Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Follow that dream...plan your trip

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We survived yet another NaNoWriMo, a doomsday prophecy, Christmas with the family and snowcation. That can only mean one is time to get back to setting up those writing goals for the New Year.

I am a huge fan of creating list, so goal and resolutions are a yearly favorite.  Somethings to keep in mind as you start to come up with your own list...

  • Time is ticking.  Be honest with yourself and the restrictions you have on your day. By setting up a clear regular schedule you are preparing your brain for writing. The same time everyday the process becomes easier and you can slip into the flow of it faster.  
  • Re-writing takes time.  It is the beautiful stage where your lump of clay becomes refined with an artistic hand.  Make sure that serious time is given for this process, it is not one that can be rushed.
  • Final edits are important.  There is nothing more frustrating then reading a book and tripping over the text because of grammar and spelling issues. If you feel it is at the stage where it is time to pass it on don't be cheap, pay someone else you trust to look it over and weed out the problems.  I have been on the receiving end of this before...please make sure that you have given it an honest attempt to fit within the commonly acceptable guidelines of our English language before expecting your poor friend to fix your pile of random words.   
  • Publishing is a business for a reason.  All artist want their art shared. The process to getting it out there is scary, heartbreaking and requires just as much and sometimes much more research than writing your sweet labor of love. It is important to give this time but to also remember to keep writing. Don't let yourself get swallowed alive and stop the creating that you love. 
I have a huge favor to ask....please take my survey.  I will not track your name, or anything like that I just need information to better serve you, dear reader.  

Thank you.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Art feeds the soul

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Day really I'm not cheating

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I am learning a great lesson this week.  When you want something to happen get moving and seek your blessings.  You have to reach for them that is when the magic happens.  

In the process to better define my writing company I have had more writing opportunities come to me...or maybe I went to them. I have been researching, writing, rewriting and editing for the last 4 days.  From when I wake till I go to bed.  I love it!! 

A contract that I started prior to the challenge has resulted in a flood of work the last few days not to mention an article that I wrote in May needed further editing. In between all of that...I have stayed strong and continued my personal growth experience. 

My novel- I write and write and write...then had to erase 2k words the last few days.  I got rid of one of my favorite chapters.  It didn't work with the plan.  I love the writing and lovingly copied and pasted it in another document but it won't work for this book so it is out of there.  I have been putting that off for a while but not any more time to get this done. 

My blog- I have started the rearranging of the blog. (As you may have noticed.) Moving to the two columns gives me more possibilities and I can start setting up for sponsors and add a more uniform method for my dear readers to follow me and my misadventures.  Who doesn't want to do that?

I also have been working on marketing and branding.  So far the focus is on social avenues.  I think this will be the easiest to start with because of the low entry cost.  I am excited. When I wonder away from my social networks I forget about all the incredible people you meet this way.    

My business- Thankfully my contracting work has been prolific.  I am still working on the business plan...which is a little behind schedule for me.. But it will get done.  In the meantime as I work on it I am doing it.  I have contacted a few freelance groups and am looking forward to getting more work.  

My growth- Again...this part is continual. Everyday I open up my WIP and trudge through that business plan I feel validated in my growth.  I know that when I get that feeling that I am intimidated to submit something or contact someone for possible work I am growing again.  

This process is interesting.  To my family it looks like I am chilling on the sofa.  Meanwhile, I am emailing, writing, researching my butt off.  I have noticed a strange cramp starting in my right hand..pointer finger.  Pretty sure it is the early signs of carpal tunnel.  All athletes get injuries.  Maybe I need to start stretching.  

Write on folks.  

How are your challenges going?  What kind of progress are you seeing?  Any suggestions of stretching to ward off carpal tunnel? 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

PSP Challenge: Day 3

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The adventure continues.  I have found that I am enjoying the structure to the day. I did get one day off because of unexpected "life" stuff but am back on it.  

