Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bitten By the Writing Bug

After forcing myself to get my Draft 2 of my first 12k words to my CPs even though I didn't feel like writing has now made me want to write all the time! But unfortunately this week is finals week in the two classes I am taking and has big projects due at work and my sister is coming to visit this weekend--so no writing for me right now...

One of my biggest problems in my writing is what I call the "And Then. And Then. And THEN!" phenomenon where the plot races forward at break-neck speed without any changes in pacing. I've managed to find a few places to interject a slower speed. Next I am going to see what I can do to add some additional tension to these scenes. Ew, good blog post idea. Expect to see something about adding tension to scenes shortly :)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Accomplishments Make Me Happy

Well, I did it...I got the next set of work out to my crit partners! This section is pretty rough so hopefully they don't think I'm a crap writer, but we shall see.

I had a great weekend! It's very sad, but I don't think that I'm going to have time to put up the Christmas tree this year. I don't know...maybe week after next I might have a window of time. It just doesn't feel like the Christmas season without it to come home to. On top of that, our demon kitty, Skittles would love to climb in it. I'm glad that we have cheap ornaments.

I am not going to be doing much writing this week as I have finals in both my classes and projects due in both my jobs. I'm very much looking forward to the winter break from my classes. The hubby and I are behind on date nights :)

There is an element to my novel that is slightly "steampunk". Does anyone out there in blog-land have any good reqs for a steampunk novel?

Friday, December 5, 2008

I Love the Holidays!--and looking for another CP

So people who are very busy are usually busy because they enjoy it. I'm busy and I enjoy it. This weekend is going to be so much fun. I get to spend time with a bunch of different friends...including attending a bachelorette party, ornament exchange party, cookie exchange party and my husband's work holiday party. I love the holidays.

Also, I'm on track with my writing goals so that's good.

I'm so excited for an excuse to bake Christmas cookies!

By the way, I'm looking for one more crit partner if any of you out there are interested (a normal reviewer is good to, but I'd rather have a partner so I feel like I'm giving back).

Prophecy's Promise is a fantasy novel written in first person.

Hailey, wildly hailed as the smartest mind of her time prepares to take her Scholar Exam and pass into the ranks of the Learned--the youngest to attempt this one-time make-or-break Rite in recorded history. A week before the Exam she has a prophetic dream. Now she must give up everything that she knows in order to help save all humanity from being consumed by their dying world. Problem is that she's spent her life training how to record history, not how to make it.

One thing Hailey will learn is that everyone--uncle, father, lover and friend-- is just out for themselves, even when it comes to the end of the world.

Let me know if this project sounds interesting to you and if you want to help me!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sharing my goals

I had a writing vacation and now I am back! I don't feel any less blocked so no more breaks. They don't work for me. Everyone works differently-- I am very goal-oriented and I need small milestones to keep me motivated and productive.

I believe that goals are easier to keep if you announce them. I am giving up TV until I have completed though to the end of the third draft. If I ever feel like watching TV I will either read a book or will go write :)

I have mini-chapters. They run between 800 and 1600 words. The chapter numbers aren't as much my goal as the word count. This is pretty mutable, but here is the basic idea.

Does anyone else out there have any specific goals? How do you motivate yourself to work on your book?

My plan:
Draft 0: Outline (Done)
Draft 1: Plot and basic description
Draft 2: Make it good enough to share
[Send to CPs in batches]
Draft 3: Take input and fix issues
[Send whole thing to CPs and Beta Readers]
Draft 3.5: While CPs and Beta Readers are doing their thing work on technique, description and setting
Draft 4: Final Draft
[Send queries to agents]

Total means total word count to the end of the section--lower drafts that are downstream from the section don't count into the totals.

