Monday, June 25, 2012

Finding Method

Yep, I was absent for most of last week. It's summer, and well, things are not normal here. My routine is off, and if I get a moment of quiet, I'm writing. With that being said, my posts may not be as frequent as they normally are.

I am moving along in my new MS. I did reach 16K and I know I have so much to revise, but it's funny cause this time around, I'm more focused. I'm not worried about which method I should use. Yes, many people post how they write and there are even books on method, but the funny thing is you don't know yours until you've tried them all and once you find your groove, things seem a little more clearer. It's like a part of you calms down cause you know what works for you.

When I started this journey, I really had no idea what I was doing. I thought I did, but I didn't. I just wrote that's it. After I started blogging, I learned there is more to it and what to look for. For a while, it really stressed me out. I thought I was doing things wrong and I had to do things a certain way, until recently. Yes, I learned a few things about myself, but I also learned what's right for me.

I'm not a strict outliner. I know this. I do some planning, mainly in my head. I visualize a scene of the beginning, something in the middle, and maybe the end. I briefly figure out what I think I want to happen, but it really doesn't develop until I write it, and let me tell ya, those characters take me to places I never even thought of. So, yes, I let the characters decide, then when it comes revision time, I have it my way (at least that's what I tell myself).

I also write out of order if I have too. When I get stuck and I know what happens in a later scene, I write it. It sometimes gets me through those scenes that make my brain come to a halt. Another tid bit is--I need music, well, most of the time. I know, weird, but it helps me.

So, what am I saying? That no matter what your method is make sure it works for you. Sure, try all of them if you want, but if something doesn't work don't force it. It inhibits creativity. Do what feels right for you.

Have you figured out your method?

Have a great day!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Mumbles

How was everyone's weekend? Mine was busy, busy. I feel like summer has taken on a different kind of busy and that's entertaining kids on a constant basis. I hope all you dad's had a relaxing day yesterday.

1. Thank you to Elana Johnson for her awesome post on Friday. Check it out here. Also, don't forget to get on over to her blog for lots of fun stuff and pick up her new release, SURRENDER.

2. So, my progress is slow on everything. I did get past the 15k word mark last week, so it's getting there.

3. Querying is querying. I don't even need to explain it, but I'm holding my head high and trying not to let it get the best of me. I know where I want to be, and one day I'll get there. I have to keep moving forward. I'm revising my query again and have cut the first two chapters of my MS. I'm also rearranging things in the first half of my MS.

4. I can't wait to finish all of the stuff above to be able to work on a finished manuscript that is waiting. It keeps taunting me. It's that middle child looking for attention.

5. Here's a great post about those of us who may be losing confidence. Letter to a writer who is losing confidence by Roz Morris.

6. Another post I thought was interesting. My Life Would Be Easier If I Gave Up Writing by Natasha Hanova

7. I've been brushing up on my grammar. This book is simply the best, and one I've read from cover to cover (you know I'm not a self-help book gal). IT WAS THE BEST OF SENTENCES, IT WAS THE WORST OF SENTENCES by June Casagrande

8. Here is another post I found inspiring from Querytracker. Never, Never Give Up Writing and Winston Churchill by Danyelle Leafty

9. I will be responding to your comments soon. I'm getting there. :)

How was your weekend?

Any vacation plans?

Writing goals?

Have a great day!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Plotting and Pacing in YA--A guest post by Elana Johnson

So, we all know that lovely gal, Elana Johnson. She's got a new release, SURRENDER. See the pretty cover.

Elana has amazing things going on at her blog, and today, she's on my blog sharing her knowledge. Take it away Elana.

Okay, so if you’ve read my books, you know I’m a big fan of fast-paced, all-action-all-the-time novels. Both POSSESSION and SURRENDER sort of start out slow and then push the reader to the end.

There’s an element of plotting that has to happen when writing. I’m a supporter of a slow start, especially when building a new world for readers. I want to be eased into a new world with a new character like sinking into a hot bath.

After that? All bets are off. I then want things to happen, and happen fast. But that doesn’t mean you as the author can throw everything and the kitchen sink at the reader.

