Saturday, December 31, 2011

I am Resolved

I don't usually make New Year's Resolutions. I try to have revolving goals throughout the year. But I thought that I would sit down this year and contemplate what I would like to accomplish in the year ahead - especially with my writing. So, if you don't mind I would like to share with you my resolutions, both for writing and my personal life.

Writing

I want to have the first draft of Three of Ivory finished by the middle of 2012. And I would like to have it *almost* ready to begin querying by the end of the year.

I plan to submit Shadowed Stones to at least two publishers next year. More if I can squeeze them in.

I want to attend at least one writing conference and love it!

And I want to keep up with my blogging.

Personal

Lose weight. Okay, I know most people out there are in this same boat. If you are not - good for you! But over the past few years I have really struggle with me weight and it is affecting my health. So by the end of next year I WILL have reached my target weight.

I used to write a journal entry every day. This is something that I have gotten out of the habit of doing - and I want to get that back. So I am going to start with writing in my journal once a week and see how that goes.

I am terrible at keeping up with my house work. I want to be better at it so I don't feel so guilty when I sit down to write.

Religious

I am very devoted to my religion, but as in all things in life - I could be doing better. I want to be more faithful, give more service, and do more.

Do you have any new years resolutions?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Mighty Pen #27

The Mighty Pen flash fiction contest is a just for fun writing contest (inspired by my wonderful husband). I post the beginning of a story – and you post an end! I will choose a winner and several honorable mentions. The contest is open until Sunday night and the winner is announce on Monday where I feature them on my blog. Check out past winners on the tab above.



Note: This is a family friendly blog – so please keep it PG rated. Thanks!


The Beginning


"You laugh at me, but I am telling you - this year I will keep my resolution to..."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Three Words #27

One of my favorite writing games is something I call three words. I post three words and encourage you to write a flash fiction piece containing those three words. If you would like to challenge me – post three words for me and next week I will post a piece of flash fiction using your words. Enjoy!

Three Words

  • Paper
  • Ice
  • Sun

Flash Fiction

Using the three words: Hot Cocoa, Fire, and Storm (from last week)

I blew gently on the dark swirling liquid as I gazed out into the snow storm. We were in for a bad one. Taking a sip of my hot chocolate I moved to stand closer to the fireplace. I watched the flames dance over the logs for a moment listening to the howl of the wind.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Prompt Tuesday #27

Every Tuesday I post a writing prompt and my response. It gives me a chance to exercise my writing muscles outside of my WIP, and hopefully inspire you to write. So enjoy my flash fiction piece and post your own in the comments!

Prompt

Source: The Writer's Idea Workshop: Page 220

Make a list of expressions we use to communicate that we're in trouble such as "up a tree," "between a rock and a hard place," "in hot water," "at the end of my rope." Place a character literally in such a place.

P.S. I am cheating and skipping the list :)

Response

My fingers slipped and I felt the frayed end of the rope scrape against my palm. I tried to shift my hands to get a better grip on the rope but I just slipped down further. My left hand slipped free of the rope. As a hung their at the end of my rope the only thought that circled through my mind was: did I leave the oven on?

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Mighty Pen Winner...A Late Announcement

With yesterday being Christmas.... I kind of spaced posting the winner of the Mighty Pen award. So, here it is.

Krista M

Krista has a great blog over at The Jelly Beans of Writing which I highly recommend you follow (if you don't already).

Also, be sure to check out the original post for her entry it is very touching!


Congrats Krista!

Critique Partners: A Writers Tool for Success or a Certain Doom

I have five excellent critique partners - and just because I love them that much her is a shout out to each of them:

J.A. Bennett
Roseanne
Terron James
Alexander Bennon
and Christina Cook - whose blog is under construction right now but you can go ahead a follow her :)

I just recently started this whole critique partners thing and I have already learned so much. But I have also been lucky to find great critique partners that help be grow as a writer. I have heard that not all critique partners are made equals.

Tool for Success

I do believe that a good critique partner (or a few of them) can be a great tool for success in your writing. First because their feedback helps you identify and correct the weakness in your story and writing. There is a lot that I don't know about grammar and it is really helpful when my critique partners correct me on that. Also, as the composer of a work you have a lot of content knowledge - so when you are readying you may not realize that some sections don't make sense. Critique partners can help identify area's of confusion and plot holes as well.

Certain Doom

That being said - a bad critique partner could spell certain doom. Imagine being a new writer who has crafted a story that needs a lot of polishing but has merit. Now imagine giving that story to a mean spirited, spiteful, arrogant, self centered critique partner. (Hint: this example ends with you, the new writer, losing hope and giving up when you really could have written a wonderful story.)

That is not to say that as a writer you can be sensitive about your work. No, the opposite is true. You need a think skin to survive in the world of publishing. When I talk about bad critique partners I mean ones who are overly critical and are not looking at your work with an eye to helping you improve the story and your writing skill.

What Makes a Good Critique Partner

So what makes a good critique partner? That depends on what you want to get out of the process. Avoid people that enjoy making you feel bad, those are not good people in general and would certainly not make a good critique partner. Also, keep in mind that the word 'partner' infers a partnership. Which means you are not just critiquing their work and getting nothing in return.

Ultimately it is up to you to decide what qualities you think would be good in a critique partner.

Do you have critique partners? Have you ever had to drop out of a partnership because the other person was too harsh?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Little Peg: A Christmas Story

When I was in elementary school... or maybe it was Junior High...I wrote a Christmas story. It is one of only two Chirstmas stories that I have ever written and I would like to share it with you.

Little Peg
By Krista Wayment

Samual was seven years old that season, and it was his fifth year with us. He lost both of his parents when he was very young and then we were his only family. Well, we were not really his family. My father had known his, and out of sympathy for the lad we had taken him in. No one else seemed to want him. You see, Samual was a cripple, he had been borne that way. His right leg was bent and twisted. He would try to help out around the house, doing the little jobs that he could. But most of all he loved helping with the sheep. He could not make the long uphill trek to the day pasture with my father and my two brothers. Instead, he helped care for the flock at night and during the colder months.

He would spend hours with them and when he finally came in for supper mother would always ask what he had been doing. Samual would say proudly and promptly, “I’ve been talking to the sheep.” Then he would relate to us the stories the sheep had told him that day. My mother and I were the only ones that believed him. My brothers would laugh and my father would say, “Fantasies are good for lads like Little Peg,” for that is what we called him. When he had finised his wonderful tale we would sit down to dinner. After father said the blessing, Little Peg would walk to the fire and place his small wooden crutch in its special place next to the heart, the dinner could begin.

Little Peg loved that crutch for one reason, his father had made it for him the year before he had died. It was the last and only thing that Samual had left of his fathers. The wooden forms of five sheep were beautifully carved into its long oak leg. The arm rest was padded with sheep’s wool. Samual said that when he held the little crutch in his hand and looked into the sky he thought he could hear his father’s voice singing to him softly. That crutch never left his side. All except for once, and I will never forget that day.

As was their custom, my father and brothers took the sheep up to the Easter most pastures where they would be joined by several of their friends. The combined flock would graze for two days and two nights. On the dawning of the third day the shepherds would part and go their separate ways. The last night of this long grazing was unusually clear and I was surprised to see that my father and brothers had returned early. They were quite out of breath. I think they ran all the way back. Breathlessly they told us that on this very night an angel had come to them and told them of a new born babe. This babe was to be a king and the Savior of all men. The angle had also told them to seek out this child. My father had decided to return to our cottage and put the sheep down. The he would select the best lamb and take it as tribute to the new king. We talked excitedly as we hurried with preparations for the journey.

