Saturday, January 31, 2009

Short Story DONE! and other news...

Here I am again! I've had a pretty good writing week, in my opinion at least.

First, I finished my short story for The Pen & Muse Romance Short Story Contest. As in, it's done! Written, edited, proofread... D.O.N.E. done! I was very fortunate to happen across a post on The Writer's Beat forum where someone volunteered to do free proofreading so that they could build their resume. As I had read and re-read my story so many times that I knew I was most likely missing a lot of little errors, I jumped on this opportunity. I'm so glad that I did!

I send my ~3300 word story off to Aspen and had it back the next day, well before the 72 hour wait period that I had been expecting. As expected, I had several little errors... comma/semi-colon issues and a couple of instances where I had used the same word multiple times in a paragraph, etc. I'm proud to say that I've learned where some of my punctuation weaknesses are and am working on improving them. I agreed with every suggestion that was offered, even though I was fully prepared to ignore anything that didn't feel right to me; it is my story after all. But that never happened, every suggestion was spot on.

Overall, I would say that this was an awesome experience for me and I would definitely recommend
Aspen's services to anyone in need of a proofreader. I'm not sure how long the free proofreading services will continue, but I would definitely encourage anyone to email and inquire about it. It's a win-win situation, they get experience to put on their resume and you get a cleaner piece of writing along with an opportunity to learn your strengths and weaknesses. You can't get any better than that now, can you?

This shot story contest ends on February 19th and I'll definitely keep you updated on how my story fares. People who have read the story seem to like it and I love the characters, so I guess only time will tell. I'm doing my final read-through on it today and sending it off. I know... I should have sent it off yesterday like I originally planned to, but I guess I'm paranoid. I wasn't able to do my final read-through last night because my writing gremlin hi-jacked and forced me to outline something else (more info on that farther down in this blog). So, once I'm finished posting this blog, I'll be reading over the story one last time and emailing it off. Wish me luck!

Let's see... what else has happened?

Oh yeah! Speaking of my short story, titled On Occasion..., after hearing from two important people in my life who have read it, I wrote up a six page outline to further my new character's stories. I honestly had never considered that there might be more to these characters than what was created in my fever-induced brain when I dreamed them up, but I guess I was wrong. First my friend, M, after reading it, told me that she wanted to know what happened next... I was like, "um... nothing that I know of, I think..." Then, the other day, my husband read it and said that he agreed with M that the story could be expanded beyond what I had, not for the short story, but for another writing project. Hearing this from a man who I'd never imagine reading a romance short story really made me start thinking. If someone who normally wouldn't read this genre likes the story and characters and sees the potential, maybe I should consider it? No harm in asking the characters if they have anything more to share, right?

Wrong! This started several days of my writing gremlin creating, writing, and rewriting Megan and Joseph's story after On Occasion... ends. To be honest, the process is pretty cool to watch in my head... very Butterfly Effect. A scenario creates itself in my mind and plays out as if I'm watching a television show or a movie, then something won't seem right and the whole thing stops, rewinds, and starts again, changed to fix the error. Day and night I was plagued by these characters, just like when I started writing Instinct. At night, I would dream these looped scenes until my brain and the writing gremlin agreed that they were "just right". During the day, I would find myself daydreaming more scenes. Somewhere along the way, I created a playlist on my iTunes and started throwing songs that fit the scenes and characters into it. Then, while engaging in my worst time waster-checking celebrity gossip blogs (I know... but I can't help it...)- I started finding pictures of actresses that looked like a couple of my characters. This whole process is reminding me of the early days when I first dreamt up Instinct. Maybe this YA story will be added to my back burner projects for when I need a break from what I'm doing on Instinct.

Speaking of Instinct, I'm having a blast working on it again. The medications are fully out of my system and I can finally see and hear the characters clearly again. Don't ask me why I could write a short story while on them but not my novel... medicine head is a very complicated ailment apparently....

