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!