A small meek voice stopped our busy hands. “Pleas Nana, can I go?” It was Little Peg tugging at the hem of my shirt. I looked into his eyes and saw the deep yearning that they held. “I want to see the new born king.” Tears filled my eyes as I looked down at the poor little soul, crippled and worn. For sure he would not make the long journey. But I could not leave him there.

“Yes,” I said softly, “I will carry you.”

And I did. All the way to Bethlehem which was where we were to find this special child. As we traveled, Little Peg would sing or hum and sometimes the rest of us would join in. Every so often he would ask my father about the angel. He never grew tired of hearing the wonderful tale. Once he said, “I must tell the sheep of this, they will think it is grand.” At last we reached Bethlehem and found the new born babe.

He was laying in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes. A light seemed to illuminate from his new face. Soft hands reached up as if to greet us. And before the young mother who they called Mary could speak, Little Peg whispered, “Nana, it’s baby Jesus, it’s baby Jesus.” It was the first time any of us had heard the babies name. I smiled and set him down. Slowly he made his way towards the small manger which held the precious child.

My father gave the perfect lamb to the baby’s father and after several hours beaconed to us. It was time to leave. Samual turned from the manger and took four slow and labored steps then stopped. He turned around and without hesitation laid the small crutch which he had held so dear to his heart for so many years next to the baby Jesus. “For you,” he whispered. He turned back around to face us. He took one step and fell. I wanted to run to his side but somehow I could not. No one moved and then slowly but surely Samual stood up his twisted leg dragged as he walked with his head held up in determination.

And from that day on he never had need for the special little crutch with the five wooden sheep carved on its leg, and the soft sheep’s wool.

The End

Merry Christmas, or happiness on whatever holiday you celebrate this season. May you enjoy the company of family and friends and have a full and happy life.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Making My Way Back to Being on Track

So the past month has been pretty much a bust as far as my goals go. But I am slowly making my way back to being on track.

Last night, after meeting with my amazing critique group - I was finally able to break through my writing block and get some work done on my WIP - TOI.I finished chapter two and got a start on chapter three. With this book I have been trying a different outlining approach. With Shadowed Stones I had a detailed scene by scene outline which I stuck pretty close to. This time I am using a more general outline and allowing myself a little more freedom.

One thing that is going well for me is I am almost caught up with critiquing. And I am all caught up on reviewing the critique notes I have received for Shadowed Stones.

However, my reading has been severely lacking the past month. I am hoping to get some time to relax and read since I have two four day weekends in a row.

Do you find that your writing goals suffer during the holidays?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Mighty Pen #26

The Mighty Pen flash fiction contest is a just for fun writing contest (inspired by my wonderful husband). I post the beginning of a story – and you post an end! I will choose a winner and several honorable mentions. The contest is open until Sunday night and the winner is announce on Monday where I feature them on my blog. Check out past winners on the tab above.



Note: This is a family friendly blog – so please keep it PG rated. Thanks!


The Beginning


'Twas the night before Christmas and...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Three Words #26

One of my favorite writing games is something I call three words. I post three words and encourage you to write a flash fiction piece containing those three words. If you would like to challenge me – post three words for me and next week I will post a piece of flash fiction using your words. Enjoy!

Three Words

  • Hot Cocoa
  • Fire
  • Storm

Flash Fiction

Using the three words: Mistletoe, Kiss, and Grandma (from last week)

I poked my head around the corner. The hallway was dark and empty. Slowly I tip-toed to the edge of the stairs. A soft glow was coming from the floor below. I peeked through the bars of the railing and gasped.

There below me was my very own Grandma, standing under the mistletoe with Santa. The Santa! And they were kissing.

"Grandpa is never going to believe this."

---

"He is up their watching us, isn't he?" Stan said with a smile.

Mary nodded. "You think we should tell him?"

"Next year," Stan replied.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Prompt Tuesday #26

Every Tuesday I post a writing prompt and my response. It gives me a chance to exercise my writing muscles outside of my WIP, and hopefully inspire you to write. So enjoy my flash fiction piece and post your own in the comments!

Prompt

Source: The Writer's Idea Workshop: Page 181

Write a scene in which no one talks. You must convey all the meaning through silent action.

Response

Bryn tapped a section of the map with his finger. Aimee turned her head away, refusing to look.

Pursing his lips, Bryn reached up and pulled on Aimee's arm. She looked down at him, her mouth and eye brows pinched.

He pointed to the fork in the river shown on the map then held out his hands to her. Aimee shook her head and folder her arms. Bryn rolled his eyes and blew his bangs out of his eyes.

Aimee stamped her foot and pointed West in the direction of the forest. It was Bryn's turn to shake his head. He grabbed his empty sword belt and pointed to the empty quiver hanging on her back. With renewed vigor Aimee pointed to the forest.

Bryn's shoulders fell. Reluctantly he folded the map and collected the rest of their gear. When he was ready he stood next to Aimee and held out his hands toward the forest. Aimee tossed her head and began a slow march to the think dense wood.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Learning the Craft of Writing

I first fell in love with writing when I was in elementary school. From then through high school I worked on finding my voice and learning the craft. Back then I read several books on writing, several of them stuck out in my mind and really helped me.

Now that I have come back to writing I am re-reading many of those books. I have also added many more to my 'To Be Read' list. I think that taking creative writing classes, reading books on writing, and of course - writing - are excellent ways to learn the craft.

So, I thought that I would share with you my old favorites and some new that hope will become favorites.

Books I have Read

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card
This is an excellent resource for anyone who writes Science Fiction and/or Fantasy. And although geared to speculative genres - I think there are nuggets of good advice for all writers. If you write Science Fiction, Fantasy, or anything like unto - I suggest this book.

Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
Yes, I like Orson Scott Card. Plus he gives some excellent writing advice!
This book is for all fiction writers and it deals specifically with characters and viewpoint. This is a must read, in my opinion, for writers of all genres. Orson Scott Card helps you build compelling characters and 'preform' them powerfully on the page.

Writing the Short Story by Jack Bickham
Although the approach that Bickham sets out in this book is geared toward short story - it can be applied to novels. And there is a lot of good advice about writing in general. It is a very 'hands-on' program. And although I do not follow Bickham's exact approach - I have adapted many of his suggestions into my own writing routine. Another good book about writing.

The Writer's Idea Book and The Writer's Idea Workshop by Jack Heffron
The Idea Book is a plethora of writing prompts and exercises to get your creative writing juices flowing. And the workshop helps you craft your ideas into a story. Very excellent reads - and they are next up on my list to re-read as far as books on the craft go. Disclaimer: there is a section in this book that covers... intimate scenes. I skip over that section since I never write those kinds of scenes.

Books I Plan to Read

Scene and Structure by Jack Bickham
This book goes into more detail about Bickham's 'Scene-and-Sequel' plotting method meant to help with scene by scene outlining. I am looking forward to reading this book and it is next on my list to read.

Description by Monica Wood
This book covers everything about description from detail, plot, and style to word selection and point of view. Since all of these are areas I think that I could improve in - I am totally excited to read this book.

Plot by Ansen Dibell
Now I am not saying that plot is something I particularly struggle with. I mean - I can come up with ideas for plots, and sub-plots. And I am a planner which means I map, or outline my story before I begin writing. But plot is such an important part of writing that I think ti would be good to be always trying to improve.

Other Books

There are a lot of books out their about the craft. I found all of these either in my local library or on Amazon.com. So, if you are interested in reading up on the craft - there are plenty out there for you to choose from.

Do you know any other good books on the craft? What would you suggest? Have you read any of the books I have mentioned here?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mighty Pen Winner Announced

Summer Ross

Summer has a way cool blog over at My Inner Fairy, she recently returned to the blogging scene after a brief break because she was busy with school. So you should hop over and check out her blog.