After reading a blog post from Murderati, I found myself really wanting to write all of the scenes with my villain. After reading a different blog post from Fangs, Fur, and Fey, I suddenly wanted to finish up everything with Casey's love interest. And now that I've started finishing up incomplete scenes and thinking about how I want to begin some of the chapters that I've yet to start.

I can't believe how happy I am to be back writing again. M even commented to me over a Gmail chat that I sound happier than I have been since I had to take my break from it. The funny thing is that I feel happier, more "myself" now that I'm back writing, ya know? It might sound weird, but part of me thinks that I was going through some sort of withdrawal/depression the past month because I couldn't write what I wanted or how often I wanted.

"Hello, I'm Willow and I'm addicted to writing..."
"Hi Willow!"

All right, now that that's taken care of... back to where my writing has taken me since my last post.

I'm actually almost done with the only part of the story that isn't in Casey's POV and I'm liking how it's turning out. I really like getting inside of this other character's head and it works really well to jump to his perspective towards the end of the book. Certain things happen at the end that Casey doesn't experience first-hand that are necessary to keep the plot going. I went back and forth on how I could get her this information when I realized that some of what happens can't be told to her. And since this book is part of a series in my head, I need to have a character experience things in order to subtly place clues to set up future books. Things that the characters don't think much of at the time and definitely not something that they would rush out to tell everyone about. Little subtle clues and hints that, on the surface, don't appear to be much... but when the truth is revealed make perfect sense.

So, what I'm saying is that I'm back writing Instinct and really excited to be back in that world. As confusing as it was, I was even writing on it while my brain was figuring out Megan and Joseph's story. The fact that I was able to go from writing a chapter of Instinct one minute to writing up the full outline of this new story (who's working title is being quite elusive...) makes me believe that I'll be able to work on both as needed.

My main focus is still going to be finishing Instinct- I'm so close to seeing the end of the rough draft that I can taste it! But, for those times when the scenes for it just aren't ready to be written, I now have a back up project to keep my occupied. Can't have me slipping back into writer's withdrawal/depression again. Now I have an alternate story to outline fully so I can get my writing fix when I'm stuck.

So everything is going really well with my WIPs and I can see the glimmer of a light at the end of the tunnel for my first draft of Instinct. It's so good to be back!

Let's see, what else? Oh yeah, before I forget again... I'm joining a writing guild. At the end of last year I found a website for a local writers guild and decided to check them out. I went to their first meeting of the year on January 15th (a horribly, horribly cold night where I found myself having to fill up the car before making the drive out because my husband forgot to...). Well, during the first meeting, I was able to meet several different writers from all different specialties. Writers of fiction, non-fiction, journalism, even a woman who is specializing in oral story telling. While at 26, I was the youngest person there, it still looks like it'll be a good group. Sadly, I wasn't able to officially join that night because I forgot the checkbook at home (d'oh!), but when I attend the next meeting on February 19th, I'll definitely become an official member.

This group has guest speakers at the meetings, be they published or unpublished authors, industry professionals, or even professors. The speaker at the first meeting was published author, Harry Spiller. He's a local author and retired teacher who has had several books and short stories published. He's even done work with a true crime television show on A&E, pretty cool. He told us about his struggles to find a publisher for his first book as well as the importance of knowing, and adhering to, submission guidelines. While I had already read pretty much everything he spoke of on the do's and don'ts of getting published during my extensive research of the publishing industry, it was still amazing to hear these truths repeated in person. It seemed to make them more real to actually hear someone speak them.

Another plus to group membership is that I'll be allowed 4 pages in their yearly anthology to have my work published. I'm not sure what I'll be able to find that is short enough to fit in the allotted space, but I'll definitely be looking out for something good to include.

They also produce a newsletter and allow members to submit writings to that as well. Maybe I can take some of the valuable information that I've learned through my favorite writing websites and blogs and write up an article for it? It'd be fun to try and I'm sure that someone would find the information useful.

