Wednesday, December 1

Not Missing Out on NaNoWriMo

Last year I embarked on a huge life change. I began to write fiction and it all began on November 1, with the start of National Novel Writing Month. It was an incredible few weeks. I discovered that writing romance infused me with a sense of purpose. I felt recharged and confident in myself. In a way I hadn't in years. I finished my 50,000 word draft before Thanksgiving and I spent the rest of the month basking in these words. "I'm a writer. I wrote a novel."

Since last year, I've learned more about the writing craft. I've taken courses on editing, met a supportive and talented group of writers online, and even worked with a mentor. Life has been chaotic, slightly off-kilter since March but I was sure I could participate in NaNoWriMo this year. After all, if I had participated and won on my first try, what could stop me this time. Apparently life could. This pregnancy hasn't been easy. I've been sick, running two houses has been difficult as we prepare for the move to our new home, and then there are the two monkeys running around my house.

Still I endeavored to begin and found myself with a respectable 23,000 words and the foundation for a decent category length novel. The characters are clear in my mind. I like them and I like the way the plot is fleshing out. Next year, I'll have a first grader, a 4 year old, and an 8 month old in November. Will I plan on participating in NaNoWriMo next year?


Wednesday, September 22

Moving Again

or Why Isabelle has been missing in action…
In March, my sons and I left our home for the past three years to spend a few weeks with family. My husband stayed behind, working and getting our belongings ready for the move from one post to another. When he joined us, we spent a few more weeks with him in Virginia for training and then more time traveling between our families. After several months of living out of luggage and always living in someone else’s space, we were excited to finally land in our new assignment, Monterrey, Mexico.
It should have been the beginning of a rocky settling in period. First, we needed to acclimate to living in a new city, with new people. Second, we would be spending our first month or more in a hotel without our things and without a real kitchen. The first big bump happened only two weeks in when my husband left for a business trip to Bucharest. The second big bump occurred less than 24 hours after his return when the violence so prevalent in Mexico came too close to my son’s school. The US government decided to send out all children of diplomatic families and that left us scrambling to plan our future.
Fast forward several weeks and I’m back to living with my family. My husband is left behind for another few weeks, working and getting our belongings ready for shipping. We’re not precisely sure when he’ll be back. We do know that we’ll be making our home for the next two years in New England. Now starts another series of adventures. We’re looking to purchase our first home, getting ready to finally have all of our belongings in one spot (furniture has been stored for the past three years), and expecting our third child in only a few months.
This is all why blogging here has been a little spotty. The future looks bright and I’m hoping to share much of it here along with my writing adventures.

Wednesday, September 15

A Contest Entry

Recently I entered the New Voices contest hosted by Mills & Boons. If you’d like to give my first chapter a read, visit their site here. While I’ve been disappointed by the rating system, I’m glad that I took the chance and gave others an opportunity to read, rate and comment on my work.

Wednesday, August 18

How I Write: Week Ten – Writing Resources

image If you haven’t been able to tell from the past ten weeks, I love my list of resources. For the last year, I’ve been reading many craft books and collecting links that I could turn to as I refine my writing skills. Some of them have been incredibly helpful in building certain weakness while other have simply helped me to build my confidence and inspire me to overcome my fears. Here are the books and websites I recommend (some of which have been mentioned in earlier posts).
On Writing – Stephen King gives his thoughts on the writing life.
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life – Anne Lamott has an incredible voice and gives some of the best advice on being a writer.
Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within – Although this books is written with poets in mind, it’s truly pertinent for all writers.
Page after Page – Filled with exercises and writing tidbits to keep you writing, this book is a quick inspiration read.
This Year You Write Your Novel – Walter Moseley gives his thoughts on getting your novel written within one year.
Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within – Writing is more than what we do, it’s a way of life. Natalie Goldberg will get you past those fears and into spiral-bound notebooks filled with words.
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles – According to Stephen Pressfield, resistance is the cause of writer’s block. His book defines it and then arms you with the tools to beat it.
Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for those Who Want to Write Them – All writers must be readers and Francine Prose’s book instructs writers how to look at every component of a book from sentences to paragraphs to chapters.
Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot that Grips Readers from Start to Finish -  A craft book that is interesting to read, filled with exercises and explanations on how to structure your book to be what readers are looking for.
Romance Divas – My online hangout. Romance Divas hosts author-led workshops on their free forum. It’s a great place to learn and connect with other authors.
Paperback Writer – I’ve linked to Lynn Viehl’s site in other posts. She is an incredible resource. Take time to look through  the archives for her thoughts on plotting, revising, etc.
Holly Lisle – Holly shares tons of information on her site and in her weekly newsletter. She also teaches two courses on revising and writing.
Nathan Bransford’s Blog – An agent that takes time to talk about topics from all things publishing related to developing your voice and plotting a novel.
Stephen Pressfield Online -  Like his book, The War of Art, Stephen Pressfield blogs about resistance and procrastination. Seeing a published and accomplished author’s struggles sheds light on the true business of creating.
Click on the How I Wrote Logo above to find a listing of the other writers participating in this blog series.