But before you jump over there - you should read her entry on the original post - it totally made me laugh.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I Have a Plan

I am a planner. My plans of back plans, and there are back up plans for my back up plans. It is just part of who I am.

So, of course I have a drafting and revision plan for my latest WIP - Three of Ivory (TOI). Since this is only my second novel, I am still finding a process that works for me. I felt like my drafting and revision plan for Shadowed Stones (SS) was a little to... undefined. With TOI I am trying something different.

Here is my plan:

1. First Draft
   a. Write 2 pages every week day
   b. Every three chapters do a high level edit and fill in any details I skipped over.
   c. When finished: Once over of entire manuscript.
2. Second Draft
   a. Turn it over to my critique partners - or alpha readers.
   b. Incorporate any necessary changes.
   c. When all critiques are in: Once over of entire manuscript.
3. Third Draft
   a. Turn it over to my beta readers.
   b. Incorporate any necessary changes.
   c. When all critiques are in: Once over of entire manuscript.

Done.

So, this is my plan to have TOI done in three drafts. I may add another draft either between the second and third, or after the third we will see how it goes. I am also considering having my critique group look at my first draft before I have finished writing the whole thing. It depends on how I am feeling about the first draft - and how long it takes them to finish SS.

Do you have a drafting and revision process? Or do you think I am just going over the top with the whole planning thing?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Why I am looking forward to Christmas...

It is not just because of presents and spending time with family. The music, the lights. I love all that. No - this is something different.

The past two weeks I have been so busy I haven't written anything in my WIP. And I am falling woefully behind in my critiques for my critique partners.

So I am looking forward to getting some time off work - time I hope to spend writing and critiquing.

For this week I did not accomplish any of my goals.

On a side note - I keep having this dream that I get a 60 page rejection letter from Shadow Mountain Publishing. It is making the task of checking the mail...frightening.

What are you looking forward to this holiday season?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Mighty Pen #25

The Mighty Pen flash fiction contest is a just for fun writing contest (inspired by my wonderful husband). I post the beginning of a story – and you post an end! I will choose a winner and several honorable mentions. The contest is open until Sunday night and the winner is announce on Monday where I feature them on my blog. Check out past winners on the tab above.



Note: This is a family friendly blog – so please keep it PG rated. Thanks!


The Beginning


As my foot came down I heard a sickening crack...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Three Words #25

One of my favorite writing games is something I call three words. I post three words and encourage you to write a flash fiction piece containing those three words. If you would like to challenge me – post three words for me and next week I will post a piece of flash fiction using your words. Enjoy!

Three Words

  • Mistletoe
  • Kiss
  • Grandma

Flash Fiction

Using the three words: Candle, Carolers, and Christmas (from J.A. Bennett)

Off in the distance I could hear the faint sound of carolers. The constant wavering hum of their voices reaching down from the high streets down into slums below. White bits of snow drifted down from the dark sky. All around me black buildings were streaked with white.

A breeze passed down the narrow street and my candle flickered. I moved my hand to protect the small flame. Finally I reached the door to my home. I pushed the door open slowly so that it would not creak and wake the little ones.

When I slipped into the bed my husband stirred.

"You're home late," he said, his voice gruff with sleep.

"The misses wanted everything sparkling for the morning. Miss Margory made us all stay late for extra cleaning," I replied while a snuggled up to his warmth.

"Extra pay?"

"Miss Margory promised. But I doubt we will ever see a penny extra," I said, trying to hide the bitterness in my tone. My husband wrapped his arms around me to comfort me.

"Sleep now. I will take care of the young ones in the morning."

Then just as I was drifting off to sleep, he whispered in my ear, "Marry Christmas."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Prompt Tuesday #25

Every Tuesday I post a writing prompt and my response. It gives me a chance to exercise my writing muscles outside of my WIP, and hopefully inspire you to write. So enjoy my flash fiction piece and post your own in the comments!

Prompt

Source: The Writer's Idea Workshop: Page 180

Write a scene in which some type of sound interrupts (or triggers) a heated discussion. Consider: a barking dog, a ringing telephone, a blaring television, a creaking staircase, a rumbling car, a dripping faucet.

Response

"This is not my fault!" Anna whispered harshly in the dark.

"Nothing is every your fault, Anna. You always find someone else to blame," Blake breathed back. "Why don't you stand up and take responsibility for once!"

"Responsibility? Responsibility! What about you? You are the one that is supposed to be in charge. You are the responsible for keeping order!" Anna's voice had risen an alarming level. Blake shushed her urgently.

"You're going to get us all killed!" he insisted.

"Me!?" she almost yelled. The whole group begged her for silence. "Me!?" she started again in a softer tone. "Of all the... I have never met anyone so pig headed...arrogant...stubborn...and...and..."

A single high pitched scream tore through the night. Every stopped breathing and listened. The eerie silence of the night was broken by the rough breathing on of many beasts.

"They found us," Blake whispered and pulled his gun to the ready.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Character Voice

My current WIP has three main characters all of which will take turns being the viewpoint character. I wanted the narrative to reflect the personalities of each of the characters. That means varying my writing voice to match the character's. At first I thought - oh that will be simple.

I was wrong.

Luckily I have the the internet :)

Here are some great resources that I found for helping to develop individual character voice:

Character Voice Writing Exercises by Jennifer Jensen
This post gives some great exercises that not only help you develop character voice, but help you get to know your characters and their relationships to others. This has been very helpful.

Getting Into Character: Fiction Writing Exercises by Melissa Donovan
This post gives some tips on how to 'get into character' right before you write. I plan to use these when ever I switch narrators.

Character Development Exercises by Kathy Page
This post has a questionnaire that you can fill out 'in character.' It focuses mostly on the development of your character - which of course affects the voice.

Exercises for Story Writers
This page has some information about narrative and point of view.

How to develop character voice by Whitney Carter
More on developing deep rich characters.

I have not fully explored all the resources listed here - but what I have reviewed of them has helped in my writing.

Do you pay attention to character voice when you write? What are your tricks for 'getting into character'?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Three Things that Make Me Happy

It is time for me to announce the winner of my little writing contents. - The Mighty Pen.

Dun-da-da!


Krista M


Yeah! Check out her entry it is so touching!

And you definitely need to check out her blog, The Jelly Beans of Writing because it is great.

Honorable Mentions:

But that is not all..... I also received another blog award from the wonder Ashley Nixon. Make sure to stop by and check out her blog.




I am going to pass this on to five bloggers:


But wait! I have one more wonderful thing to announce. I officially have my own webpage (about time!). You can check it out at KristaWayment.com.

What things make you happy?

How I Got Here

I have had several people ask me about the mechanics of me getting to the point of submitting my first manuscript to a publisher. So I thought I would take some time to discuss some of things I have done. I apologize in advance for a long post.

1. Finish a Novel

Surprisingly, I found a lot of places that offered this advice: don't send out queries until your novel is finished. Publishers and Agents don't want something that will be ready in six months to a year. They want something that is complete now.

For me this was actually the hardest step. Because of my lack of a writing schedule - it took me ten years to write Shadowed Stones. Most of the writing actually took place over the course of a year or two. Once it was finished though - I still had trouble letting go. It is hard for me to call something "finished" unless it is "perfect."

2. Choose Your Route

In several posts I chronicled much of my route to publication. As part of that I made the personal decision to go with Traditional Publication rather than Self Publication. This is not to say that I will not self publish in the future - it is just that I want to try for traditional publication first. Here are some of my reasons:

1. Experience - learning what it takes to get your novel out their to publishers.
2. Professional Feedback - my theory is if all the professionals hate my work - I probably would not cut it as a self published author.
3. Fulfilling a Dream - this was big for me. For some reason I did not feel the dream would be complete without at least trying traditional publication.