They also have a yearly writing contest, but the fiction category is limited to 1500 words. I would be hard-pressed to write a piece of fiction that short. I still don't know how I wrote On Occasion... in under 3500 words, especially when the maximum word count allowed was 10,000 words. The deadline for this contest is May 1st, so maybe I'll feel inspired by then. If not, well... there's always next year if we're still living in this area then.

But anyway, this coming month I'll be joining the ranks of the Southern Illinois Writers Guild and I'm really looking forward to it. Not only will I be able to connect with other writer's in the area, but I'll be given the opportunity to network with published authors in person. As I've mentioned in other posts, I love the opportunity to ask questions and get advice from those who've been successful in this industry.

I think that's pretty much all that I've been up to in regards to my writing since my last post... If I think of anything else that I forgot, I'll definitely make a new post. So...

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


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Catching up on the past few weeks...

Hello again!

I've finished my second round of antibiotics for this stupid sinus/ear infection now, so let's hope that it's cleared everything up so I can feel human again.

So, what have I been up to while living in medicine-head-land? Surprisingly quite a bit of writing. Sadly, most of it wasn't on Instinct, but it's still writing. I really wish that I had been able to work on Instinct these past few weeks though, I really miss the story and the characters. Unfortunately sinus medication + full length novel plots don't mesh up that well in my brain.

So, what did I write then?

Well, first off, the one thing I did write for Instinct was for a blog that I frequent regularly, Dear Author. Every Saturday, they post what is known as "First Page Saturday". Here's a blurb from their site that explains what it's all about:
"Welcome to First Page Saturday. Individual authors anonymously send a first page read and critiqued by the Dear Author community of authors, readers and industry others."
So, I spent a good amount of time polishing the first page of Instinct to send it off for this. Now, I'm pretty sure that this is a popular program, so I'm not certain how long it will take for my first page to be posted, but it's worth the wait. The advice and critiques that have been posted for previous entries are wonderfully helpful and insightful, not to mention brutally honest. So, I'll be checking back every Saturday, waiting to see if my page gets posted.


The other project that I've been working on is a short story for a contest held by The Pen & Muse blog.
"The Pen & Muse Blog proudly presents a Romance Short Story Contest! This contest is open to published/unpublished writers. There will be two categories/divisions for winners, published and unpublished.

Story length: 10,000 (no more than 10,000 for minimum)
Deadline: February 19, 2009"

(Click here for more details.)
Strangely enough, about a week before this contest was posted, I felt inspired to start writing a romance short story. I think I typed up about half of it and outlined the other half before sending it off to a friend to read. I was pretty doped up on sinus medication, so I wanted a healthy, outside opinion of it before I finished it.

I hadn't written a short story since high school, almost nine years ago... okay, feeling a little old saying that... I really didn't think that I could still write something so short and have it turn out well. Ever since I first sat down to outline Instinct, I've been hooked on writing novel length fiction.

But, anyway, this story came to me in a fever-induced dream one night and kept haunting me the entire next day. I figured that since I was having trouble remembering what I ate earlier in the day, that the fact that this story from the previous night was sticking around in my brain meant that it must be important. I really liked the characters and thought their story was cute, but was willing to discard it initially because I couldn't see how they could be used in a full-length novel. I can't believe that I almost threw out a story that I liked for a stupid reason like this... the medicine was really strong I guess. Glad to be writing anything though, I typed it up and put it aside, figuring that I'd find a use for it someday.

A little under a week later, that use appeared in the form of this contest. I knew that I'd be able to finish the story in well under 10,000 words and that my friend absolutely loved what I had so far, so I went for it. I've spent my free time since then writing, and re-writing, and editing, and re-editing this story. I have a couple of sentences highlighted that still sound wrong to me that need to be fixed, but I'm really liking what it's evolved into.

