Update

On the 26th I began the tedious process of editing my manuscript. It is slow going, but worth every painstaking hour I put in. One day soon, I will be ready to submit to agents. Until then, the picture below will serve as a friendly reminder that there are people all over the U.S. waiting patiently to read about my zombies.



Scroll to the bottom of my blog if you would like an up close look at the map.

Happy writing,

C




How it Doesn't Work

It is okay to have dreams of an easy publish. Like Stephenie Meyer's nine month process from, "I had a really weird dream during my nap" to, "oh wow, okay. I'll take six figures for a three book deal."

Yeah, we all wish it was that seamless. And I'll be the first to admit to fantasizing about becoming a best seller and fretting over whose going to option the movie rights for my first book.

Alas, these are fantasies. This is the kind of what if that is useful. It makes my heart race, ears tingle, and my stomach do flips. And that is what keeps me pounding away at my keyboard when editing is pulling me into a deep coma.

Writers with a clue spend little time daydreaming about success. They are busy making that success happen. Most of us that aspire will not see the kind of success we dream of, but we don't stop because of that little factoid.

We are not after success. We just want to share stories that we believe others will enjoy. Writers seeking fame and fortune have been mislead. What they are doing is kind of like getting into teaching or social work for the money. Bad idea.

So aspiring writers, get a kick out of this video about a horribly mislead would-be writer. He's clearly not in it for the story telling. Let's laugh at him together, shall we?



Thanks to Writer's Digest for posting this hysterical video.

Season's Greetings!




Season's Greetings!


This time of year can be stressful. Shopping, writing cards, and cooking can be overwhelming on their own. Compound that with daunting edits, writer's block, and waiting for an agent or publisher to say yes, and an aspiring writer can go stark raving mad.

No need to bite one's nails to bits, I've got something that will distract you temporarily. 

Please enjoy this holiday story about two aspiring writers attempting to break into publishing. 





Click here to read: Caroling for Stephen Card

Are you a HEA writer?

Yesterday, I read an article by Chris Kridler called, What Genre is your Book? The article talked about HEA's (happily ever after endings.) I didn't reed too much into what she wrote about genre norms, until I set to work on a short story this morning. That is when I realized that most of my stories don't have HEA's. In fact, I've even revised endings to reduce the UHEA's in them in an effort to gain acceptance.




Are your stories HEA's? If not, why? Would you ever consider revising them for acceptance? Tell me about it in a post below. Also, take a minute to answer the poll on the right. I'm curious to see if I'm the only person who doesn't naturally veer toward HEA's.

C

Author Interview: Christine Steendam


Seasons greetings!
I am pleased to announce the second author interview in our series belongs to Christine Steendam, author of Heart Like an Ocean.





1. What are you reading right now? 


I just finished Entangled Dreams by Carmen DeSousa and I’m about to start Breaking the Nexus by Lindsay Avalon.


2. Tell us a little bit about Heart Like an Ocean

Heart Like an Ocean is a historical romance/coming of age story about a girl (Senona Montez) that was born into privilege but runs away from an arranged marriage. Along the way she gets help from a British Privateer and learns that life on the other side is not as simple or as easy as she thought. And, of course, add in some romance and love triangles and you’ve got Heart Like an Ocean.

3. Where did the inspiration for Heart Like an Ocean come from? 

I was sitting out at the ranch I used to work at one afternoon, looking out to the horse pasture, and I envisioned a girl running to her horse, upset. I pulled out my notepad and began writing the scene, which turned into 1600s, arranged marriages, running away in the middle of the night, and swashbuckling. But the horse is still there, and still plays a major role in Senona, my main character’s life.

4. Which one of your characters is your favorite and why? 

I have to say Brant. At first it seems like he’s got it all figured out and then we slowly begin to see beneath the surface. Plus it’s so fun to write his bad-boy side.

5. Do you prefer to write or edit? 

I love both. They each have their own merits and down side. I love writing and discovering where the story goes but it can also be exhausting and hard when my muse decides to go on vacation and I can’t. I have a very strict writing schedule most of the time. Editing, however, is like polishing that car until it gleams. Sure, it can be frustrating when I look at a page and I can barely see the black through all the red, but the next draft is always better so it outweighs the cons. Plus, there is something very satisfying about crossing out entire paragraphs with a bright red pen.


6. What did you do to pass the time while waiting for your first manuscript to be accepted? 

I started writing the next one. I never sit still. LOL!


7. What was the most nerve-racking part of the publishing process? 

The contract. It was so hard to make a decision. I really wanted to sign the papers the second I got them but I knew I had to take a step back and think about it and read it over with my excitement put aside. I ended up signing in the end, but it was very scary to hand over my hard work. In the end I couldn’t be happier though. 5 Prince Publishing has a great team to work with and my editor is fantastic.


8. What is your favorite free author resource or blog? 

I love http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/. Whenever I have a grammar rule I’m not quite sure on I can count on her tips to explain it in a really easy way to understand and remember. http://agentquery.com/ is also a great place when you are looking to start submitting. Great tips on how to write query letters as well as lists of agents and the genres they are interested in. It’s an invaluable tool and gave me a great place to start when I had no clue how to write a query letter.


9. If you could only give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be? 

Take your idea and just write, write, write until it’s all out on paper. Don’t edit until you’re completely done. Don’t even look back. Just write.


10. Can you tell us about your next project? Word is you have another novel in the works. 

The book I am currently working on is a contemporary romance set on an Alberta ranch. It involves all kinds of excitement with an inheritance, debt, a mysterious ranch hand, and stolen cattle. I’m very excited about it but it’s still in the baby stages. I should be finished the first draft by the end of December.





Thanks so much for your time Christine. 

Be sure to check out Heart Like an Ocean when it debuts in 2013, and check out Christine's blog and FB author page.

Happy Holidays,

C

Free Bodies is Being Published!


My first ever publish is set to happen in two short days.

