Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year 2013!!!!

While 2012 was a year of learning and provided lessons in realistic goal setting in my writing life, 2013 will be a year of productivity and project completion.

Initially, I was disappointed with my progress for 2012, with going full-time into writing in June; however, I realized the additional learning and guidance I needed will make 2013 an even more productive year.

I've set realistic goals for 2013, which includes doable daily writing goals and non-writing days. I'm reviewing the 2013 calendar to set weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly deadlines. Yes, I do believe, 2013, we are on our way.

May 2013 bring us all great things!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Wishes, Dreams and Goals - 2013 Here I Come!

A wish is a thought about a hope or desire for something imagined. A dream adds images and emotions to that something imagined and exists only inside the mind. A goal is a dream with a plan and a set deadline, supported by outside-of-the-mind actions to bring that imagined something into reality.

I wish could lose weight.

I dream when I imagine wearing attractive clothing and experience how I feel when I slip into a slinky black dress.

That dream becomes a goal when I plan to exercise, change my eating patterns and set a weekly weight lose goal, then implement the plan.

Dreams are not always something directly attainable. I may dream of being on a Best Seller list or two; however, I cannot control the outcome of potential book sales.

What I can control, by setting goals, is the quantity and quality of my writing.

In order to make realistic goals, I need to review the first six months of my writing full-time life, then evaluate where I go from here.

How many chapters/scenes per day can I actually produce, in conjunction with how many chapters am I able to revise per day?

My word count for the last six months equaled +200K, yet due to lack of story direction, close to half of that total is iffy as to whether the material is banked or unusable.

Now that I have the ability to plot and have a definite direction, 2013 should be a much more prolific and productive year.

I wish I could write a thriller series.

I dream and imagine how the book covers will look and enjoy the feeling of my series being read by eager, appreciative readers.

My goal is to write a specific amount of material in a specified amount of time, one day at a time.

Look out 2013, here I come!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

2012 Writing Overview

200K?!?! Until I sat down to tally my word count for this blog post, I did not realize that I had written over 200,000 words during the past six months. Since this word count consists of actual first draft words written and does not take into account time spent on revision, I am shocked and a bit taken aback that I was able to produce anywhere near this level of words.

Since most of my days during the last six months have consisted of many your-not-doing-enough moments, the actual realization of what I actually HAVE accomplished is still sinking in.

In setting my initial goals, I did not take into account three factors: 1) a more extensive learning curve than expected, 2) prevalent heath issues, and 3) the very real adjustment of leaving a demanding full-time job.


With all three of the above factors addressed and taken into account, it should be interesting to see what 2013 brings.

Onward!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

2012's Fabulous Four Writing Books

2012's top four (4) writing books that have helped me most during my writing journey to write books and make a living doing the same include, in order of usage during the writing process, the following (Amazon descriptions provided):

Cathy Yardley's Rock Your Plot: A Simple System for Plotting Your Novel (Rock Your Writing) 


ROCK YOUR PLOT: A Simple System for Plotting Your Novel teaches a clear, flexible process to help you with your:

- Premise: test your premise for inherent conflict and sustainability.

- Characterization: create strong characters with urgent goals, understandable motivation, and tons of obstacles.

- Plot outline, turning points: use those characters to build logical and powerful plot points and complete character arcs.

- Plot outline, scene-by-scene: Develop a sequence of dynamic scenes that propels your reader through your story.

This book goes straight to the point, putting theory in plain language, adding examples from blockbuster stories, and finishing each section with exercises designed to help you work with your characters to write a novel that excites you… and your readers.

Jill Elizabeth Nelson's Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View


Dear Novelist: Would you like your readers to live your stories, not merely read them? Deep Point of View anchors your readers inside the point of view character(s) of your novel. This handbook shows you how to perform the transformation from ordinary narrative to deep narrative in clear, easy-to-master steps. I invite you to sweep your writing to the next level with a technique that creates immediacy and intimacy with your readers and virtually eliminates show/don't tell issues.

Rachel Aaron's 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love


Have you ever wanted to double your daily word counts? Do you sometimes feel like you're crawling through your story? Do you want to write more every day without increasing the time you spend writing or sacrificing quality? It's not impossible, it's not even that hard. This is the book explaining how, with a few simple changes, I boosted my daily writing from 2000 words to over 10k a day, and how you can too."

Cathy Yardley's Rock Your Revisions: A Simple System for Revising Your Novel (Rock Your Writing)


ROCK YOUR REVISIONS: A Simple System for Revising Your Novel will show you a clear, easy-to-follow process for editing a novel. It will help you:

- Test for story structure on a macro level, providing detailed checklists for character and plot arcs.

- Test for story structure at the scene level, making sure each serves a purpose in the novel (and hopefully more than one!)

- Gain insight on the mechanics of the novel -- checking POV choice, dialogue, exposition vs. detail (showing versus telling), and more, with a systematic scene-by-scene approach.

This book goes straight to the point, putting theory in plain language, adding illustrative examples, and finishing each section with exercises designed to help you see how to not only edit a novel, but improve your reader's enjoyment of your book.
___________

All four books got me on track, helped me to gain traction and have jump-started my 2013 writing adventure. I would recommend each individually. Read and applied in conjunction with each other, these books provide a powerhouse of information and guidance to move any writer forward in their writing journey. Highly Recommended!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Off to see the Editing Wizard (AutoCrit)

AutoCrit is an actual Manuscript Editing software. Accessible on line, text is cut and pasted into the text box, and with a click of a button an analysis is performed on your pasted text.

The features highlighted by the AutoCrit analysis include:
- Overused words
- Sentence variation
- Cliches and redundancies
- Phrases summary
- Pacing
- Dialogue
- Initial Pronouns
- Readability

AutoCrit software highlights items to be reviewed, such as the overuse of the words then and just (Kathy raises hand). Although I do fairly well with not using cliches or passive voice, using AutoCrit helps me to see, chapter by chapter, what I'm too close to normally see. So if you will excuse me, I'm off of see the Editing Wizard.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hard Work Ahead

As I near the six-month mark of my full-time writing journey, I have discovered there are some writing processes that are much easier and faster than I expected or imagined, yet that "making your novel stand out from the crowd" requires quite a bit of time and effort.

Thanks to Rock Your Plot and Rock Your Revisions, plotting and revisions are no where near as demanding as I expected, yet I have realized First Drafting and working through the techniques presented in Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook is hard work.

The discipline it takes to First Draft sometimes alludes me. Over the past few months, I have experimented with different tools and techniques to increase my production and productivity. Since I'm floundering at present, it's time to review what worked best and what didn't, then re-implement the former.

The brainpower it takes to "add tension" to every page, is exhausting, yet the results are well-worth the effort; however, the time it takes to employ such techniques cannot be discounted when creating a realistic writing schedule.

