Monday, July 20, 2009

Derichos, lightning, and full binders... Oh my!

Wow! It's been a while since I've been able to blog. Sorry 'bout that. :(

Between the dericho (a hurricane that forms over land) hitting our town and lightning striking and frying a lot of our electronics, things have been hectic that last few months to say the least. We're just now finishing up the new roof from a storm that happened in early May...

The therapy has been going really well for our son and we'll be starting up at a really good autism center later this month. In essence, I think things are finally settling down... (looks left and right, waiting for something new to hit...)

And since things seem to be settling down, it's time to write!!! Today, I printed off a hard copy of my first draft, all 239 pages of it (my poor printer... I had to restart the laptop twice to clear the memory so it could finish printing.). With all of the ideas spinning around in my head, I think this is the only way I can sort them out right now. Well, that and it's amazing how many errors jump out at you on paper that are invisible on a computer screen (how does that work anyway?). I hate wasting paper and that's why I haven't printed it out before, but this was important. It needed to be done

Have any of you ever printed out a 239 page book you've written and stuck it in a 3-ring binder? It's amazing. It's crazy. It finally seems "real". Before, it was all just pages in an electronic document, but now... WOW! It filled a 1.5 inch binder nearly full. Seeing it in hard copy like this is major motivation to get it done so that maybe it can appear in a different hard copy format someday.

The portability of the binder will help things out too. I write on a laptop, but it's a big laptop with a widescreen and a full keyboard. In order to take it with me to work on the story when we're out and about, I have to pack up not only a toddler and diaper bag, but also the full laptop case and hope I have an outlet nearby since the battery doesn't last very long. Now, I can just toss a few pens and pencils and the binder into the diaper bag and head out.

As for the content of the book, I think I know most of the major changes that will occur, but am keeping an open mind knowing that the characters will probably voice their opinions as well. The first chapter is definitely going to change, that's been decided finally. I was uncertain about this change at first, but the more I think about it, the more I like it. It will make the beginning a lot more interesting and hopefully make the reader feel the need to read the rest to figure out what happened.

I'm not sure if this new chapter will be a type of epilogue or what. I'm really not sure what to call it. The first chapter will be a scene that actually occurs towards the end of the timeline and the rest of the book will be showing the events leading up to that scene and then continue from that point on to the big ending.

I'm 99.9% sure that my current first chapter will remain in the book, I'll just move it to a different location. I really like how it introduces several of the characters and sets up some running jokes used throughout the book by the friends.

I'm also 99.9% sure that my favorite chapter, my baby, will be cut. It's one of the funniest, most relatable chapters that I've come up with I think, but would be really hard to pull off without breaking copyright laws or having some popular musicians suddenly become really generous. The only to salvage the chapter would be to write some lyrics to original songs in order to include them. I might even give that a try even though writing songs and poetry isn't something that I think I do well. Oh well, I guess we'll see what happens if my writing gremlin or I get inspired.

Another writing-related issue that's caused my work on Instinct to slow down is the prevalence of another one of my non-Instinct characters in my daily thoughts. A while back I created a character named Lisa with a pretty cool backstory. Love, love LOVE this character! Well, she's been making herself really well known in my thoughts as I've been processing hundreds of possible storylines for her. I know the basics of what her story will be, but there's still a lot left unplanned and she doesn't like that one bit. I've been playing around with her character, putting her in different situations and seeing what turns out the most interesting and still haven't decided anything. She's just going to have to deal with the fact that her story isn't ready yet, even if her character is pretty much fully developed. Now to break it to her so I can get back to my other favorite character, Casey.

But anywho, that's what's been up with me and my book lately. House repairs, replacing fried electronics, and therapy for the toddler. But the important part is that I'm finding ways to make writing a priority again by making it easier to access.

So, until I blog again...
Talk 2ya later...


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Writing Mojo - Check!... Internet Access - not so much...

Well, I typed up this post on 5/24/09, but then our Internet went down as the cable company is still working on lines in the area from the storm. So, here it is... better late than never!


Okay, the yard and house are mostly cleaned up from the in-land hurricane… We’ve pretty much settled into a routine of sorts with our son and his autism therapists… Technically, we’re all still sick… but, I’m back! This time it’s going to stick gosh-darn’t!

I’ve found my writing mojo and realize that my brain never stopped working on the book, it just did it in the far corners of my mind where I wasn’t paying attention. Today, I skimmed my first draft and read over all of my notes and ideas for what to tweak in the second.

Somewhere around page 211, I think I figured out what to do about my first chapter. The scene that is currently chapter one is all right. I like it and plan on keeping it in the story, but it just didn’t seem right for the first chapter. The chapter that is supposed to draw everyone in and make them start asking questions and needing to read the book to figure them out... The current chapter is a fun way to introduce several of the characters while showing Casey’s personality, but it just doesn’t have that… that, you know… That thing that makes you curl a little more into a book that you’ve begun? Yeah. That.

But, as I said, around page 211 of my skim-fest, I had an epiphany. I really like my new concept, but am wondering exactly how I’ll pull it off. I’m thinking that I want to start the book with the death of one of my favorite characters, preferably within the first two pages. Currently this death occurs towards the end of the book, but I’m wondering… maybe I can start the story there and have it leave enough cryptic clues to really get the reader sucked into the story and then have it go back and start at the beginning. Maybe have the death be a type of prologue, even though I know that some people don’t like those.

Start with the death and have the next chapter start up with the scene that is set to start next on the timeline. This scene includes a phone call where Casey is told about the death. Now, what I’m thinking is that the shock of hearing that this character is dead will have Casey internally questioning what happened? Was there anything she could’ve done to stop this? Thus, leading into the story from the beginning.

This would make the bulk of the story in the past tense as it’s describing what’s already happened and would require a bit of extra rewrites to accommodate this. But! One concern that has been expressed with the story is that it’s in the present tense. This way, most of it would be past, until we catch up to that point in the story, where she is sitting in shock. Then it would pick up in present tense.

This would also explain why most of the story is from Casey’s POV. It’s all her memories at that point. Once we catch back up to the present time, the POV starts swapping around again, at least a couple times.