Free Bodies is a micro-fiction horror story.

Description
The undead shop for unoccupied bodies to wear in the same way the living peruse Amazon.com for new threads. Kellen thinks little of the people whose bodies he lists online, until one day his is up for grabs.

This piece is scheduled to be published by Free Flash Fiction on December 13, 2012.

Free Flash Fiction publishes micro-fiction stories in most genres and is free to readers. They also publish anthologies that are available for download from their website. Be sure to visit and check out their story catalog.

Click here or on the orange bar below to read Free Bodies.





Publishing By Law # 44: Thou Shalt Back up Thine Work


Seasons greetings,

This morning I read an public safety message in the form of a blog. Writers who lose their life's work are not safe to be around, so as writers, we have a duty to the public to back up our pieces.

Read this suspense-filled blog post by Annie Kaufman and then go back up your work!

I found it funny that I read this post today. Last week, as I was walking out the door to work my fire alarm went off. After combing my house in search of hot spots and finding nothing, I set off to work again. My theory is the batteries in my alarm died. My house is still standing, so I must have been right. However, it occurred to me, then and there, that my two USB  back-ups, my time machine, and my computer were all in the same location. That is not good. I took my laptop to work that day even though I didn't need it.

My solution came to me on the way to work. I'm going to make another USB copy of all my work and give it to a trusted friend from my critique group. I'm going to suggest that she do the same with me so that we have one satellite location to recover work from. Hopefully, these stories have inspired you to think up a viable back-up plan.

Thank you Pub Crawl for the wake-up call.

Happy writing!

The .99 Cent Issue

Self publishing and digital .99 cent books are causing all kinds of controversy. Not sure where I fall on this argument, but these articles shed some real light on it:

Check out Carmen DeSousa's Why Do Authors Offer the book They Slaved over for Two Years, or More, at .99 Cents?

Check out Melissa Foster's Huff Post article Are eBooks Too Cheap?

Happy reading,

C

Word Meter Builder

Bloggers, check out this truly motivating tool from the Critique Circle Online Writing Workshop. It's a word meter builder that allows you to track your draft/editing progress and post it on your blog. Very cool little widget indeed.

Click here for the Word Meter Builder.

Thanks so much to Critique Circle for the word meter and Christine Steendam for sharing it with me. Be sure to check out her blog.

Happy blogging,

C

Writing the End



(When I open my vein caffeine concentrate pours out.)


Monday night was a big deal for me. A very big deal months, no years in the making. But it almost didn't happen.

Life is what writer's do in-between edits and big ideas. Bills are the arch nemesis of most aspiring writers, their only real competition being computers with viruses and dried up ink pens. But the willful overcome this to claim their dreams for their own.

I always knew I had a dream of publishing, I didn't always know I could do it. And I haven't done it, yet. But with a little help from my friends (shout out to J. Engle) and never ending tolerance from my family (shout out to my homies that live in my home), I've taken the most satisfying step toward that goal.

I've finished my first manuscript. I wrote The End at the bottom of my Pages document and I meant it.

Cannot tell a lie, I was teary eyed while standing in line to print that 94k beast. Never an emotional person, I immediately remembered that I don''t have allergies, therefore; the motion of carting a box filled with months of hard labor had done something to affect me.

Memories flooded up. Memories of me slogging away in front of my Mac while the world around me watched television, read books, left the house and did fun stuff. Memories of me on numerous occasions chugging coffee at work trying to erase yet another sleepless night. I'd hide behind my coffee cup, but my dear coworker, Damjoef, always knew when I'd been up all night writing. She said it was because I'd have a tell-tale smile, right beneath my bloodshot eyes.

Memories of being halfway through my first draft and thinking I was too tired to write anymore. My life was happening, my work ringing the phone off the hook, my e-mail box miserable from being too full. My house lay somewhere underneath an inch of dust, my kitchen closed off by a mountain of dishes. Okay, it wasn't nearly that bad, but any neat freak who spends a week removed from her vacuum will feel that way. And there I sat in a house coat and sweats, upping a word count on something that only I may ever read. And that feeling is worse than the one I got from surveying my neglected house.

Actors suffer from fear of failure, so do dancers and public speakers, but I am none of them. I can only speak as a budding writer to tell you that beneath six dozen edits (maybe more) and a stack of rejection letters that could dwarf a small car, you will find a writer in the fetal position somewhere, bear hugging a half finished manuscript. And when you find that writer dig her out, dust her off, and tell her not to stop.

Sit her back down at her desk and make her a cup of coffee. Because she is almost there. And the thing she needs most right now lies at the end of her manuscript. I had the good fortune of being surrounded by people that believed in me more than I did. People who may or may not bother to ever read a word I write, but were ever ready with droves of encouragement. That is what got me to Monday night, and the best feeling of my professional life.

All those sleepless nights, compounded by the daily grind that followed them, were now justified. My manuscript is finished and now I know I can actually finish writing a book. And that is all the motivation I need to do it again.

You can do it. You can finish your book. You may end up with bags under your eyes, a dreadful addiction to Starbucks, and be so far removed from the real world that you survive a zombie apocalypse by accident, but you can finish your book. Note: Should the latter scenario occur though, I'd advise putting your manuscript on a flash drive and immediately packing it in your zombie survival gear.

Don't ever give up. Writing The End is so worth it.

Thought for the Day

As a beagle owner I've come to believe that Charles Schultz wasn't a comic writer, he was a dog memoir writer.

What Makes a Story Good?

On the Premises has a great article on their blog about what makes a short story good.

I think it is really important to sometimes remind ourselves of what a reader's involvement in our stories looks like. As writers, we spend most of our time viewing our stories through the lens of the creator and trying to make sure we cover all the critical elements of story telling.

This article goes beyond that and reminds us of what the finished product is supposed to evoke in the reader. The article also spells out the inverse, what happens when a writer fails and what results that causes in a reader.