My Novel:  For the last three days I have added 1k words to my WIP.  The restructure has really helped me to focus what I have and to shape it into a stronger story line.  I am happy with it.

My Blog: Well...I know how I want it set up but when I study html it makes my head spin and eyes cross.  I will have to keep working on this.  Lucky for me I have a few more days in the challenge.

My Business:  Found a great posting on this subject...well, besides the amazing ones I have been putting out there. The blog is The Self-Publisher's Notebook and he has a pretty extensive list that completely matches what I have been finding as I have been going through this process.  Swing over and check out what he has put together.

I have been researching...a ton on this.  And have more questions as I go.

My Growth: Next week will be better.  I am focusing on (this sounds redundant but...) focus.  I don't know about you when I am writing it is a full spurt of writing that blast out 200-400 words then a good twenty minutes piddling on the interwebs bouncing back and fourth between Facebook, Pinterest and what ever my ADD clings to. Then I wonder back to my writing. It is a wonder I have been getting my word counts.  Next week I am closing out all of the tabs and all of the documents and focusing on one, just one. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

P2P Challenge Day two: Refocus

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Aw now that is it!  You know it is funny the minute you set your mind to achieving great things is when a million other things come up to distract you.  That was my day 3.

A previous article I wrote needed some immediate fixes before it could go to print. Another piece I did needed to be edited and sent to the publisher. Then there was regular life. I know sounds like a list of excuses. But the thing wasn't I stayed up a little late but I persisted. 

The week is set on the theme of "refocusing" regardless of the things that are thrown in front of you, one must choose.  Is it the path that others want for you or do you want to be the one that determines your fate.  

I like being in control.  

Day 2: 

My Novel- I continued working on reshaping my wip.  It was one hot mess, but now is pretty exciting.  I can't wait to see what it is by the end of day 30.  After reshaping it I have to go through and make sure that the chapters I have all contribute to the plot progression and story structure. It will take a few days to get it fleshed out and refigured into the stronger form.  It sounds overwhelming to reshape 30k words to fit the new structure but I am thrilled to be doing it. 

My Blog- I really felt like I needed to do research.  It seems stupid, I read blogs all the time but not looking for structure and the purpose of the blog. It was really interesting.  I have the blog mapped out...mostly. It is a work in progress. 

My Business- I am really enjoying writing my business plan..I know I am a sicko. It is all about pricing, goal setting and really "seeing" your business how you envision it being.  I reached the pricing section. It is all about market research.  You guys know how I love some research. :)  

My Growth- This has been my stumbling block.  Ironic.  Today I was supposed to set up my metrics for growth. I do this all the time for students. But that is is them not me. I will keep working on this today.  Grrr.   

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

P2P Challenge: Day One, Refocus

P2P Challenge

The challenge, Personal 2 Professional, officially kicked off yesterday. The challenge is to dedicate 4 hours of your day five days a week for the next 6 weeks (Monday through Friday) to your writing.  Each hour will focus on a different area of your writing life. For me I chose: my novel, my blog, my business, my growth.I challenge you to share this journey with me and begin your own challenge. I suggest creating your own 30 schedule.  Once it is laid out it become a process of checking the list for the day and getting started.

Challenge rules: 
  1. Commit 4 hours a day, 5 days a week for 6 weeks to your growth in writing. 
  2. Share your experience on your blog.
  3. Grab our button and post it to your blog.
  4. Put your name and link your blog to the linky thing below. 
  5. Visit as many of us on the challenge as you can daily and share the encouragement. 


Day one: focus
Day one for me is building the challenge and determining how I want to grow over the next 30 days.  Each area required me to develop essential questions that I would need to answer as I go through this process.