It would also give me more chances to lay cryptic clues about the men in Casey’s life and it lets the reader know what a large part the dead character actually plays in the story. What they do in those first couple of pages lays the groundwork for the entire series.

I wish that my husband was home from work or that my beta reader was online right now because I want to explain this idea in detail to someone who knows the entire story to see if it works for them. I think that vocalizing it and answering any questions that they might have will help me decide if this is really the way I want to organize my chapters.

There are a lot more tweaks that I plan on making to the story that will really change it for the better as well. But, I’d really like to start by reorganizing it if that’s the path that I choose to take. Otherwise, I might rewrite a chapter and then have it affected by the reorganization and need to be rewritten again.

But anyway, I guess I’ll spend the time until the hubby gets home reading the story and adding in more comments via the Track Changes feature on where I’d like to add in all my new ideas.

Oh yeah, I’ve also found a great new procrastinatory outlet other than Facebook. I enjoy watching TV shows on the Internet because I can never seem to remember to watch them when they’re actually on. (Yeah, no TiVo or DVR and I’m not about to try and find a blank VHS to use the VCR.) But anywho… somewhere along the lines, I discovered that the Highlander series is on Hulu! I loved that series and it’s been forever since I’ve watched it. So, now that most of my shows are on hiatus until the fall season, I’ve been watching Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod beheading people. Hopefully, my writing mojo is stronger than my need to watch Highlander… I can find a healthy balance, right?

Anywho, until I blog again…
Talk 2ya later…



Additional Note: After talking with the hubby, I think I know how to make this new idea work in the story. I'm going to start the second draft with the new, reorganized story and if, in the end, I don't like it, I can go back to the first draft copy and start over.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I spoke too soon...

It figures that as soon as I decide to start working on my novel again... southern Illinois gets hit by an inland hurricane!

Our town was where it peaked, but we're fine. We were exceptionally lucky that nothing major happened to our house. A little bit of damage to our back porch roof and some hail damage on the cars, but overall not bad.

We don't have power and don't expect it back anytime soon. Had to drive 20 miles to find a town with power and wi-fi so we could let friends know we were all right.

I don't have much time as we need to head out and buy some supplies while we're in an area with power, but I just wanted to let everyone know where I am if I'm not able to respond for a week or more.

Hopefully power will be back up middle of next week, but we're not holding our breaths.

So, until I blog again...
Talk 2ya later...


Friday, May 8, 2009

I'm Back... I hope...

Well, we are all finally getting over the various flu's and other illnesses that have invaded our household. The stomach flu ping pong match appears to be over, yay!

Things are going really well with my son's therapy sessions and we look forward to starting occupational therapy next month (yay for wait lists...) We still have some paperwork to fill out for other services and I'm looking for a support group for parents with autism in my area, but I think it's time...

Time to come back. I really miss writing. I miss my characters and that rush that I feel when I get it right. I've felt myself sinking into a depression of sorts since the diagnosis last month and know that I need to focus on some "me time". Writing pulled me out of post-pardum depression and made me feel like myself again in the past and I'm hoping that it will do the same for me this time around.

I know that I won't be having 4k writing days anytime soon, but even a couple hundred words is better than nothing. Squeezing in writing sessions during naps or when my husband is home to watch our son... I have- no I need to do this for myself. Getting sucked into the fear and uncertainty that a diagnosis of autism in your child causes isn't an option. I will face these emotions head on and channel the energy and emotions into my characters.

I have to re-read my manuscript as it seems like it's been forever since I've ventured into the world of Instinct. That will have to wait until tomorrow though. We have family in town tonight and they want to take us all out to dinner. (If everything doesn't wash or blow away in these intense storms that is...)

No promises on how often I'll be able to update the blog or how much writing I'll be completing at first, but I do promise to try my best.


Other Notes:
Once again, THANK YOU to everyone who has commented or emailed me with support and kind words. Having not found a local autism support group yet, your words have helped keep me grounded and have reminded me that I'm not alone in this. *Virtual Cookies for You All!*

Other News:
A while back, I mentioned how much I enjoyed reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. Well, she recently sold the movie rights! Apparently, it's being created for a yet-unnamed A-list starlet. Not bad for her debut book. Way to go Carrie!!!


Well, that's it for now. My son has decided to squish his veggies from lunch in between his toes, so I have a lovely mess to clean up.

Until I blog again...
Talk 2ya later...


Saturday, May 2, 2009

You guys are the best...

When I made my "Taking Time Off..." post, I never expected the outpouring of support that I've received. The posts and emails have been simply wonderful and so helpful. As many of you know, first-hand, getting a diagnosis like this can be difficult to cope with. So many mixed emotions and changes to your lifestyle... it's truly an emotional roller coaster.

So, thank you! Thank you everyone who had a kind word or inspirational story to share with me. Thank you for making me feel a little less alone in all of this. I've been pretty depressed off and on this past month and all of your support has really meant the world to me. And thank you Robyn for nominating me for the lemonade stand blog award! (I'll be making another post for it shortly.)

On a positive note, my son is doing really well. He's in developmental and speech therapy and has been given a trampoline to help with his sensory issues. We've started PECS and he's making wonderful progress with it. We're able to make all of the cards that he needs through a local autism center that he will be starting therapy with his fall. He's speeding through phase I and we're starting to ease into phase II and it's only been a couple of weeks since he started the program. It's wonderful to see him picking up a means of communication so fast.

Unfortunately, my writing time has been replaced with reading up on treatments and learning everything that I can about autism. Instead of finding five minutes here or there to write up a scene, I'm using that time to do PECS trials to help my son thrive with this program. I really do miss writing and blogging about my writing and hope that one day soon, I can get back to work.

My novel is still in the back of my head, just itching to be finished. In a way, I'm hoping that this whole life-changing experience will add depth to my story and characters. I know that I'll get back to it, once things settle down a bit. (On top of everything else, we're getting over a few rounds of the stomach flu in our household...) (Oh, and once I got over my turn with the flu, I caught some vertigo virus... lucky me.)

So, the main thing that I'm trying to get across with this post is that we're doing all right. Sure, things are different now, but not a bad different... just different, ya know? We've been lucky to have so many people to support us, both off- and on-line. So... thanks!

Until I blog again...
Talk 2ya later...