According to Cathy Yardley's Rock Your Revisions, you can expect to spend three times as long with revisions as you did writing the first draft. Since I'm using her Rock Your Plot process up front, that should cut the time for revision considerably, yet adding the Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook techniques will add more time; thus, I need to consider the time involved in realistic revision efforts.

For now, I reevaluate, plan and schedule because there's Hard Work Ahead.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Mission Statement? Hmmm.

Until today, this woman on a mission has never considered developing an actual mission statement.

Sure, I've worked on potential business plans, but I purposefully skipped the part about creating a statement, perhaps because of uncertainty about how to write the statement or indecisiveness toward a definite mission direction. More than likely a mixture of both contributed to my not coming up with a mission statement to assist in the pursuit of my mission.

The one-week course I'm taking on Savvy Authors suggested coming up with task-specific mission statements.

Here goes:

As a writer, my mission is to write books and make a living doing the same by writing quality books for reader entertainment, escape and enjoyment.

The mission of my blog is to chronicle my journey of writing books and making a living doing the same, to share that experience with others and to encourage other writers on their writing journey.

The mission of my Series #1 is to provide entertainment and escape for Young Adult and Adult Crossover readers, and to spark the belief that our family of choice can support us through the worst possible challenges in life.

Look out, world, I'm a woman on a mission with mission statements. There's no stopping me now!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook

The Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass is proving to be an excellent tool to deepen the writing of and strengthen the story in Book #1, Series #1. While the book, Writing the Breakout Novel, is an okay resource, the Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook provided just what I needed to, along with Rock Your Revisions, to perform a cohesive, take-the-draft-to-the-next level edit.

Breaking out, to me, means going beyond the expected or going below the surface to dig deeper into the plot, character conflict, character qualities, etc.

Once I work through the Workbook for Book #1, I intend to begin again to strengthen the plotting and writing of the first draft of Book #2.

The statement on the back cover of Mr. Maass Workbook says: Make your novel STAND OUT from the crowd!

(Working on it and fingers crossed, Mr. Maass!)

Excellent resource! Highly recommend!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Checking It Twice (An Editing Checklist)

A working Checklist for scene edits...kind of like Santa's naughty or nice list -- except mine's a ways-to-make-the-scene-better list -- ensures that I check each scene for potential improvement.

The Anchoring section of the list includes:

- POV
- WHEN
- WHERE
- VOICE
- DIALOGUE

For each scene, I make sure the scene is anchored in the Point of View (POV) character's view, in the when of the scene, and in the where of the scene. Also, ensuring the character's voice is prominent and individual for their POV scenes, as well as that their dialogue sounds the way that particular character would talk, is part of my anchoring process.

The Details include:
- BEGINNING AND ENDING SCENE HOOKS
- EXPOSITION
- DETAILS
- EMOTION

My goal is to make each scene better. Hmm, maybe Santa was on to something. A hat-tip and my heartfelt thanks to Santa and Cathy Yardley's Rock Your Revisions, for encouraging me to checking my Scene Editing Checklist twice.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Time For Review - Rocking My Revision

According to Cathy Yardley's Rock Your Revisions, the first thing to do, after at least a two-week cooling off period, is to perform a Quick Read of your manuscript.

First off, I have to confirm what Cathy says in Rock Your Revisions. Printing out my entire novel and having a stack of paper before me that represented my novel was quite satisfying.

As I read my draft of Book #1, Series #1, I jotted notes in the margin to address the eight (8) items listed in Rock Your Revisions.

Today, I review my Scene GMCD (Goal, Motivation, Conflict, Disaster) chart, which includes what the character wants in each scene, with the overall story GMC of what the character mainly wants in the story. (For example, a young man wants to help his PTSD conspiracy theorist brother; so, does each of the young man's scenes support that overall goal?) Then, I will look at the Scene Flow and Escalating Conflict.

Rock Your Revisions contains clear direction for revising a completed manuscript and the directions are doable. Rock Your Revisions is a definite "Recommend."

Friday, November 30, 2012

Rock Your Revisions

I recently finished my 2nd First Draft of Book #1, Series #1, and Cathy Yardley just released Rock Your Revisions. When I discovered Rock Your Revisions was available, I hopped out of my desk chair and did the happy-happy-joy-joy dance (not a pretty sight, but what I lack in coordination and rhythm, I make up in enthusiasm).

The Amazon book description of Rock Your Revisions is as follows:

Do you feel overwhelmed trying to revise your novel?

Faced with a hot mess of rough draft, maybe you feel confused, unsure of what to fix -- or rather, what to fix first!

Editing fiction takes a slightly different mindset than writing the first rough pass of a novel. There are a lot of moving parts in a work of fiction. The trick is to not try and tackle everything at once.

ROCK YOUR REVISIONS: A Simple System for Revising Your Novel will show you a clear, easy-to-follow process for editing a novel. It will help you:

- Test for story structure on a macro level, providing detailed checklists for character and plot arcs.

- Test for story structure at the scene level, making sure each serves a purpose in the novel (and hopefully more than one!)

- Gain insight on the mechanics of the novel -- checking POV choice, dialogue, exposition vs. detail (showing versus telling), and more, with a systematic scene-by-scene approach.

This book goes straight to the point, putting theory in plain language, adding illustrative examples, and finishing each section with exercises designed to help you see how to not only edit a novel, but improve your reader's enjoyment of your book.
___________________

Rock Your Plot has been and continues to be extremely helpful. Thank you, Cathy Yardley, for sharing your expertise. Today, I read and study. Tomorrow, I rock my revision.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Confusion, Curiosity, Determination and Learning

Layering Editing is unfamiliar to me. Not having researched or even heard about this editing technique, I have to admit I'm more than a little confused about what to do and how to proceed with the edit.

I am awaiting examples of part of the process, so hopefully when I see a real-life sample of my own work partially edited in this way I'll get a gist of how the Layering Editing process works.

For now, I am confused.

However, since I'm naturally curious, I will research this specific editing method. (So far, I haven't come across much relevant information, but since I'm determined to learn, I'll be reading as much as possible about potential editing options.)

Isn't that the natural process of things: Confusion > Curiosity > Determination > Learning?

If so, I've got the first step nailed.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Drama Belongs on the Page

Drama belongs on the page. Or the stage. Or in the movies. Not in my house or in my life. When I see others confuse and enmesh conflict and struggle with excitement and thrills, my standard response, just before excusing myself from the situation, is: "That's way too much drama for me."

As if drama were a moist, triple-chocolate cake with chocolate icing, some scarf drama down by shoveling it in with both hands, with each bite heaped on the last before the previous one can be swallowed.

Drama is draining. Drama is distraction. When reality hits, there's nothing exciting or thrilling about it, yet I see so many people feed on their and others on-going drama like pigs at a trough.

While the books I write contain fictional drama and conflict galore, I have no desire to slog through drama slop in real life.