My Novel
It meant really defining what the true story is that I want to tell.  I have had a picture in my head of this small town with all of these people.  Every single person has a unique story and in this single story they have been chiming in to get their story told too.  As I was writing I knew something was amiss but could not put my finger on it.  As part of my epiphany for this challenge I found an article, 'How to Create a Story Structure to Die For,' on the blog Write to done. The article discussed a model of story structure where there are really two stories in every novel.  The first story is the all of the action leading to the disillusionment of the hero. The second is everything the hero does once he has waken up from the dream. All I had was story poor hero was wondering around and all this bad stuff was happening to him and he wasn't having that big moment.  

My Blogs
I didn't start blogging thinking I was providing a product.  I was writing and if someone read it and liked it, cool.  As I invested more time into my blog I started really rethinking it. What if I did make money by blogging then I wouldn't have to have that scary second job teaching students to drive... intriguing.  To make the transition I had to ask what is the product and how am I selling it 

I decided that the product is writing...duh. I then had to decide how I wanted to position myself to make this product something that is useful to other writers.  I have mapped out several ideas.  Over the next 30 days I plan on writing a book that follows this challenge with all of the data, additional templates that the readers can use, and stories of my experience.  Some of that I will be sharing with you through my daily postings.  I also will be creating a writing program to teach on weekends to fellow starting writers that are looking to "go pro." Over the next 30 days I will be restructuring the blogs to better fit my goals and products. I look forward to hearing your advice as I proceed.

My Business
I didn't realize I owned a business till last summer.  Till then I wrote but it was a hobby. I found an article on The Guardian, 'Live Q & A: How to become a freelance writer.' The article had some great links (I love those) and it was through there that I found a template for a business plan. This week I am asking how do I defining my business and the goals I have for it? The business I have decided is multifaceted, because I like more than one pile of money and it insures I will always have something going on. I decided that Chubby Bunny's Ink has three departments: epublishing, contract writing and education. Over the next 30 days I will be more clearly defining each of these departments, their mission, goals, structures and processes.

My Growth
I needed to figure out what areas I believe I need to improve. This part was tough.  I think it was the hardest. Thinking about it I asked myself, how can I improve as a writer and business woman?  This is probably a pretty extensive list overall.  However, I decided for this 30 days I would focus on increasing my technical skill, character development, story structuring, community reach and consistency. Now I understand as a writer my life goal is to continually build my skill with all of these areas and that I will not master them in 30 days. But my goal is to improve them through steady focus for the next 6 weeks.

I look forward to hearing about everyone's journey and changes.  Please link below and start you challenge too.

30 days from now...from personal to professional writer

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Ever find a blog post that gives you a spark?  There is some kind of magical mix with what is going on with you and something clicks? It is a powerful time.  I got the chance to experience that last night. I was suppose to be in was 3 in the morning. I had stumbled from one blog to another and then locked in and could not stop reading. When I finally pulled myself from the postings I laid in bed and couldn't stop thinking what it meant. 

Funny thing is I saw this blog, Write to Done, last year and didn't think anything of it. The student has to be ready for the lesson to be learned.  

After reading and thinking I came to the conclusion it is time for a 30 day challenge:  

For the next 30 days I will focus 4 hours a day, 5 days a week for the next 6 weeks to my business of writing.  Each hour has a different purpose: my novel, my blog, my business and my growth.  I have spent the day mapping it out and cannot wait to share with you as I go through this learning experience. 

I encourage you to take the challenge with me. As a community we can create the change in ourselves that we want and need to move forward. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Set yourself up for success

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There is a point as a writer you have to decide if you want to keep this as a hobby or take it pro. I have been tottering on the edge and have finally taken the plunge.

It is funny...I would be bankrupt if I had treated a traditional business like I have been treating my writing. You know if you were opening a business you would commit everything you had to it.  It is yours and you dare not risk your huge investment.  The only problem is that many writers don't see what they do daily as an investment.  We have our computers and internet so when we research for hours and write an extremely powerful piece on Monday we figure we can give ourselves a break on Tuesday.  Right?  I know I have. I think it speaks to my slow rate of success especially in the beginning.  But can you imagine if you owned a store and had a great day on Monday and made a pile of money would you shut down for Tuesday because you were tired.