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Taking time off, for a good reason...

As the subject states, I will be taking some time off of writing and blogging. I haven't given up on becoming a published author someday, there have just been some changes in my daily life that need to be addressed first. Right now there simply isn't enough time or free space in my brain to accomplish everything and my family has to come first.

The puzzle piece ribbon is used by some autism...Image via Wikipedia

This past week, my two-year old son was diagnosed with autism (yeah, ironic considering April is autism awareness month...). Now that we officially have a diagnosis, my days are filled with doctor appointments, therapy sessions, and learning how to implement treatment programs. Oh yeah, and going through the stages of accepting this diagnosis. While this whole ordeal is difficult on our son, he's always had it, we just never knew. Us, as his parents, on the other hand, are having to learn everything about this disorder while trying to come to terms with what's in store for him in the future. Right now it feels as if everything is speeding by so fast and I'm struggling to learn everything I can to help my son thrive in spite of this condition.

So, until things settle down and we develop some sort of regular schedule that our son is thriving on, the second draft of my novel will have to wait. Providing the day-to-day support that he needs in order to one day develop some form of communication is truly a full-time job (but worth every minute of it knowing how it will help him later in life). It hurts to think how close I am to being done, but I know my priorities and Family > Writing.

Thank you everyone for your support and advice in my journey into writing my first novel. I'm not giving up on writing and I won't be gone forever, but I do need to take some time off. Maybe I should consider this as time away from the novel so I can return to it at a later date with fresh eyes... Maybe it's just wishful thinking...

Either way, until I'm able to blog again...
Talk 2ya later...

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Writer's A.D.D.

I have self-diagnosed myself with having Writer's A.D.D. It wasn't all that hard to do really, I have all of the symptoms...
  • So many ideas spinning around in my head that I can't focus on anything
  • Jumping from one part of the story to another because... "oooh, what if I did this, here?!" (very similar to SOS - Shiny Object Syndrom)
  • etc...
(Oh yeah, disclaimer: I'm not a medical doctor, but I could write myself in a story where I am one... Oh, and there is no such disease as Writer's A.D.D., but it makes me feel better thinking that there's a medical term for what I'm suffering from, lol!)

I need to start meditating again or something. Anything to get my mind to calm down and let me work on one thing at a time. When this would happen during the first draft, I would just do a free write with all of my ideas and I'd be all set to start implementing them. That's not even working this time! Halfway through a note for one idea and my brain is already racing ahead to the next idea.

The excitement of getting this far in the process must have fried my brain. Well, that along with the burst of creativity that hit me once I started thinking about what needed to happen in the second draft. I'm sure my inability to make a decision regarding my main character's age isn't helping either though...

Today, I'm going to try organizing all of my notes for the story to see if that helps organize them in my brain as well. Maybe, having everything together in one document will convince my brain that we have it all down... no need to worry about forgetting something. I'd do just about anything to calm my thinking right now, my brain has more energy than my two-year old... and that's impressive!

Thanks for all of the amazing comments on my last post by the way. Your comments and advice on the situation really helped me realize that I have to stay true to my characters and do what is best for the story. Overall, I've decided that if I can't commit to a decision and support it 100%, then I'm not going to change anything, yet. Down the road, should I decide to change her age or if an editor or agent wants it changed, I know what needs to be done. So, thanks again! You guys are the best!

But, anywho... Off to round up my notebooks and documents so I can start my "second draft to-do list"...

Until I blog again...
Talk 2ya later...


Saturday, April 4, 2009

So many questions...

My poor little head is spinning. The rewrites on Instinct aren't confusing me, I pretty much know what needs to be done there... it's a new change I'm considering that has me unsure of what to do next.

First a little backstory (yay! the dreaded info dump!). I submitted part of my story to an online critique group anonymously and some of the comments have me thinking. There were a lot of stupid mistakes on my part that I'm not sure how I missed, but some of the other comments were deeper than just SPaG (Spelling, Punctuation, & Grammar) errors.

The first issue that got me thinking, people seemed to agree that my voice is very YA. That's pretty cool as most of my story ideas are definitely YA, except Instinct. To be honest, I'm not sure how to classify this story. Right now my main character, Casey, is 21 and attending the police academy. I know that due to her age, this would be a tough sale as a YA, even though I think that the story itself could go either way, YA or adult.

On the same note as the last comment, I've had several people ask if I couldn't just change Casey's age to maybe 18. Before, I would always say, "No, it wouldn't work with the story or the series..." but now, I'm not so sure. I originally chose Casey's age based off of the requirements for the real Boston Police Academy, minimum age of 21 and have lived in Boston for 1 year (I wanted the story to be as believable as possible).

But, I am writing fiction, aren't I? Would it be horrible if the academy in my story had a minimum age requirement of say... 18? I'm taking liberties on the timing and content of her classes and training, why shouldn't I fudge the admissions requirements while I'm at it? I'm taking liberties with the entire city of Boston since I've never actually been there. I don't want to pull people out of the story who have been a part of the police academy, but I need to do what's best for my story at the same time, you know?... [Head Spinning Moment]

The more I thought about changing her age, the more the story seemed to make sense. I had found a couple of plot holes and other problems and this change would fix most of them.
  • Why would her father, all of a sudden, insist that she have a roommate if she's been living in Boston for 3 years? She couldn't have been living with Heather the whole time or their dynamics wouldn't be believable. Her having a different roommate before doesn't make much sense either though, it's very obvious that Heather is her first roommate.
  • What actually released her gift? If her turning 18 triggered it, that would make sense.
  • Why is she so anti-social to begin with and why, in her three years living in Boston, did she never try to change this on her own? Being 18 and fresh out of high school would work with her backstory as to why she's not over her past enough to make the changes on her own.
  • Why is she so emotional and having other specific problems? Still a teenager, yet expected to act like an adult... that would definitely be believable.
  • And a few others...
I always wanted Instinct to be YA, but didn't know how well it would work given what I knew about the story in the past. Now that the first draft is done and I know the entire story, I think that it would really work.

Well, I'd have to alter one of her love interests too... maybe make him a Ph.D. student instead of a young associate/assistant professor (can't remember which is the correct term off the top of my head, but it's in my notes). That would work well too, make him a TA... would explain why he doesn't really have his own office...