The goal for me is to straighten out those last few sentences that are being a nuisance before bed tonight. Then, I'll read it out loud... again, before going line by line doing spelling and grammar checks tomorrow since you can't trust MS Word to do this correctly 100% of the time. I'd like to send it off by the end of the week.

Giving myself 'til the end of the week should be plenty of time to have a couple of friends read over it for me. I have the friend, who read it in it's original format, who I'm sure will read it again for me. My husband has also volunteered to read it over, even though it's definitely not a genre he'd usually read. It's hard to imagine him reading a romance story in any format though, even a short story. Luckily for him, it's at just under 3300 words right now.


In other literary news...

I've won a couple more free books online. All of my research into the publishing industry is really paying off for my personal library. Thanks to various contests on publishing and review websites and blogs, I've won the following things:
In case you haven't noticed, Bitten By Books is an awesome website, not just for winning contests, but for amazing interviews with authors and book reviews. Someday, when I'm published, I'm definitely signing up to do an interview and contest with them.

I love my iPod and can't imagine not having it now. I've read Eternal Seduction and really enjoyed it, I even did a review of it on this blog. (Click here to read it.) I just received Unleashed in the mail today and am looking forward to reading and reviewing it as well. And I've received word that my information has been sent to the publisher so that I can receive my copy of Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand soon. I'm really looking forward to reading and reviewing it once it's here.

I plan on posting reviews of every book that I win in an online contest as a way to thank the author. I can't promise that I'll like every book that I read, but I'll be honest and explain what I did or did not like about each one.


I think that's about it for what's happened in my literary world since my last post. Of course, I could have missed something, those sinus pills were really strong... If I think of anything else cool that happened, I'll make a new post with it.

Oh, and I'll keep everyone up-to-date on the short story contest as well as any other cool contests that can be entered as I find out the information myself.

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


Monday, January 19, 2009

Day 1 Back on medication...

Yeah, you read the subject right, I'm back on the medication. I had started to feel better, finished up my prescription, and crossed my fingers that all would be well in my world... yeah, that didn't happen...

My ears are still killing me so the husband sent me back to the doctor today. The infection looks better, but there's still fluid in my ear. Luckily I only have five days worth of antibiotics this time and I wasn't instructed to stay on the antihistamines. Hopefully this new, stronger antibiotic won't affect my mental functioning too much, I'm finally getting back into the groove with my writing.

Since going off of the antihistamines, I've wrote up a synopsis for one story and written the rough draft for a short story contest I'm entering. I've also started reading my 200+ page, single-spaced manuscript of Instinct to help get myself back in the groove to finish it. Luckily, I still love my characters and their story and I'm not having any real problems getting back into that mind set. I guess part of me was afraid that all of this time away from it would somehow diminish my enjoyment of writing it, but it didn't so I'm happy.

As for what I've actually written... I'm liking the story synopsis that I came up with yesterday. It came to me in a dream during the few hours that I was able to sleep... the toddler has been a little sick and wanted to see 3 a.m. apparently... But anyway, it's sort of a middle school/young adult type story. I really like the main character, Kat, she's fun to write about. It's basically the story of how a 13 year old girl is chosen to tend a mystical tree that is the source of hope for the world. I think I wrote up around five pages, single-spaced, outlining the story and making notes of certain pieces of dialogue that I remembered from the dream. Right now, it's happily sitting in my "Incomplete Story Ideas" folder, waiting for me to get to it.

I also finished a rough draft for a short story contest that I'm entering. The maximum word count for the contest is 10,000 words and mine's just over 3000, so if I decide that I need to add something, I have plenty of wiggle room. Right now, that draft has been sent off to a friend of mine. She had enjoyed the characters when I originally wrote up a 1500 word scene with them, so now I'm waiting to see what she thinks of what I added to it to round out their backstories. Now, I have a couple of weeks to polish it up and make it presentable for the contest.