Yesterday I was cruising around the blogosphere and found a great post.  She stated that writers should create their own business plan. You would do it for any other business. For a brief minute 6 years ago I thought I wanted to leave teaching and go into business.  During that time, while getting my MBA, I discovered the importance of having a plan for your business.  A business that has a plan knows where to invest time and resources.  If one area is in a lull then there are other areas to focus on growing.  With no plan there is a lot of running around like a crazy person and nothing happening or if it accidently does it is a shock to everyone and tough to replicate.

The main goal of a business plan is to define your business as a writer.  It makes you ask what type of writing do you want to do?  What audiences can you write for? How do you want to develop your brand? Where do you see yourself as a writer in three, five and ten years?

I have been working on my business plan for the last two days.  It is not easy. There is math involved.  (Not my favorite.) But it is well worth it. Invest in yourself and define your future..create a business plan if you are ultimately dreaming of taking this pro.

In the quest for greater communication...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Writer? Do you get paid for that?

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Doesn't every writer wish and dream of the day they move from the amateur column to the paid professional column? Or even better to the elite well paid professional column.

I have been a writer in my soul since I was in 5 years old and made my mother write down my stories. Or when I would make my Barbies and little ponies act out epic adventures of love, war, and loss.  When my 7th grade English teacher sweetly told me that my horrible sad little poem was "really good" I knew it was meant to be.  Sure I did the college thing. And I lucked into a career that is the perfect accent to writing and that I happen to love...teaching.  But I still wrote.  Poems, short stories, essays, proposals, detailed classroom observations, long list for groceries organized by aisle, and when I was out for a wild night on the town with my girls I did character sketches of the drunks around me.  (No not my friends...mostly patrons, well okay but my friends are so damn funny they slip in there.)

The million dollar question is how does a passion obsession become a professionally paid skill?

Well I am close...I do  know, how to become a fledgling freelance writer.  Not nearly as sexy...but extremely exciting.    

Taking that giant leap from non-paid to paid is a painful and long ride. I had my blog for 3 years and wrote for free.  I started other blogs for work and wrote in those for free.  I volunteered to write articles/advertisements for the friends to publish in the newspaper. I wrote for professional journals.  All for free. At first it is really cool to see your name in print and your sassy words out there for everyone.  But then at say...the 10th hour of research for a that long article that just won't end and is fighting you like a one armed get those damn I wish I was getting paid for this.  It is in those times of frustration you have to stay strong because you are on the brink of greatness...and if not that at least a reprieve.    

The more you write, the better you become.  Sounds trite, but it is true. I wrote a novel. I blogged about that journey. I shared and marketed that blog on Facebook, twitter, and every writer's social network I could find.  I built up a small following. I am still working on creating a larger following.  

Funny thing is when your friends and people around you know you are a writer they share that information.  And when they hear of opportunities they recommend you and tell you about them. It is through my small following that I have gained all of my current freelance writing jobs.  Some have been small, almost like a test. Others have been pretty big, and paid well.

I think it is better that it starts off this way.  If you started a restaurant you wouldn't want to be the top one in the nation before the doors open. You have to play with pricing, recipes, branding, training of your staff and develop your business savvy.  You have to learn.  I am learning.

I have figured out my most effective way to research. I know my natural patterns and when I write the most the fastest.  I know my triggers that get me writing.  As I get jobs I am learning about book keeping and how to keep records for myself and taxes.

I have determined that to bring more jobs I will have to go get them.  I will have to apply, call and contact those in my niche and introduce myself and my skills.  

So these next couple of weeks the experiment to reach beyond your circle to get those sweet writing jobs?  I will keep you posted on my success. 

I am continuing to write in my WIP.  I am amazed at how much better this WIP is over the last one I wrote.  It feels better going in, and the process is flowing.  I wish the same for you.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

For anyone with a little block

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In case the story you have is sagging...take a look at this rowdy crowd and see if they can add some spice.