Wednesday, August 11

How I Write: Week Nine – Am I Ready to Submit?

imageNope, I most certainly am not ready to submit. There are steps to be taken and courage to be built before my WIP sees its way into an editor’s hand. I do know what I need to do to get there though. Here’s my thoughts on getting into a submission mindset.
1. Revise, Revise, Revise.
This is where I’m at. I’m weeding out the passive voice, going deeper, and making sure that what was in my head is down on paper.
2. Getting Feedback.
Once I’ve put my WIP through its paces on my own and I’ve done all I can with these two eyes, it’s time to look for an outside opinion. This is a scary step. Sharing your WIP can be a very personal experience. Taking criticism can be difficult but I can promise you that 90 times out of 100, it won’t be nearly as bad as you expect, especially if you’re clear on your experience level and needs with the person you’ve asked for the read. Feedback is information you can use or discard. Take it as data and less as a judgment on your skill level. One way to get feedback is to enter contests. Many provide you with an opportunity to have your words read by writers, editors, and agents. You may not win but you’ll find out if you’re on the right track.
3. Synopsis and Query Letter Fun.
Synopsis writing is something of an art form. You need to distill your concept into a comprehensive, interesting three page summary. It needs to represent your story close enough to give the editor or agent a great picture of what your WIP in its entirety is about. The query letter is your opportunity to introduce your work and yourself.
4. Formatting
Research your publisher or agent’s guidelines and follow them meticulously. You wouldn’t want your work turned away because of something as simple as line spacing. Each publisher has their own set of wants or needs during the query process. Some will want a three page synopsis and query letter along with the first three chapters of your WIP while others may require the entire WIP.
As I enter the last stages of finishing this WIP and head towards submission, I know I’m making a large step in my writing career. It isn’t an end point, though. It’s another step, another move in the right direction. The day after I hit send or put it in the mail, it’s time to get back to the keyboard and on to the next story.
Click on the How I Wrote Logo above to find a listing of the other writers participating in this blog series.
Conquering the Dreaded Synopsis: A Series of Ten Lectures – scroll down on this page you’ll find Lisa Gardner’s lecture series on how to write your query letter and synopsis.
How to Format Your Novel or Manuscript – A bit of information on the general standard of manuscript formatting from Tamera Lynn Kraft. Of course, the publisher or agent you’re targeting may have more specific guidelines.
Workshop: Writing the Novel Synopsis – Sheila Kelly’s workshop on synopsis writing.
Nathan Bransford’s Blog  - If you don’t already follow Nathan Bransford’s blog, you might want to subscribe right this moment. Also take a moment to scroll down to the left and read “The Essentials,” articles on writing, querying, and submitting.
Contest Chart for Writers – Stephie Smith compiled this wonderful chart of contests for writers.

Wednesday, August 4

How I Write: Weeks Seven and Eight – Revision

image This post was originally a two-part set of posts on Revision planned for July 28 and August 4. Between the last minute craziness of getting our family and stuff (lots of stuff) ready for the big move and then settling in here, I was not able to get it all done ahead of time. Please excuse my tardiness.

Here’s my take on revisions.

They frighten me. They excite me. They awe me. As you already know, I stick to the “fast draft, get the words down, and don’t look back” method of writing first drafts. It’s about feeling your way through the story, knowing your characters well, and sealing their motivation into an interesting story. Revisions are a place to tweak and fix, cement and sculpt your words into a coherent piece of work.

Everyone agrees that revisions should start with a breather or break for some set period of time. Take a week to let the words ferment. Give your mind a little time to gather distance. Revisions can be done completely on a computer screen, using tools like MS Word’s Track Changes, or by hand, with tools like red pens and purple highlighters.