And both of these views are essential to a story's success. Because all the mechanics can be right and a story can still be a snoozer. If Michelangelo spent all his time making sure his sculptures met artistic expectations, but never breathed a bit of life into them after that, no one would be snapping pictures of them today. No one would have cared back when he finished them either. People seek the best in entertainment, art, and culture, not the "B" version. The "B" version is what you get if you try to logic and checklist your way through a story. The "A" list is composed of people who had the craft and the cunning to push themselves to the limits of their art, know how, and the frail edges of exhaustion to make sure their work had life in it.

I know that description doesn't make the "A" list sound like much fun, to most people. But there are a handful of writers out there who know what I'm talking about and their mouths are salivating over the thought of making it to the end of that crazy feat.

So take a moment and read OTP's view of what makes a story and stand out and what makes a story a dud. It's a really great article. Check it out, then go make your short stories even better.

The Writer's Dig

NanoWriMo is in full swing and Writer's Digest is here to help. One of their blogs is offering tools and tips for writing a novel as downloads every day this month. The Writer's Dig is a great blog to read on the regular, but this month it offers excerpts from great books, tracking tools, motivational resources, and author interviews on top of a humorous blog to read. Take a look, download some stuff and then get back to writing!

Author Interview: Melissa Turner Lee

I am pleased to announce the first author interview for this blog is devoted to Melissa Turner Lee, author of the following fiction works: The Difference Between Night and Day, The Earth Painter, and The Man Painter.




1. What do you think it is about the nachos and soda scene in, The Difference Between Night and Day that everyone loves so much?


Do they love it? I didn't know. I don't get lots of feedback on that one. The first person I sent it to said that scene was too quirky. but I like quirky characters. I mean how often do we think someone is just strange until we get to know them?

2. The Earth Painter has been called original, unusual, and has received rave reviews. How does that feel?

I'm always happy to have readers enjoy my work. It thrills me.

3. Are the scientific overtones in, The Earth Painter a hint at your personal interests?


Umm...no not at all. I live with a guy who loves loves loves Biology and so do our kids.

4. As a writer, were you concerned about having Christian and paranormal overtones in your YA novel?

I write what I want to read but can never find. I am a Christian so my beliefs are always wi th me but I don't want to write only for Christians which is what Christian fiction is--fiction for Christians. I write that but I also want to write books everyone can enjoy.


5. The Man Painter is also being received very well. Did you always know that, The Earth Painter would have a sequel?

Yes, my stories usually show up in my head with a beginning and end.

6. If your novels were turned into movies, would you be interested in writing the screen plays?

No no no, I write novels. But I'd love to have input so my characters and such didn't go off in a different direction.


7. Do you prefer to write or edit?


Write.

8. What was the most nerve-racking part of the publishing process?


Finding editors I can afford. And I still need another edit. *sigh* I hope to save up for a more extensive edit of them all.

9. If you could only give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?


Write. Don't wait for it to be the "right time" for for it to be "easy." Will never happen if you wait for that.

10. Can you tell us about your next project?

I'm writing a Fantasy Steampunk with author, Pauline Creeden. We have a debut and giveaways coming very soon. You can keep up with that on my facebook page Melissa Turner Lee or my blog MelissaTurnerLee.blogspot.com.





Melissa's books are available for purchase at: Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and Books a Million


This interview wouldn't have been possible without the awesome website Goodreads.com and Mrs. Lee. Thank you both so much!




Widget you Need

My accountability partner and I just reset our end of the year writing goals. It is unfortunate that we weren't going to make our previous ones, but life happens, even to writers.

I'm serious about this new goal, and to keep myself on track I've downloaded a free calculating widget for my Mac. This interactive graph will keep me up to date on my progress and count me down to my self imposed deadline.

Everyone at times needs encouragement and a reason to pat themselves on the back. Everyone at times also needs something to kick their tail into high gear, this widget does both. I can't argue with the numbers, if I'm behind I'm behind, and I need to get going.

If you own a Mac and want to download a widget like mine for free, visit: http://www.apple.com/downloads/dashboard/. PC users should have no trouble finding freeware that does the same thing. I'm using Countabit and I'm pleased. If you can't find a generic counting widget, try to find one intended for weight loss that will let you change the titles. There's tons to choose from.

Happy writing,

C

A Glimpse Into the Creative Process

This is a car engineering commercial, but it's also a glimpse into the creative process for a driven person. Writers, watch the commercial and get motivated.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOclC9bbeQU

Book Review # 4

Revision and Self Editing by James Scott Bell was a good read, however; the first section of it I felt like I'd read before. Only the back third of the book focused on revision and editing, the first part was a thorough review of the basics. Frankly, after reading no less than twenty-five other books on the basics of novel writing, I rarely find more than two or three new ideas or concepts in those sorts of books.

However, I did find the review refreshing, especially the action tags section. I remembered this chapter from Bell's book, Plot and Structure, but found the second time through worthwhile.

The revision section provided some useful insights, but what I was really looking for I found somewhere else. I wanted a checklist to streamline my revision process. Shout out to J. Engle for finding a solid article online that spelled it out. I'll get the mechanics and devote another post to it, but basically the idea is to break the editing process into phases and go after issues in a specific order, instead of slogging through your ms fixing everything line by line as you go. Think about it, does it really make sense to fix up sentences in a paragraph you may end up cutting entirely in the end?

If you haven't read Plot and Structure you can kill two birds with one stone by reading this gem instead. As always, Bell's explanations are humorous, helpful, and inspiring. He remains one of my fave teachers and I remain his young padawan.

The Comma Issue

Commas will be the death of me. Something about researching and remembering commas rules is beyond me. It's a never ending frustration.

On The Premises just posted a great blog article on the topic: http://onthepremises.blogspot.com/2012/11/fun-with-commas.html. My hope is that their view on commas is the widely accepted version, because their take is so similar to my personal writing style.

On the Premises recommended this Wiki article too, if you want the dissertation version of the comma argument: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_comma.