I like to think of pacing like a horse race. Red Pollard didn’t take Seabiscuit out of the gate at one hundred miles per hour. He held the horse back at points, and drove him forward at others. And then he really whipped Seabiscuit down the home stretch.

I think YA authors can learn a lot from thinking about pacing in this way. There’s a time to give readers a lot of information pertaining to the plot. There’s a time for pure action. There’s a time to pull back a little and breathe.

It’s all about knowing when to do so.

Let’s examine the Top Five things I think can really guide a reader through a novel. And readers want to feel like they’re in the hands of someone who can lead them through a story.

1.      The opening image. I think this should be a bit slower. Give readers a chance to sink into your world and character like a hot bath.

2.      After you’ve set up the world and character, we need to be driven with the catalyst and debate. I think the pages from 30 – 90 (or so) should be full of tension and plot elements and the definition of character motivation for the rest of the novel. When we finally break into Act 2, the reader should be hoping for a break in the action.

3.      And they should get it. The introduction of the B Story is the time for you as the author to pull the horse back a little bit. You’ve just given them 60 pages of high action and emotional pulling. They need a break. They need fun and games.

4.      Fun and Games. This is where you can have some really cool action scenes. This is where Iron Man gets to try on his suit and go flying around.

5.      At the midpoint, the stakes are raised. And the pacing should naturally increase from there. The fun and games are over, and it’s time to get down to business of solving the problem at hand. The last half of your book should really drive readers to the last page.

What elements do you consider when plotting and pacing your novel?

This week, as part of the SURRENDER blog tour, you can win one of three $15 Barnes & Noble gift cards and become a winner winner, chicken dinner! All you have to do is fill out this rafflecopter widget with what you’ve done. NOTE: One of the options is to blog about a time you didn’t surrender. Go here for full details on this, including how to sign up for your free swag package!

<a id="rc-2572e99" class="rafl" href="">a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>

Thanks so much Elana! Also, check out her new release, SURRENDER. See blurb below because you know you want it.

About SURRENDER: Raine has always been a good girl. She lives by the rules in Freedom. After all, they are her father’s rules: He’s the Director. It’s because of him that Raine is willing to use her talent—a power so dangerous, no one else is allowed to know about it. Not even her roommate, Vi.

All of that changes when Raine falls for Gunner. Raine’s got every reason in the world to stay away from Gunn, but she just can’t. Especially when she discovers his connection to Vi’s boyfriend, Zenn.

Raine has never known anyone as heavily brainwashed as Vi. Raine’s father expects her to spy on Vi and report back to him. But Raine is beginning to wonder what Vi knows that her father is so anxious to keep hidden, and what might happen if she helps Vi remember it. She’s even starting to suspect Vi’s secrets might involve Freedom’s newest prisoner, the rebel Jag Barque…. 

Thanks again, Elana! I hope the link works, if it doesn't, please go to Elana's blog to sign up for the giveaway.
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Doing research

artwork by Kaitlyn McCane

So, I've been trying to catch up on my writing. I've picked up a client for work so between kids and work, writing time is limited. Yesterday, I did manage to write some and it felt great. The other thing I love to do is research. And, yes, I'm sure I've talked about this before.

I'm not talking Google research, I'm talking real life experience. I do use Google, and to be honest, if it's not holding my interest, my mind wanders. I love experiencing research, especially for setting. Now, I hear ya, you can't go everywhere, and let's face it, I really don't know what heaven is like or what life felt like in the 16th century (I've had no near death experiences and don't plan on having any, and I don't have a time machine), but there are certain stories where I can go to the setting, to the place where it happens and live the experience.

On Friday, I went to the beach with my family. I love the beach. I don't know why. Something about the ocean, the sand, and the air. Plus, it holds a lot of great memories. One of my stories takes place there. I have to say soaking in the whole feeling/atmosphere makes me want to write the story even more. It makes me feel like I have some sort of inside info.

This is nothing new to the world of writing. Many authors have done "research" by experiencing it, and to me, if you can, I think it can give your story an authentic feel. You know this, right?