I fully understand that experiencing some drama in life is unavoidable. Accidents happen. Others set things in motion that we have no control over. Oftentimes, like Harry Potter, we encounter a She or He Who Will Not Be Named in our lives (future blog post in the making) that for some reason targets us to intentionally cause harm and hurt in our lives.

For the most part, I do everything in my power to experience, create, and share positive excitement and thrills in my life, while avoiding the majority of unnecessary and unwanted drama served. Please know that I do care what goes on in the lives of those around me; however, for the sake of my own emotional balance and due to my desire to achieve personal goals in my life, I choose to respectfully bow out of participating in or listening to drama, drama, drama.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Red Cabbage Lady - Specifics in Revision

In my first draft, a former marine nicknames a woman the Vegetable Lady.

Sometimes single words or short descriptions themselves elicit emotions.

The word tree, replaced by the words oak or red maple, elicits a specific visual impression of the kind of tree, the type of leaf, bark, trunk/root growth near the ground, color, etc., and might even bring forth a reader's memory of picnicking beneath an oak or tossing snowballs beneath the snow clustered boughs of a maple.

The description bad guy might become jerk, creep, terrorist or predator. Each specific word elicits individual emotions, dependent on the reader's personal past experience.

To gain specificness for the Vegetable Lady nickname, I considered her sourness and bitterness and invasiveness. I wanted a name that said who she was.

The Vegetable Lady won all kinds of awards for her vegetables at the local fair, but at home she used a little boy to work her garden, sometimes late into the night, and she shut the boy away in the cellar when he got too tired or rebellious.

"You know, the Red Cabbage Lady from up on Carpenter's Ridge who sells at the farmer's market. Her cherry tomatoes are always the sweetest and tastiest. Best summer squash I ever ate. But it's the giant heads of red cabbage that got folk's attention."

Monday, November 26, 2012

“The skill to do comes from the doing.”

“The skill to do comes from the doing.” The saying is attributed to both Cicero and Emerson.

Whoever said it and whether it's baking, writing, wildlife tracking, or any other learned skill, for me doing is key.

Lectures, presentations, reading, etc., give me a starting point, but until I particapate in a hands-on experience, generally I don't "get it."

Give me a recipe and in the process of mixing ingredients according to the recipe insructions, I will learn to bake.

With the assistance of Rock Your Plot, I am learning to plot novels.

Workshops, courses, and how-to books may have jump-started the learning, but the skill comes from the action of doing.

By writing books, I am gaining the skill to write books.

I must have lots to learn and much more skill to gain because I have much, much more writing ahead. Back to doing!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Scheduling Other Stuff, Fun Stuff and Rewards

Other Stuff, Fun Stuff and Rewards must be included on the calendar page and within my writing schedule, otherwise, no matter how much they need to be done or how much I enjoy them, they fall to the wayside along with most good intentions.

Other Stuff: Laundry, Household Tasks, Stretching/Breathing Exercises.  

Fun Stuff: Spending Time with Hubby, Playing with the puppy, Reading, Watching TV.

Rewards: Girl's Day, Going out to a movie or dinner.

Yesterday's schedule included the completion of the following:
  • 3 Hours of First Drafting on Book #2, Series #1
  • 3 Hours downloading and compiling notes & comments for editing of Book #1, Series #1
  • 3 Hours First Drafting on Another Book
  • Several loads of laundry
  • 1 household task previously set-aside due to health issues
  • Spending time with hubby and playing with the puppy
For my To Do List, what I don't accomplish from the day before, I line-through and bring to the next day. What I accomplish on the To Do List and on the time blocked off for the day, I check off with a metallic gel pen that makes the most awesome gold check marks (kind of like the gold star-theory back in grade school, I suppose).

With scheduling, for the most part, my days with be gold check mark days. This writer gal couldn't expect or ask for more.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Writing Schedule? (What the Bleep!)

I write full-time, writing at home or wherever I can legitimately take my writing tool, NEO, thus my time is my own. So why would I, after finally reclaiming my days and after years of working excessive overtime and juggling multiple projects, suddenly feel the need to set up a writing schedule? (What the bleep!)

Book #2, Series #1 and Another Book's plots rock and the books need to be first drafted (with Another Book I'll be delving into a genre I've approached with hesitation. [Let's face it, not every author is meant to write romance.]) The Second First Draft of Book #1, Series #1, is ready for the editing phase.

Health-wise, in the last few weeks, I have thankfully improved and am pacing myself to increase my stamina and to complete household projects I had been forced to set aside. If I am to meet future self-imposed deadlines, setting a realistic writing schedule is a must.

Since I'm still struggling somewhat with focus (although my concentration is getting better), To Do lists and maintaining a written At-A-Glance Planner/Calendar for the day should keep me on track. This same Planner assisted me with the coordination of my day job, and I'm sure will prove highly beneficial in helping me to get a handle on my writing life.

The alternative would be, while I have the opportunity to write full-time, not having a writing schedule and not meeting self-imposed deadlines and goals, thus wasting and allowing the time I have to write to be squander away, forever lost, and never to be regained. Now, THAT's a what the bleep.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Wannabes & Negative Inspiration

According to another author's blog post, which has since been removed by said author from the author's blog, I am a Wannabe.

Wikipedia explains that a Wannabe (slang for "want to be") is a person with an ambition to be someone or something that s/he is not.

Who the author making the post is or is not doesn't matter. What matters is that this author seemed to have forgotten that not long before his/her self-publication as an Independent Author, this author was a "Wannabe" as well.

Wanting to learn as much as I possibly can about writing and publication: Guilty. Writing books: Guilty. Wanting to make a living writing books: Guilty, guilty, and guilty.

Inspiration comes from many sources and from many directions. When it comes to negative inspiration, I wish to extend my heartfelt gratitude to this author, who's name-calling spurred me on and inspired me to be a true Wannabe in every sense of the word. Unnamed and Unknown Author (my one zinger, forgive me), thank you!

Hello, my name is Kathy, and I am a Wannabe.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Life Is Good (Gratitude and Appreciation)

Recently, I posted about Chocolate, Naps and the Good Life to address the impression about how easy writing full-time could be. While not an easy path, I am grateful that I am able to do what I've always wanted to do and love.

While self-motivation and deadlines are key to writing full-time, appreciation for the opportunity to be able to do so keeps me moving forward.

Every day, I am thankful for the long-time-in-coming opportunity to write full-time. Even when struggling with health issues, I embrace the time and space to write and the process of writing.

Over the last couple of years, Savvy Authors has played a phenomenal role in my growth as a writer. Authors Lori Wilde, Cathy Yardley, and Kat Duncan have contributed greatly in my learning journey. Authors and bloggers, J.A. Konrath, Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rush, and Alexandra Sokoloff have provided positive examples and guidance.