But anywho... If I can get past the whole, "I want my story to be as accurate as possible, except for the paranormal aspects" (which, you never know, they could be true...) then, I think it would really work well. I'm doing rewrites now anyway, so this would be the best time to implement these changes...

But my questions for you, my dear readers.
  • Would an age change in this case be believable? Would you believe a story where an 18 year old was a police cadet?
  • Is 18 still too old for a YA story? I can think of several YA books that had characters with similar ages, but they were still in high school and Casey has graduated.

Well, I'm off to write up notes on these potential changes and maybe skim through the chapters and see if there's any major issues with her being 18 that I'm forgetting.

So, until I blog again...
Talk 2ya later...

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It's Back!

My writing mojo that is.

Calligrapher, 1984Image by kattebelletje via Flickr

I've been in such a funk lately, not sure why I haven't been inspired to write up my last few chapters on Instinct to finish the first draft... now I know why. The chapters I have left suck! I can see why I outlined them in the beginning, but over half of them aren't going to make the final cut in this story. Sure, the scenes actually happened to Casey, but the reader doesn't need to be bored with all of those details when they don't really further the plot.

I made a decision this morning. My first draft is DONE!

Sure, I have a couple of chapters that aren't "complete", but I have them fully outlined and the parts that aren't complete will most likely be changed anyway. I'm starting on my second draft and feel that unexplainable energy that I felt writing the story before. I started seeing the characters in my head again and envisioning scenes that need reworked. It's an amazing feeling let me tell you!

I'm going to re-read a section of chapters that are done today to get ready to work in the mythology information. In my head I can see how to make this work where it isn't an info dump now! Woot!

As for my other to-do list:

1. Layer in some scenes for a major character that kind of got pushed to the background in his scenes: I have so many ideas for how to do this now. This is going to be so much fun!

2. Add in some extra paranormal aspects to Casey's gift and their ramifications to the plot: Love, love, love this idea now! The best part is that I get to add in these same abilities on a couple other characters. And this helps explain what happens to one character at the end perfectly.

3. Rewrite 2-3 scenes from another character's POV: I know at least two chapters that I want for this, but need to see if the chapter after that can be reworked from his POV as well. It's a tricky situation because I need to let the reader get to know this character without giving too much away that would ruin the twist at the end.

4. Figure out what I'm going to do with my "boring" scenes: Well, this one is fairly easy. Most of them are going to be cut or completely re-outlined to the point where I might as well cut them and start from scratch.

I was really starting to wonder if I'm meant to be a writer or not. It's a bit disconcerting to have your writing mojo fizzle like mine did on this story. Now I realize that I was trying to force myself to finish my boring chapters instead of following my own "instincts" that said to start the rewrites. I am so happy to be back to this frame of mind and see things being written fairly quickly in the coming month.

You wanna know how giddy this change in attitude has me? Well, it's no secret that I am NOT a morning person, but I woke up early this morning (well, early for me... especially on a day that my husband is watching the toddler). But anywho, I woke up and realized what I needed to do and everything came together so wonderfully in my head. My favorite scenes started playing themselves in my head as I re-acquainted myself with the characters that have been so silent for the past weeks and months. I grabbed my bedside notebook and started scribbling down notes and ideas. The excitement is so intense that I'm not sure how I'll get through reading over a couple of chapters before I dig in and start writing.

I haven't drank alcohol in about three years because of the whole pregnancy and nursing thing, but I think I'm buzzing on this writing mojo feeling! Woo, riding the writing high!

For anyone else who feels like they've lost their writing mojo, I have some advice: re-evaluate what you are trying to do with the story. Are you trying to make yourself go against your instincts? Toss out your preconceived notions on how a writing process is supposed to go and just do things your own way. When you really think about it, every known writing process started off as someone's instinct that ended up working so wonderfully that people emulated it. Maybe someday people will be following your process!

But, I need to get to work organizing my notes and reading a few chapters that need rewrites.

So, until I blog again...
Talk 2ya later...

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Just Checking In...

This has been the longest week ever!

I have very little to report on the writing front unfortunately. For the past week I have been taking care of a very sick little two year old boy, my poor little guy. We're not sure where he picked it up, but he has been suffering with a really bad stomach virus for a week now. The doctor says that he'll be fine and he is getting better, but it's heartbreaking to see him so sick.

Every time I sat down to write, he would come and lay his head on my lap and just want to hold my hand. Luckily, I never got puked on like my husband... but it's not easy to concentrate and type one-handed when you are seeing your only child so sick. I think I managed a few hundred words and random edits this past week, which isn't bad considering everything else going on.

I'm debating on whether or not to start my rewrites before I finish my last few short chapters though. I am so excited to go back in and add in all of the new special scenes for Casey and crew that it's hard to focus on what else needs to be written. In my defense though, a lot of what I "need" to write will probably be changed once I make all of my rewrites, so I could just write those scenes fresh after I lay the groundwork for my new ideas.

Maybe I'm just suffering S.O.S. (Shiny Object Syndrome). Forget the old stuff that needs to be written, I have this new shiny object that I want to play with. It's... so... shiny...

Then again, maybe I need to rethink these last few chapters and their purpose. If I'm not as excited about writing them as I was with all of the others, maybe that's a sign that they need some work. If they bore me to write, they'd certainly bore a reader.

A couple of these chapters, I fear, are going to become info dumps the way I have them outlined. A good portion of Casey's gift has to do with Greek mythology, so I have a couple scenes that are supposed to give out some basic information on the deities that have been "possessing" her. (Man, I hate the word possessing for this, but it's the closest thing that I can think of to describe it...) Now, I don't want to make these chapters just mythology lessons, but I need a way to sneak in little bits of this information in a way that furthers the plot.

Another chapter that I need to write doesn't necessarily need any work done to it's outline, I just need to decide if I want to include a really goofy scene in the middle of it. In my mind I can see it, but it can come across really cheesy and that's not what the story is about. This goofy scene doesn't really do anything for the plot, but does show a side of a few characters that flesh them out a bit.