Monday, June 18, 2012

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I love writing.  I love the mastery of finally crafting that perfect sentence and seeing its power and function in a story.  I love seeing a story and shaping it with each key stroke. I love that the industry doesn't require special permits, certifications, test or clubs to be a part of it.  I love the fellowship of other active writers that are working to hone their craft and who inspire and push me to be better.  

However, one of my biggest pet peeves is the person who claims to be a writer but doesn't understand the rules and techniques of writing well. People who tell me, "Oh you are a writer...I am too." When asked to tell me about their writing they stumble and can't give one example...but they have ideas.  Those people always have ideas.  Ideas with no conviction, skill, or craft are dreams or what ifs.

To be a writer you have to write...daily and passionately.  I did not dare consider myself a writer until that most amazing day that I first got paid to write.  Then again I felt it in my heart when I finished my first novel.  I wear that shiny badge proclaiming the focus of my soul, "writer."  It is out there for all to see.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

John Updike

This clip starts with a discussion of the sequel to The Witches of Eastwick.  He doesn't speak too much about his craft but speaks more about where he was in his life at this time.  It is a longer video but it is still intriguing to watch one of the greats of this century articulate his growth and changes as a person.

I found the part about aging as a writer and still finding love in the finished product of completing a book to be interesting.  If we are lucky we will be aging writers.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

John Grisham says...

If you want to be a writer...then write.  

Start with a page a day, 250 words.  Do that for a year and you have a giant pile of pages, who knows maybe even a book.  But it all comes back to you.  You have to do the work or the dream doesn't happen.  

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Thoreau said it...

"As if you could kill time without injuring eternity"
~Henry David Thoreau

How do you spend your time?  Is it wasting away in front of Pinterest, Facebooking/Tweeting about writing?  I have done it. It is relaxing sometimes. The only problem is it is not writing...and at he end of the day you have nothing.  To have a strong body of work you must write, and continue to write. The only way to get it right is to write. I love this advice as how to be a writer. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Salman Rushdie on Truth in Literature

Truth isn't realism?  It is truth.  Writing is not about reporting back events that you have seen it is creating them to be seen.

But isn't some truth stranger than fiction?  Isn't it that the truth that inspires the most authentic of fiction?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury, writer of Fahrenheit 451, offers up his love of books in his interview.  I love how Ray has intimate relationships with writers and how they were friends for him.  I couldn't agree more with him. During my childhood books were my escape from my reality.

I love how he used the UCLA typing room as his office to write Fahrenheit 451.  And how he describes the characters as people that talk to him through the books.  I have this too but in the last novel I wrote they all seemed to be pretty pissed off at me...there was a lot of cold shoulders.  This current work in progress they all have something to say and fight for my attention.

Ray made me smile when he stated, that "we all need to jump and we will build our wings on the way down." Just write and the skills will develop, for those who persist.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Quirks are okay

We are all a little on the kookie side.  Love this video

Plotting your story

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When I first started writing I would have a flash, maybe a dream that gave me a feeling in the opening scene.  From that I would blindly sketch out some kind of convoluted tale. There would be random adventures but there was no knowledge of the format of novels and an over exaggeration of the increasing tensions.

It was after that very first know the one where I wrote myself into a corner then built a fort around myself with no doors...pitiful, that I realized I need to go back to basics and learn more to do better next time.    

I really like this lesson series.  He lays it all out complete with examples and walking you through the build up and conclusion. I don't think this is the only way to build plot, or to plan a story but I do think that knowing and be able to work with the basics of storytelling enriches you as a writer.  It strengthens your craft.  

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Kevin O'Brien on keeping people terrified

O'Brien's story is inspiring.  We all fail sometimes and our lowest periods in life can proceed our greatest achievements.