Although I hate the thought of wasting paper, my preference is for a mix of the two. Going through my work looking for inconsistencies, weaving in plot points from notes taken during the writing process, and the obvious grammar and typo mistakes that stare out at me as I pass through on the computer screen. Then it’s time to print out a set number of pages, pull out the post-its and my favorite pens. Index cards can be used to keep track of scenes and important plot points that can later be used to write your synopsis.

Once you’re ready, or ready enough, it’s time to give your words a chance to see the world. Passing the work on to a critique group or partner can be intimidating and definitely takes courage. Take a deep breath, hit send, and remember that you’re still learning. Whether you’re just starting out or writing your next bestseller, remember writing is a craft and a process.

Click on the How I Wrote Logo above to find a listing of the other writers participating in this blog series.


The Rundown on Rewrites – Jeri Smith-Ready’s take on rewriting. She recommends a book I’ve mentioned before, Plot & Structure.

The Twelve Commandments of Effective Revision or The End is Just the Beginning – Prudy Taylor Board’s article on revisions

One-Pass Manuscript Revision: From First Draft to Last in One Cycle – The ever helpful Holly Lisle’s shares how to revise your book in just one ‘go-through.’

On Writing: The Basic Line Editor – Kristy Colley describes the basics of line edits.

Saturday, July 24

How I Write: Week Six – Motivation or Getting through the Dreaded Middle

How-I-Write2-banner Starting has always been the most difficult and scariest part of writing for me. My internal editor kept me for starting so many times that when I was finally through the start, I could hardly stop myself. As I mentioned in my last post, I’m struggling with working on my current project. Not because I’ve lost inspiration or motivation but because of the current situation life has found me. Besides the obvious obstacles we all face with life interrupting our writing, there are several reasons the middle is considered the ‘dreaded middle.’

The middle can be less exciting and less rewarding to write. Pantsers may find that they’ve lost the plot in several threads of subplots while Plotters may just be plain bored with the story and characters. There are several things that can help you push through and finish that book. Some are related to you and the changes that help keep your motivation up while others are tips and advice on slogging through the sagging middle of your plot.


Goal-Setting. We’ve already discussed how important setting goals are. Goals that are practical and reachable can keep you moving along steadily. However, there are times when goals are meant to be not met. Playing hooky from your writing might be just what you need. Be intentional in your breaks. Plan for them by writing more over several days before your planned day off and you’ll feel less guilty the day after.

Write or Die. In a future post, I plan to review in depth some of the writing software I use. However, I would like to mention Write or Die. A brilliant piece of software, it allows you to set a timer, eliminate distractions, and get to work. A pause in typing will change the color of the screen and then set off an annoying sound that is sure to get you back to work. Writers with more courage than I can set the program to eat their words when paused for too long. The online version is free and a desktop option with more settings is offered for $10.

Change your Writing Set Up . Sometimes a little change can get your creative juices flowing again. If you tend to write in the same place at the same time, pick a new location and/or a new time. I love to write at home but have also found some of my most productive sessions have happened at coffee shops and bookstores. Mornings tend to work best but pulling my laptop out at night on the bed can be a refreshing change.

Change your Settings for Writing. This may sound a little oversimplified but I love changing things around on my workspace. Flipping from one text editor to another, like moving from MS Word to yWriter or Storybox or Scrivener, can give your WIP a little makeover. A change in font sizes, types, and colors can also give you a little boost. Writing is a mental game. Do anything to keep the fun alive.


First, you must ask yourself if you and your middle have done (are doing) the following things. Does it keep the action moving? Have you kept your reader interested and invested? Have you set up the ending?

In the middle of this WIP, I wrote out a synopsis, which helped me to further strengthen the plot. Taking a look at it and answering these questions showed me the weaknesses (and possible strengths) to the storyline. James Scott Bell’s book, “Plot & Structure,” is also a great resource with some tips on ‘energizing a lethargic middle’ and ‘trimming an overweight middle.’ Some of his recommendations include adding a character, a subplot, or complication for those slow middles or cutting characters and subplots for those bloated parts.

At this point in my experience, I believe that writing should be kept separate from rewriting/revision/analysis. Some blocks are purely the result of overthinking and overworking your plot. Keep your fingers on the keyboard and your eyes off what you’ve already written. Plots can be fixed, characters can be made over, and scenes can be reworked….once you have the words down. Keep the devil at your back, keep moving, and the middle will surely turn into the end.

Click on the How I Wrote Logo above to find a listing of the other writers participating in this blog series.