Done: Chapters 1-22 (Draft 1) Total: 20k
Done: Chapters 1-5 8k (Draft 2) Total: 8k
Sunday Dec 7: Chapters 6-15 (Draft 2) total: 20k (5k in this section)
Sunday Dec 21: Chapters 11-15 (Draft 2) total: 20k (7K in this section)
Sunday Dec 28: Chapters 16-21 (Draft 2) total: 28k (8k in this section)
Sunday Jan 4: Chapters 22-25 (Draft 1) total: 33k (5k in this section)
Sunday Jan 11: Chapters 26-30 (Draft 1) total: 38k (5k in this section)
Sunday Jan 25: Chapters 31-35 (Draft 1) total: 44k (6k in this section)
Sunday Feb 1: Chapters 22-25 (Draft 2) total: 36k (8k in this section)
Sunday Feb 8: Chapters 26-35 (Draft 2) total: 50k (14k in this section)
*Sunday Feb 22: Chapters 1-21 Draft 3 (need draft 2 reviews for these chapters on or before Feb 1)*
Sunday Mar 1: Chapters 36-41 (Draft 1) total: 56k (6k in this section)
Sunday Mar 8: Chapters 42-49 (Draft 1) total: 63k (7k in this section)
Sunday Mar 15: Chapters 50-56 (Draft 1) total: 70k (7k in this section)
Sunday Mar 22: Chapters 57-61 (Draft 1) total: 75k (5k in this section)
Sunday Apr 5: Chapters 62-65 (Draft 1) total: 80k (5k in this section)
*Sunday Apr 19: Chapters 22-35 (Draft 3) (need draft 2 reviews for these chapters on or before Mar 22)*
Sunday Apr 26: Chapters 36-50 (Draft 2) total: 60k (10k in this section)
Sunday May 3: Chapters 51-56 (Draft 2) total: 70k (10k in this section)
Sunday May 17: Chapters 57-61 (Draft 1) total: 78k (8k in this section)
Sunday May 24: Chapters 62-65 (Draft 1) total: 86k (8k in this section)
Sunday May 31: Chapters 66-72 (Draft 1) total: 93k (7k in this section)
Sunday Jun 7: Chapters 73-end (Draft 1) total: 100k
Sunday Jun 14: Chapters 57-65 (Draft 2) total: 90k (20k in this section)
Sunday Jun 21: Chapters 66-end (Draft 2) total: 105k (15k in this section)
*Sunday July 5: Chapters 36-56 (Draft 3) (need draft 2 reviews for these chapters on or before Jun 14)*
*Sunday July 12: Chapters 57-end (Draft 3) (need draft 2 reviews for these chapters on or before July 5)*
Sunday July 2: Deliver full draft 3 to beta readers (and CPs, if they want)

Send out to Beta Readers and focus on technique over next month. (work on draft 3.5)

August 1st: Start querying agents

{{Note, this was updated Dec 9th, 2008}}

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Starting to Feel Less Overwhelmed

I hope that all of you in blog-land had a great Thanksgiving!

Mine was relaxing in comparison to my normal schedule. We went down to Indianapolis. It was nice to visit with the family and play with my nieces and nephew. I made a cream-of-butternut-squash-and-apple soup, shortbread pear tarts and pumpkin whoopie pies. Well, the whoopie pies were the day after with my sister's kids. It's our thing. I bring over an interesting recipe and we bake together. I do miss Indiana... Who knows, maybe I'll move back one day.

I seriously haven't worked on my novel in over a month, but classes are starting to wrap up and my Associate Year for the Junior League is done, which is pretty exciting and will free up the schedule a bit. I think I get voted in sometime this week. I'm not associates aren't invited. Tonight I shall write. Assuming I get to leave work at a reasonable hour. For someone who has a writing blog detailing my path to publication, I'm not doing enough writing :-P

Usually people's schedules get busier around the holidays, but mine (at least during the week) is calming down--the weekends are about the same :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Long Time No Blog

Sorry that I've disappeared into the blog-o-sphere. The bit about me being really busy has been a bit of a problem lately and it's been giving me some issues with writer's block. So I decided to write a non-fiction article related to my work. It turned out pretty nicely. I didn't write it with the intention of getting published, but I think that I'm going to go for it.

I'm so looking forward to the four day weekend. I'm not going to take it off. I'm going to use it as an opportunity to get caught up. On my running, on my writing, on my knitting, on my school work, on my main job and on my side job. I'm also looking forward to getting caught up on all the blogs that I love to read, but haven't had time to recently and visiting with family and friends. Going to be awesome!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Avalon Universe

I am in a web-isode. Web-isodes are short online tv shows. You can go see it at the link above. My character isn't in that scene, but it's her twitter and Facebook. No, I'm not wriring the Twitter and Facebook, the writers of the show are (some people were confused by that).

Anyhoo, I know that I'm biased, but I think that it's worth a watch! :)

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Why Am I So Busy?

So on my last post I talked about being so busy. I decided to write a little about what makes me so busy.

I have two primary focuses. Everything I do is to go towards these two goals:
1) Publish a Novel
2) Get in to Grad School (MBA at Northwestern or Chicago)

Part One is what this whole blog is about. Most of you reading my blog are going through the same Write, Revise, Repeat Cycle and know all about it. (If you don't keep reading my blog and you'll soon find out :-P).

For Part Two, the two MBA programs that I want to get into are two of the top five. Only around 15-20% of applicants get in. I hadn't finished my undergrad and the classes I did take had a bad GPA so to get into a good program I have to do a little bit extra to hopefully make up for the GPA issues:
* Finish school (which will take until this time next year since I only have a couple classes) and get As on classes I accomplish (which will be hard since I'm finishing up a Math degree and those classes are just evil.)
* Excel at work (partially okay since I'm a Dir of IT, but I'm trying to do some entrepreneurial work on the side to help--I'm doing the programming for a small company for equity and I'm starting a small promotional company on the side which I hope to flip in a year and a half to help pay for grad school)
* Be active in the community through philanthropic organizations (I joined the Junior League of Chicago, I'm looking at joining the Catholic Charities Jr Board and might join the Associate Board at the Stepehenwolf Theater)
* Take the GMAT, planning on doing it in the summer.