I have yet another chapter that is written, written badly - but written, that needs a lot of work. This is one of my favorite scenes in my head and is pretty important in showing Casey's struggles (as well as being freakin' hilarious), but it has a big problem. Copyright issues. In the scene, a radio is playing and what is played and said over the stations is very important to make the scene work. Unfortunately after writing up this scene, I found out that you cannot use song lyrics in a novel without paying for permission. I don't know why this didn't occur to me before, maybe because I was only using maybe one line out of each song, but whatever reason it was, now I have to do a major rewrite or be willing to cut a chapter that I love. Right now it's on the chopping block and will just have to be a funny scene in my head... who knows what will happen in the second draft though?

Then there are a few really emotional scenes that are really important to the plot, one of which really hits close to home. These scenes just require me to have more than a couple minutes here and there to work. Every other scene can be written in little bits here and there, but these require a fluidity that can't be achieved that way, at least not by me... yet. I am still new to all of this you know. Once we finish the bathroom remodel (the task that is taking up my husband's free time, time that used to be spent watching the toddler so I could write), I'll take a couple days to write these out. They will be fun to write because of the range of intense emotions that Casey experiences. Getting inside her head for these scenes will be a great writing experience for me.

As for rewrites, I have to:
- layer in some scenes for a major character that kind of got pushed to the background in his scenes (oops!),
- add in some extra paranormal aspects to Casey's gift and their ramifications to the plot,
- rewrite 2-3 scenes from another character's POV (This will be great and add to the mystery around a couple of the characters),
- figure out what I'm going to do with my "boring" scenes

Once that stuff is done, I'll just need to polish everything up and it will be done. Then the scary part starts... querying!

Well, what do you know? I guess I did have a bit to report on my writing after all :)

Until I blog again...
Talk 2ya later...

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Monday, March 23, 2009

YA -vs- Adult... I wanna write both!

Staged by principal author of Shallow Water Bl...Image via Wikipedia

I'm drowning in ideas for YA novels... Every week it seems like I'm outlining another fun book or series with a YA vibe to it. The cool thing about this is that each new idea seems better developed than the last. The bad thing is that all the time I'm spending writing up these synopses is time away from my nearly completed first draft of Instinct. But, if I don't write up these stories now, they'll be lost forever because of my bad memory. *groan*

Technically, I guess this isn't a horrible time for me to be taking a break from the writing aspect of Instinct though. You see I've recently decided to make a few little tweaks to the plot and a couple of main characters. These tweaks will affect a good portion of the book, but will make it a lot better. It will involve rewriting some scenes and layering in a lot of new information in other places, but it will be worth it in the end. One night I just had this moment of inspiration that set off a whole row of dominoes in my head until I knew what I had to do. I'm so excited to think about how these little changes will add a new sense of drama to the characters' lives as well as fill in a few plot holes.

So, why isn't this a bad time to outline other stories if I have so much new work to do? Simple. I have to let all of this new information "cook" in my subconscious for a few days so I can add it in as seamlessly as possible. I have a separate document typed up and handwritten pages of notes that will help, but... I don't know... it feels like when I first started outlining Instinct. I needed time to let my subconscious work out the kinks and once that was done, I started writing like a maniac. Taking the time to let everything settle in my head for a few days seems to be part of my process when I make big changes. (And these are big changes, but will be so much fun to write!)

This Just In: And just like that, while editing this blog post one of the new scene ideas *dinged* in my head and started playing. I typed up the outline and know exactly where to put it. I expect moments like this to happen off and on over the next week or so until everything is "fixed" in my head. But now, back to the somewhat regularly-scheduled blog post...

There is one thing that I am nervous about with all of my new book ideas though. If I'm successful and am able to get Instinct and the subsequent novels in the series published, how hard would it be to write YA novels after that? Instinct is one of those books that would be hard to classify. My MC is 21 so technically the story is at the extreme high end of what is typically considered YA, but I can easily see a teenager enjoying the book. I wish that I could believably change her age to 18, but that wouldn't work on many levels so I'm pretty sure it would end up classified a sweet, paranormal romance should it get published. Would it pigeonhole me into just writing romances if I were to find success with this story?

The stories that I want to write next are all YA and I've really enjoy creating these characters and their worlds. There's something about writing dialogue for a teenager that is so much fun. Maybe I can relate to teenagers because I love reading YA books and listening to the teen and tween music groups. It's not that I don't have ideas for new romance novels or that I have a problem with the genre (I love it!), but I just feel that the YA stories are better ideas and would be more enjoyable to write.

I hate to even think this way because I believe in Instinct so much, but what if it's meant to be my practice novel? The one I write first, but for whatever reason never gets published. What if all of these YA inspirations that I've been bombarded with lately are the universe's way of telling me what I'm supposed to be writing? Maybe I'm just scared to finish Instinct and my mind is looking for any excuse to keep me from working on it... *sigh* Then again, maybe I'm just over thinking things AGAIN...

I have no intention of quitting my journey to finish and publish Instinct. I love Casey and can't imagine not finishing her story and trying to share it with the world. So fear not, Casey Parker will not disappear! I just need to work on my ability to focus and try to regain control of my muse... Hah! Like I've ever had any control over him, but I can dream right?

If I can successfully make my tweaks to Instinct, then I think I would have a decent shot of publishing it somewhere. Anyone I've told the premise to says that they haven't seen a paranormal romance with my particular paranormal element before and that it sounds awesome. Agents and editors want new ideas right? But, what if finding success with Instinct makes it where I can't tell the stories of Brooke, Lisa, Megan, or...? Arrrggghhh... I need chocolate...

The current plan is to finish Instinct and then start writing whichever one of these YA stories inspires me the most at the time while on submission. If Instinct should happen to sell while I'm working on my new project, great! If not, I'll start submitting the complete YA story as well and let the universe decide which should be published. And, if both sell... I'll wake up and blog, "I just had the best dream..."

But anyway, until I blog again,
Talk 2ya later...

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Help with Grocery Costs

As we all know, most writers don't exactly make the big bucks... well, unless you're Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Nora Roberts, etc... And, if any big-time writers like that are reading this blog, AWESOME! Any of you guys want to take on a fledgling writer as an apprentice?
(Hey, I have to try, don't I?)