I hate commas, end of story.

C

Update

Last night I finished my first round of edits on The Barfly From Apartment Twenty-One. I'm really excited about this story. It's cold, but it's beautiful at the same time. My goal is to enter it in the Glimmer Train short story contest, once it's ready.

This story has proven to me that as a writer I'm growing. Compared with my work from just a few months ago it's infinitely better. Writers, keep at it and read about the craft. It may not be apparent at first, but over time your skills solidify. Then one day you and I will be those writers that make writing look so easy to beginners.

The whole evolution reminds me of when I began running. It didn't seem like I'd ever make any headway. I gave in to the idea that I would forever be out of breath. Then out of nowhere, after two horrible months of plugging away it and running daily, my run times plummeted and I could hold a conversation after a three mile course.

Of course it's never easy, but it might get easier.

Cheers,

C

SCWG

A few weeks back I joined the Space Coast Writer's Guild. This is my first experience with a writer's organization, but so far I see lots of positives. Associations, such as SCWG, have annual conferences, writing contests, and provide a list of safe genre specific local writing groups. SCWG also has guest speakers and online writing articles. Most guilds or associations will invite you to attend a meeting or two before making the decision to join.

Even if I never read their articles, visited my writer's group, or entered a single contest, the discount I will receive for their annual convention is worth a year's dues. The convention boasts publishers, published authors, and a half dozen prominent literary agents. I'll be able to attend their guest lectures, dine with local authors, and if I choose, pay for one on one time with publishers and agents. Doesn't get better than that, in my humble opinion.

I will continue to blog about my experiences with SCWG. Take a moment and google writing associations in your vicinity, joining may help you to grow closer to writers in your community. But be sure to check their legitimacy, no point in shelling out dues to a guild or association that isn't worthwhile.

Pleasant Distractions

Sometimes we need a laugh to reboot after a day from hell. These sites have all made me laugh till I cried:

http://pinterest.com

http://www.damnyouautocorrect.com

http://www.dogshaming.com

You should also check out Iman Crosson on http://www.youtube.com and Emmanuel and Phillip Hudson. They're hysterical.

Laugh, cry, then get back to writing.

C


Halo 4

Halo 4 came out today. A large portion of the population won't know the results of the election till like three days from now.

Get Off the Internet Article

Just going to reread this every time I feel the urge to surf the inter web:

http://www.latimes.com/features/books/jacketcopy/la-et-national-novel-writing-month-advice-20121101,0,4722674.story

Blogs you Should be Reading

The internet saves the day again. Found some great blogs to share.

This one is by Jenny Bent, a literary agent with a soft spot for new writers. Her twitter feed is humorous and inspiring too.

http://jennybent.blogspot.com

This one is by an author whose been around the block more than a few times. He's landed agents that weren't able to sell his work on four occasions. His articles are pretty spot on, so take some time to read about how to construct winning query letters. His views on the biz are intriguing as well.

http://mikewellsblog.blogspot.com

Happy Reading  : )

Crazy, crazy, and more crazy

Things have been absolutely crazy lately. Hectic is the new norm around my place. However, that doesn't keep the heartsick writer too far from her Macbook. I've just made crazy even crazier by staying up late or getting up early trying to put some black on white.

I had another off the wall dream that I've been working into a short story. The dream was interesting to say the least, Ben Affleck in a double dose (he had a twin) and J. Timberlake, but none of that really made it into the story. I'm a hairpin from having this story down and starting edits, but just can't seem to squeeze in the time. It's a great story though, think The Notebook, but younger and colder.

If all goes well, this weekend I can get back to work on my zombie novel. I'm incredibly close to finishing the first draft, if life doesn't get in the way. With the three day weekend I truly believe I can get to those tiny, special words for the first time ever on a novel length ms, THE END. Oh yeah, with those words you get shouty capitals in italics.

More to follow--

C

Word Count Gold

Every time I take on a different genre I find myself scraping the interweb looking for a solid take on word count. I know that word count isn't the end all be all, but sometimes it feels like it. My work always comes in on the low side, and having some magical number to aim toward is incredibly helpful for me. It's a finish line to run toward.

Here's the best word count article I've ever come across. Enjoy!

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/word-count-for-novels-and-childrens-books-the-definitive-post?et_mid=587728&rid=233872724

Thank you Writer's Digest!

Inspiration

Inspiration is still free, and for the artist it is rampant everywhere.

Elevator Pitches

Here's a great article on elevator pitches:

http://www.rachellegardner.com/2011/07/elevator-pitch-critiques/

Last night I worked on the pitches for my two manuscripts. My friend and I working toward completing and presenting our novels at a writer's conference at the end of January. After reading this article I discovered that getting down the elevator pitch was easy. Looks like memorizing will be the most challenging part.

If you need an elevator pitch, you need to read this article.

Happy writing.

Great Rejection Letter

Today I received a rejection letter for Survivor. This letter was really meaningful for me because the editors referred to my story as "well written." Might sound like two little insignificant words, but to me they were confidence builders. As a young, inexperienced writer, I just got a pat on the back from the publishing world.

Thank you Iridum Sound!
http://www.iridumsound.co.uk/magazines/

Really Cool Article

Check it out: The Importance of Physical Books

http://jaimiengle.com

Update


Hi there,

A much needed update on my progress lies below:

Everything is on the back burner until this my zombie story is completed. I have to be more disciplined in my writing or I will never finish anything. Once I have completed this story and start sending it out, I am going to clean up some more short stories and get them out. After that its back to my romance novel, which is killing me just sitting there, unfinished. It's a real travesty, but it won't sit for long, I promise.

My mom used to encourage me to hurry while coloring. She told me that the characters in my pictures couldn't breathe until I finished coloring them. I feel that way about my unfinished work. My characters can't breathe right now, so I have to hurry up and get them colored. Corny I know, but it damn sure is motivating!