So, the only things that I do lead to helping me accomplish my two goals. Problem is that my first goal usually gets pushed aside. But not now that I have my sacred writing time. Talking about writing, I think that I am going to do that right now :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Busy Week--and the Creation of a Special Writing Time

I hope that everyone is doing well out there in Blog Land!

I'm not completely unstuck on that scene, but everyone's ideas are super big helps. I got something written down. It's enough to feel okay about moving on to the next bit. I'm starting to feel pretty good about my book :) It's such a great feeling. I still have a very long way to go though. Between working full time, doing a part time job, participating in a couple philanthropic groups, trying to start a company (for another blog post) and taking a couple of classes, I feel like writing is getting pushed under the table. I think that I am going to start waking up an hour earlier and writing. Doing after work just isn't panning out as well as I would like. I did an hour this morning and it was great. Such a wonderful to start off the day :)

Does anyone out there have a "Special Writing Time"?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Writer's Block

Once I hit 20k words I started a revision on the completed work by adding description and filling in story holes. Some story holes are accidental and others were purposefully left for me to fill in later. Now it's later and I'm stuck on a couple of scenes.

My usual solution is to move forward and worry about it later, but this is just a part that I won't like writing ever so I need to do it now. Any suggestions out there in blog-land?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Welcome Baby Jack-Jack!

Baby Jackson Duane Melchiorre was born at 8:21 this morning to Pete's sister. It's the first baby on that side of the family. Very exciting.

I need to work on my own baby (My Book in the Oven). Flipping between calling it Prophecy's Promise or Prophecy's Tool. Any preferences?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Spend Less Month

This is off topic from what I want my blog to be about (my journey to finish and, hopefully, publish a fantasy novel), but this is a big part of my life for the next month so I'm going to include it.

I'm declaring October Spend Less Month. I read about it on Small Notebook and an MSN article. I have a former co-worker/friend who does a "No Spend" month from time to time. I'm not that hard core. That I'm not concerned about spending in general. It's a tool, I just want to understand how I use it.

We don't spend more than we make. As a matter of fact, we save a decent amount each month. That being said, we spend sooo much. I always joke that we are single-handedly making sure the economy keeps chugging because of all the crap we buy.

The Challenge:
We are going to limit ourselves to $400 on all non-gas and non-revolving bills.

The (Hopeful) Results:
I want to be more aware of my relationship with money. I'm very lucky for the resources that I have, but I think that if I go on a one month "money diet" of sorts I will appreciate those resources so much more. And might be less tempted to use them on a whim.

The Reward:
At the end of the month we are going to look at our credit card bill (to get points we put everything on the credit card and then pay it off at the end of the month) and see how much less we spent than the month before. We are going to take that money and invest it, but I'm not sure where. We will figure that out at the end of the month.

Honestly, we are pretty good on keeping the revolving bills down. We run the AC/Heat at the minimum needed. We don't have cable. Paid off the car. Don't buy large items that we really don't need (ie--still no flat screen TV). Our problem is the accumulation of all the little things. Dinner out. Lunches out. Starbucks. Clothes. Crappy little things that we end up throwing away. The line between wants and needs can get real blurry at times, especially if you can afford it.

$400 for food, entertainment, and impulse buys for two people during the course of a month isn't that drastic. Many families of 4 do fine on that. Some of them do it on much less. I'm sure some people are going to be reading this and thinking that I'm melodramatic, but you have to start somewhere! Growing up my family was very frugal. We didn't even buy boxed cereal because it was too expensive (instead mom made homemade oatmeal). Pete's family had to be frugal as well, although our families picked different things to be frugal about. I'm sure that we have the tools and integrated habits to break our new spending habits that we've developed over the past couple years. I'd rather start trying now rather than in a few more years when we add a little "plus one".

I got buy-in from Pete this morning when I told him that he could buy his new computer (that he's been eying for almost a year, waiting for the price to drop) if and only if he agreed to the $400 Spend Less Month. He and I have the same primary concern: socializing. We go out to eat with friends. It's our thing.

Does anyone out there have any suggestions for less expensive entertainment ideas?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Over It

I had a bad day at work and I just feel sooo over it. Gotta suck it up and keep working. :(

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Weekend Wrap Up

Wrapping up another busy weekend.

Friday the hubby and I went out to celebrate my bday. I got ready at work so that he could pick me up and not see me get ready. I do that about once a month during the nicer months. We went out to the Fondue restaurant called Gejas, that I absolutely love, but it's kinda expensive. Made for a very nice evening.

Saturday I had class and then after I went to the Field Museum with some friends. After doing a little homework for my Monday class, we went out to dinner to my favorite dinner called Nookies (I love the oxymoron of eating at a diner in the middle of Chicago). Ran into two groups of people that we knew, which was awesome because it made me feel like I was starting to know people around the city (I've been here about a year and a half).

Today I had some more filming and then went to watch a friend's Flag Football game. Went out for beers after as is customary for sporting events. We were going to make sushi over at the condo, but Pete is really sick so we went out for sushi instead.