But anyway, beginning writers don't usually rake in the dough and the economy isn't so great right now... so I thought I'd share information on a program that I've recently been introduced to, Angel Food Ministries. Below, I have included a copy of a press release from their website.

For Immediate Release:

Contact: Juda Engelmayer
212-999-5585 or


As Food Prices Escalate, Families can now get a $60 Box of Food for Only $30

Monroe, GA – September 19, 2008 -- Angel Food Ministries ( is a non-profit, non-denominational organization dedicated to providing financial support in the form of food relief to communities throughout the United States. Established in 1994 to provide relief for struggling families in the Monroe, GA area, Angel Food Ministries today serves hundreds of thousands of families across 35 states. Since inception, Angel Food Ministries has fed more than 20 million Americans. In 2007, AFM provided $95 million in direct food assistance to American families.

Angel Food offers a medium-sized box of food for $30 that contains top quality food staples from every food group, including chicken or beef, milk, eggs, vegetables, and other nutritious items. One box of food feeds a family of four for about one week, or a single senior citizen for almost a month. The menu varies each month, and consists of both fresh and frozen items with an average retail value of approximately $60.

“We offer each and every family who comes to us the opportunity to put a decent meal on the table, no matter what their financial situation,” said Mike Wood, of Angel Food Ministries. “We are especially honored to be able to provide a protein rich diet for many families who wouldn’t otherwise purchase meat.”

“I just participated in your program for the first time,” said R.A, of Jourdanton, TX – a recipient of Angel Food Ministries’ services. “This is a wonderful program. I have four children, and my husband and I work very hard to make ends meet...This is great for families like ours!

Angela Gonzalez, of Waldron, AK, says, “In the midst of rising prices on everything, AFM has made it possible for the people of our town to lower their grocery bills tremendously.”

Our food is purchased directly from some of the top suppliers in the country. Those who participate with Angel Food receive brand name food without worry about it being fresh.

The great part is that Angel Food is for everyone. There are no limits to the quantity of boxes per individual, nor are there any applications or qualifications for eligibility.

There are also specialty boxes available. In addition to our excellent protein specials, Angel Food Ministries is offering a fresh fruit and vegetables box and a Senior Box to continue providing an excellent nutritious variety of food.

For more information on Angel Food Ministries, please visit our website,


Click here to read an article on this group that was published in the Chicago Tribune.

They have a referral program that allows people to earn points towards free boxes of food, so if you decide to give them a try I'd appreciate it if you'd mention me. They keep records by email address, so please tell them bkilbarger [at] sent you. (Of course with the correct symbol in place of the [at]... what can I say, I don't want spammers mining my blog and harassing me with annoying emails. I mean, why would I be interested in male enhancement drugs? Really?!)

I hope that someone out there finds this information helpful. Remember, us writer types have to stick together!

So, until I blog again...

Talk 2ya later...


Sunday, March 15, 2009

D'oh! D'oh! D'oh!... *DING*

An glimpse into the mind of a writer working through a plot problem...

Have you ever had one of
"those" days with your writing? I've spent a bit of today working on the motivations for one of my characters... Who would've thought that this simple task would lead to a major duh moment on my part?

I started my task by re-reading the scenes that this character is in so I could get a feel for his voice again, not that I could ever really forget it... he is one of my favorite characters after all. The more I read, the more in love with my new scene ideas I've become. I'm going to add in additional little mini scenes with this character to help build his character up with the reader. It will really add to the story in ways that I honestly didn't think of when I first outlined Instinct. I never realized how little this character was in my original draft when he plays such a major role in the story. I guess I took for granted that the reader would sympathize for him, without really knowing him. These new mini-scenes will help show more of his personality and add some drama for Casey to deal with. Drama + Casey = Fun!

So what's the problem then? Arrrgghh! Well, while re-reading the text, I noticed a specific point where my character gets upset over something he walks in on (and rightfully so, given his perspective of the situation). The problem... his reason for being upset is horribly, horribly wrong. Unless I can recreate the way the weekdays fall believably in my story (not likely...), his motivation just isn't going to work here. Here's a breakdown of my lapse in mental processing:

1. Character asks girl out for the weekend and she tells him that she's going home to visit family.
2. He's sad, but accepts it, he did wait until the last minute to ask her (It was Thursday afternoon).
3. The
next Friday (not the next day, the next week) he sees her out with another man.

The problem? His reason for being hurt and mad is that she lied to him... basically in my head the days of that particular week went something like this: Thursday (ask out) > Friday/Saturday (she's with family) > Sunday (she meets other guy) > Friday (he sees her on a date with new guy). There are no other days between Sunday and Friday. It just doesn't make sense for him to be upset for the reasons I thought he was here.

So, now I have to find a better motivation for him to be upset about when he sees them out together. Maybe I can have him ask her out again for Friday sometime during that week and she tell him that she can't. Him asking her out for that night would work with their backstory, but she wouldn't not tell him why she couldn't and she wouldn't lie to him either, I think... I guess I could work that into the story, her lying about her real plans... Then he catches her in the lie and... well, the rest of the scene happens!

... \
... Brain processing this new info...
... /

*DING* (That's the sound of the buzzer in my head going off, saying this new idea is ready!)

OMG, I think I've got it! Yes, him asking her out again is DEFINITELY the way to go!

Thanks for listening to me working through this problem. For some reason working it out in my head wasn't cutting it, but blogging about it did the trick! I haven't figured out all of the specifics for this change, but I'm liking where they're headed. Fixing his motivation in this one scenario has even caused a domino effect to go off in my head and now I know his motivation (as well as a few other characters' motivations) in later scenes.

Well, I need to start sketching out these new scenes and motivations so I can add them in as notes in my main story file. This makes so much sense now! Maybe I was misinterpreting the scenes all along... it wouldn't be the first time... But anyway, Instinct calls!

So, until I blog again...
Talk 2ya later...

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In My Mailbox...

In My Mailbox is inspired by a weekly feature of The Story Siren. It is a way for bloggers to share books that they've received in the mail, from the library, or from bookstores.