I am grateful for those who have responded negatively to my desire to write, for in negativity you provide inspiration and motivation. (Future blog post in the making.)

Even when I've had to step back, regroup and begin again, I welcomed and appreciated the chance to do so.

Yes, life is good!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Second Chances & Second First Drafts

Years ago, the first book I attempted to write went though multiple drafts. Despite years of effort, the book never worked, and I never got a handle on the story that I wanted to tell. After a hundred and second chances, it was time to let go, and to move on to a more viable, workable story.

After a gracious, spot-on, and much-appreciated Developmental Edit, Book #1 of Series #1 wasn't in line for minor updates or revisions--the book needed a major overhaul. Instead of giving up, setting the book aside and working on another book idea, I set out on a journey to write another (the Second) First Draft.

How do you know and when do you know whether and if it's time to stop handing out chances?

For the earlier book, it was way past time to let go. After numerous attempts to do so, so many that I lost count, I had to admit to myself the book was not workable or salvageable. For the more current Book #1, Series #1, the First First Draft held the foundation of a strong book and a viable series concept. Book #1, Series #1 held not just the possibility, but the probability that the story and the book done right could work. Unsure that I was up to the task, I believed in the story and the series; therefore, I had to put forth the effort.

This Second First Draft tells the story I intended to to tell. It presents a tighter story with higher stakes than the previous draft. The current draft of Book #1 delivers, with a satisfying wrap-up, yet one that serves as a lead-in into Book #2.

After numerous second chances, there comes a time to let go and move on; yet, when a journey down Second Chance Avenue succeeds, with hard work and genuine forward effort, the trip is enjoyable, interesting, and worthwhile.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Getting Your Mad On (Sharing the Darkest of Emotions)

The final chapter of Book #1, Series #1, is filled with anger and grief. During the book, a five-year-old goes from a happy-go-lucky child to a willing destroyer, and in that last chapter, she destroys everything in sight.

Coming from a family where negative emotions were considered far too negative and were not to be experienced (don't cry, don't get angry, don't be upset), not pulling back from these emotions in order to share them is a challenge.

Reader's read for emotional connection. It's the primary job of the writer to make the reader feel. For writers, experiencing and facing dark emotions must proceed sharing those emotions. Bottom line, you can't share 'em if you don't feel 'em.

Fear, Anger, Hurt, Revenge, Grief, Vengeance, Hopelessness, etc., are all part of the real full-spectrum of human emotions, which includes these dark feelings despite attempts to ward them off by not living through them or acknowledging them.

When things happen, we experience the full range of emotions. Taking away the "dark" ones robs us of the ability to feel the "light" ones. (Sadly, we can't pick and choose between experiencing one type or the other.) So, we wind up with two choices: feeling or not feeling.

In the final chapter, the main character embraces her anger and grief, and get's her mad on, and when she does, bad things happen. Hmm, maybe in this case, warding off those emotions might have been a much better option, especially for those that get in her way.

Monday, November 19, 2012

"And miles to go before I sleep." (Robert Frost)

Fifty days ago, I began my 2nd First Draft of Book #1, Series #1. On Day 50, I completed the draft.

For the rest of the week, I will work on addressing Kat Duncan's chapter-by-chapter writing mentor/coaching comments and suggestions in the draft, then will begin what will hopefully be a close-to-final draft edit next week.

In the meantime, while implementing the updates for Book #1, I will flesh out the plot of Book #2 using the Rock Your Plot methods and workbook.

Next week, I will coordinate and alternate the edits of Book #1 with the first drafting of Book #2. [Plus, I'd like to work in (somewhere in this so-far realistic schedule) the planning and start of a new series that I'm equally excited about.]

There are four other books in the series, plus other series/books I need to and feel compelled to write.

In the poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost shares the line, "And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep." In completing Book #1, I accomplished a milestone, with many, many miles left to travel.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Has Persuing a Dream Gone the Way of the Twinkie?

Unless another company buys and continues the Hostess brand, Twinkies are goners.

"Yeah, right. You're going to write books for a living." That's the milder of responses I get about pursuing my dream of writing books and making a living doing the same.

The not so mild replies include snickers, eye-rolls, chuckles, and comments such as, "Hope you've got your resume updated, because you're going to need it."

Has pursuing ones dream become so unrealistic and divisive that it warrants criticalness and derisiveness?

As the daughter of a true skeptic, it stands to reason I would be familiar with skepticism. With the constant inner dialogue of "You're not good enough" or "You're wasting your time" running through my head, why would there be any doubt that I've got my feet, at least one of them, firmly planted on the ground?

I attempt to do my best to encourage others who are pursuing their own life goals and dreams. For my own endeavor, I planned ahead and am pursuing a life-long goal and dream.

All I can say is long live the pursuit of dreams. Viva the Twinkie revolution!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

"Sometimes it just be's that way."

"Sometimes it just be's that way," is one of my favorite colloquial sayings. Basically the saying depicts that there are times that life and what life throws our way just, well, IS.

Not until my health started to improve did I realize how unwell and sick I have been. Nor that I had been so seriously physically ill for such a long time. Despite suffering intense fatigue, quite a bit of muscle and joint pain, and major brain fog, I kept working and kept functioning the best that I could.

Now that I'm on the path the wellness, I look back and don't see how I managed to keep going at times. Sure, I had to let things go (housework) and had to prioritize to the max to coordinate what I was best able to do (work), but I recall many times that I had my doubts whether I'd be able to continue on.

I have been writing full-time for five months. Beginning June 13 through July and into the first week of August, I completed the first draft of Book #1 in series #1. After an invaluable developmental edit performed, reviewed and the resulting replotting implemented in September, I began the the second first draft in October and will complete the draft on November 19th.

Not the amount progress I wanted, expected or planned during my first five months of writing full-time, and hopefully, the next few months will prove quite a bit more prolific, however, as I did before when I was unwell and didn't realize how sick I truly was, I will continue on.

How much progress will I make and how much will I write in the coming months? I don't know. What I do know is, that as I have done before, I'll keep on keeping on, fully aware that, at times, intentions, wants, expectations and/or plans don't always manifest or translate into reality.

Yet, as I determinedly finish each book in the series and each book beyond that, I look forward to being able to grin and say "Sometimes it just be's that way."

Friday, November 16, 2012

Indiana Jones, Stephen King and Unearthing the Story

In Stephen King's book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, he refers to his stories as fossils and compares himself to an archeologist. He says the story is buried in the earth and as a writer he uncovers the story and commits it to the page.

Mr. King says:

"…Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer's job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground in tact as possible. Sometimes the fossil you uncover is small; a seashell. Sometimes it's enormous, a Tyrannosaurus Rex with all those gigantic ribs and grinning teeth. Either way… the techniques of excavation remain basically the same."