I truly enjoyed the section on outlining.  I always worried I was too detailed.  This was helpful in as a form of laying it out.  I also was interested in the section on writers groups. I have never been able to have a writing group.  I don't know where to find them...they hide in plain sight I am sure.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Nicholas Sparks and Nora Roberts talk about writing

Nicholas Sparks is not one of my favorite writers.  Having never truly witnessed the kind of relationships that he prefers to write about it is tough for me to relate to him.

When he talks about never loving writing...I do agree.  There are times a get so aggravated and irritated with the story and myself.  I love when he said that he continues to write because it is a self driven need to be better than the last. That is what I am in the middle of now.  I was not in love with my first  book.  This one is a chance at redemption.

I could not let N pass with the mention of Nora Roberts...

Nora is amazing. She is adorable and so funny to listen to her stories.  She writes so fast...and it is the nuns fault. Too bad I didn't spend more time with those nuns.  I sure could use some of her writing speed.  I love how she said that the muse is crap!  She said, "that Sister Mary's responsibly will kick the muse's ass." So true.

Habit is the key.  You can fix a bad page but not a blank one.  Love her. Now to go back to my habit.

Toni Morrison's Motivation

I love hearing her talk.  It doesn't matter what she is saying it sounds super smart.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

Margaret Atwood Creative Process

The opening story cracks me up...if you have to sit and wonder all the time what to write about maybe you need to find another passion.  I have had several people who hear I am a writer and feel the need to tell me they are too but they haven't actually written a thing.  Gotta love those people...wish all the competition was like that.

Always carry something to write on. I do carry notebooks and I have been known to text a note in my phone for story ideas or a character sketch. When I am forced to abandon my preferred hermit lifestyle and engage in social activity I always feel more comfortable sitting in a corner and watching the action around me with a pen in hand making up the story that is unfolding in front of me.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Elmore Leonard- writing wisdom

Elmore Leonard wakes up and won't let himself get a cup of coffee until he has found his flow for the day.  Rules that he lives by...write.

He says he knows that readers skip through novels but they won't skip through dialogue. This interested me. Dialogue is one of my favorite ways to reveal characters, background and scene. So much can be said by what is not said.

He stated that in the first 100 pages it is all about the characters.  They are auditioning to be the book.  I truly love this idea.  I struggled with my main character in my first novel. I think we were in a power struggle he didn't want to do what I wanted him too.  It is like he says in the video...his character didn't have the right name and so he didn't speak but as soon as he found the right name Leonard couldn't shut him up.

I enjoyed this interview, Leonard reminds me of my Grandfather.  Says just enough and in such a way that it sticks with you. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Drew Keller- Keys of storytelling


I think if I did all of the steps that Keller suggest that I would never get started.  I would be instantly overwhelmed and upset. But if a list of lengthy steps gets your creative juices flowing...this one is for you.

James Scott Bell- Get Some Skin in it

This convicted me like a good Sunday service.  The first novel I wrote had nothing of me in it.  It was observation, mechanics, and going through the process. It was not until I started again that I felt I had something in the game. This work in progress I am in, is me.  It is a reflection of parts of my experience.  It is my  art.

Preach it Brother Bell!!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Inspiration Monday

Spent my day off deep inside my work in progress. It was glorious.  I feel like I have to budget my words here.  I have used them all up and don't have many left.

I need to go back and write. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Harper Lee

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Harper Lee wrote a single book, "To Kill a Mocking Bird." Sometimes one is more than enough.  Could this be proof that there is at least one novel in all of us?

Harper Lee grew up a rough and tumble girl, much like her character Scout.  She witnessed her father go through a similar case as the one portrayed in her novel. Unlike her father character in the book, her dad fell apart after the case.  He stopped being a lawyer and would rarely leave the house.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Gracious Galbaldon

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When I finished my first book I went through a reading summer researching and the craft and the habits of other writers.  One of the books suggested that as a writer one must create your own network of writers that you enjoy.  Diana Gabaldon was one of my top ten. I think her biggest strength is characterization. She creates entire clans of rival families each with very distinct troubled and yet balanced personalities.  There are some you want to marry, some you want to fall off a cliff and one that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. 