Michael Hauge’s Story Concept Template – to give a little structure to the way you view your plot.

Mastering Subplots – Since subplots tend to pop up in the middle, here is Leslie Kelly’s take on adding them in.

Writing the Novel Synopsis – A Forward Motion workshop.

The Writer’s Toolbox – A great resource for writers put together by Lisa Gardner. Her synopsis workshop is a must to checkout.


Plot & Structure – A very helpful read, Bell’s book is easy to follow and gives example to help you craft a great plot.

My WIP Notebook – Jeannie Ruesch’s WIP Notebook can be used to keep your WIP details organized. 

Friday, July 23

Packing Again or Why Posting May Be Erratic Here

Earlier this year, my husband and I received notice on where our next assignment would be. We imagined a well-coordinated move that would involve overseeing movers boxing our belongings. They would be transported two and a half hours away while we enjoyed a few months of R & R. During this break, we would enjoy our families, spend some time visiting childhood haunts, and enjoy the food we miss so much. We did not, on the contrary, imagine that my sons and I would whisk away early from post, spending several weeks living with family while my husband worked and prepared our home for the big move on his own. There were no family health emergencies, no trips to the hospital, no cars being broken into, and certainly no other unforeseen problems in our plans for this summer.

We were wrong. Very wrong.

I’m writing this with only a week or so left to go. Movers came today to pick up our air shipment and all of the goods we purchased on our trip. On Monday, our car will be picked up and it too will makes its way to our future home. I say future home, lightly. You see, at this point, we don’t actually have a home. Post has not been able to secure one yet for us. For the next month (or more), we will be living in either a hotel or another house. There will like be no internet and, for me, that means no connection to my friends and family in the States. It also means that the ‘settling-in’ period has just been expanded until we’re finally able to move all of our worldly possessions into a more permanent home.

In the next week, I’ll be posting some of the “How I Write” posts out of their scheduled dates. I missed this past week and will be posting that later today. I may be MIA for several weeks but will be back as soon as possible.

Wednesday, July 14

How I Write: Week Five – Getting the First Draft Completed

How-I-Write2-banner I’ve done it. I really have. I started and completed a category length novel in November but still I struggle with finishing my current project. Life intrudes and it’s not always easy to ‘show up’ when you’re either in a car on the road or in someone else’s house. There are a few things that have helped me soldier on.

Rigid Expectations – Keeping to my goals no matter what has helped at times. Showing up and getting my fingers on the keys seems to be the best way to go. The first few words (or hundred or so) may be painful, each one getting ripped out from me but, at the end of the day, I’ll be grateful for each one. Keeping a calendar, graph, or data chart is a great way to keep yourself moving. It’s difficult to not reach a goal when you’ve been doing so for a period of time. It’s always motivating to keep from ‘breaking the chain.’

Treating Yourself with Compassion – Treating yourself unkindly is one sure way to block the words from coming. It was a hard lesson to learn but one I’ve taken to heart this summer. It doesn’t mean you take your writing less seriously than the other stuff in your life. It’s knowing when you need a break from those big number days. It’s knowing how to pull yourself away from the keyboard when your wrists are hurting or your back is aching or when your family needs you most.

Writing Inspiration – When a book or article gets my energy up to pound the keys, I take note. These are the tools I refer to when I need a little push. Give me some Anne Lamott or an article by Stephen Pressfield and my fingers begin to get an itch. The thing is to know when you need the extra push and to give yourself permission to seek it out.

Story Inspiration – Sometimes all you need is the very inspiration that comes from your characters or plot. This is where creating vision boards or files may fit in to the writing process. I’ve collected several images and photographs related to my novel. Some are related to scenes, while others are simply representational of the very feel of my novel. The same goes for music. There are songs that just get me from thinking about the story to feeling it. Once you get to feeling it, it’s hard to keep from getting those words out.

A Group of Writers – Writing is a lonely activity. Joining a group of like-minded writers online or in-person can be a great way to keep you going when you feel like giving up. Whether you’re ready for a critique or an ‘old hand’ at giving them, the right writer’s group will introduce you to different writing styles and give you accountability. Finding a writer’s group by be as easy as visiting your local library’s bulletin board or searching online. If you’re first foray into a group doesn’t succeed, don’t give up. Not all groups will be for everyone.


Click on the How I Wrote Logo above to find a listing of the other writers participating in this blog series.