My favorite archeologist is Indiana Jones. Bring the pacing and structure to the Indiana Jones movies to the page as you unearth the story, and readers will read your books, at least this reader will! [I promise Indie and Mr. King, I am NOT your Number One fan (from King's book Misery), although I do enjoy your movies and your books to the extreme.]

In a long, intensive weekend of writing, I plan to unearth the last few chapters of my in-progress story. so if you'll excuse me, I'm heading off to the dig site to dig, er, I mean, desk to write.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Deadlines: Self-Imposed and Self-Fulfilled

While working at home and writing full-time, setting realistic, doable deadlines is key.

Factors to consider when taking out a calendar to set a completion date for writing activities and drafts include estimates as follows (my own timelines are included in parenthesis):
  • Plotting/Characterization Phase (<1 week)
  • First Draft (4 to 6 weeks, with daily goal of 1 Chapter per day for 5 to 7 Chapters per week)
  • Rewrite/Final Drafting (Estimate 4 to 6 weeks)
Overall, this schedule projects nine (9) to thirteen (13) weeks per book from beginning to completion. (As I progress, I will be able to adjust and tighten the schedule based on realistic production, rather than guesstimates or estimates.)

First off, please note that I am not including time-frames for 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. drafts. To write for a living, producing a strong enough first draft so that continual drafting isn't required is imperative, which is why a ramrod get-the-draft-out lightning draft effort does not work for me. Also, I will be experimenting with coordinating multiple tasks, such as first drafting one book in the morning while editing the previous book in the afternoon.

Taking years to compete a first draft, with additional years to redraft, is not practical for me, because my overall goal is to write for a living. Setting self-imposed deadlines will allow me the opportunity to actually complete a five-book series within a six (6) to seven (7) month time-frame.

Deadlines for this series includes completion of books within these estimated months:
  •  November, Book #1, First Draft
  •  December, Book #1, Final Draft
  •  December, Book #2, First Draft
  • January, Book #2, Final Draft
  •  January, Book #3, First Draft

As I go along, I will need to reassess realistic production times, and will adjust completion deadlines accordingly. A white board dry-erase wall calendar helps me to "see" what deadlines are ahead and to gauge how close I am to meeting and fulfilling those deadlines.

My writing deadlines are self-imposed, which makes the results of my efforts and the meeting of those deadlines self-fulfilled. As a writer who's goal is to write books and make a living doing the same, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Chocolate, Naps and The Good Life - NOT!

"Now that you're not working and writing full-time, you must be living the easy life." Um, yeah, if you call twelve-hour days at the computer, plus writing in my head when not at the computer the easy life, then you betcha, I've got that so-called easy life covered.

Years ago, I presented school assembly programs and entertained in various venues for a living. Later on, as an independent contractor, I had the opportunity to work primarily from home. Since both situations involved self-employment, the self-discipline and effort required far exceeded any show-up-at-work, nine-to-five job I've ever worked. I worked long hours, and I worked hard.

I worked until midnight last night, getting half-way through my next chapter and working on an author website design. Once in bed, the beginning lines of a possible future book kept running through my head, with the first paragraph and book idea following me into sleep. This morning, I slept in an extra hour past my usual get-out-of-bed time and was up at seven.

This morning, I will jot down the potential book idea and the beginning paragraph, then will finish the chapter in progress and write another chapter, then repeat tomorrow, with a goal of finishing the second first draft of Book #1 of Series #1 this weekend, and finishing my Rock Your Plot effort for Book #2 of Series #1 in the first few days of next week.

Writing full-time is filled with deadlines. Self-imposed, but deadlines just the same, since I want to write for a living. For me, despite the long hours and demanding effort, writing full-time is an enjoyable worthwhile experience. Ah, the good life.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Where Matters

A hand-in-hand drive near the beach or through the mountains wouldn't be anywhere near as romantic as traveling on a congested city freeway or an out-of-the-way swamp.

My current series is set primarily in the East Tennessee mountains. The mountain atmosphere and the mountain folk play a huge role in the feel, flavor and strength of the story.

While some stories might work well no matter the setting, others thrive within a specific location. Some locations are so strong and alive that they take on their own role as if they were a character in the story, such as the areas and mountains in Cold Mountain.

The air lacked its usual haze, and the view stretched on and on across rows of blue mountains, each paler than the last until the final ranks were indistinguishable from sky. (Excerpted from Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier.)

Oh yes, where matters.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Phraseology (Reading Cold Mountain)

As the first gesture of morning, flies began stirring. Inman's eyes and the long wound at his neck drew them, and the sound of their wings and the touch of their feet were soon more potent than a yard full of roosters in rousing a man to wake. (First two lines of Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier)

Recently, someone recommended that I read Cold Mountain. I've seen the movie several times, yet I was told in the book the writing came to life in a realistic almost poetic way.

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, phraseology is 1: a manner of organizing words and phrases into longer elements : style. 2: choice of words.

So, with Cold Mountain as an example, phraseology isn't only what you say, but how you say it.

A later example, one of my favorite lines thus far, is:

Inman awoke in a mood as dark as the blackest crow that ever flew.

That's steal-my-breath-away writing.

I encourage you to share other examples of phraseology in action!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Climbing Out of the Box

Years of excessive overtime: Was I working in to avoid feeling, or did I not feel because I worked such extended hours? Even during the death of my parents, two years apart, I experienced a surreal numbness that contained grief, yet left me with bottled-up emotions I did not deal with or experience.

During the past five months, as I've transitioned to writing full time, my emotional and physical healing from over-taxing myself for so long has been slow and yet extreme.

Amazingly, I have discovered that I feel.

Buried grief has surfaced. I have mourned, more deeply and severely, the death of my parents. I have also rediscovered intense anger toward those so-called family members that used and mistreated my parents in their latter years of life.

Social network postings bemoaning and whining about not being given second chances have caused me to realize that after a hundred second chances, when someone doesn't change and hasn't matured, more than likely they never will.

Letting go of such an intense emotional investment has been much easier than I could have imagined.

My feelings and caring are best experienced in situations and with people able to accept and receive such caring, with appreciation, and possibly reciprocation, although the latter is not a requirement.

My emotional rawness is bringing the emotional content of my writing to life. I've heard it said many times that a writer's job is to make the reader feel. I have to ask myself, how can a writer make a reader feel when that writer is not fully capable of fully experiencing their own emotions? An honest, hard-truth answer is that he or she can't.

My current story makes me cry--not the quality of writing, thankfully--and laugh, expect, fear, etc., all because my experiencing those emotions translates into my writing.

In the coming year, I will welcome readers' emotional connection to my characters and reader participation in my books, series, and stories now that I have climbed out of my self-constructed box.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pain by Any Other Name (Selective Description)

Pain vaulted through her back. Hurt seared her temples. The words pain and hurt can only be used so often in descriptions before they become repetitive, old, and redundant. Since there are so many different elements of pain and kinds of hurt, using other key selective words is necessary.