3. To Agent or not to Agent

Since I decided to go with Traditional Publication - I then had to decide if I would seek an agent first or submit straight to publishers first. I decided to strike out on my own without an agent.

Not all publishers will accept unagented submissions. You can find out if they do through their website, or through a listing such as The Writer's Market. Most big publishers want you to have an agent. But I did find several publishers that accept unagented submissions.

My reasons for choosing to go without an agent right now are much the same as my reasons for choosing Traditional Publication. But more than that - in some of the books I have read about the craft, and in other research I have done, I found that it is not necessarily crucial that you have an agent. However, I do plan to switch to looking for an agent if submitting to publishers does not get me anywhere.

4. Research

There are two kinds of research that I did. First I research publishing in general. Some of the gotchas - best practices - and so on. Basically I wanted to know more about the process of submitting and what I could expect.

But the more important research is market research. I found the publishers that I plan to submit to from the following sources:

1. Amazon.com: I looked at the top sellers, and books that were coming out or had been recently released in my genre. I took note of all the publishers of these books. Then I did a google search for each publisher.
2. Google Search: I tried things like "Fantasy Book Publishers" and so on. This searching was not as helpful as I had hoped - but it did lead me to some resources.
3. The Writer's Market: I paid for an online subscription to The Writer's Market. I first discovered the books in the library when I was in elementary school, when my dream of being published began. The online resource is not the end all and be all of market listings - but it was helpful.
4. Recommendations: When I told people I was researching publishers to submit my novel to - I actually got a lot of recommendations. My little brother is the one who told me about Shadow Mountain Publishing.

While researching publishers I looked for ones that would accept unagented submissions, that published my genre, looked lagit, and published books a long the lines of my book. For Shadow Mountain Publishing I checked several of their books out from the library and read them. For other publishers I found their books on Amazon.com and read the samples there.

5. Prepare the Submission Packet

After compiling my list of publishers - I prioritized them into the order that I would submit them too. Almost all publishers do not like simultaneous submissions (meaning you send the manuscript to more than one agent or publisher at a time.) This is because it takes time and effort for them to review your manuscript - and it would be a waste of their time if you had already signed a contract with someone else. So, I am only submitting to one publisher at a time.

Then I did more research on the first publisher in my list, Shadow Mountain Publishing. I found out what their submission guidelines were - mean what they expected me to send them and what format it should be in. Then I started preparing the things that I would need.

6. Take the Plunge

The last step was to send my submission packet in the mail. That was very hard for me. I had to not think about what I was doing or I would have chickened out. But as part of my new life philosophy - I don't let fear, or my comfort zone, get in the way of new experiences. So I did it.

Now, I am waiting to hear back. I will keep you all posted on the progress.

I would love to share with you any of the other knowledge that I have gleaned from my research and such. So feel free to ask me questions in the comments - or shoot me an email.

Friday, December 9, 2011

It's Been One of Those Days.... All Week

If you are wondering why my post is so late... all I have to say is it has been one of those days. I am hoping tomorrow is not another one of those days.

I only wrote 2 pages of TOI this week. Fail. But I did do some editing for my wonderful crit partners.

And, I have another project in the works. I am working on getting my very own website up and running. So stay tuned and I will let you know when it is up.

Well, to be honest that is all I have time for tonight. I will try to have more exciting news next Friday.

How are you doing?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Mighty Pen #24

The Mighty Pen flash fiction contest is a just for fun writing contest (inspired by my wonderful husband). I post the beginning of a story – and you post an end! I will choose a winner and several honorable mentions. The contest is open until Sunday night and the winner is announce on Monday where I feature them on my blog. Check out past winners on the tab above.



Note: This is a family friendly blog – so please keep it PG rated. Thanks!


The Beginning


Soft white flakes drift down from the dark sky. In the distance I see a shadow moving toward me...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Three Words #24

One of my favorite writing games is something I call three words. I post three words and encourage you to write a flash fiction piece containing those three words. If you would like to challenge me – post three words for me and next week I will post a piece of flash fiction using your words. Enjoy!

Three Words

  • Holly
  • Tree
  • Snow

Flash Fiction

Using the three words: Mobilization, Tofu, and Knights (from Joan Reeves)

It was not until the winter of 2314 that the Republic of Earth took action against the Coalition of Mars. Some say the troop mobilization was too little too late. Others say the Republic of Earth allowed the defection of the Mars colonies in order too..

Samantha's eyes drooped close and her head fell off its perch atop her fist.

"Ugh," she grunted in frustration. "Why is history so boring?" She tapped the screen of her tablet and closed her textbook. Skimming through the other reading assignments in her homework queue she picked something that sounded more interesting - The Knights of Old Earth.

The Knights of Old Earth is an organization of men and women dedicated to the study and practice of ancient codes. In Earth's distant history the Knights were a class of people that were honorable and well trained in the art of war...

"Still boring," Samantha said to herself and gave up on homework. "House!" she called and there was an answering series of beeps. "What do we have in the fridge?"

A computerized female voice answered, "Three-fourths of a gallon of milk. One package of tofu. Three oranges. Half a loaf of bread. A jar of..."

"Never mind," Samantha said, cutting off the list. "Just order me a pizza."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Prompt Tuesday #24

Every Tuesday I post a writing prompt and my response. It gives me a chance to exercise my writing muscles outside of my WIP, and hopefully inspire you to write. So enjoy my flash fiction piece and post your own in the comments!

Prompt

Source: The Writer's Idea Workshop: Page 179

Find a title in a collection of stories, essays, or plays that you've not read. Write a page of narrative that would fit the title.

Response

The Wood Boy (from Legends: Stories by the Masters of Modern Fantasy)

I watched as the white snow flakes drifted down form the white sky. A silvery white blanket lay over the world. The edges of my window were rimmed with white frost.

Off in the distance a single dark shape moved along the road. I knew by the limping gait and bulging pack on his back that it was the wood boy. I watched his slow progress through the snow and felt grateful for the warmth of my home.

Struck by a sudden thought, I leap from my chair and ran to the kitchen. My mother stood over the stove preparing the morning meal.

"What is it dear?" she asked never lifting her head from her work.

"The wood boy is coming." I looked down at my feet as a felt my cheeks warm. "May I take him some warm bread?"

Mother put aside her spoon and turned toward me. "Of course, dear. And here," she said as she reached down into her pocket, "give him these as well." Then she laid three pennies in my outstretched hands.

I raced to cut and wrap the bread and put on my winter things. The morning air was crisp and bit into my cheeks. Once out side and within sight of the wood boy again my pace slowed.

It took some time for us to meet on the road.

"Mornin' Mary," the wood boy said, tipping his hat at me. "Be needin' any wood today?"

For a moment my voice caught in my throat. "No," I answered at length, "but mother sends this." I held out the wrapped bread.

The wood boy put his bundle down and stood to his full height. I looked up into his kind eyes as he took the bread and thanked me.

"And this," I held out the pennies, watching his eyes closely for offence.

He smiled at me and my stomach dropped clear down to my knees.

He dipped his head. "Tell your mother thanks."

I smiled and felt the chill in my cheeks replaced by a warmth that spread through my whole body.

We sat together in silence as he ate his bread, watching the sun clime slowly in the sky.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dialog Punctuation

I admit that when it comes to grammar and punctuation - my skills are lacking. I have thought about taking a grammar class but need to find the time and place to do so.

So... most of my writing life I have done dialog like this:

"Hello." He said.

"Hello." She replied.

My critique partners pointed out that they thought this might be wrong - but were not sure. I did some research on the internet and in the library but was not able to find something useful. So I asked a friend at work who is a technical writer by profession and he corrected me.

It should be:

"Hello," he said.

"Hello," she replied.