I'm not expecting too much though, I'm not a short story writer. Well, I used to only write short stories, but ever since I picked up writing again, I've fallen in love with novel-length fiction. This will also be the first contest that I've entered something I've written in. It'll be a good experience, getting used to sending off something that I've written and love for someone else to read and critique. Should be good practice for when I finish Instinct and start sending query letters out for it. And, if by some miracle, I was to place in the contest, it will be something to add to my accomplishments in the query letters.

So, I guess... wish me luck on the contest, wish me good health as I recover from my illnesses, and send me encouragement as I jump back into the world of Instinct to finish it up. Of course, I wish you all well, good health, and good luck in all that you do too!

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


Friday, January 16, 2009

Another contest from Bitten By Books!

Just wanted to let everyone know that Bitten By Books is holding another contest this week:

- Bitten by Books is excited to welcome author Missy Lyons today as our featured Guest Blogger! She will be talking with you today and answering questions.
One lucky participant will be chosen to win a copy of her latest book Dragon Heat.

Click here for details:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Day one off of the medication:

I'm feeling a bit better today. My ears don't hurt anymore so that's an improvement. My sinuses are still driving me batty, but I don't think I have the infection anymore. Sinus problems are just part of living in this part of the country I guess.

Today will be the first day that I'm going without my antihistamines and I'm hoping all goes well. Medications like these always seem to affect me really strongly. Even supposedly non-drowsy versions of medication make me groggy. Probably something wrong in my genetic make-up...

Anyway, I think that I'm going to take it easy the next couple of days and ease myself back into the writing process. As much as I'd like to just jump in and start writing again, I think it'll be better if I give it a couple of days to let the rest of the antihistamines get out of my system. I'm feeling more like myself today, having not taken the mental-fog-inducing pills, but I know that the fog isn't completely gone yet. I think that I'll take a couple of days to re-read my manuscript and notes to re-acquaint myself with what I have left to write. The iPod is loaded with several of my inspirational songs for the story, so I'll be playing those off and on too.

I've also decided to enter a short story contest on a blog that I frequent regularly. The Pen and Muse is currently holding a romance short story contest and I'm really excited about it. This is the blog that sponsored a prize that I won in a contest held by Bitten By Books. Feel free to click the above link for more information on this contest, the prizes, and the deadline.

From somewhere within my clouded mind, an idea for a short story came to me this past week. Well, one scene from it came to me. Happy to be able to write anything, I eagerly typed it up and shared it as a cute story with a friend of mine. She really liked it and kept asking me what happens next. I was shocked, I hadn't thought that far through it. It was just a cute little scene to me, not an idea for a novel. I can't even think of an interesting way to expand these characters into a full-blown novel right now.

My scene is currently around 1500 words and is almost done. I have a couple of paragraphs of background information that is necessary in order for the characters motivations to be clear, so that's what I'm going to have to work on before the deadline next month. I have an idea of how I want to let the reader see what led up to where the characters are now, I'll just have to see how well it comes out when I go to write it. Luckily the contest has a 10,000 word minimum and I'm sure I can easily flesh out the character's brief backstories in less than 8500 words.

Writing this short story should be a good way to ease myself back into my writing habit. I can practice getting into these character's heads for a few days while refreshing my memory on what my Instinct characters are thinking and feeling in my remaining scenes. And if I win, or even place in the contest, it will be something to add to my writing resume. Being able to say that I won, or placed in, any writing contest is better than having nothing to include in my query letters when I finish Instinct and start looking for agents. (This, of course, only matters if my short story does well enough to win or place...)

To be honest, I've been wondering about my writing abilities. Maybe it's just how the illnesses and medications are affecting my brain, but I wonder if I'm talented enough to make it as a professional writer. I know that my beta reader enjoys my writing and my stories, but what if she's the only one? I keep trying to find a good excerpt to include in my blog or an various websites that I peruse regularly, but am having a bit of trouble. So much of what I've written needs backstory to have it make sense so I never know which passages to include. Also, since I'm still on my first draft, a lot of the writing needs a bit of polishing that I'm trying to hold off on until the subsequent drafts. When people ask for snippets of my work, what should I do? Post something that people may not fully understand in a hope that it "hooks" them into wanting to read more? Take time to try and polish just that scene to make it as error-free as possible? Or should I just wait until at least the first rough draft is finished?