I actually received a few books this week:

The Magic Knot
by Helen Scott Taylor

(Won from Book Talk with J&J)

- Click here to buy

The entire Kitty Norville Series
by Carrie Vaughn

- Kitty and the Midnight Hour
- Kitty Goes to Washington
- Kitty Takes a Holiday
- Kitty and the Silver Bullet
- Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand
- Kitty Raises Hell

(Won from Pat's Fantasy Hotlist)
- Click here to buy

The Forest of Hands and Teeth
by Carrie Ryan

(Pre-ordered from Amazon)

Click here to buy

I've actually finished reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth and it was AMAZING! This is definitely a page-turner and was near impossible for me to put down when I absolutely had to. I'd definitely recommend this one for everyone to read.

Well, until I blog again...
Talk 2ya later...


Saturday, March 14, 2009

*Sigh* The world doesn't want me to write...

As if I didn't have enough to distract me from writing right now... Look what arrived in the mail for me this morning...

Debut novel, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.

Now, I've only been dying to read this since... I don't know, the day I first read the blurb for it! Now it's sitting in my house, luring me away from the keyboard.

Contests, contests, and more contests... I entered quite a few, hoping to win an ARC of this baby just so I could read it quicker. Sadly, my contests luck must've run out for those particular entries so I headed on over to and pre-ordered my copy. Luckily, I had an Amazon gift card that I won from a short story contest from the Pen & Muse Blog.

I knew that it had shipped and was headed to my doorstep, but hadn't really considered the ramifications of it arriving. My personal deadline is looming ahead of me and all I'm able to do is stare at the oh-so-tempting hardback book on the table...

It's a conspiracy I tell ya! Someone, somewhere doesn't want me to finish writing on time. Never mind the fact that I'm a bit of a speed reader and will probably have the book finished within a day or two, that's one or two days that I should be writing. If I never finish writing my book, I'll never have a chance to have my own debut novel released and sitting on someone else's table, tempting them away from what they should be doing.

Now to discover which is stronger, my Writing Gremlin and my need to write Instinct or the overwhelming desire to dig into this new book.

I suppose I could consider it research... You know, seeing what the author did so right that she was chosen for publication...

All right, I've looked up and stared at the book about a dozen times while typing this, so I have a feeling who is going to win this round... So...

Until I blog again...
Talk 2ya later...


Update - 3/15/09: The Forest of Hands and Teeth won...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Wordle and Time Turners...

Okay, I'll admit that I've read about authors using Wordle as a writing tool before, but I never realized how cool it is to see in action. I took my current WIP, Instinct, and plugged it into the form and this is what it came up with. (Click on it to see a full-sized version)

Wordle: Instinct 3-13-09

I can definitely see the merits of using this as an writer. Basically, what Wordle does is, it totals up the frequency with which you use words and then creates a word cloud out of the most used ones. The larger the size of the word in the cloud, the more prevalent it is within your manuscript. This is a great way to see if you're using certain words too often.

I haven't read all of the smaller ones on mine yet, but the large ones are right on target. I was worried for a minute when a specific name didn't appear, but then I remembered that I haven't finished writing his parts yet. Duh! It was an after thought to add more scenes with this character and sadly something that I haven't had time to do.

Time... Man, I wish I had more time to write. My life is full of appointments and caring for my crazy two-year old son (who I absolutely adore). I used to be able to sneak in a good chunk of time writing when my husband got home from work, but now he's remodeling our bathroom. It's a much-needed remodel and will help the resale value of our house, but man, I want to write for long stretches again!

I've tried staying up late writing like I did in the beginning, but I'm still recovering from my months of being sick with one thing or another and don't seem to last very long. I'd try to wake up early to get my writing done, but.... I am SO not a morning person. My characters would all meet their untimely demise rather quickly if I did that... not a good thing when I'm hoping to make this into a series, lol!

I try writing during my son's naps, but they're just not long enough. Just as I really get into a scene, he wakes up crying. He never did like waking up from naps... It really sucks to have built up all of that momentum on a scene and then have to drop it. I know that I'll be able to come back to the scene later and finish it, but it feels so good... so freeing to write when you're that in to the story, you know?

I'll definitely have to do whatever I can to find more time to write if I'm going to meet my current goal to finish the rough draft by April 30th. Either that, or I'll have to figure out how to build a time machine out of household items... anyone know where I can buy a working Time Turner? No? Drat! Oh well...

Until I blog again...
Talk 2ya later...


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Writing Gremlin Strikes!

Earlier today...

Writing Gremlin (WG): *POOF* "I have a brill idea..."
Me: "No."
WG: "No?"
Me: "No. I have a goal, remember? Finish the rough draft of Instinct by April... Ringin' any bells?"
WG: "I suppose you're right, but this is quite brilliant. Remember that romance story we came up with a few months ago, with the-"
Me: "Yeah, I remember it. Too many plot holes. There was no external conflict. Definitely not worth getting excited about."
WG: "But... what if we re-worked it into a YA story with the hero still a teenager. Make his internal issues a family affair... There could be an secret group out to-"
Me: "Damnit!"
WG: "Hehe..."
Me: "Don't be smug."
WG: "But I always win..."
Me: *Groans* "You know... if you learned how to type, we could double our productivity."
WG: *Laughs* "Luv, I create the stories, you write them. For now, I'm off. I shall return the first of April for you to take down the new outline." *POOF*
Me: "Wait! I meant the end of April! WG? What about Lisa's story? What about- Damnit!"


If I suddenly disappear for any length of time, unannounced, I've been arrested by the Writing Gremlin Police and am awaiting trial for murdering my muse...

But before I'm hauled away, I want to thank all my readers world wide! Checking my Google Analytics today, it registered that I have readers in four different countries! So, hello England, The Netherlands, Indonesia, and the good old US of A! It is so cool to think that my little blog has not only crossed the pond, but has crossed a couple of them to reach people all over. Thanks for reading!

Now to set my goal of having readers in every state, like Beth. America today... tomorrow, the world!

Until I blog again...
Talk 2ya later...


Google Analytics - Ah Ha!

Ah Ha! I figured it out!

In case you were wondering how to block your visits to your sites from appearing on your GA reports, here's how!

Or, more specifically:

1. Click "Analytic Settings".
2. Click "Filter Manager".
3. Click "Add Filter".
4. Fill out the required information and select, "Exclude all traffic from an IP address".
5. Add the filter to each of your "Available Website Profiles" to "Selected Website Profiles".
6. Click "Save Changes".