So where was the writing in all that? That's the problem. Not counting lunch on Friday, there wasn't any. Also didn't do any work for my work side project. On the plus side, I met a CP on this great website and she gave some great feedback for my first five chapters (which are very small and is the word count of a normal chapter). However, I hope to have my first five chapters fixed by Thursday of this week and the second five ready to go for Thursday of the following.

I'm actually going to do my own NaNoWriMo Lite which will be to write those afformentioned 20k. Also means that I want to be done with revising my current set before November.

Is anyone else planning on doing NaNoWriMo? What do people usually do if you are on a project with NaNoWriMo rolls around?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Actually, it's a happy belated birthday. The big 2-6 was on the 16th.

First, an announcement. I've picked a title for my novel: Prophecy's Tool. And a sad fact. I had to cut a 2k work scene that wasn't doing anything for the plot line. :( Back down to 19.5k. I hope to get it back to 20k again by EOD.

On to the main topic of my blog. I'm a huge resolution fan. One of my favorite quotes is: "If you don't know where you're going, you won't know when you get there." Does anyone else set birthday resolutions or is it just me?

Here are my resolutions:
* Lose 10 pounds
* Begin an exercise routine
* Eat more healthfully

* Socialize at least 3x a week
* Write at least 100 words a day
* Finish Prophecy's Tool in 6 months

* Take enough classes to be enrolled in my last semester by my next birthday
* Eat in 3x a week (might be contrary to the socialize one)
* Save 2k a month
* Get out of all debt (really don't have much) (not counting mortgage)

* Once webisodes are done, audition at least once a month for new movies/plays
* Finish the website for AnyGift (long story)

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Do My Own Stunts

I do my own stunts and have the bruises to prove it.

I'm in a web-isode that will start airing in weekly online web shorts (5ish minutes) staring in a couple months. Over the weekend we filmed the first couple months worth of episodes. In one scene my charector is breaking in through a window. So I had to break in through a window...about 20 times. Windows have ledges to keep the rain out. I slid down that ledge. Ouch. I have these horible looking bruises all up and down my left leg, but really only on the top and only on the left one.

Anyhoo, the filming was soo much fun. I think I did a passable job, but I've gained like five pounds over the past six weeks from eating bad food, which was a problem since I was suppose to be playing at 17 yo, but that's okay. I think I only looked a little older than I was suppose to. The other actors were awesome. Lots of talent. I can't wait for it to go live.

Writing is going pretty well. I have a potential CP. She sent me her stuff on Friday and I just sent over my first few K. I'm so excited. My book really feels like it's starting to come together.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


The first goal has been reached! I'd like to feel accomplished, but that's only 1/5 of my word count and the majority of it is in glorified outline form. Three very important transitional scenes are simply a couple lines of very rough description of what ought to occur. This is especially problematic because I'm in first person because I think it's fun to be that deep in a character's head. Problem is, I need to be deep in her head without losing the action.

This is why novel writing is so hard and why it's so fun.

Each scene will be a prompt. I am going to write about all the description of the scenery. How she feels. Maybe I'll write how someone else feels and then translate that to my POV character seeing it. From there I will take the paragraph and scatter it through out the scene either directly or indirectly.

I think that exposition gets a bad rap from authors mis-using it. The classic info dump, while exposition by definition, is not exposition by good utilization. Exposition when sprinkled throughout a scene in tiny chunks can add to voice, setting, and scenery in ways that direct dialog cannot.

Monday, September 8, 2008


My muse is all rested and I'm ready to begin again. I read (devoured) the Kushiel's Legacy most recent book, Kushiel's Mercy by Jacqueline Carey over the weekend. Got me all inspired to get back to work. I also read Thief with no Shadow by Emily Gee.

I'm currently sitting at 18k words. I have class tonight out in Schamburg. It will take me about two hours my public transportation to get there. I plan to work on my book while in transport.

I'm going back to finish my degree. I had class on Saturday too. My good friend, Becky, has a boyfriend who just moved to Chicago about a month ago and he was in my class. So random. Nice to not be the only college-aged kid sitting there. I was a bit worried about sitting in class with a bunch of 18 year olds. That being said, I believe that most of the people in that class were non-traditional, as you might expect with a Saturday class.

Also, this weekend, I had my first rehearsal for this web-isode by Avalon Film Works. Despite just complaining about being an "Old Student" I'm playing the part of a 17 year old. Great script. Great cast. I think I'm the only non-pro/semi-pro actor. There's a benefit to looking a decade younger than I am. I'll post the link to that site once it goes live.

Yes, I like being crazy busy. It keeps me productive. Goal is to be to 20k words by Wednesday.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Taking a Back Seat

Unfortunatly, writing is taking a bit of a back seat to the rest of life at the moment. I'm sitting right at around 20k words, which is great. I have alot of ideas for where I want it to go. I just have no time to write :(.

I am hopeful that within the next couple of weeks the summer will be basically over and my schedule will start to open back up again. Until then...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Gardens, Boats and Batman--Weekend Wrap Up

This was a crazy busy weekend. Friday I worked late on my second job, so that made the day slight lame. Oh, and I've had a sore throat for almost a week and I was feel esp crappy Friday night.