Zombies, zombies, zombies

I have zombies on the brain. My WIP is coming along swimmingly. I am pleased to say thanks to the help and encouragement of a very close friend, I have stuck to my first draft and have only 25% of the first draft to go. My goal is to finish it this coming week.

Granted there's a whole mess of details missing and tons of editing awaiting me, but I am stoked to be this close to writing the end on a novel for the first time.

This is by far the coolest thing I've written yet. I cannot wait to make it presentable for my trusted readers. There's nothing else like this story, not to my knowledge anyway.

I just can't stop thinking about it. Can't stop talking about it. I heart zombies.

So zombie lovers, prepare for a special treat. A new spin on an old monster is in route.


Reverse Engineer your Way out of Writer’s Block, Right Now


by Christine Edwards

Endurance runners call it the wall. Legs turn to jello, lungs threaten to give out, and everything in the stretch between those two points tires out or quits cooperating altogether. The finish line is closer than ever before, just beyond the horizon. The end is in view, doesn’t matter though. The finish line may as well be on another continent at this point. Writers have another name for this excruciating breakdown, but it’s essentially the same awful experience.

Only the semantics are different with writer’s block. It goes something like this: budding author punches out most of a brilliant first draft. Just scenes from completing said first draft, everything goes black. Aspiring author stares at open word doc, a thin black line blinks back from a pristine rectangle of white space. Anxious writer admonishes herself, this was supposed to be the great American novel! Tension rises as the realization hits: publishers don’t buy three quarters of the great American novel and some notes scribbled on crumpled a Star Bucks napkin. 

At this point, the advice goes something like this: go for a run, watch a movie, start a short story. Get your mind off your first draft and then, wallah! The answer will come to you. When you go do all those things and find yourself staring a hole through 17 square inches of computer screen, come back and read the rest of this article. Go ahead, I’ll wait. 

Sometimes running, petting Fido or reading a good book is just the fix. Many of my best twists have come from being otherwise occupied. For me, driving to work, running or loading the dishwasher usually produces some killer scenes. Whenever I can’t possibly write something down, I have an epiphany for some zany reason. It’s not as humorous when it’s actually happening. 

Then there are the weeks in-between those eureka moments, spent ruminating, but producing nothing of note. During my most recent bout of writer’s block, I went in a different direction and found an alternative to waiting around on the fates to take pity on me. I wrote about my writing, essentially reverse engineering my way over the hump. That stint of writer’s block has been in my rearview mirror for quite a while now, because I sat down and typed out my synopsis. That’s right, I put the cart before the horse and wrote a synopsis of a story that wasn’t even completed yet. I do crazy stuff like that, and sometimes it pays off. Try my crazy idea and see if it works for you too.

So the great American novel you’ve been slaving over is stalled somewhere between acts II and III. Here’s why you should write your synopsis, and how it will get you racing along again.

Why am I doing this?

The reason I prefer to write a synopsis over a character journal entry, plot outline or query letter is because it fits the symptoms I’m experiencing. 

Journal Entries won’t help because...

My characters are developed. By this point in my first draft I’m herding cats with god complexes. They don’t need any more reason to go haywire on me. 

A plot outline won’t help because...

Outlines fixes plot holes. I’m not trying to shovel my way somewhere. I’m at point A trying to get to point B, and the map is already in my head. I just need to fill in some scenes along the way. 

A query letter won’t help because...

This just isn’t enough space to ramble on. Three brilliant lines aren’t going to take me where I need to go. Two double spaced pages is about the word count I need at this point. 

Therefore...

I need something to help me look at my story as a whole so that I can tune back into the premise. I need to find that thread that ties the story together, following it is the only way to fill the blank white space with create clear, fluid scenes that people will want to read. I need to revisit my big idea and my previous scenes to renew my interest and drum up some creativity. At this point, I also need to be reminded why I wanted to write the darn story in the first place.

In contrast to other devices in the writer’s tool box, a synopsis has the right stuff to do all this, and possibly more. 

Perks to writing a synopsis

Perk #1 Getting it out of the way

When you finish you’re thirty-sixth edit and are ready to query agents, a synopsis will be in their guidelines somewhere. Having it saved to your hard drive is money in the bank. Pat yourself on the back then, not now. Right now you still have writing to do.

Perk #2 Theme generator

Your theme is there, sprinkled amongst hundreds of pages. When you write concisely about your story, you are bringing your theme to the forefront. What’s not to love about having your theme well defined the next time you make your elevator pitch?

Perk #3 Magical Foreshadowing Powers

There are bits of your story that stick out for good reason. Others are highlighted just because you really, really like them. That’s all roses now, but when you write your synopsis you will find that some parts show up more than others, for a reason. When you look at your whole work in a condensed version, what really matters starts to take up more of this valuable space. Develop these areas along the way. Foreshadow what you want to stick out in your novel, because it’s what shined brightest in your synopsis. 

The rest has already weeded itself out. Your novel just told you where it’s headed, get in line with it. Foreshadow to guide your readers in the right direction. Don’t be that guy giving lousy directions. Lay your mines where they pack the most punch, and collect all the duds along the way. Unless you’re writing a mystery, your readers won’t appreciate being led astray or down dead ends.

Perk #4 Back Online

My synopsis wrote itself, quickly. My fingers flew, like someone was dictating the words to me. Upon completion, I was incredibly excited about going back and layering my theme, which had come to me just then, and foreshadowing the parts I now knew to be important. 

That night, I attacked my first draft with tiger-like veracity. I didn’t get everything down, but the writer’s block lifted. My missing scenes appeared to my mind’s eye, demanding their due attention. Revisiting your story as a whole brings renewed enthusiasm, which is essential to drumming up your creativity. Looking at the same scene from different perspectives can do the opposite. Go back frequently and look at the bigger picture to stay in line with your premise and remind yourself of why you liked the story enough to write it in the first place.