Thesaurus.com lists these synonyms for pain: soreness, spasm, sting, stitch, strain, tenderness, throb, throe, tingle, torment, torture, trouble, twinge, wound, etc. For hurt, synonyms include: bruise, burn, cramp, cut, cut up, damage, disable, do violence, flail, flog, harm, etc.

How might pain and hurt be shared without the use of the words pain and hurt?

I've been experimenting, finding my way in saying the same thing differently but in a stronger way. Right off the top of my head, some examples might be: 
  • spasm exploded
  • burn flared
  • stab seared
  • sear drilled
  • ache speared
 Strong nouns, strong verbs. I like!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Heartbroken, Hurting and Inspired

I am heartbroken. The cause or reason or source is of no consequence. The where and why doesn't matter. What does is that this heartbreak has brought inspiration for several future book ideas, all involving matters of caring, struggle, and of the heart.

Inspiration as to what to write comes from many directions and sources. Right now, the grief and pain and mourning I feel spurs emotions that working excessive overtime over a span of many years had long buried.

My emotions are raw. My hurt palatable. In time, I will heal. As part of this emotionally charged journey, I will tap into feelings, allow myself to experience them, and bring them into my writing. While so inspired, I will write.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Savvy Shout Out! (savvyauthors.com)

Savvy Authors offers writers the opportunity to participate in online workshops and courses instructed by the likes of Lori Wilde, Cathy Yardley, and Kat Duncan. All three of these published authors have shared their knowledge, experience, and expertise with me through the Savvy Author venue. (For which, I am eternally grateful!)

The mentor/coaching courses and/or workshops I've participated in during the past year have proven well worth the reasonable cost and invaluable in the knowledge I have gained.

Craft classes are offered as well, such as those featuring deep point of view, grammar refreshers, editing, etc.

Basic annual sign-up for Savvy Authors is free, with a Premium membership at $30.00 per year. The Premium membership offers discounts for workshops and courses (such as 1/3 to 1/2 off the cost); therefore, if a writer intends to take only a few classes, the Premium choice is well worth the yearly fee.

Another benefit of Savvy is that I have met awesome fellow writers that provide interaction and support during a writing endeavor that fosters self-imposed isolation.

Thank you Savvy Author for being oh-so savvy!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Chapter by Chapter

"Keep your head down, Flossy. Just do your job, and you'll get by." My mother used to have a saying like this. I suppose it might be a regional-type quote. Regardless of who Flossy might be (I don't have a clue), I think a lesson lies in the saying.

As it pertains to writing, I keep my head down, so to speak, and focus on the chapter before me.

Before I begin a chapter, I look at my GMCD chart to review the gist of a few previous prior chapters, then I consider the GMCD of that particular chapters scene(s). Does the current GMCD still apply? Did earlier changes of direction in previous chapters alter the direction of this one? 
The GMCD Chart has turned out to be an incredible tool to work out plotting issues and keep track of  the story's path. If for nothing else, I would recommend creating a chart to assist in keeping track of chapters and scenes.

Once I review the chart, I focus on the Point of View Character for that scene and begin to share that characters experience. When I'm writing a chapter, that's all there is. There is no before and after. Just the now of that chapter.

So, chapter by chapter, just do your job, Flossy, and you'll get by.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Daily Accountability (Kat Duncan's Workshop)

According to Kat Duncan's website: Kat likes to write and teach. She also likes to write about teaching and teach about writing.

Her Savvy Author's workshop, Author Coaching and Mentoring Program with Kat Duncan. The workshop description is as follows: This is a 3-month individualized mentoring program to guide authors through the process of finishing or polishing their target novel.

The level of accountability provided by Kat's workshop has spurred me to focus on writing a chapter a day. The daily check-in factor has worked well for me. Kat's comments on each chapter are insightful and provide valuable guidance for the upcoming edit.

Please check out Kat Duncan's Amazon Author Page.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Habit of Writing

For the last month, I have focused on writing an average of a chapter per day. Solid chapters, not a rushed get-it-out first draft. Just like checking in and working during the day, writing has evolved into my job. Even with pesky health issues, I do my best to write.

Could I have done this while working sixty-hours-plus weeks? I was fortunate to have the energy to eek out a chapter every week or every two weeks. So, no, I don't think writing productively while in the midst of that degree of work demands was feasible.

Is the twenty-one day theory true? You know, if you do something for 21 days straight, it supposedly becomes a habit.

I don't know, because my focus has been on the day and chapter ahead. One day and one chapter at a time. Write a chapter. Repeat.

The accountability provided by participating in Savvy Author's workshop, Author Coaching and Mentoring Program with Kat Duncan, has increased my productivity and raised the strength of my writing.

Writing has become a habit for me. It's part of my day. A writer writes. I am a Writer.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Flowery is for Flowers

While Dean Koontz's Odd Apocalypse is next on my reading list, I downloaded a sample of another author's book for review. While I posted recently about Blah, Blah, Blah Books, the sample book is overwritten and the prose flowery.

The book's description includes the words "diaphanous confection," so I was curious enough to review the sample, since I was, ta-da, in search of an example of over-writing and flowery prose.

According to thesaurus.com, "diaphanous" synonyms include airy, attractive, beautiful, bonny, charming, lacy, light, refined, and well-made. "Confection" synonyms are depicted as arrangement, blend, brew, composition, to list a few. 

So the book is a "charming blend" of the items included in the rest of the book description. Got it! Finally.

If a typical reader has to stop and look up the words used in a book to discover their meaning, the reader is pulled out of the story and more than likely the book is overwritten, in that the paragraphs are filled with plumped purple prose.

From the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, which honors bad writing, the 2012 winning submission for purple prose is as follows:
William, his senses roused by a warm fetid breeze, hoped it was an early spring’s equinoxal thaw causing rivers to swell like the blood-engorged gumlines of gingivitis, loosening winter’s plaque, exposing decay, and allowing the seasonal pot-pouris of Mother Nature’s morning breath to permeate the surrounding ether, but then he awoke to the unrelenting waves of his wife’s halitosis. — Guy Foisy, Orleans, Ontario
All I can say is 1) this is a prime example of purple prose, 2) congratulations Mr. Foisy, and 3) ewww.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Blah Blah Blah Books (Feedback on Bick's Shadows)

In Ilsa J. Bick's The Ashes Trilogy, Ashes, the first book was fast-paced, engaging, conflict-ridden. I'm sorry to say, that Shadows, is well, not so much. The second book in the trilogy is what I personally call a Blah, Blah, Blah Book.

There are way too many character's views featured, so many that the book feels overcrowded and as a reader there's too many voices jabbering away at the same time, that I was unable to connect with or care about any of the characters.