When a dialog tag follows dialog there should be a comma, and the next word should be lower case - unless it is a proper noun and would be regularly capitalized. Of course, if the dialog ends in a question mark or an exclamation point - then the following word is still lower case, as in:

"Hello?" he said.

Now, if the text following the dialog is not a dialog tag - it would follow the usual conventions.

"Hello." He held out the morning paper.

"Hello." She took the paper and sat on the bench next to him.

I looked through several published books to verify this. Gosh, I had it totally wrong - but I hope I have it right now. If I don't feel free to correct me.

You may think this is a silly thing to post - but I did not know and could not find it on the internet. So here it is.

Having good grammar and punctuation as writers is very important. But it is a bad thing that this does not come naturally to me?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Another Award

Since their were no entries for The Mighty Pen contest this week - and since I received another award yesterday - I decided to hijack this post and turn it into a blog award passing along.

First one item of business. For those of you who follow me through email or rss feed - I apologize for the mishap yesterday. I schedule many of my blog posts ahead of time - and sometimes I forget to set the option in blogger. Oops.

Now on to the award.

Lynn(e) Schmidt from The Submission Process has given me the One Lovely Blog Award.


So see all the awards I have received - and the wonderful people who have given them to me - scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Checkout Lynn(e)'s post for the rules. Basically - link back to the person who gave it to you - pass it on - and let the people you pass it on to know.

Here are the fabulous bloggers I am passing this award on to:

Writing in the Dark
The Write Time
The Starving Novelist
The Naptime Novelist
Squidink

Yea! I love blog awards :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Liebster Love

So... I have received the Liebster blog award again. Yea! Actually I received it last week but have just now been able to blog about it.


WilyBCool from Let go of the Past, live Today and create Tomorrow awarded me the Liebster (German for Friend) award. Since I have received this award multiple times I considered not passing it on.

But...

I love passing on awards. So here are the rules:

  1. Show some love and link back to the one that gave you the award.

  2. Reveal your Top 5 Blogs (with less than 200 followers) and let them know by leaving comments on their blogs.

  3. Post the award on your blog.

  4. Enjoy the love and support of the most supportive people on the web!

And here are the five blogs I am passing the award on to:
  1. Breaking Fantasy
  2. Jennibellie Studio
  3. Overcoming Her Obsession
  4. The Musings of a Hopeful Writer
  5. Keystrokes and Word Counts

Friday, December 2, 2011

Here's The Scoop on My Goals

So I have noticed that even though my goals seem to change on me a lot - just having some defined goal somewhere helps me keep working forward on what I am doing.

My goals are changing again.

One significant goal that I hit recently was sending Shadowed Stones out to the first publisher. I have to wait 4-8 weeks for a response - so one of my new goals is to wait patiently to hear back from Shadow Mountain Publishing. I have added a status bar to the blog to help me count down the days :)

Now that Shadowed Stones is out there my creative self has finally be freed to work on my new WIP. It is amazing how putting my first submission packet for SS in the mail removed the blocks I was having with my WIP. I have one chapter done and started the second chapter and it feels great to be actively writing again. I added a status meter to track my progress. My rough estimate for word count goal is 75,000 words. And another of my new goals is to write 2 pages every week day.

My reading and critiquing goals are still pretty much the same. Last month I only read one book but it was a pretty long one. I should be back on track for December though.

With a lot of time of from my day job coming in this month - I hope to be able to get a good solid start on my WIP. I hope to be finished with the first draft in 6 months. I plan to go through about 3 or 4 drafts, but the later ones should go faster then the first. So I am hoping to be looking to query my WIP some time in the later part of 2013.

So that is how things are going in the goals front for me. What about you?

How are your goals going? If you did NaNo - how did it go?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Mighty Pen #23

The Mighty Pen flash fiction contest is a just for fun writing contest (inspired by my wonderful husband). I post the beginning of a story – and you post an end! I will choose a winner and several honorable mentions. The contest is open until Saturday night and the winner is announced on Sunday where I feature them on my blog. Check out past winners on the tab above.



Note: This is a family friendly blog – so please keep it PG rated. Thanks!


The Beginning

The page twisted and turned in the fall wind. It came near me. I reached out my hand and caught it. My eyes drifted to the words scrawled across the page…

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Three Words #23

One of my favorite writing games is something I call three words. I post three words and encourage you to write a flash fiction piece containing those three words. If you would like to challenge me – post three words for me and next week I will post a piece of flash fiction using your words. Enjoy!

Three Words

  • Petal
  • Breeze
  • Page

Flash Fiction

Using the three words: Keyboard, Loaf, and Cloud (from last week)

The cloud drifted through the sky like a whimsical bunny hopping through the forest...

I blinked and looked down at the my fingers where they rested on the keyboard, then back up at the screen. Did I really just write that? A whimsical bunny? Really?

In frustration I attack the backspace key and obliterate the offending sentence. Now where was I?

The hill rose out of the mountain like a loaf of bread.

Okay I stink at similes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Prompt Tuesday #23

Every Tuesday I post a writing prompt and my response. It gives me a chance to exercise my writing muscles outside of my WIP, and hopefully inspire you to write. So enjoy my flash fiction piece and post your own in the comments!

Prompt

Source: The Writer's Idea Book first prompt on page 238

Write a scene in which a character receives very disappointing news. Rather than show the disappointment, she does something else, perhaps focuses on refinishing an old chair. Suggest her emotional state through her actions.

Response

Sara opened the letter. Her eyes darted back and forth as the consumed the message on the page. Rejected again, she thought.

She looked down at the floor. A grimy, greasy streak of who knows what ran the whole length of the kitchen. Sara discarded the letter and torn envelope on the counter and moved to the sink. Bending over she removed the bucket and soap. Three caps fulls of the brown goey soap dripped slowly into the bottom of the bucket. Sara stared at the mass of ooze for a moment.

What was I doing? she thought to herself, then spotted the streak again. Oh yeah.

Sara filled the bucket with water. She did not turn the faucet on all the way. Instead she selected a level somewhere between a trickle and a pour and watched as the water level started to rise slowly. Absently she moved the bucket back and forth on its perch. The water swished to and fro as a film of bubbles started to form.

Turning off the water, Sara moved the bucket from the sink to the floor.

"Mop." She said to herself and pulled the mop from its hiding place between the wall and the fridge.

The mop plunged into the hot soapy water. Sara pulled it out and let the water drip from the ends, like tears falling from dozens of eyes. Taking the white strands in her free hand she wrung them out. Squeezing, twisting, turning until they were almost dry. She put the mop to the floor and sighed. Returning the mop to the bucket she repeated the process.

Once again the mop hit the floor. Once again she sighed. I can't clean the floor with a dry mop! she scolded herself.

When she wet the mop again she did not bother to wring it out and just slapped it onto the floor. A puddle of clean water spread across the floor, becoming cloudier as it picked up dirt.

After staring at the murky puddle for a while, Sara got to work. She moved the mop over the floor until it shined.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Never Compromise when it comes to Your Self

I would like to take a little time to talk about something that I feel very strongly about. Not changing yourself to please other people, especially when it comes to your writing.

In the writing webverse I have heard lots of advice on what to do, or not to do, to increase your chances of being published. Now, I must point out that I do not write to get published. I write for me. And I would like to believe that to some extent, all writers write for themselves in some way.

If you are writing a specific piece with a mind toward publication there may be some standards you should hold yourself to. But remember these two points:

  1. The publishing world is always shifting and changing. So what is standard now may be a big mistake in the future.
  2. Many authors (and their work) have broken the rules and become very successful. It may be hard, but it is possible.

But even someone writing for publication should take time to write something, however small, that feels right to them. No matter what the publishing industry is looking for.

If you love to write the type of thing that breaks some convention or other - write it. Don't worry about what others think. Don't shape yourself or your writing just to please others. If you betray yourself, you betray your writing and your story.