I’m not an expert, and I normally don’t go against the grain. But when it comes to my writing, I take liberty as a last resort. If the advice of running around my block doesn’t work, but tapping out two pages about my writing does, yours truly is kicking off her running shoes and opening a new word doc immediately. My novella isn’t finished, but I’m through the middle and within view of those two little words that carry great emphasis: The End. 

Not everyone writes the way I do. But I’ve brainstormed and have yet to find a reason why this method couldn’t benefit a writer in some small way. At the very least, it will help tighten up a story line or flush out a scene idea that was previously hidden.

So try it out. Use the links below to get yourself started. The first link provides formatting basics. Formatting is tedious, mind numbing work, so get it out of the way quickly. The second explains how a synopsis should read and what it should and shouldn’t contain.

When next you find yourself chewing your nails to bits and staring at the flashing thin line, go in a different direction. There’s no harm in trying, you’ve got to do something to beat the dreaded writer’s block. Remember, reverse engineering isn’t just for scientists, word smiths can fall in love with it too.

Links:


Eleven Days

It has been eleven days since I started submitting two of my short stories to publishers and contests. With every passing day I grow more hopeful that the stories will become published. When you hear back right away, it's usually not a good thing.

I have a few more short stories that are in the final editing stages. I intend to get them out in the next few weeks, after I have completed a novella that I am working on. At this time, the novella first draft is my main focus.

I put down my other novella, the romantic one to get down a pseudo-horror story about zombies. The idea came to me in a bizarre dream and demanded on pain of zombification to be written down. Of course I complied because no one on the current best sellers list is a zombie (that I know of anyway.)

I also finished a book that I intend to post a review about in the near future. How to Write a Breakout Novel, is not meant for first time novelists, but that doesn't mean we can't read it. It's a free country and all. I figure having read it puts me ahead of the game. One less thing for me to read when I'm working on my second book right?

This is a very exciting time and I look forward to future posts about my progress.

Fingers still crossed!

C

New Fave Quote

New favorite quote:

Revision is like wrestling with a demon, where there is no escape, for almost anyone can write; only writers know how to rewrite--William C. Knott

Update to the Update

Couldn't sleep last night so I worked on a novella of mine. In between I entered some contests and submitted one of my short stories to some publishers. This is a very exciting time for me. I cannot wait for that first acceptance. I know it could take literally forever, but I can't help imagining how awesome it will feel!

Fingers still crossed.

C

Lying in Wait

Greetings and salutations,

Sent my first completed short story, Survivor, out to four contests today. Crossing my fingers and stalking my e-mail will commence in November when the first of the winner announcements goes out.

Can't describe this feeling. It's gratifying to be done, but now the real test begins. Will anyone outside of my writer's group and close friends be intrigued by my work? Will know for sure in the near future.

I figure that I must have some talent considering how much I enjoy my own writing. If I never publish a word or even an em dash, I will still smile and LOL when I read some of my work. My characters are funny little devils that cheer me up no matter what. Okay, done being a dork for the moment.

So cross your fingers with me. Let's stalk my e-mail together shall we?

It's Time!!!

Two short stories ready to go!

For a while I thought I would never finish any of my stories. Every time something made it to final edits, another idea would pop in my head. Whatever I was working on would get set to the side so I could write down the new idea before I lost it.

My writing comes in fast spurts. I write four to fifteen thousand words at a time, depending on what I'm writing. There is no time to waste. My romance ms is on hold because I had another short story idea. That one stalled out this morning, temporarily. Turned out to be a good thing.

Fortunately, I've finally hit a point where I can go back and finish something. Now I can finally say I have some work ready for submission. It feels great.

Cross your fingers, stand by. On average a short story is rejected twelve times before it's published. A slew of rejections letters, and perhaps a handful of publishing notices are headed my way!

More to follow.

Scary Story Update

My scary short story, Don't Cry may be ready for submissions. It is on its way to my writer's group this week. If I get a moment that I don't want to devote to Dog Tags, Ambien, and Lilies I plan to work up a query letter sometime next week. Crossing my fingers.

Status Update

These last few weeks I have been focusing all of my attention on my romance MS. I've changed the title so many times, right now it is: Dog Tags, Ambien, and Lilies. No telling if that is a keeper.

I am thankful to have many friends that have been willing to take the time to let me interview them for research. My novel has military and medical elements that I want to stay true to, and my friends have been kind enough to let me pick their brains. A big shout out to them and to my professor that taught me how to conduct historical interviews. Turns out those skills transcend.

I think my spin on the military romance is unique and that this ms has a lot of potential, that's why I've been focusing on it and everything else went on the back burner. It also has a lot of humor and heart, hopefully that will all shine through. More to follow.

Name Change

This is the same blog as it was under Writing Faceless. The name has changed but the content remains truly awesome. Please continue to enjoy under the recent adjustment.

Publishing By Law #33


Publishing By Law #33

One must switch to tea, decaf, or wine after ten PM to show some effort at working through writing related insomnia.

Publishing By Law # 104

Publishing By Law # 104

Accept that you will have writer's hair.

Definition: Hair that stands on end protruding in various directions, caused by rubbing scalp repeatedly searching for just the right word.

Publishing By Laws

By law of publishing #92: If you don't drink strong coffee by the gallon you will never make the best seller list.

Up All Night Again

Last night I stayed up until 2:30 because the ending of Something in the Rain came to me. I've known since I had the story idea back in May how the ending would happen, but the words were coming to me rapid fire last night.

I burned dinner trying to handle my "real" work, get the words out on paper and cook simultaneously. On the bright side, since its only the third time in seven years that I have ruined my dinner, my family let it go.

Tonight I will definitely be working on it again. But I feel victorious in having achieved seven thousand words of it last night, which is almost double what I had before.

Too Scared to Sleep

So last night I stayed up way too late, and its 100% my imagination's fault.

I stayed up till 2 AM working on my very first scary story. Then I couldn't sleep because I had creeped myself out so bad. They say to write about what scares you, well I did. My hope is that this story, once its finished, will keep others up all night too.