I made up for it the rest of the weekend. I'm joining the Jr League and I had my first meeting on Saturday--well, the orientation. I met some super interesting women. If you are a woman between 21 and 40, you should see if you have a chapter in your area. The Junior League reminds me of a grown-up sorority that focuses on Philanthropic activities. I worked nearly 8 hours (and had to blow off a friend's open house party :(, which was sad), but I caught the midnight showing of Batman. It was *awesome*. I highly recommend it. It actually had a bit of a plot in addition to the great scenes and lots of the filming was in Chicago. On the last movie they did alot of CG to make it look less like Chicago, but on this one they mostly just didn't show landmarks, but living in the city, I recognized tons of places.

Sunday, I woke up and worked some and then we went to the Dearborn Garden walk in Chicago's "Gold Coast". Beautiful gardens in multi-million dollar homes. Crazy to be right downtown and feel like you are a million miles away.

We went with Brad and Ana, the people who's party I wasn't able to go to, so it was nice to spend time with them. After, the four of us went out to the Yacht Club where I got *blatantly* hit on by some drunk software millionaire nearly 20 years older than me (cliche and gross). Well, it wasn't bad at first, we were all talking and he has an interesting story and then it slowly got worse and worse, but too slow to notice until we were all too into the conversation to leave easily. And Pete's sitting there goofing off on Facebook on his cell phone, which of course made the guy worse cuz it looked like Pete didn't care. And Brad found it funny, because he's Brad and likes situational humor. It's, I don't want to see your sailboat. Pete, don't shrug when he says your crazy lucky. No, I don't care if you are looking for a Dir of IT; I like my job... How does my ring not look like a wedding band? I'm confused. Makes for a funny story though, I guess. At one point, he grabbed my hand and pulled me over to the window to point out his boat. That was about the time that even Brad was ready to abandon our drinks and leave the bar. Oh well.

And then I went home and worked on work for another two hours. No writing :(

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wednesday Update

I'm going to start giving an update on Wednesdays. When I remember....

Word Count (Rough Draft): 17161
Word Count (Revised) : 0
Word Count Total : 17161

What went well this week: I'm a bit back on track as far as plotting goes. I had kinda fallen off the writing wagon, but I'm back on now.

What didn't go as well: I've got a part of the story that is a journey and I've got no idea what to do with the plot, but that is where the romance subplot has to happen so I need some interesting challenges to be thrown at the characters.

Goal for next week: 20k word count and outline journey

Also, I'm basically writing glorified outlines with mostly telling instead of showing. I want to, after hitting the 20k mark, have at least the first two chapters revised (they are very short chapters)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Weekend Wrap Up

This weekend was pretty good. Friday I had happy hour after work. We are a pretty small shop. Two people didn't show and the the two guys left early because they had prior plans and then the four Polish girls who all live in the suburbs left at the same time, leaving me and my boss. Since I didn't want to say "thanks for the drinks" and split, I said that I'd wait for him to get the bill and we had a good little chat about the future of the company and my place in it. About a year ago we split from the parent company and have been paying them dividends. I guess he expects to be to 50 people in about three years. I'd have a decent staff, which would be a nice change of pace.

Then Pete and I went out to dinner at this cute little French Restaurant in Andersonville (Chicago neighborhood I live in) called La Tache. We even got to bring Sadie, our border collie with us. That's her in the picture.

Saturday we had Pete's company picnic. We've got a few friends that work with Pete that we hang out with alot so it was nice to see them. We got together after a little bit too. Sunday I managed to get some plot work in. I thought up a few good twists and did some charector development for some of the minor characters. I also got some work in for my side job.

I'm officially starting back to college in the fall to finish my degree at Roosevelt University. Between school, the real job and the side job, I'm a bit worried that writing might fall by the wayside :(. I guess I better get as much in as I can between now and September.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

14k and a Play

It seems so sad to be sitting at 14k words when I had 20k a couple of months ago. But between pulling apart the two story lines and moving to first person, I lost a lot of scenes and I had to go back and do alot of replotting. The writing that I have now is much more shored up--which is good. And the writing doesn't make me cringe so much--which is better.

Tomorrow I am going try and put in 1k more of plot and then I'm going to go over what I've got so far and make it better. I think that my goal will be to do that every 15k (but only over that 15k).

I'm going to the theator tonight with the hubby and some of our friends. Going to see Aint Misbehavin at the Goodman here in Chicago. Should be good fun :)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Developing Efficient Writing Work Habits

I'm writing this article because I have horrible writing work habits. I have great excuses--primarily the day job, which is going well and isn't a means to an ends, but a great passion in and of itself. You'd be amazed how similar writing a novel is to writing a computer program. Seriously. But that's a different post.

Writing is a habit.

If you create an act, you create a habit. If you create a habit, you create a character. If you create a character, you create a destiny.
-André Maurois

Very true. And when applied to writing, getting into the habit of writing starts with the act of writing. If you don't put your pen to page (or fingers to keyboard, as case may be) then you aren't going to write a novel. Which is something I keep having to remind myself.