Now, I should point out that if you have a flaw in your writing. Like you use the same sentence structure over, and over, and over (like I do), this is something you should change. But changing your voice just because someone else does not like it - bad!

So if it feels natural for you to write in third person omniscient - but the publishing world has put out a ban on that point of view - do it anyway. You may not be published but you will remain true to yourself.

*Sigh* Okay, I got that off my chest and I feel much better. I am very interested in hearing your thoughts on this subject.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Special Post: I took the Plunge

I did it! It took a lot of self-pep-talking and quite a lot of nerve. But I did it. I submitted my novel, Shadowed Stones, to Shadow Mountain. I have kind of been plastering the news all over the place - but I can't help it. I just fulfilled a childhood dream and I am like happy and nervous and stunned and excited all at once.

I want to thanks my critique partners: Jennie, Terron, Christina, Roseanne, and Alexander who are helping me continue to improve my novel and my writing.

A special thanks to Jennie for getting me writing again.

And another special thanks to Roseanne for giving me the push to get my novel out there.

Since I am basking in the happiness of achievement - I would love to hear from all of you about your achievements. Nothing makes a day like today better like hearing of others success.

When I have an Opinion

Warning: Long Post and a Chance of Ranting Ahead

Everyone has an opinion, some people even have two or three. *shifty eyes*

Writers and Authors are subjected to the opinions of others when it comes to our writing. Some people will love our work. Some will hate it. And others will only think it so-so. When I was younger - and first exercising my writing talents - I rarely received feedback from others. Most of my writing was done for myself and not shared with others. Now that I am writing again, and a member of the webverse of writers and involved in a critique group, I am getting a lot of feedback.

Maybe I am sick in some way - but I do love to hear what other people think about my writing. Even if they do not like it so well. Of course I do feel a little dejected when I get negative feedback - but it is so helpful in helping me become a better writer I often over come it quickly. One thing that helps me is that I always keep it in the forefront of my mind that any feedback I get, is the givers opinion. And I am a firm believer that we are all entitled to out own opinion. (Especially me.)

However, even when I do receive negative feedback it is always delivered nicely. Since the feedback comes from friends, family, and my excellent critique partners. Some are not so gentle in delivering their opinions. In fact, some people are very gruff and rude. I have also noticed that these same people often become very defensive and argumentative when you give them negative feedback. So I would like to talk about how we can give feedback to and receive it from such people.

Here is where the rant starts. I have a pet peeve. When people tell me my opinion is wrong. If it is my opinion cannot be wrong because it is how I think or feel about something. Now if I make a statement of fact that is, indeed incorrect, then I am wrong. But if I say something like, 'I don't like the color pink.' - it cannot be wrong. Because I really don't like the color pink. So, if you are ever faced with someone who rejects your suggestions as wrong when they are just your opinion. Ignore them. You are perfectly welcome to have whatever opinion you want. And if they don't want to benefit by taking that into consideration, it is their loss. Not yours. Okay, ranting over.

If you ever encounter someone who is overly harsh in their critique of you work, get a second opinion. One person quite often can be wrong. Five or six people saying something is off, are more likely to be correct. So if one person says your writing is drivel and three people say it is good but need polish - go with the other three. (On another note if they all say your writing is drivel. Keep writing. If you love doing it, it is worth doing.) Also, if you find yourself of tender feelings you may want to consider no longer getting feedback from said individual. Overly harsh feedback is not going to be helpful to you.

Have you ever given feedback to someone and have them argue each point with you? Sometimes this can make you feel like you are not a good critiquer or that you are not being much help. And although both of those things may be true, I suggest to you take the time to look for a pattern. Also, get a second opinion from someone else whose work you have critiqued. You may need to adjust your style to be more helpful - but don't try to please everyone. But, you may only need to adjust your style for that one person. There is no point in giving them your opinion if they don't appreciate it.

I hope none of you ever give up on writing or critiquing just because one person dislikes it. There will always be someone out their that does not like your work. There is no way to avoid it. So keep writing.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Mighty Pen #22

The Mighty Pen flash fiction contest is a just for fun writing contest (inspired by my wonderful husband). I post the beginning of a story – and you post an end! I will choose a winner and several honorable mentions. The contest is open until Saturday night and the winner is announced on Sunday where I feature them on my blog. Check out past winners on the tab above.



Note: This is a family friendly blog – so please keep it PG rated. Thanks!


The Beginning

Suddenly, you turn around and…

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Three Words #22

One of my favorite writing games is something I call three words. I post three words and encourage you to write a flash fiction piece containing those three words. If you would like to challenge me – post three words for me and next week I will post a piece of flash fiction using your words. Enjoy!

Three Words

  • Keyboard
  • Loaf
  • Cloud

Flash Fiction

Using the three words: Heaven, Record and Sponge (from Sarah)

Alice looked up at the gold letters hung above the large white door. Path to Heaven, Records and Scheduling. Today was her first day on the job and she was nervous.

"Well, best to get it over with quickly," she said to herself. Taking a deep breath, Alice opened the door and entered the hall of records.

She was greeted by a white haired woman. "You Alice?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"I'm Sister Agnus," the old woman replied. "Follow me, I will give the tour. I notice you did not bring anything to take notes with."

Alice looked down at her empty hands. She knew she had forgotten something. "Don't worry," she told Sister Agnus, "I soak up knowledge like a sponge."

"Very well. Lets get started." Agnus lead Alice through an arch way and into room filled with bookshelves. "This is the records room."

Alice stared around in wonder as she tried to keep up with Agnus who was moving quickly to a small desk set off in the corner.

"Sit," Agnus ordered. Alice sat.

"Your job is to look through here." Agnus tapped a round mirror set in the desk. "Record all the names you hear during the ordinances. You will find the forms in the top drawer. When a form is full put it in the out basket. Someone from scheduling will collect the forms daily."

Alice wanted to linger and look through the mirror, to watch the people on earth faithfully performing work for their dead. But Agnus pulled her on to finish the tour.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Prompt Tuesday #22

Every Tuesday I post a writing prompt and my response. It gives me a chance to exercise my writing muscles outside of my WIP, and hopefully inspire you to write. So enjoy my flash fiction piece and post your own in the comments!

Prompt

Source: The Writer's Idea Book second prompt on page 174

Begin a story in which the first-person narrator is at work. She’ll use jargon and slang to describe what she’s doing.

Response

I drum my fingers gently on the keyboard. Why isn't this working! The if logic is sound, the loop correct. No missing semi colons. So why does it not compile. I stare blankly at the red line and error message. Great. I go back through the class, line by line. Scrutinizing every character in my search for the issue. Ah! Not a missing semi colon - a missing curly brace. Triumphantly I enter the curly brace. Suddenly the red covering the screen disappears. I let out a shout of glee. The others around me look up, annoyed by my outburst. I ignore them and return to work.

I hit the play button and watch as the output logs spew a series of messages. Once the jar gets deployed and the server comes up the browser window pops up on my screen.

I click the button.

Nothing happens.

I click the button, again.

Still nothing happens. I scream in frustration and bang my forehead on my desk. After a moment in which I try to control the urge to throw my computer across the room, I look back up at the screen. There in red letters on the output display are the words: Null Pointer Exception. Reluctantly, I return to the trouble class. I begin reading over the offending function, mumbling to myself as I go.

In a moment of weakness my eyes drift down to the clock on the task bar. A sense of relief flows over me. It's time to go. I will worry about this on Monday.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Belated Award

I admit this post is shamefully late. Please forgive me. I also beg your allowance as this is going to be a quick post.

The winner of last weeks might pen award is...