The book lacks the oomph that the first book delivered because there's so much exposition and telling from some of the characters that the book slogs to a halt during certain character's story lines.

For me as a reader, Shadows was a disappointment. I doubt I will read book three of the trilogy because Ms. Bick failed to deliver in the second.

For me as a writer, the comparison of the books serves as an example of what to and not to do. My goal is to write books that are as captivating, if not more so, as Ms. Bick's first book in the trilogy, and not to write books like the second that will disappoint and turn away readers.

As a reader, I do not enjoy Blah, Blah, Blah Books. As a writer, I strive not to write them.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Make Me Care! (From a Reader's POV)

Currently on my Kindle, I have the second of Ilsa J. Bick's trilogy, Shadows: The Ashes Trilogy, with Dean Koontz's Odd Apocalypse: An Odd Thomas Novel, next in line.

As an avid reader, in these series, both Bick and Koontz have made me care.

In the first book of Bick's trilogy, Ashes, I read about the main character who is dying and sets out to take her parent's ashes to what was their special place before she herself dies. Alex's journey of teenage angst is real, and so is her reaction to the world before, during and after the Apocalypse occurs. Book two promises more of Alex's struggle to survive in a world "where no one is safe and humans may be the worst of the monsters."

Koontz's Odd Thomas' series features a fry cook who is able to see ghosts. Odd Thomas has lost the woman he loved and has faced several natural and supernatural conflicts. Except for his paranormal abilities, he's a regular guy who suffers and still keeps on struggling to survive and to overcome, "as he takes on what may well be the most terrifying challenge yet in his curious career."

Both of these series feature fairly young protagonists (Alex is 17 and Odd is 20). Each are faced with every day, as well as extra-ordinary struggles. Each react in realistic ways to what's going on around them and to adversity.

Bottom line, I care about the characters, their journey, their struggle, their survival, their outcome.

Isn't that what all readers want, for the writer to make us care?

I'm looking forward to reading both books and will post reviews later on.

While I'm reading for enjoyment and entertainment, I will also be working to ferret out: Why do I care? What makes me care?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I Want My Mo!

There's NaNoWriMo, NaBloPoMo, and DigiWriMo. (For those with curious minds like me, these acronyms stand for National Novel Writing Month, National Blog Posting Month, and Digital Writing Month.)

So, the writer/blogger aims for either 1) a 50,000 word novel, 2) a blog post per day, or 3) digital online writing. All to be performed during the month of November. A month (Mo) of writing, toward a specific goal.

With continued health issues, my personal commitment has been to write a chapter per day, for at least five days per week. Once I get a handle on my physical limitations, I want my month of meeting my writing goals. 50,000 words in a month is realistic and doable. Soon, I hope very soon, I want my Mo!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Boo Who?

At times in dark suspense, bad things happen to story people.

On occasion, really bad things. Sometimes it's a secondary character, at times a main character, even an antagonist is not exempt from being made to suffer.

How a character deals with these bad things (conflict) IS the story.

As a reader, even if it's the bad guy or gal, I relate to character's suffering and their attempt to overcome adversity.

Who undergoes the aforementioned bad stuff in most dark suspense and thriller books? No one is exempt. Anyone can become a target. Of fear, of harm, of whoever, or whatever, is on the prowl and out to get them.

Do you hear the shuffling on the front doorstep? The muffled bumps against the door? Are those scratches against wood?

Excuse me, I think I'll turn on the porch light, just to make sure there's a light on when darkness descends.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sh--ty First Draft Versus Solid First Draft

When I began writing full-time in June, I dove in to write a messy or sh--ty first draft. "Just get the book out," I'd been told, "that's the main thing."

Thousands and thousands of words later, I can honestly say, that while getting the book out of my head was an important factor, writing something that makes sense and includes strong writing is of utmost importance WHILE getting the book out and onto the page.

The more messy, the more there is to discard and to clean up. Kind of like clutter busting. Slowing down and writing solid, cohesive, strong chapters saves having to toss out useless text and having to redraft the chapters numerous times.

My current first draft will need editing, of course, but instead of five or six editing drafts, this first draft will be finalized in more like two or three drafts.

Through trial and error, I have learned a stronger first draft equals more useable, close-to-final draft material.

Of note, I am learning. Foremost, I am enjoying the journey.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson

Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson is a keep-within-reach (not just a shelf-keeper) handbook that clearly shares and better explains the information I shared in my Kathy Writes Books Steping Out of the Way post.

The Amazon Book Description reads:

"Dear Novelist: Would you like your readers to live your stories, not merely read them? Deep Point of View anchors your readers inside the point of view character(s) of your novel. This handbook shows you how to perform the transformation from ordinary narrative to deep narrative in clear, easy-to-master steps. I invite you to sweep your writing to the next level with a technique that creates immediacy and intimacy with your readers and virtually eliminates show/don't tell issues. My Best to You, Jill."

This is one of those writing resources I wish I'd had access to years ago, however, since both the paper copy and digital version only became available earlier this year, the book is a welcome addition to my learning process. I highly recommend Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Uplugged and Plugged In

No phone. No internet. No television. No other interaction, other than between my story and me. It took taking limiting the time I spend writing each day (i.e., a drive down Only Street), and unplugging from all electronics during that time, for me to be able to hit my natural writing stride.

For many years, I've wondered what it would be like to do what I was meant to do. It took almost as many years for me to make a choice to make writing a priority, then a few more to be able to make writing a priority.

I won't dwell on what I could have done or should have done. That's the past. It can't be rewritten or changed (although I've got a great story idea for a book along those lines). Although I have plans for the future, all I truly have, all any of us have, is today.

By unplugging, I am plugging into that writer part of myself that I knew was in there somewhere. After all this time, I've come home.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Only Street - Reverse Scheduling

No that's not a typo. I didn't intend to write "Lonely" Street, although writing tends to be a solitary task. Only Street represents where you go when, instead of scheduling out your time until you become nonproductive, you schedule only specific blocks of time to spend on a project in a given day.

This Reverse Schedule is based on limiting time spent on a task, rather than spending an extended amount of time on the task. Basically, in order to increase productivity a particular task is performed ONLY during that limited time frame.

For instance, I will set three (3) to (4) hours aside for writing a day, and will only write during those set-aside hours. When those 3 or 4 hours are up for the day, no more writing for that day.

During my Reverse Schedule, I am allowed only to write during those set-aside 3 or 4 hours a day. If all goes well, I will add additional set-aside hours later on in the day; however, for now, I'm working an a reverse schedule am cruising down Only Street.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Stepping Out of the Way (Author Intrusion and Deep Point of View)

He saw the girl. She's cute, he thought.

In these two sentences, I shared with the reader what the little boy saw and what he thinks. While doing so, I intruded into the reader experience and placed myself between the reader and what the character is experiencing.