Don't Cry is in final draft form and headed to some serious rounds of edits. More to follow.

Padawan Writer Update

Young padawan writer (me) is about two weeks out from submitting my first short story to publishers. Its not really my first, but its the first to be almost ready to see the light of day.

This short story, Survivor, has a lot of meaning to me. I am really satisfied with this story and personally enjoy reading it, which is a tell that it is almost ready to go.

Final round of edits and its off to the publishers. I can hardly sit still.

Florida Today Letter to the Editor

Florida Today published my letter to the editor. The article is an excerpt of my review of Fifty Shades. Check it out: http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20120818/OPINION/120816019/-1/opinion03/Letter-Fifty-Shades-Grey-changes-reading-culture

C

New short story: The Tattooed God

Here's an update for you. I have been working all day on a new short story. The working title is: The Tattooed God. Its steamy, steamy romance, which seems to be my thing lately. This is good though because every blue blooded American woman wants to partake in a little romance from time to time.

The story I started last week or the week before (they are all running together at this point) is also a romance. The working title today is: Something in the Rain. This one is going to be a full fledged novel. Its in its infancy stages now, but I know how it ends.

I have about 2500 words of another YA novel down as well. This one is going to be awesome. I am entering new territory, but I like where I am headed. This one harkens back to one of other loves, political science. I think this story's underlying theme will keep me on the right path, even though the genre is new to me. So far the working title is: The Collapse, but I know its going to change.

My chick lit short story is simmering on the back burner at present. Its done, I just need to finish editing and send it off to some publishers. My concerns stem from the fact that I don't really know when I am done editing, this particular story is the first one to make it to this stage. One of the things I am strongly considering changing is the title, but I have no idea what I will change it to. I am scared to send it off only to have it rejected because I missed something. You have no idea how badly I want to put that sucker in the mail, but, I think that deep down, I will know when its ready to go.

And lastly, Faceless. This story is still waiting on two scenes and some major edits. I am letting it simmer as well because I think its due another rewrite. The best part about working on these romantic short stories is that my ability to create quality voice and characters that are magnetizing is dramatically improving. My latest characters readers seem to care about. The response has been heartwarming, seriously. Banging out a few of these will allow me to return to Faceless and make Mase and Mela mean more to the readers. So I'm not stalled out, I'm simmering. Besides if I can get a few of these short stories published, those credits will really look good at the bottom of Faceless's query letter.

And the best news, my schedule will be opening up some in the near future. This will allow me to finish all of this in a reasonable amount of time. Oh joy!

Back to writing I go!

Fifty Shades ???


Time to review Fifty Shades of Grey.

I should mention that I spent about two weeks researching this book with no intention of reading it. But then the curiosity overtook me. I just had to know! After reading a substantial part of the book via preview, I was completely in its clutches and just had to finish it. I had to know, and I had to know why I had to know.

I guess one could say that the lure is mostly in the taboo. Fifty Shades has caused a shift that no one saw coming. Books that not too long ago women would have read only in the privacy of their bath tubs are now begin carried and paged through on planes, subways, and waiting rooms. I was in a workshop at a school board watching the woman across from me (who was very level headed) lift the book at every break.

Erotica for women is now welcome pretty much everywhere but church, compliments of Christian Grey. I guess this is a bit of a win for women considering that smart phones allow men (and some brave women too) to browse much worse material pretty much any where they please, covertly. Daring to open the book in public is akin to saying I don't need to hide behind my phone, judge at will. E-readers unfortunately don't get to make the statement, even though they paid for the book.

So when considering whether or not to read this book, I gave it a go because I needed to know how the author single-handedly changed a culture with a series of books.

This is not my first exposure to erotica either. Years ago I started (but did not finish) a series given to me by a then boyfriend. It was far more perverse than Christian Grey would ever go. Part of me (who was younger then) felt that since it was written by Anne Rice it was okay that the material was twisted, warped, very over the top. The other part of me, to this day, wonders why she wrote the books using a pen name when they plastered her name all over the books anyhow. But I digress.

When I finally did read Fifty Shades I was looking for things that were there and were not there because of all I'd heard. I'd heard rumor of a twist, I did not find it. I don't know if it was because E.L. James knew there were more books to come, if she wanted the reader to experience a bit of cliff hanger, or if she just couldn't figure out how to wrap things up, but the ending was a bit off putting. I read the e-book version and found myself clicking the tab button repeatedly thinking, surely this is not the end of the book?

I was also looking for lousy writing. That I did find, but more so I found lousy editing. There were three blatant editing errors in this book that average readers would pick up on. And when I say editing errors, I mean things I would not expect the writer to pick up on, but that shouldn't have survived the editor's scrutinization.

I found droves of oopsies on the author's part as well, but I don't know how obvious all of them would be to reader. Apparently, they are obvious though if one reads the reviews. It is my opinion that most of the errors and no-no's I found an average reader couldn't technically define, but they may read and think, hmmmm something about that was off. No-no's aren't really errors, they just don't fall into the recommended habits for authors category. Of course, they shouldn't really pass the litmus test either, but we all know of plenty of other books that have been published like that.

I still stand on my premise that most of the writing was not terrible, she just did lots of no-no's and got called on it. From what I can tell her background in screen writing may have something to do with this, as I have read some books on writing by screen writers and they seem to operate on with a handful of rules that orthodox novel writers do not condone. But that does not make this book crap.

Fifty Shades capitalizes on two things that engross and sell: romance and sex appeal. Having read both before, I could see where the story was carried on the emotion it kindles in the reader. That's actually a weak description, violently thrusted down the rails of this roller coaster of a book is more like it. It is this intensity that allows the reader to remain involved in Grey's world even when the author makes oopsies. Readers can overlook it because we just want more Grey. Perhaps thats what happened, the author overlooked it because she was too hung up on Grey herself. Being so afflicted myself, I can find it my heart to forgive her.