WilyBCool


Honorable Mentions:



Original Post

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shadowed Stones Query Letter

So I just had a break through on the query letter for Shadowed Stones. At least it feels like a break through to me. Here is what I have so far:


Fate has set Lyni on a course that will bring her face to face with her darkest fear - the lose of her human will.

Lyni's father takes her to the hall of his master - the dark wizard Feldon. There Feldon learns of her powerful magical abilities by invading her mind. Desperate to control her Feldon slowly begins to wear down her resistance. Eventually Lyni succumbs. Unable to resist his commands Feldon uses Lyni as a weapon in his campaign for power. Until Lyni breaks free of his control and flees.

Lyni remains hidden and save for many years. Then Garren, the second son of the King, finds her. Together they embark on a quest to bring and end to Feldon's reign. Lyni must overcome her own self doubt and fear if she is ever to be free of Feldon's shadow.


What do you think? Too dramatic? Would you read it? Please feel free to be brutally honest with me.

Friday, November 18, 2011

TGIF

I have had one crazy week - but the good news is I survived. The even better news is that next week is only a three day work week with a four day weekend - thanks to the US Thanksgiving holiday. I love holidays.

So... lets just skip over my goals for today. Long story short - no progress.

Instead let's talk about Krista M who gave me a wonderful award on her blog.


And as such I get to pass it along. Yea! I love passing on awards :)

And the winners are....

  1. J.A. Beard at J.A. Beard's Unnecessary Musings
  2. Cristina at Once Upon a Time
  3. Donna at Weaving a Tale or Two
  4. Mindy at Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire
  5. Kathleen at Writing, Reading and Life

Congrats!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Mighty Pen #21

The Mighty Pen flash fiction contest is a just for fun writing contest (inspired by my wonderful husband). I post the beginning of a story – and you post an end! I will choose a winner and several honorable mentions. The contest is open until Saturday night and the winner is announced on Sunday where I feature them on my blog. Check out past winners on the tab above.



Note: This is a family friendly blog – so please keep it PG rated. Thanks!


The Beginning

Nothing. The box was completely open. This was the worst thing that could have happened. Now…

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Three Words #21

One of my favorite writing games is something I call three words. I post three words and encourage you to write a flash fiction piece containing those three words. If you would like to challenge me – post three words for me and next week I will post a piece of flash fiction using your words. Enjoy!

Three Words

  • Silence
  • Hope
  • Danger

Flash Fiction

Using the three words: Branch, Olive, and Swing (from last week)

Julie plopped another black olive into her mouth. Chewing happily she danced back over to the swing and jumped onto it.

She stepped back until only her toes touched the ground. Then with a squeal of glee she lifted her feet and swung forward. The branch from which the swing hung groaned in protest.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Special Post: Readers Survey

So, I discussion I had with my husband about my WIP got me thinking about the difference between advice I get from writers - and advice I get from readers.

That sparked an idea for a blog post discussing the subject. So today on my lunch break I spun up a Readers Survey. (Note: If you want to learn how to make your own - check out Jason Morrison's post on creating surveys for your blog.).

I have added a tab above for the Readers Survey - if you are interested please feel free to take it - and give me feedback on it. This is my very first survey :)

Thanks!

P.S. I will be coming out of my hermit hole soon. I have plans to catch up on blogging (and commenting) this weekend. Sigh, the respite was quite refreshing.

Prompt Tuesday #21

Every Tuesday I post a writing prompt and my response. It gives me a chance to exercise my writing muscles outside of my WIP, and hopefully inspire you to write. So enjoy my flash fiction piece and post your own in the comments!

Prompt

Source: The Writer's Idea Book third prompt on page 117.

Create a metaphor for regret, a physical object that embodies the feeling or allows you to explore the feeling in a fresh way. Begin with a metaphorical statement: “Regret is…” and move from there.

Response

Regret is a swirling whirlpool. Around and around the thoughts and feelings take. If I succumb to them they drag me down. Down to the depths of sorrow. If I fight them, they grow. More and more regrets make me move slower and slower. I can't escape, I can't break free. If only I could go back and make it right. Regret presses on me, pulls me down.

The from the edge, the calm waters of the sea, a rope is thrown to me. A life line of safety. A path to peace. I catch hold of the rope and for a while the regrets flow pass me. I am not strong enough to withstand the tide. My thoughts keep turning and returning. Rewinding events and reliving them. It takes my own effort to drag myself out of the whirlpool, out of the pit. Using the rope to guide me I finally find freedom.

I take a few steps, make a few mistakes. And I am in the whirlpool again.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Building the Emotional Bridge

In Part 1 of this series I discussed the various types of connections I make with characters. In Part 2 I discussed the difference between the reader/character connection and writer/character connection. In this third and final part I will discuss what a writer can do to build the bridge and invite the reader to cross it.

Showing Character


I must admit that both in reading and real life - I try to save making a judgment about a person until I get a chance to see what kind of person they are. Often when I am reading I withhold my contempt for the antagonist until I am shown why I should hate them. The same hold true with heroes.

For example, in The Black Cauldron there is a character that is set up to be a semi-antagonist to the hero. Even though the characters entrance shows him to be rude and arrogant - I gave him the benefit of the doubt. It was not until his true character is revealed (he abandons his comrades in their time of need - twice) - that I finally decide he is worth of my contempt.

On the other hand - Taran the hero of The Black Cauldron does not fully when my loyalty and admiration until he shows just how brave and self sacrificing he is.

Simply listing characteristics of a character does not create an emotional connection. The reader must see the actions of the character whether good or bad in order to form an opinion about them.

Proxy Connection


Another way I come to be attached to a character is through other characters reactions. Going back to The Black Cauldron - part of the reason I love Taran so much is because his friends love and admire him. Their loyalty and friendship to him helps me form the same attachment. It most often helps if I have already made an emotional connection with one of these other characters. In The Black Cauldron Gurgi could easily be my favorite character - and so I tend to feel the same towards other characters as he does. Especially when they are first introduced.

Kindred Spirits


Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables speaks of kindred spirits - two people who are almost instantly connected through some shared experience or goal. It is easiest for me to connect with a character if I can identify with something they have experienced.

In The Black Cauldron I identify with Taran because I to have experienced the struggle of trying to find where I belong. On the same token, I can form a negative connection with a character if I see them doing something hurtful that has been done for me. Like when characters belittle Taran, tease him or make fun of him. Because I have been on the receiving end of such things I instantly feel negative emotions to characters who dish it out.

In short, emotional connections make the story have more depth for the reader. These connections start with the writer having a connection with the character then building the bridge and inviting the reader to cross it. Showing the reader how a character behaves, how others feel about them, and what they have experienced in life - will help the reader cross that bridge.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Why I Love the Outline Stage of Writing

First, a quick (late) update on my goals. I am behind on TOI - but it is not a bad thing. I will explain why later in this post.

I am also behind on review the notes from my critiquers. However, since most of my critique partners are doing NaNoWriMo - and thus our meetings are suspended - I am complete caught up on my critiquing :)

Reading is going okay. I am currently re-reading Writing the Short Story - it is a great book and actually sparked the change in TOI. I have not decided what my other book will be for this month.

Now onto why I love outlining. Currently I am in the process of outlining TOI, my current WIP. Technically I already have an outline - so I am really re-outlining. So allow me to tell you a story. I was reading above mentioned book which has several gems of knowledge in it. Bickham talks about the story question and how it drives the plot of a story. That got me thinking about TOI's story questions was and - BAM! - I got this great idea for a first line. Then - BAM! - all the pieces started to fall into place for the plot. It was then that I realized that I need to change the outline for TOI.

Also, in my original outline I jumped around with view point characters. I am however re-evaluating that decision. The plan now is to map out the events of the story - then decide which POV to tell each scene from.