For a cleaner, deeper point of view, and hopefully, stronger reader connection and experience, the little boy's experience might consist of the following:

Why did everything look so fuzzy?

He fiddled with the knob in the middle of the binoculars.

There.

Near the tent under the tree, the girl sat on the ground and talked with her friends.

Her shiny pony-tail, the color of sunshine, swished. Her eyes, a deeper blue than the early morning sky, went wide.

She looked straight at him.

Yikes!

More words, but we as readers stayed inside the character's head. There's no telling that he saw or that he thought.

A few examples of words that serve as an author filter between the reader and the character include:
  • thought
  • wondered
  • considered
  • knew
  • realized
  • noticed
  • saw
  • studied
  • watched
  • remembered
For instance, remembered, as a filter, and with the filter removed would include:

Filtered

He remembered just how S'mores tasted.

Unfiltered 

S'mores. How long had it been since he'd had one? The crunch of the graham crackers. The smoosh of the marshmallow. The smoothness of melting chocolate. All heated by the toasted marshmallow. A slow spreading sweetness that filled his mouth and took over his happy taste buds. If only he had one now.

Take away the Author Intrusion, and you have Deep Point of View, which leads to a much more appreciated and enjoyable reader experience.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Shut Up and Write!

I bowed out of online writer's groups in order to use the time I was spending online to write.

Another reason, I chose to unjoin was that, truly, I don't see how I could, as a writer, spend such a tremendous amount of time and effort posting and "talking" with Facebook groups and commenting on blogs and have any energy or wherewithal to still actually write a book.

With all that posting and commenting, I doubt I would have any energy and focus, let alone words, left to write a book.

In fact, I know I wouldn't, that's why I've chosen to, except for occasional blog posts here on Kathy Writes Books, which tends to jump start my writing, and checking in with my critique partner, to not talk about writing (how, what, technique, suggestions) and keep my mouth shut and write.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"All magic comes with a price. Now it's yours to pay." (Rumplestiltskin, Once Upon a Time)

Rumplestiltskin, from the television series Once Upon a Time, said, "All magic comes with a price. Now it's yours to pay." Everything, in addition to storybook magic, comes with a price. If it's something we want, then we have to be willing to pay.

As a full-time writer, I've been forced to ask myself: What are you willing to pay? What are you willing to give up? Are you willing to make the sacrifices necessary to get what you want?

Recently, I unjoined several Facebook Groups, writer support-type groups included. While I welcome the interaction with other writers, I could not justify taking the time to read numerous posts or participate in the group discussions.

Also, to foster a more writing-focused environment, I disconnect from the internet entirely for extended times during the day using Freedom software to block internet usage.

Television, especially coming from a family where the television was constantly blaring, has been another thing I've chosen to give up, except for a few preferred shows, such as Once Upon a Time, that I record, in order to get the time I need to write.

In addition, I don't get out much. Writing is a solitary, singular-focused activity; therefore, I shut myself away and write. (Thankfully, I have a husband who is independent and caring enough to all me that space and to remind me that I haven't been out of the house in a while, as well as a dear friend who gets me out and about for a girl's-day-out occasionally.)

There are tradeoffs. In order to write, these are the sacrifices, along with giving up my day job and not having a spic-and-span house, that I choose to make.

Oddly enough, now that I'm willing to give up other things in my life, I am able to have time to write.

As in most other activities in life, if you want to write a book, there will be a price to pay. (In my humble opinion, well worth the sacrifice and the price.)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The CP from H-E-Double-L (Choosing Critique Partners Wisely)

Over the years, Critique Partners (CPs) have assisted me in the writing learning process in two extreme-opposite ways. On the positive side, these fellow writers have guided and encouraged my writing voice, style, and processes. The other side, one not so pleasant, was when a critique partner's feedback evolved into negative, critical stifling edits that undermined my confidence and stifled my ability to trust my own creative process and writing voice.

According to this CP, initially, my writing was: 1) overly descriptive, 2) too passionate, 3) excessively detailed, etc. Then, when I adjusted, my writing became too stark, too flat, etc. Despite continued efforts, I never was able to, according to this person's feedback, discover "just the right" style. I exchanged a few chapters with this CP, then stopped sending my writing.

Since I was committed and the CP didn't seem to notice my not sharing, I hung in through the publication of the book I assisted in critiquing. At this point, the writer developed what I have come to call Newly Published Authoritis, which translates into a condition where a writer asks for multiple critiques, but doesn't consider they need to implement any of the critique suggestions because they are now published and know it all. (I still don't have an answer as to why a writer would ask for feedback repeatedly and not implement at least some small portion of that feedback. If a particular critique, or CP relationship, isn't working, why not say so and move on? Why would a writer waste another writer's valuable time in such a manner? Another symptom of Newly Published Authoritis, perhaps.)

After numerous reviews of the same beginning chapters, with the same major this-isn't-working issues still in play, I snapped. I got to my I-can't-take-it-anymore stance and gave a scathing critique that listed, bluntly and harshly, everything I had noted in the earlier versions, to include, IF this is a romance, why do we not meet the hero until page 40?

For the final critique I shared with this critique partner, I responded in the same manner in which she had critiqued me. I am not proud of this nor do I recommend this critique-jabbing response in reaction to the same. In looking back, I am ashamed for letting my resentment build, continuing in the situation, and lashing out in that manner.

Heaven help me, I devolved into a dreaded CP from H-E-double-L. Ugly. Unbecoming. Acting that way was not who I am and is not something I choose to or will repeat. I am determined not to repeat the CP from H-E-double-L experience ever again, either on the giving or the receiving end.

I wish I could say that after I "blasted" out that final critique and terminated the CP relationship -- if given the opportunity, yes, I would apologize for responding in kind -- I shook off the uncertainty and lack of belief in myself the interaction with this CP generated, and went on to be a prolific writer.

YEARS. As a matter of fact, several years later, I have finally returned to close to my original writing style. Although I've eased up somewhat on the "flowery" descriptions, I've regained the passion that I lost (in my style, voice, pacing, character-reader connection, etc.)

Did this CP intend to cause me harm? Probably not. (At least, I  prefer to think that is the case.) Also, in lieu of writing this post, I googled this former CP. This writer has just released the book being written when we parted ways and serves as an editor for several independent small publishers. So, apparently and thankfully, no negative effects there.

For my part, I have learned, if I can't critique something in a positive manner, I choose not to critique. I won't go there. If someone disregards my suggestions, I respect that and their style. I also have boundaries in place so that I choose not to review the same material numerous times.

The other thing I have learned is discernment as to whether my CP's critiques are positive and constructive or criticial and constrictive.

Part of my current CP's process is to use document highlights. One color indicates sections she likes and relates to as a reader, another highlight color shows areas that lack character-reader emotional connection, etc. She's positive and encouraging. With honesty, professionalism, and positiveness, we build each other up. Which is as it should be.