Vision Boards as a Writer's Tool – a small article on how to build a vision board.

Deviant Art – I love this site for inspirational images. Whether your setting is a city or a fishing port, you’ll find something to inspire you.

Misusing Writer’s Groups and Critiquing Improperly – Two articles by Bob Mayer about writer’s groups and giving critiques.


Bird by Bird – I love her voice and I love what she has to say. This Anne Lamott book is one every writer should read.

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles – Learn about Resistance and how to beat it with Stephen Pressfield

Tuesday, July 6

How I Write: Week Four - How to Start

The first step can be the hardest on a WIP. It involves a big leap of faith and the belief that your story, your characters, your writing is enough to create a novel. It's a declaration and a dedication of your time. It's more than I WILL write....It's I AM writing. Before I ever started putting words on paper, I was a writer that didn't write. Today, I'm a writer no matter what I'm doing, it's a shift in my mindset and the way I view myself and it all happened when I finally started.

For over a year, I surrounded myself with books about writing. My blog reader was (and is) filled with blog posts from writers. I needed to immerse myself in the world of writing before I ever sat down to write. This can only take you so far and it was the day I finally sat down with my hands on the keys, my butt in the chair, that I finally became a writer. Below are some of things that helped me and continues to help me to hit that first key.

Hurry Up and Wait
Think about what you're going to write. Dream about your characters. Imagine conversations, settings, and plot points but don't write. Set a date to start your WIP and stick to it. Build up motivation but hold yourself back. It' a mind game but it really does work to help you to get through that first step and continue on.

Goals, Goals, Goals
Be realistic and practical. Write them down and stick to it. If you're honest with yourself and set appropriate word counts goals, you'll find that they keep you writing when you'd rather be sleeping, cleaning, or loafing. If you're just starting out, a small daily goal like 250 words might be better than, say, 2,500 words. Always try to end you're writing shift in the middle of a push. That push will get you through to the next day and have you sitting down with your computer or pad as soon as possible.

I love trying out new software, especially anything related to writing and productivity. The problem with new 'shiny software' is that it can derail your attempt to start (or move on) with your WIP. Either learn it before you start or hold off until you've finished your goal for the day. Do not let tough learning curves get in the way of your daily writing goals.

Once you've set up goals, you need to hold yourself accountable to them. Join a writer's group online or in person. Share your goals with friends or relatives. Keep a calendar or goals chart. Be proud of yourself and every day you reach your target. For every met mark, you'll find yourself hesitant to stop for fear of losing momentum or breaking the chain.

Click on the How I Wrote Logo above to find a listing of the other writers participating in this blog series. 


How to Write Your Novel in 100 Days or Less - a program to get you from start to finish on your novel
How to Write a Book - Easily, Passionately, Skillfully - Starting Now - a site dedicated to getting started and moving forward
A Guide to Beating the Fears that Are Holding You Back - Fear is paralyzing. Read this Zen Habits post on how to beat it.

No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days - the founder of NaNoWriMo, a wildly popular phenomenon that gets writers (and previously non-writers) to write a 50,000 word novel in the busy month of November
This Year You Write Your Novel - Author Walter Mosley gives instruction and motivation to get that novel written.

Wednesday, June 30

How I Write: Week Three – Research

strand books We’re talking about research this week. It can be interesting, daunting, overwhelming, or a time suck. Either way, an author that foregoes research may be leaving their readers behind. There’s nothing worse than reading a great book only to be stuck on a point so improbable or plain false, you can’t let it go. I remember reading a suspense novel when I was in college. It was intriguing. The entire story hinged on one major question. Was the main character, a defense lawyer protecting a dangerous sociopath or a misunderstood victim? Unfortunately, the author didn’t do the appropriate research into psychological disorders and used the term Schizophrenia rather than Multiple Personality Disorder (later known as Dissociative Disorder). It drove me nuts as a reader and I never want to find myself in the same scenario.

My goal on the first draft is to get the words down so I leave research until revision. As I write and come up with something I want to look up, I put a little note in my ‘handy dandy’ ever present notebook. On occasion, when it’s a quick google search that could save me time later, I’ll do it immediately. I try to keep it to a five minute search for an answer if I’m in the middle of writing. For example, when my hero decided to propose and plan a wedding within twenty-four hours, I looked up what he needed to bring with him for the marriage license. Seconds later and I had it and was ready to move on.