There are three reasons why I love the outlining phase of writing. First, the discovery. Stumbling on a brilliant scene that solves the problems you have been trying to work out. Change one simple world building decision that makes all the pieces come together like a puzzle - oh it is so exciting!

Second, organizing. I like order. I like making order out of chaos. So, when I have a plethora of disconnected flashes and ideas that I pull together to make a cohesive whole I get a sense of accomplishment.

And last but not least, flexibility. I love how pliable the story is in the outlining stage. I can change my mind about something at the snap of my fingers and then launch into a while new phase of discovery and organization.

So in short. I am really enjoying where I am in writing TOI. It feels great!

How are things going with your goals? What is your favorite phase of the writing process and why?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Mighty Pen #20

The Mighty Pen flash fiction contest is a just for fun writing contest (inspired by my wonderful husband). I post the beginning of a story – and you post an end! I will choose a winner and several honorable mentions. The contest is open until Saturday night and the winner is announced on Sunday where I feature them on my blog. Check out past winners on the tab above.



Note: This is a family friendly blog – so please keep it PG rated. Thanks!


The Beginning

“Why?” The pleading little eyes looked up at me.

I sighed. “Because, that is the way things are.”

“Why?” came the question again.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Three Words #20

One of my favorite writing games is something I call three words. I post three words and encourage you to write a flash fiction piece containing those three words. If you would like to challenge me – post three words for me and next week I will post a piece of flash fiction using your words. Enjoy!

Three Words

  • Branch
  • Olive
  • Swing

Flash Fiction

Using the three words: Vortex, Brown, and Home (from last week)

The gold, brown, and cream colors swirled around in the small vortex. Ariana watched them shift and blend until they faded to a deep black.

"Home," she whispered to the rippling pool.

The pool suddenly became still and reflected back her own reflection. Then, appearing as if from the depths of the water below, her reflection was replaced with the scene of a sitting room. Her mother sat in her rocking chair as always. Ariana's three sisters sitting around her working on needle work. Their lips moved as if in the midst of a happy conversation, though the sounds of it did not reach Ariana's ears. They laughed and smiled, enjoying each others company.

"Enough!" Ariana said, waving her hand over the pool. The image disappeared, replaced by the every turning hues of the vortex.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Prompt Tuesday #20

Every Tuesday I post a writing prompt and my response. It gives me a chance to exercise my writing muscles outside of my WIP, and hopefully inspire you to write. So enjoy my flash fiction piece and post your own in the comments!

Prompt

Source: The Writer's Idea Book inspired by the last prompt on page 47./p>

Write a piece from the perspective of a tree.

Response

I stretch my long branches slightly and they groan in protest. The sunlight on my leaves feels invigorating after the long rains. I feel strong and alive. The damp soil around my roots is full of worms, shifting around in the dirt. A bird, whose nest is in my lower branches, wakes and calls to her mate. Ants, like a tiny threads, run up my trunk. Today is a good day.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Reader/Character vs Writer/Character

In Part 1 of this series I discussed my labels for emotional connections. The connections are the different ways we can connection with a character. Next I would like to touch on the differences between the Reader/Character connection and the Writer/Character connection and why I feel the distinction is necessary.

First, let me describe what I see as the Writer/Character connection. As writers we all feel some kind of emotional connection with our characters. This is what brings the character alive for us, and makes us want to tell their story.

Writer/Character

The Writer/Character is where everything starts. The more emotionally connected we are to our characters the more they will come to life on the page. If you have a character in your story that you really don’t feel anything for – they are just kind of there taking up space – they will be cardboard characters. So it is important to take the time to invent something about each character that sparks your interest and allows you to make a connection.


Reader/Character

In contrast, the Reader/Character connection is the connection that one makes with a character when they are reading another’s work. This is what keeps us invested in the story, keeps us turning the pages. On some level we have an interest in what happens to this character.

When I make emotional connections with the characters in stories I am reading – they seem more real to me. And the whole story seems more tangible, more intense. When I first read The Chronicles of Prydain in college, it was because my roommate suggested them to me. I can’t believe I got that far without reading them. Anyway, at one point in the story a character I cared very much about got wounded in a battle. I was so worried about what would happen to the character – that I stormed out of my room – found my roommate – and told that if he died I would never forgive her.

I continued reading. Then when I found out that said character was fine, I was so relieved. I rushed out, found my roommate and gave her I hug. I told her it was okay – the character was fine after all. That is how emotionally invested in the story that the tone of what was going on effected my whole day. Is it any wonder these are some of my favorite books?

Keeping them Separate

So why is it important to separate the Writer/Character connection from the Reader/Character connection? Well first of all – as much as we would like too – writers cannot control the feelings and reactions of their readers. Every person has a different set of experiences and opinions and thus we all respond to things in a different way.

As I mentioned in Part 1, when I was reading The Peasant Queen, I had a (color/connection) with the antagonist King Gregory. I was rooting for him. I wanted to see him abandon his evil ways and win the girls heart. But, after being repeatedly hit over the head with how terrible King Gregory was – I finally relented and settled into being disappointed that he was not the character I wanted him to be.

I do not like it when a writer tries to force me to feel something about a character. I don’t like having my strings pulled like a puppet. In my writing, I try to present my characters in a way that will allow the reader to form their own opinions. Of course, they will always be colored with my personal feelings about the character. But it is okay as long as you leave the door open for the reader to make their own decision.

So, in the next part of this series I will talk about how a writer can build the bridge to an emotional connection with a character, and invite the reader to cross it.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Blog Templates

I have mentioned that I looked into creating a custom template for Blogger. It was not as easy as I first thought and I did not have the time to better figure it out. But I thought I would share with you what I learned.

Two notes:

First, create a test blog. You need this for two reasons. A: You cannot upload a new template and view it without it being published to your blog. B: If you do have an issue, you won't mess up your actual blog.
Second, I am a web developer and know a fair bit of HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. Creating a custom template involves all three of these. But don't be discouraged. Give it a try.

Here are some tutorials and sites that I found helpful:

The Web Designers Guide to Blogger Templates
Template of Doom
Tutorials on Blogger Template Design
Cheats Guide to Customising Blogger
How to Host your Template Images

I also used Gimp extensively.

My biggest suggestion would be to design your blog layout, where you want things to be and what images you want, first. Then after the design is done start building the template.

There are also some good resources for free blogger templates. Make sure you check them out as well. At the very least they may be inspiring. You can also download them and peak under the hood to see how something works.

Ultimately I decided to go with a customization of built in blogger template. But it was fun to play around with making custom templates.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Goals Update and Awards

First, a quick update on my goals. Everything is going good. I have not made much forward movement on TOI but I am not discouraged. Not a detailed update but I don't have much to report his week :)

Now, onto the award. I have received another blog award from the loverly Melissa. Thank you Melissa. I also received the same award from the stunning Ashley. Thank you Ashley :)


It is now my honor to pass this award onto 15 wonderful bloggers.

  1. Heidi at Then She Writes
  2. Tirzah at A Clever Whatever
  3. Julie at Musings from the Slush Pile
  4. Lisa from A Paranormal Point of View
  5. Laura from Read, Write....Rocking Chair
  6. Rebecca at Rebecca Kiel Pages
  7. Being the Writer
  8. Ara at The Rookie Scrivener
  9. Ciara from at Somebody Has to Say It
  10. A.E. Marling at The Importance of the Impossible
  11. Christine at The Writer Coaster
  12. Marion from Visions and Revisions
  13. Jody at Jody Hedlund
  14. R.C. Lewis at Crossing the Helix
  15. MB at Key Storkes and Word Counts

I also received the Versatile Blogger award from the wonderful Ellie at Path to Happiness. Since I just received this award last week I am going to sit on passing it on for now. But thank you Ellie!