. Been enough already. 

My granddaughter, she's six, is sure Flynn saw a flying robot butterfly and ran off to chase it. She's such a dear. Put her whole thought into the dilemma.

I think both of these have a good point. I am going to have Flynn see something. I also know what. I've another character whom I haven't written of for a few chapters, a rather disreputable character. I think Flynn sees him and knows he's up to no good. 

I really think this will work. I'm not 'wed' to the idea, for I never expected Flynn to disappear, but I think bringing the other character back is good. I'm just surprised is all.

Stupid Muse.  *g* She's testing me. Trying to make me think outside my box.

Life is complicated.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


My writing buddy and I had a great time last night. She read 'Blue,' Chs.14 and 15. She made some much needed corrections. She acknowledges, bless her heart, that she learned how to spot the things she noted, from me. Whoo hoo! 

We are building a very nice, trusting relationship. We are learning from each other. It's sometimes hard to trust, especially if I'm having difficulty writing, but trust makes it easier. 

Went to Skyline today and had a great time listening to critiques. I love seeing things other's see in an author's MS. Many times I miss things. It's great watching others. There's one guy in the group that is really great at critiquing. I value when he critiques my work. However, once in awhile, I think he lacks patience. He wants to know why. Sometimes the author isn't ready to say why. If the story is a mystery, which most stories have some elements of mystery about them, then telling too much takes the joy of reading away. 

The new group met today. Mostly to put together guidelines. It looks like it's going to be an interesting group. Next meeting, a speaker from a local university will be speaking. I'm really looking forward to that. This group will offer critiques, but I don't think, as of today, that I will be submitting anything. I don't want any more comments on 'Blue.' I think it will be too much. I'm confident in where 'Blue' is headed and I think the critiques I get from my writing buddy and my editor and Skyline are quite enough. The new group will have writing prompts at some of the meetings and I like to do those. They challenge my creativity, being as most are NOT fantasy.

Life is trust. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Tears Hair Out

I've been busy watching the conventions and that does not translate to writing. Yet, in a way, it does. It's interesting watching the people, the speakers, and the reporters. Great emotional fodder for my tales. I've also been busy with doctors and tests. Now, these are experiences I'd rather not have, but I am filing my emotions and such away when the time comes in a story to write of them.

Computer was down all day yesterday. Technician seems to think I might have a virus. Will need to call my computer / writing buddy and see if she can help.

Still working on the synopsis and I'll tell you why.

My blasted Muse!!! She had me write about something and then she walked away. Won't tell me why the something happened. I've been wracking my brain like crazy the last few days. I can see no reason why it happened. I mean - it was a great cliff-hanging end to the chapter. What good is a cliffhanger if you can't resolve it? Stupid Muse. (Don't tell her I said that.) I don't think I've ever had this problem before - and that's a good ten years of constant writing. 

My writing buddy is coming over this afternoon. I'll share my dilemma with her. Perhaps she'll have an answer. 

Tomorrow I've got TWO writers groups. The first is my regular critique group (I'll not be presenting). The other is a new one. The meeting will be spent setting up guidelines. (You know, I just can't read or say guidelines without thinking of Captain Barbossa and the Pirates! *g*)

I'm going to be doing bills and paperwork today. Yuck! Wish me luck.

Life is perplexing.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Synopsis Yikes!

I'm still in the midst of writing my synopsis for 'Blue.' Hadn't meant to do this, but checking vital stats for the story got me into the thick of it, and now I'm stuck.

I had used guidelines from a website that is now defunct, so I searched the web for another one. Found this from writers digest. Hope it helps. http://www.writersdigest.com/editors-picks/learn-how-to-write-a-synopsis-like-a-pro 

There are two thoughts, as far as I can see, on a synopsis. One: write it like the back book cover. This strikes me as impossible. The whole idea of a synopsis is to tell the editor/publisher what my book is about - even telling the secret ending. I certainly wouldn't want that on the back of my book. Why read it if you know what's going to happen.