I'm a fan of the "Butt in Chair" (BIC) method of writing. You just have to set aside time to write, consitantly, and stick to it. It's just like going to the gym (not that I do that either...).

Is it your Writing Time but you have no inspiration for your plot moving forward? Write about a character's back story or have your antagonist write a letter to his mom. If it's a Fantasy novel, write about some of the myths or histories--if it's not, maybe write something about a character's grandpa. Just write. After a while, you'll start along on your book. Don't forget to keep it organized. I've got a writing notebook, a three-ring binder that I keep everything that I don't have in yWriter. I could easily put all of it there, but I like to have the backstory, myths, maps, etc in a seperate, physical place.

Despite my belief in the BIC method, I'm one of those writers who really doesn't come up with new plot material while I'm writing. I come up with it when I'm walking to the train, doing my shopping, cleaning, driving, etc. Maybe I could start cleaning as part of my writing. The hubby'd be happy that I got some done :-P

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Re-plotting along

So the other plot line has been removed (and stored away as a potential jumping point for a new story). Now I've decided to make it first person, which is requiring a massive rewrite of the plot line that I left intact, but I'm really starting to like what I've got going on. I'm not as good at first person, mostly because I usually write in third, but I think that it's making for a much stronger book.

4th of July weekend ended up being pretty good. I took Friday and Saturday totally off and just hung out with family and friends. A much needed break. Now I'm all ready to try and get this book going again!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Grass Is Always Greener

So now that I've made my decision to spilt the plot lines into different books, I'm wondering if they really did belong together.


I guess I'm just going to have to see if I can figure out a different way for the main character to get to her end without needing the other characters. I think the story will be stronger and less cluttered, but I've got a lot of re-plotting to do.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Still Around

Sorry that I haven't been blogging for the majority of the month. I realized that I was having a problem with my duel plot lines because they really didn't belong together. I had to go strip out the one plot line (and save it as the start of another book), which totally killed my word count. The other plot line was at about 8k words and, after a little bit of work my main plot line is to 15k. My goal is to get back up to 20k by the end of the week. At that time I am going to go back through what I have and do my first revision. Every 20k words I am going to do that (but only over those last 20k) so when I get to the end everything has been revised once. It's going to be a little harder to fit in writing because I picked up a second job that will last about three months. My goal is to keep up at around 4k words a week when I'm not revising and about 3 chapters when I am.

Also, my little sister got married last weekend so we've been crazy busy with all that and all the prep work. That's the above picture. I'm the one on the left, Meg is in the middle and our older sister, Ashleigh, is on the right. The wedding was very nice with minimal drama, which is good :)

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Yey! I've hit 20000 words! It was my first big goal milestone and I'm here ahead of schedule!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dreaming of the Ocean

It's not even 11am yet and I've put out half a dozen fires at work (no, not actual fires, issues/problems) and I have a huge list of other problems that need to be fixed yesterday.

One guy who works for me needs something to do, but all of these are too hard for him, so I have to think of something to give him so he's not wasting his time.

Stuff that was just fine yesterday magically decided to break today. Gremlins. I think I have gremlins.

My goal is to write 2k words tonight to get up to 20k. I deleted a bunch of the bad plot line so my word count took a nose dive. I usually try to work on my novel over my lunch break, but I think it's going to be a 12 hour day, no lunch.

Days like this, I'm dreaming of the ocean.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Making Characters' Lives S*ck

Disclaimer: If you don't like the word "suck" don't read this article. I think I'm going for an all time record of the use of suck.

If I met my main character (in the plot line that is going well) I think she'd zap me through the heart with a purple lightning bolt (she's a mage).

Why is it my favorite plot line? Why would my character go all homicidal?

The answer to both of these questions is the same. Because her life sucks. I mean *really* sucks. Seriously.

Making life suck for your character is one of the most important elements of the novel. Seriously, who wants to read about Daisies and Rainbows all day? (Okay, besides Environmental Scientists...I totally lost Crystal and Jenny both to that section the other day at Barnes and Nobles...but those books *were* non-fiction :-P)

Plots are important, and your premise is really all you can go into on your query letter--so it needs to be solid in order to get a request for a partial--but the characters are who the reader identifies with. How your characters react to the events you have created in your plot is what propels the story along; and gets your readers to keep turning the pages (and maybe results in a request for a full--or a book deal--or lots of money...okay, backing up now).

I'll admit, this is why my one story line is a bit stagnant. Her life isn't sucking enough. "Push 'em to the edge and then throw rocks at 'em" is a common novel-writer rule. I think it's fun, and a bit maniacal.

Events aren't the only way to make your character's life more difficult. You can also raise the stakes--either the personal stakes or the public stakes--of the events you have already created.

For example:
Your heroine's husband getting caught having an affair sucks.
Your heroine's husband getting caught having an affair with your favorite 18-year-old babysitter really sucks. (Who will watch Timmy?)
Your heroine's husband getting caught having an affair with your favorite 18-year-old babysitter by the board of the country club you were trying to join that would ensure your 3-year-old gets into the best preschool really really sucks. (Who will watch Timmy? How can he get into Yale and make me feel better about myself? How can I go to the store--everyone will be watching me!?)