Out of all of the writers that I sent letter to...and it was a huge stack she was the only one to write back...twice.  That makes her the very best writer that ever was.  I adore her.  

Fugacious plots

Fugacious definition
passing quickly away, transitory, fleeting.
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How do you arrive at your novel's full plot? I think most of us have a scene that comes to us, or maybe a character, it could be an opening scene that comes in our dreams.  Rarely do we "see" an entire plot, those have to be crafted and explored. The exploration process is different for everyone.  

F. Scott Fitzgerald is quoted as saying, "Character is plot, plot is character."  Instead of creating an arc he might have spent time getting to know his characters with free writing until they revealed their story to him. 

Lauren Weisberger's "Devil Wears Prada" was mapped out on a basic linear progression chart. 

Devil Wears Prada Plotting
J.K. Rowling used a spread sheet to track the coming of age story of Harry Potter. 

Harry Potter Spread Sheet Plotting

It all depends.  Don't you love that answer?  I have used the spread sheet, the linear progression chart and had to write a novel to get to know my main character. It is important that as new writers we try all different methods.  Chuck Wendig over at TerribleMinds has 25 suggestions for plotting. 

What methods do you use and find work the best?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Enigma of well written prose

"Easy reading is damn hard writing." 
~Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Before I started to pursue my life as a writer I would read books, throw them down in discuss irritated with the awkward prose and dragging plot lines. Then I started to write.  This quote couldn't be more true.  The smoothest sentences are the ones that I had to wrestle with, cut, twist, rework and rip apart.  Once you mastered that one there is always the next, and the next.  The life of a writer is this unending line of work of love.   

C.S. Lewis in response to a fan letter offered this advice to a young writer. 
1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn't mean anything else.
2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don't implement promises, but keep them.
3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean "More people died" don't say "Mortality rose."
4. In writing. Don't use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was "terrible," describe it so that we'll be terrified. Don't say it was "delightful"; make us say "delightful" when we've read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, "Please will you do my job for me."
5. Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
 Advice like this sounds so straight forward. However, the implementation of it is the true challenge. It is almost debilitating to get started if you starting thinking of it.  The key is to write ugly, get it out.  Once it is out the real work begins.  Take it one sentence at a time.  Torment each sentence, paragraph and get violent with your edits.  When you think you are done hand it off to your beta readers to vet out as much of it as possible.

On this Easter weekend what prose are you tormenting?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

David Baldacci- Done in 3 Acts

Simplicity is best...begin by breaking writing down into three parts.

It is good to know that he writes stuff that his wife doesn't like. And I love that he has written books that don't work. No matter how far he is into them.

Easter break...I have to get my head right and focus.  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Clive Cussler- You've got to believe

Sometimes dreams come true.  It isn't a mistake.  
Hard work, dedication to craft and you too can be an "over night" success.  

Monday, April 2, 2012


I have to admit...I have had a crush on Tony for a while. It could be because he is a giant like me.  No...I think it is because of my first trip to Europe.  His book was the only one I took with me on a 2 month trip through Europe.  I read it a couple of times. I lost 40 pounds that summer.  I credit it to Tony.  He inspires me.  I hope you feel it too.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Advice from the King

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Not the Vader!  The force wouldn't allow it.

Listen to the King.  He can teach us all a lesson or five hundred.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Keep Writing

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I started writing at home.  Not sharing anything with anyone except my mother, who proclaimed I was a genius.  Must be true.

Then I became a 'Teacher of the year' finalist for the school was because of my writing. Well, I got a ton of help from a dear friend of was like boot camp for writing. Just what I needed. It is crazy that I went from that to now being a paid writer.