Anyway, what I'm trying to say, if you can, live your research even it's going to a museum to check out old furniture--live it. For me, it's usually the setting. I go to that spot, close my eyes, and listen. I breathe in, and then I open my eyes and write everything I feel, smell, and even taste if I'm eating something. What I found was--the air had a mixture of salt air and caramel corn, the sand is soft, but watch out for broken shells, the ocean's waves create a rhythmic pound as they hit the sand, the strumming of the drums on the carousel mixes with childrens' laughter. I could go on, and into more detail, but I want you to try it. You don't have to go far. Head out to your back yard and tap into your senses, then write them down. It's amazing what you may find.

What's your method of research?

Don't forget, on Friday, Elana Johnson, here. She will be talking about Plotting and Pacing in YA.

Have a great day!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Never Surrender Blogfest

This week is the Never Surrender blogfest hosted by the lovely Elana Johnson. Her new book, SURRENDER, was released June 5th. Go check out the participants of the blogfest and how to get a copy of her new book here. For this blogfest, you must post about something you never gave up on, something you fought for . . .you never surrendered.

When I signed up for this, I had no idea what to write. In fact, as I'm writing this, I'm still not sure. What have I fought for? Never gave up on? These thoughts are leading to--Is/was my life that boring? Am I a wimp? Many pieces of my life I've fought for things, but to me may not be significant. It's not like I was stuck on a mountain for days thinking about eating my own hand. I grew up in the suburbs went to high school, then college, got a job, got married, had kids, and here I am blogging and writing and raising my family. Now it hits me. Through each part of my life, I never gave up, I fought for something, even if it wasn't news-worthy.

1. Growing up--I was a shy kid, other kids pushed me around, you know the whole bully girl. In 3rd grade, this girl made me hold her purse at recess while she played. After a while, I told my mom and she told me to tell this bully girl, no, and to find other friends to play with. I was nervous and scared and finally did tell her. She insisted I hold it, but I turned and went and played with someone else.

2. High school--I was part of the alternative crowd--goth kids, punk kids, skaters--I never gave up on my friends because they were there for me.

3. College--It was college. I never wanted to leave, but I had to and did graduate on time. So I never gave up on studying.

4. Job--I got a job in my field and I pushed myself to prove myself in the field of interior design. Even when my boss would put me down, and yell at me (yes, she yelled, she called it nice bitch, not going there) I still pushed through to learn all I could. I don't work there anymore.

5. Married--I never give up on my hubby. I love him to death, and even though we have our differences (who doesn't), we work together and never give up on us.

6. Kids--I support them and do everything I can to raise them right. I would never give up on them. After my little gal was born (she was my first), I went through a little hole of depression. I knew only I could get myself out of it, so I pushed myself, even though the temptation was there, I never gave up on me so I could be the best mom that I can be.

7. Writing--This is the part you know about. You hear me talk about it lots. I have to say it's the first thing that has made me push myself beyond my own limits. I want to prove myself, and achieve my goals, while pleasing my writer passion of creating stories. Sure, there are dreams, and I know I can get there, because I can never surrender.

That was a lot longer than I intended and some of that may not be relevant. Sorry. Go check out the other participants and Elana's book, SURRENDER.

Also, Elana will be guest posting on my blog, Friday!!

When have you never surrendered?

Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group

It's funny, but according to Alex J. Cavanaugh, I've participated in every posting of IWSG. I'm still trying to figure out if that's good or bad. Obviously, I'm insecure and a writer, but am I really super insecure? Like over the top? Maybe and maybe not. We all have some insecurities. It can be as small as not liking your big toe. My thing is I express myself best when I write so hence lots of posts on my feelings while riding on the tracks of this crazy journey.

Writing isn't easy, especially if you want to be published. When people ask if it's lonely, I simply answer it can be. At times, yes, it is, but I think I tend to make it that way (over thinking). There are so many people who have hopped in the seat next to me, to give support, encouragement, or just to talk. All of it has given me a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart and brings a smile to my face. So many people put up with my whining (which I plan to slow it down a bit, I know I've said that before), I'm still astonished they still listen. I write on emotion, so I'm trying to keep some things to me only so no one else has to suffer.