You know what else would really suck? The president of the board was the baby sitter's father. Timmy can kiss that preschool good-bye. Or what if he was the heroine's boss? Ouch!

Of course, it would also suck if the affair was with your heroine's best friend. Or with your heroine's best friend's husband (that would *really* piss off the country club). Or maybe your heroine's father left her mother with his mistress and her mother was unable to take care of herself and your heroine has all this angst.

And then your heronie can react to all this suckage, pull herself up by the bootstraps and make the reader cheer with her. Don't let her whine too much. Even if her life sucks, the reader doesn't care. They want to see her get out of the suckage.

I think you get the point.

But you probably already knew that. What's important is how can I add more of this to my story! I know where I want my character to get next. I just can't think of any seemingly-sucky-but-everything-will-turn-out-okay-in-a-couple-hundred-pages way of getting there.

I am modifing the snowflake method. Get out 4 sheets of computer paper (or really any paper). Tape them together along the edges to make a big square. About half way up the top two sheets of paper, in the middle, write a sentence about where your character is at now.

Draw a circle around this. For everything that could happen next, draw a line to a point below where you have started and write the sucky event. For an event to come after that, draw another line to a point even further down and write the next incident. If you need foreshadowing in order to make this event even more sucky, draw a line for this make make it go above your initial point. Once you are done, you will have a not-to-scale timeline from the top of the page to the bottom. Connect the dots of your favorite sequence and use this as your plot. You can also draw a line between events that you could connect. So it becomes more of a web than a snowflake. Below I drew an example of what I am talking about. Hubby caught is the starting point.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Pete!

The hubby turns 26 today. His present is a cat, Skittles, who we got about 3 weeks ago from PAWS Chicago (a very awesome no-kill shelter). I think that he was expecting a techno-toy in addition to cat, but he didn't get one. Although I am thinking about giving him a card that says that he can get a Windows Home Server. His Media PC about bit the dust over the weekend, but he brought it back to life.

The weekend didn't quite wrap up the way I was expecting. I ran out of steam on Saturday. I still managed to hit 19k words, but I didn't want to push it. I think that I am just going to push through with the sub-par/glorified outline writing until the end and then go chapter by chapter to fix it up. I'm loving one of my story lines, which is funny because it was the secondary storyline initially. I'm about 70% done with that story line and only about 15% done with the other main one. I'll probably keep going with it until the story lines merge, which isn't very far off. At that point I will *have* to do the other story line. I like it, I'm just unsure how to get them from point A to point B with out seeming too contrived.

So, I don't know if anyone else has the same problem, but recently all I can think about/want to talk about is my novel--how it's going and the worries I have about getting to point B within a marketable word count. I think the hubby is getting annoyed by hearing me talk about I made him listen to the first chapter, which he really liked, but it was like pulling teeth to get him to let me read it to him. I guess he's not going to be a beta reader :-P

Friday, April 25, 2008

Chuggin Along at 16142

I am over 16k, which is awesome seeing as how last week I was sitting around 9k. That being said, these last 7k from this week aren't that great. The plot stuff rocks, but the words just aren't there. It's just a lot of placeholders.

This can be both good and bad.
Bad: I need to do a lot of rewriting. It's mostly in a glorified outline. Definetly putting the rough in rough draft.

Good: Since the story bit is solid, it's probably more like 11k+ worth of story telling once I add more description. This may sound psycho, but I really enjoy rewriting. Stringing words together to say something beautiful is my favorite part about writing. I'm not going to have to worry about what to say, just how to say it.

More Bad: The writing is really sucky so I might depress myself when I try to read it. Also, I'm out of practice. Maybe the quick writing will help me get back into practice, I'm not sure.

Plan of Attack: I've still got a lot of ideas bouncing around in my head. I think that I'm going to keep going until I hit around 20k max or Sunday morning, which ever comes first (which would be 11k up from a week ago). On Sunday I will start going chapter by chapter doing some micro revision to add description. Through the micro-revision, which I will finish by the end of next weekend, I hope to be up to around 25k. Most of that will be through added descriptions, details and events to previously created scenes and some will be new scenes to help set up what's going on or to add more colors.

I'm not sure how feasible these goals are. Normally I'd think they were too ambitious, but I'm totally obsessed with my story line right now and it's just flowing along. I don't want to revise too much while all these plot line juices are flowing because I find revision is a good way to deal with days that have a bit of writer's block associated with them.

To Write or Not To Write

Out on the inter-tubes there are several discussions going on about why writers write and if they would continue even if they would never be published (book ends and spy scribbler). Most of the responses are along the lines of "my muse is burning a hole through my heart every minute I am not employing her". I think that's totally awesome. I wish my muse was more hard-ass.