The other thought is to summarize my book, making sure I use feelings, too. Yikes! When I did my first ever synopsis, for the My Sword series, I didn't include any of my characters' feelings. 

Another point of interest: Keep the synopsis to one or two pages. I've heard that before. The new thing I read recently is to have it be around five hundred words. Another Yikes! Right now, my synopsis is 1,400 words! And I'm only 2/3 of the way done. Major editing before this synopsis gets shared. *g*

Life is a synopsis.

Monday, September 3, 2012


I have spent the last two days working on my timeline. Somehow it got messed up. I knew where my characters were at; I knew who was there, but I lost when.... *g* As I said, it took quite some time to figure out when I was for each scene. It's done and I've edited it. I've just got to go back into my MS and make the changes in the file.

When I have so many characters and settings and times, things get complicated. I sit and wonder if writing a picture book wouldn't be easier.

NO! Definitely not. It took me a full year to write the giraffe story. Last year at this time I was sending it out to publishers. The responses and some new critiques were inspiring enough to make me go back to the story and make some changes. So this November -- *shudders* -- it will be a full year since my first attempt to get it published. Insane. And that's only 250 words. 

'Blue' is now over 51,000 words. 

The reason I work so hard on the timeline is that it will eventually become my synopsis. Writing a one-page, five hundred word synopsis after I've written a seventy-five thousand word book can be daunting. So I try to update it while I'm doing the book. The format I use is a timeline.per chapter. 

For me, the timeline/synopsis also works as a backwards outline. Instead of writing the story from the outline, I write the outline from the story. Personally, I don't want to know what happens in the story before I write it. That might sound insane - and it might be - but one of the kicks I get out of writing is reading the story as it's written. I get all the suspense, angst, sorrow, and every other emotion that I hope my reader will as I write. To me, writing an outline is dry and dull and blah. 

Other folk really love doing an outline first. More power to them. I do what works for me today. I'll worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.

Life is definitely not an outline.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

In Memoriam

Sorry. I just had to add one thought to the day.

Today is the day, thirty-nine years ago, that J.R.R. Tolkien passed away. I had never heard of him, though I was of age when he was publishing The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, even the Silmarillion. I never heard of him until I took my three children to see Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings film in 1978. That film covered only the first part of the LotR trilogy. When it ended, I went home and bought the book and began reading it to the children. I was hooked. I kept waiting for the next movie, but, of course, it never came. I discovered that The Hobbit was written by Tolkien and bought that. My five-year old granddaughter and I finished reading it this past spring.

I had always been a sci-fi reader; now  my heart turned to fantasy. When the first Jackson LotR movie came out in 2001, I joined a fanclub and read fun fiction by its members. They spurred me on to try my own hand at it.

Whether or not I ever get any of my books published, I owe the joy I've felt in writing to J. R.R. Tolkien..

So I am taking this moment to thank him. He inspired, and inspires me.

Life is inspiring. 

Phew! A Bit Of Success

Edited Ch. 36. Also, made the changes suggested for Ch. 30 - 33. Busy day, but I am off for the holiday week-end. I had some questions that really needed some thought. For instance, I wrote about them having bread. It set off a truckload of wonderings by my critiquers of how on earth they made bread in the wild. I know you can do it, but I thought, "If so many are pulled out of the story wondering about this, then it's not worth the explaining." I made do with a different food and some stale bread. Pulling my readers out of my story for something that really is inconsequential is definitely not worth it. 

And -- drum roll, please. Finished Chapter Thirty-seven today. Came out really well and ended with a cliffhanger. Ah - life is good.

I'm exhausted now. I've still got more edits to do and I have to reread Ch. 37 and edit it. But that will be for tomorrow or the holiday.

Right now - my bed is calling. Hope everyone has a great holiday week-end. And if you live where there's no holiday, I hope you enjoy your Sunday!