And, Ta Da! The program won't count your visits to your sites from the computer with the IP address you entered. If you don't know your IP address, just Google, "What is my IP address" and use one of the websites to figure it out. Piece of cake, mmmm cake sounds good...

Well, I seriously have some catching up to do on my writing, but I had to share this.

Until I blog again...
Talk 2ya later...

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Google Analytics ROCKS!

Image representing Google Analytics as depicte...Image via CrunchBase

Okay, I'm a techy geek so how did I NOT know about Google Analytics before? This program is awesome! Thanks Beth for introducing it to me in your blog here and here.

I had been trying to find a free web service that would provide me with a "hit counter" of sorts tha
t didn't look cheesy. Thanks to Google Analytics, I've found it! I'm especially loving the Map Overlay feature. It's just so cool to be able to see where in the world my readers are. (Thanks especially to North Carolina's readers, who are second only to my home state of Illinois and most of that traffic is probably me checking/responding to comments or making sure that things posted correctly.)

I'm still learning what all I'm able to do with this program, so I'm probably missing out on several other really cool features, but I'll figure them out. I'm not a techy geek for nothing! Right now I'm interested in learning if there's a way to make Google Analytics ignore traffic from my computer so my having to click into the blog to check things doesn't skew my traffic data.

But anywho... I should be writing my novel right now, not my blog.... I guess I'll get back to that.

So, until I blog again...
Talk 2ya later...

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Amazing Writing Days and Being Completely Wrong...

Well, writing today was completely awesome! I had so much fun writing up this chapter today. Well, technically, the chapter isn’t done, but the big parts are all written. I just have to finish up the last few paragraphs, all nice and neat, and lead the characters into the next chapter. Then it will be done.

This scene was fun because one of the characters took me completely by surprise. I had always figured that Casey’s ex would be a bit more of a pushover in this scene. The type of guy who just can’t stay mad at people, no matter what they’ve done to him- you know the type, right? Well, that’s how I had this guy outlined. That deep down he knew that he should be mad at her, but just couldn’t bring himself to do it.

Boy was I wrong!

I started writing the scene and couldn’t help but notice how snippy he was being, he was dang near rude at times. To be fair, Casey does deserve to be treated this way, but still… wow! It felt so amazing to write his emotional transformation from Casey’s point of view. While I know what he’s thinking during the scene, the reader only gets to interpret what Casey notices which makes this scene, no this entire book, that much more fun to write!

It was really amazing to see this side of him, I think that it makes the entire scene, and his character in general, a lot more believable. With their history, it’d be expected that there would be some awkwardness and residual anger popping up all over the place now that fate has brought them back together – yet another sign that fate and irony are truly out to get Casey.

It can be difficult at times for me to process their past, especially when I’m bombarded with both of their feelings on a topic at once. I can see and feel exactly what each of them are going through the entire time. While I would completely understand if the guy chooses to never talk to Casey again, I also really understand why Casey did what she did. Just thinking about it all now is making my head spin...

I really can’t wait to finish up this chapter and maybe start working on layering in some of the scenes with guy #2. This guy has become another one of my favorite characters because he is so obvious with his intentions towards Casey, but she’s completely oblivious. You all know that type of girl, right? Everyone knows that a guy is flirting with her and she still denies it, saying that they’re “just friends” or that everyone is seeing things. Casey is so that girl and that makes it so much fun to write her. My beta reader, M, seems to really like how I’ve written some scenes dealing with this. Casey sees everything happening, so the reader does to, but this is where the similarities end. While the reader uses common sense and knows what’s really happening, Casey remains oblivious. I can remember one interesting Gmail chat where M said that she wanted to just reach in and slap Casey to knock some sense into her.

I’m torn on whether or not this response is a good thing though. Yes, it means that the reader is really involved in the story and connecting with my protagonist… but on the other hand, would this “pull readers out of the story” too much? I love writing Casey this way and think that it works fairly well, but I don’t want to ruin the story for people. But then again, the story really doesn’t work as well any other way. It’s so much fun to slip in clues here and there and have Casey see them as normal. I can’t wait to see people’s reactions to the end of the book when the villain is revealed. All of the important clues are right there in the preceding chapters staring them in the face, but will be very easy to overlook thanks to Casey’s unique view of her world. I’m really going for that *GASP* “No… how?... but I thought… wow!” type of reaction.

I love how this whole writing style works with the premise of the book as well. “Two men vying for Casey Parker’s heart. One becomes the man of her dreams, the other something out of her worst nightmares.” It’s such a fun love triangle to write because I get to make the reader root for both the hero and the villain before their actual roles are ever revealed. They’ll get to see the good and the bad parts of each and yet the last several chapters will still leave them shocked and kicking themselves for not seeing it sooner. The rough draft of these last chapters are complete and parts of them still give me chills to remember. I hope that readers have a similar experience.

The hard part about the ending for me is knowing how much I need to reveal about the villain and his motives. Instinct is designed to be the first in a four-part series, well technically it works as a trilogy, but the fourth book idea is just so much fun (and the only one not mostly from Casey’s POV). I need to reveal enough information to satisfy readers while saving other information to be released in later books. Hopefully I find a good balance.

A big problem with this is finding a good way to present the information. Right now, I have three or four chapters written from the hero’s perspective because it’s simply impossible for Casey to witness certain events. I’ve considered rewriting a few chapters of the book from the villain’s perspective, but not showing anything that is too sinister. I even have a good part of the book in mind for this. This would be a good way to help the reader connect with him and learn some of his secrets. I’ll probably make a comment about it within the manuscript as something to consider in the second draft. Or third… did we ever decide if my first draft was done a while ago and I’m writing the second now? Oh well, it’s not that important…

What is important is my need for sleep. It’s way too late and I should be in bed, but I felt the writing gremlin getting anxious about getting this blog post written, so here it is. I hope it lives up to your and his expectations. Especially his, he can be quite the little bugger when he’s irritated with me…

Well, until I blog again…
Talk 2ya later…


Note to Self: NEVER type up a blog post in Microsoft Word and then copy/paste it as it WON'T format correctly because of embedded code from Microsoft.