The thing is--I know that I've finally found my passion. Yes, I've said this before, but after everything I've learned and as I work my way through the trenches of querying, I still want to keep going. Writing is something I can never let go. I can't stop creating stories or characters. Plus, if I keep talking to myself with no reason why, I may be heading to the psych ward.

So thank you writers and bloggy friends for all you do. Writing has taught me many things, not only about writing, but about who I am and how wonderful people (real people) can be.

What have you learned on your journey?

Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for working so hard and hosting this event. Go check out the other participants.

*Please disregard any mistakes--my brain is not awake. *looks for caffeinated beverage*

Have a great day!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Surrender by Elana Johnson

Elana Johnson's SURRENDER is released today. Go give a congrats to the lady herself, and pick up a copy.

About SURRENDER: Raine has always been a good girl. She lives by the rules in Freedom. After all, they are her father’s rules: He’s the Director. It’s because of him that Raine is willing to use her talent—a power so dangerous, no one else is allowed to know about it. Not even her roommate, Vi.

All of that changes when Raine falls for Gunner. Raine’s got every reason in the world to stay away from Gunn, but she just can’t. Especially when she discovers his connection to Vi’s boyfriend, Zenn.

Raine has never known anyone as heavily brainwashed as Vi. Raine’s father expects her to spy on Vi and report back to him. But Raine is beginning to wonder what Vi knows that her father is so anxious to keep hidden, and what might happen if she helps Vi remember it. She’s even starting to suspect Vi’s secrets might involve Freedom’s newest prisoner, the rebel Jag Barque…. 

Also, check out the details on her blog about her blogfest and blog hop (there's giveaways, people). Check back here next week (June 15th) for a guest post by Elana.

Congrats Elana!

Have a great day!

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Voice

Thanks again to Dianne Salerni and Marcy Hatch for their feedback on my new MS. Also, thanks to those who commented. All of your feedback was very helpful. Check out Dianne and Marcy's blogs to see how you can get critiqued.

The voice. I'm not talking about that TV show with Christina Aguleria (I'm sure I just butchered her name). I'm talking about character voice. I know I've written a post about this before with links and such, but today I want to talk about my method. One thing I've been told is that my characters' have great voices. Now, I'm not trying to brag or anything, it's an observation, but I have been asked how I do it. How do I create voice for my characters?

The thing is--I have no method or formula. I don't sit and analyze how to create a certain voice. I listen. That's it. I know sounds a little like I'm off my rocker. But seriously, that's what I do. When my characters' come to me, I write what they say, exactly how they say it. There are no charts or research, it's the character talking. I also see them and write what their actions and reactions are. Of course at some point, there are revisions, but that voice is already there. Maybe it's the panster in me. I'm not a big one for self help books. I use them, but I also am a trial and error type person. I like to see what works and what doesn't by doing. So, voice, for me, just happens. Now, that's not to say I don't have issues with other areas of novel writing. That's a whole other post.

Do you have a method on creating voice?

Have a great day!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fun Facts Friday

Another crazy week and I'm liking the warmer weather minus the thunderstorms at night (mother nature are you listening). On with the facts:

1. I'm being critiqued at Dianne Salerni's blog and Marcy Hatch's blog today. Thank you ladies!!Please check it out and rip it apart give me some feedback. Disclaimer: It's a first draft. *reaches for chocolate*
That's me testing the waters with my new MS.

2. My favorite summer activity is going to the beach. The smell of the salt air mixed with greasy food makes my mind wander and dream so I'll probably have more ideas.

3. Check out Karen Akins blog. Go congratulate her, she has a book deal!! Congrats Karen!

4. Mark your calenders for WriteOnCon (if you haven't already). It's always full of great info and opportunity.

5. Elana Johnson will be guest posting, right here, on June 15th. Her book SURRENDER will be out next Tuesday, June, 5th.

6. Tip: Don't try and write after an eye doctor appointment. Why? If you get pupil dilation drops, yeah, it makes reading blurry. Not good. It amazes me that they let you drive after that.

Any news?

What are your plans for summer?

What is your favorite thing to do in the summer time? (Minus writing, that's a given).

Have a great weekend!!