This book came to me at a good time. It was a fateful reminder of just how you can get hooked into a novel. I stayed up all till 3:15 reading knowing I had to be to work in a few hours. I don't do bad things, but I strongly considered calling out of work to finish reading. That has never happened to me before. I walked around a happy zombie at work as I watched the clock, eager to find out what happened next. I was so tired I felt like the Incredible Hulk had bitch-slapped me. I want to learn to write like this.

However, by the end the feeling wore off and I am still not sure how I feel about how the story wrapped up. Anatasia Steele started to get on my nerves and it seemed like whenever they weren't doing it they were fighting or repeating themselves or some well rehearsed version of both. This could have been the author not realizing she was chasing her own tale (or fully aware with no clue how to undo it) or it was a hasty ploy to get information across that she saw no other way of disseminating, hard to tell really.

One thing is for sure, if you take the erotica out the romance will not stand on its own. Two reasons for this exist, number 1: It is painfully obvious to any Twi-hard how much it is akin to Stephanie Meyer's work, and her readers will not stand for it. Why read Twilight 2.0 when the first one was fine? The scenes and some of the descriptive details, harken back to Forks in more than a flattering manner.

I read the Twilight Saga five times, I am not making this up, the locale (Seattle/Portland really close to Forks) the clumsy protagonist (who shrugs away from nice clothes and gifts,) the dangerous guy (with copper highlights.) I have to add in there a technologically inept teenage girl (those actually don't exist, except in rare cases) and two people under thirty who live for classical music and books. I've never met those characters before, or have I? I could keep going but then I would spoil the book. Suffice it to say, that too many of the scenes seem like they started as cutouts from Stephanie Meyer's work before they became a playground for Grey. In fact, without the incredibly complicated Grey, it would almost feel like I've read it before. Maybe thats why I got through it so fast.

The second reason is that the erotic scenes are the glue holding this book together. Without the sex that pulls Grey and Steele apart and drives them together, these characters really don't have much of a relationship, they are utterly incompatible. It could be argued that the thrill of the steamy scenes is carrying the book on this front as well. But thats okay, this book wasn't meant to survive without it's erotic element.

I may feel differently when I read the rest of the trilogy. One thing is for certain though, I don't know if I will ever look at an elevator the same way again. But there is little doubt that I will be reading the rest, as soon as I get some sleep.

Recommended: Holy fuck yes! (You will get that when you read it.)

Shadows in the Rain

Last night I stayed up all night working on a new story, Shadows in the Rain. Of course, I will continue to work on Faceless, but this new fiction story will be just as good. This is not YA, but it is certain to be an engrossing love story for adult readers. I will keep you all posted on my progress. 9,000 words in so far, I think I've earned some shut eye!

First Day Back

Today was my first day back to school (as a teacher.) I put this up on my bulletin board:

Today someone will:

Walk for the first time,

Save a life,

Help a friend,

Solve a problem.

What will you do today?

Be an agent of worldwide change.

As I was driving home I thought up a couple more I could have added. Most of the below are not school appropriate, but it is still a good exercise in really how precious our time is. Perhaps we could build a list together. I will start us out:

Adopt a homeless animal,

Beat cancer,

Forgive someone who doesn't deserve it.

Come on, add one. Don't leave me hanging. : )

Good Reads

Good reads is a website devoted to readers. It compiles the opinions and suggestions of readers on books from all genres. Their search feature provides pages of book listings from simple key words like, YA angels that usually line up with what you were actually looking for.

Based on your own list of books you have read, are reading or intend to read the sight will also provide suggestions of books that may interest you. These lists are compiled per genre which is a feature I like since I flip back and forth from fiction to nonfiction, YA to career, ect.

The reading challenge is something I encourage everyone to take up. Set a goal of books to read by the end of the year and keep track with ease by using their site. Make friends, (I should be the first of course) read books, have fun with the link below.

http://www.goodreads.com/

Playlists to Write to

Stephanie Meyer posted the playlists she listened to when writing her novels. The music was so telling. The songs provided a glimpse into her frame of mind as she created characters and scenes. Not to mention it introduced me to Muse, an excellent band.

This playlist includes all the songs that I play over and over when working on Faceless, however; certain songs are only for certain situations.

The lighter, fun songs are for when Mase is doing his "normal" thing.

The midsection is where I spend most of my time. When I am writing about a dark topic and trying to end on a positive note, these songs help.


The last section is for villain creation. I want my villains to be awesome because I like them so much. They listen to cool music.

So here goes:

Bare Foot Blue Jean Night: Jake Owen          (Only country entry I promise.)
The Fighter: Gym Class Heroes
Tonight, Tonight: Hot Chelle Rae
Lights and Sounds: Yellowcard
Shake it: Metro Station
Seventeen Forever: Metro Station                   (See the shift?)
Good Life: One Republic
Wide Awake: Katy Perry
We are Young: Tonight
Pumped Up Kicks: Foster The People
Somebody That I Used to Know: Gotye
Born to Die: Lana Del Rey
Blue Jeans: Lana Del Rey         (If you aren't listening to this your iPod must be broken.)
Heavy in Your Arms: Florence and the Machine
It Will Rain: Bruno Mars
Kings and Queens: 30 Seconds to Mars
Vindicated: Dashboard Confessional              (Changing gears again.)
Prelude 12/21: AFI
Supermassive Black Hole: Muse

New Fave Quote

"The road to hell is lined with adverbs."
                                                      ---Stephen King

The Peter Principle

I just finished reading the Peter Principle and it is hysterical. A formal book review will follow but I had to share a funny story about the book right away.

The Peter Principle is the idea that people are promoted to their level of incompetence. The book is a satirical look at this principle at work. Due to grouped incompetence things go wrong and production plummets.

I told you that to tell you this. My copy of the book demonstrated such failure in that it was numbered correctly, but I was missing a page in between pg 81 and 82. Too funny.