There are three great resources for research: the internet, books, and people. Internet searches can be a great way to get a quick answer to a quick question. Searching on Google and Wikipedia can net you a lot of information and you’ll have to be sure to target your search and stop once you have what you need. Books are better for primary sources, like accounts by people who lived in a particular time or through a specific event. The library would be a great place to start on your search. People can be an incredible wealth of information. Writing about a police officer, become friends with the community liaison at your local police station. Have your character going to the emergency room, be sure to run your scenario by someone with a medical background.

Click on the How I Wrote Logo above to find a listing of the other writers participating in this blog series.


12 Quick Tips to Search Google Like an Expert a few tips on how to get the information you’re looking for on Google.
Confessions from a Research Geek – Some helpful info on research from Lisa Gardner
Eight Ways Research can Kill Your Novel – Lisa Gardner lets you know when research gets to be too much.
Writers’ Research Pages – A TON of links on almost everything a writer might need to research when writing their books. This site is compiled by Charlotte Boyett-Compo (Please note: This site is for those visitors over 18.)
Image of ‘strand books’ courtesy of ricoeurian.

Wednesday, June 23

How I Write: Week Two – Developing Character, Plot, and Setting


This week’s topic is all about the work that goes into developing your character, plot, and setting. Every writer deals with these pieces differently. Pantsers, or writers that like to write by the seats of their pants, spend little time planning out their stories before hitting the computer or pad. Meanwhile, plotters like to have their stories mapped out in outlines, diaries, and notes before starting. Even with my love of all things office supply (hold me back from the post its now), I’m mostly a pantser. I like to have an idea of where I’m headed but it might not happen until 1,000 words or more into my novel. This doesn’t mean I don’t spend time thinking about my plot, my characters or my setting. I do and I need to, if I’m going to have a cohesive, interesting, and well developed story.

  • Character. My stories are all character driven. Characters come to me at night in dreams or during the day in little flashes of insight. I learn about the plot through them and it is my characters that I hope will keep readers turning the pages. During the early days of a story, I think about my characters endlessly. I imagine conversations (Let’s keep that between us.) and play a lot of games of ‘what if.’ During this time, you’ll find me saying things like “of course” or  smiling to myself while washing the dishes or cleaning up toys. I run through their goals, the conflicts, and their motivations. I do not keep detailed character sheets but keep little notes about last names, family relationships and major physical characteristics.
  • Plot. As I mentioned before, the plot comes to me through my characters. I learn about their internal and external conflicts and how they came to be the people they are. I don’t write out detailed outlines but I do get down a sentence or phrase to describe the action I anticipate in each scene. I keep to it loosely, letting the story develop as I write. I’ve learned not to force the story and to let it unfold as I write. There are bound to be surprises, like when the hero proposes several scenes earlier then expected.
  • Setting. My focus currently is on contemporary novels set in small towns on the coast of New England. Not unlike the town I grew up in, the small towns in my novels are infused with ocean air and small town gossip. Living far from home and not even in the United States, I bring myself back with photos I find on Flickr and Deviant Art and music that reminds me of home. In my novels, setting comes alive through the eyes of my characters. As the author, I need to know the place as well as they do. That means knowing who the town drunk is, how to get to the grocery store, and what the name of the high school mascot is. I might not draw maps or detail the town’s history but I aim to know that town as well as any other citizen.

Click on the link above to find a listing of the other writers participating in this blog series.



Getting to Know Your Characters – Jenna Peterson’s take on character development

The GMC Wizard – Shawntelle Madison’s neato tool to help you develop your character’s goal, motivation and conflict

Character Worksheet - Visit Tatiana Caldwell’s blog (another writer participating in this blog tour) to pick up her character worksheet


Novel Outlining 101 – Lynn Viehl’s article on how to outline your novel

Notecarding: Plotting Under Pressure – Holly Lisle’s article on how to plot with notecards.

Outline your Novel in Thirty Minutes – Alicia Rasley’s article.


How Much of My World Do I Build – Holly Lisle’s workshop on worldbuilding

The Art of Description: Eight Tips to Help You Bring Your Settings to Life – a great article on how to bring in your setting without underwhelming or overwhelming readers

Wednesday, June 16

How I Write: Week One – Idea Creation

How-I-Write2-bannerThis week we’re talking about where our ideas come from. Before I actually came to write my stories down, I often created them within my mind. It starts with  a dream, a little piece of dialogue, and it goes from there. It’s like a short scene from a movie that I can rewind or fast forward at will. I cue it up while I’m trying to fall asleep or brushing my teeth or on long car rides. Initially the scenes amuse me and entertain but then I find myself asking questions. How did these two imagepeople come to be together? Why is she angry? What made him walk out of the room? I add on, run the tape in my mind again, and see if it works. I do all of this before I sit down to write it out. Sometimes weeks or months before I actually get to writing it all down.