So why do I write? I'm creative. I like making things. That's why I'm a software developer. Stop development can be a very creative process. Building something out of nothing. Taking ideas and bringing them to live. Making something. Seriously, there are lots of similarities between what I like about my job and what I like about writing.

Writing is my hobby and I do have other hobbies besides writing. I like to knit. I am learning how to sew. I enjoy interior decor. I get great joy out of the fact that my condo looks nicer than the others in my 4-flat. I'm just competitive down to my bones. What's competition to a writer? Getting published. So yes, if I knew I would never get published, I wouldn't want to write. However, I'm stubborn so I'd probably keep trying to get published and wouldn't believe who ever told me that.

Another hobby of mine is reading. This is why I want to write. I want someone who I don't know read my book and get the same enjoyment out of it that I get out of other authors' works. The more marketable my books are, the more likely they will get published, the more likely the next one will be published and the more likely someone will wonder into Barnes and Nobel's and give me the privilege of leading them on an adventure through my world.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


yWriter is quite possibly my current favorite piece of software.

Okay, before I discuss yWriter, let me explain what I hate about writing long novels in Word. It sucks. You've got all these pages and all these plot lines spread out all over the place. I'm a software developer (Director of IT, actually--which makes me even more anal :-P). I've dealt with large files and usually if it gets to big you move them into two smaller files. At first I was going to create a separate document for each which would make moving scenes and reordering a major under-taking.

yWriter allows you to divide your writing into chapters and scenes. That's why I love it. A scene is complete, succinct. You can write one and feel accomplished. You can easily drag scenes between chapters. You can even create empty scenes with just a description. That's how I'm doing my outlining. Each outline point gets it's own scene. If I need to expand it to multiple scenes, not a problem. Just add a new one. It also makes it much easier to jump around in the story without losing something. That outlined place holder is still there, waiting for you to be ready to add detail.

You can also rate your scenes based on various metric (tension, charictorization, etc). You can mark the viewpoint character, goal, conflict and outcome for each scene. I don't really use that part, but expect to use it more as my novel gets longer.

If you have already started your novel, no worries. There is an import tool that only requires a little formating to make sure your chapters and scenes get imported correctly.

I only have one complaint. There is no spelling checker/red line when I misspell a word. My spelling is atrocious, so not having this functionality is problematic.

Best part? It's free!

yWriter (
***Note: I had not been asked to review this and have no attachment to the developer. I just love this software and want to share the love :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Finding Time to Write

I have been intending on writing a novel for over a decade. That's coincidentally the last time I finished a novel and went through the submission process. I was 14 at the time. The book actually wasn't horrid and came in around 70k words. It took nearly three years of my life, which at the time was a decent percentage. Maybe one day I'll polish it up and resubmit it.

Since then, I've drawn up maps and sketched up outlines, but never made the time to actually write. I even promised one college boyfriend I'd write one for him. We broke up. Never wrote the book.

What's different this time? Well, I created a New Years Resolution to write, edit, polish and submit my novel during the year 2008. And I told people. Peer Pressure can be a good thing.

I'm also making time. I'm lucky that work is my only main responsibility. No kids and the hubby can take care of himself. For three days every week I am going to work on my book over lunch. Every day I am going to invest an hour after work. Adds up to ten hours a week. Minimum.

Okay, the AIC (ass in chair) method doesn't work for everyone, but it's been going okay for me. I had a job change late January, which messed up the whole "writing thing", but I'm getting back on track. I think this year is going to be a good one.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It's Cooking

Book in the Oven isn't about cookbooks, it's about the creation and development of a novel. It's intended to be a pun on "Bun in the Oven". I'm just hoping it won't turn out half-baked.

Currently I am beginning the blogging process while sitting at 13k words. My word count goal is to end up somewhere between 100-115k.

From looking through the blog-o-sphere and various websites, there seem to be as many methods to writing a novel as there are authors. It's really funny when one person says to *never* do something and the next guy says it's the best way.

So considering how I work and what I want to produce, here are the steps that I will be following:
0) Get a rough outline for the story and major goals. (done)

1) I have two major plot lines (that merge a little over half way through the novel). Right now I am going through and writing a very rough draft of those plot lines. I hope to hit around 70k works when I am finished with that.

2) I am going to go through all of those scenes and add tension and description. I am going to remove the generic/boring phrases and replace them with better ones. I hope to be up to 85k through that.

3) I am going to go back through the novel again and layer in some additional plot lines and add more color to secondary characters. (This idea is one that people swear on both ways.) I hope to be around 125k after that. Basically Steps 1 and 2 are for the main characters and their primary issues. Step 3 is adding colors/layers to emphasize the main plot line and keep action moving throughout

4) I am going to go back through my novel yet again and remove scenes that don't advance the story (maybe merging important details into another scene) and tighten up the story. At the end, I expect to be around 100-115k

I also plan on working through Writing the Breakout Novel workbook and employ his suggestions into my writing. I will blog about what I learn.

This blog to take me through my novel's writing process , submission process, and--with any luck--publishing process. I won't discuss any details of my novel besides saying that it's the first of an Epic Fantasy Series.

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