I can't live off my writing, yet. But I will happen. I know it will. The more I write the more opportunities come up.  The key is keep writing.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ira Glass, The 2 Big Pitfalls

The more you are yourself the more compelling you become.  Wish I had seen this a year ago...I was trying to be David Baldacci.  I am not him.  He is great at being him and this time around I have become myself.

I love what he said about focusing not only on self but on my interactions with the world and those I encounter. I can impersonate everyone that I run into.  I observe those around me ready to use those quirks and ticks for characters that come out of me. He is saying that, that needs to be harnessed for adding suspense to story and moving the story along.

Ira Glass has taught me about pacing, the simplicity of movement within the story and several techniques for creating suspense.  I look forward to sharing your more writing advice from the masters.  Until then be yourself when you write...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ira Glass the Importance of Recognizing the Bad

I think this was why I am still writing the first novel that I finished last year.  I wrote the story and some how it didn't work, I didn't know the characters and the town was this angry backdrop that didn't make sense.  It took me abandoning it to find the real story.

Are  you putting yourself in the pattern to produce enough crap? It is the only way that you will find something special.

Confession time: I know I have not been in the zone lately.  A writer who isn't writing..well is a reader.  I commit to get 5,000 words this week.  (And that does not count my blogs.)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Storytelling (Part 1)

Ira Glass is the host, creator and executive producer of NPR's This American Life.  He started in radio at age 19.  In his time at NPR he has worked nearly every news job there.  Today his show is the most downloaded  podcast in all of America. He is a storytelling genius.

Watching this video I was struck by several things.
  1. The way we learned it is all wrong.  
  2. What is more disturbing the way we teach it is all wrong...that was an upsetting revelation watching the video.
  3. Any type of writing starts with the action, the antidote that builds and weaves the reader into the tale.  The story is a sequence of events. The events in and of themselves build suspense through the movement.  The reader feels like they are going somewhere. I love this thought.  Intrinsically I knew this but it was reaffirming to hear it said. 
  4. Raise questions and answer them as the story is being shaped. I had never thought of using questions.  It is part of the belief that you must trust your readers to extract meaning from the text without you spoon feeding it to them.
  5. The moment of reflection is the point of the story where everything is pulled together and you know why the story was shared. It is the reason we are reading the story. It is why we are here, why the story is here and why it is shared. 
  6. I love that the trick of a good story is the balance of action and reflection.  I have a ton of action in my story...I need to think of reflection and see where it fits.
What struck you as interesting or brought up a problem with your own writing? 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Creativity, the hard part is keeping it, right?

I know that when I am in the zone, writing everyday at the same time. The creativity never falters. I feel invincible...the writing Wonder Woman.  Sometimes it is a little bit more magical than others.  It feels more magical than others.  But it is like a well used muscle ready for me when I need it.  The problem is when the routine evaporates.  When I finish a project and then have the, "now what" feeling and the routine is over.

I know that I am not alone. Distractions exist for everyone. It is the determination that we have as individuals to go back to our art and fight through the slumps and slow periods. The slumps are a time of realizing the gap between my ability and taste.  Maybe Ira Glass has it right.  I need to write and there is no trick. It is about doing it till my talent catches up with my taste.

Excuses, talent, and judging be damned...time to write.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Good ideas need to collide

If good ideas come from our hunches and their collision with other peoples hunches then we need to ask ourselves, when was the last time you interacted with other writers and discussed the bits and pieces that you are thinking about?

I have recently found an amazing community of writers on Twitter.  They have given me an incredible outlet to flirt, sass, and be silly with my ideas.  They have resulted in great hunches for my writing and encouragement to move forward with my current work in progress.

The WIP has had quiet a life. It is the stripped and chopped WIP that I started two years ago given a new life with a new point of view.  This has been a humbling experience.  (I might be a little bias...but I think I get my fair share of these on a daily basis.)  This is the first time I feel it is my voice telling the story. It time for me to find it and own it in this work.