Where do these scenes come from? I’m not really sure. In “On Writing,” Stephen King describes his muse as a “basement guy,” who sits and smokes cigars while he does the grunt work. I like the imagery but I’m not really sure it works for me. I think the human brain is an amazing thing. We all each have our own way of processing the events and stimulation we receive in our daily adventures. For me, I think my dreams or these twilight scenes are the ways in which my brain works through the stimuli I experience in the outside world. Maybe a couple walks by and my brain starts on their story without a conscious intent. Perhaps it’s the details of the people around me, their life stories transformed. I’m not sure but I can only hope they keep coming.

Click on the banner above to find a listing of the other writers participating in this blog series.

The Creativity-Portal – a great place to get inspired
The Frigtool – a random image generator that uses Flickr to pull photos. Searches can be done by tag words.
Write to Done – Leo Babauta’s article on 31 Ways to find Inspiration for your Writing.
Seventh Sanctum – a variety of creativity tools and generators for characters, songs, plots, etc.

Image courtesy of John Althouse Cohen.

Tuesday, June 15

How I Write: Blog Series Intro

How-I-Write2-bannerBefore I even started writing my first novel, I couldn’t get enough information on how others write. I wondered how they came to sit down and start writing, how they overcame the little demons of doubt and insecurity, and how they learned to get the people in their heads down on paper. I read books written by some great authors who shared their experiences and I delved deep into the internet to find incredible resources like blogs and forums. It was these accounts that helped me to begin.
I am so excited to announce that starting tomorrow I will be participating in a blog series with some of my fellow writers. We’ll be discussing our own writing processes and how we each experience the different steps in writing our different genres. Some of us our more experienced, while others like me are still early in our learning. We’ll discuss topics like where our ideas come from, how we plot or pants our way through our MS, and exactly how we get through the revision process. The How I Write Series banner above links to the other writers and their blogs. It will run from June 16 until August 25.

Monday, May 17

Writing Right

I'm not sure if it's even a valid worry. With every book I read on craft and process, it seems the overwhelming belief is that there is no right. There are good stories, stories that capture your attention and never let go and then, there are bad stories, that just don't have the pull to keep a reader interested. My inner editor differs. She tells me that there is only one way to write and I just haven't been illuminated on how that is.

Again and again, I hear her whisper..."This sucks. Why even bother? You'll never be able to write like...insert witty, smart author here..." At my strongest, the joy of writing keeps the doubt at bay. I sit and I write and I write and it doesn't feel like writing at all. It feels like being moved, like seeing the words appear without any effort at all. Are they the right words? I'm not really sure. Craft book after craft book inspires but am I learning enough to make a difference in the second draft?

Monday, March 15

How to Write When Your World Shifts

It’s hard. Crazy hard. Procrastination isn’t even the issue. If it were, I would be writing like mad, instead of staring at lists, spending time trying to figure out what stuff I need to pack, how I’m going to live so many months without a physical place to call home.

I so badly want to write my words down, keep the story rolling. I can only hope that life won’t throw too many barriers up between traveling, hotels, and the uncertainty of what life will be like in the fall. I am grateful that my characters still feel alive and that I am only not writing because time, space, and energy have kept me away.

Here’s my plan:

For the next five weeks, while we transition to the next post, I will keep a notebook and pen handy at all times. If inspiration hits on a plane, in a car, or at a restaurant, I will be ready. My netbook will be ready at a moment’s notice. Whether I get in 5 or 500 words, I will see it as forward progress. I will keep my writing self flexible. Stress and pressure will only stifle my abilities.

Monday, March 8

Put One Foot in Front of the Other

My son is a huge fan of Christmas movies. Even now, in March, he could watch any one of the DVDs we have stored away. One of the films, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, has a song where Kris Kringle sings, "Put One Foot in Front of the Other." I've been trying to keep the words in mind lately. Every project, every to do list item, every goal, starts with just one step. With this blog, I'm hoping each step will take me further into the life I want to lead....the life of a writer and storyteller. So here's my first first blog post....just one foot in front of the other