I'm by no means ready to give up writing, I enjoy it far too much to ever do something like that. Actually, I don't even know where these doubts came from... no one's actually told me that my writing is horrible, the opposite in fact. It's probably just the after-effects of being sick and on the medications... I'm sure that once I'm able to delve back into the world I've created in Instinct that I'll be back to myself...

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


Monday, January 12, 2009

Bitten By Books: Win a Free Book Contest!

Hey everyone!

I'm just making a quick post to let you all know about the new contest at
Bitten By Books.

Click here for more details:

I've won two contests from this website, so they are completely legit.

Oh yeah, if you enter, be sure to mention that Willow sent you so we both get extra entries!

Talk 2ya later...

Illness and New Writing Projects

Anyone have a quick cure for a sinus/ear infection? I'm serious, this being on antihistamines and living in a constant fog is getting old. What's really annoying is that I can still write fairly decently. I just can't focus on how what I'm writing ties into the bigger picture of the story.

I wrote what I consider a fairly cute little scene the other day, while at the height of being sick and drugged up. My beta reader likes it at least. I just have no idea what I want to do with it as it has nothing to do with Instinct. I've considered putting it in this one book idea that I've been toying with, but I'm not sure if it really fits.

This other book idea is actually one that I came up with before I started writing Instinct. It's sort of a Princess Diaries (book, not movie) meets Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I really like the concept behind it, but I'm not sure exactly how I want to execute it. I know pretty much everything that I want to include in it, but can't seem to come up with a good "voice" to use for it.

I've actually been able to do some work on this project because none of the chapters directly tie in to each other. Before you get all shocked, saying "How can a book's chapters not fit together?" Let me explain... It's a compilation of stories, letters, and blog posts from a small group of friends. Each chapter will be them sharing special moments with each other as they go through their lives starting the day before they graduate high school. Sure, several of the chapters will be by the same "author," but each chapter will be it's own self-contained story. There's no need to connect the ideas to each other. In an opening portion of it, I'll set it up to show that the girls also communicate with each other regularly on the phone to keep track of the day-to-day stuff, but write up the important moments for each other.

I've created a basic character for each of the girls and what their "moments" will be, but I'm considering adding to my original idea. I'm thinking that as each of them go about their lives apart from each other, they invite new friends to join in their moments sharing group.

I'm glad that I can work on these individual moments while I'm sick. I've been going crazy not being able to write this past week. I'm still dying to get back to Instinct because I'd say that it's about 80% written... I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and just want to get back to writing it. I think at last count, I'm at almost 86,000 words. Considering most novels are anywhere between 80,000 to 100,000 words, I'm pretty proud of myself.

I'm really looking forward to the editing and revision process once my first draft is done, strangely enough. I want to read through it and find where my mistakes are. Then, I get to decide what scenes that I've written really aren't that important and get to fight with myself on whether or not I want to cut them.

Thanks to hundreds of websites and blog posts that I've read through this whole writing process, I can't wait to finish this book and start polishing it up so I can start querying agents. I've learned so much in the last five months that I've been researching and writing. I want to learn what my strengths are and figure out how I can improve on my weaknesses.

Part of me also can't wait to start blogging about the whole querying process. Maybe reading what I go through will one day help another new writer learn from my mistakes. Maybe not? I'm not really sure who all reads this.

I really believe in my characters and their stories and really hope that I get my chance to share them with the world. Thanks to everyone to continually sends me encouragement as I travel this bumpy road that will lead to hopefully becoming a professional writer one day.

Well, today is my son's second birthday so I have some prep work to do before friends start showing up for yummy cake.

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


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Willow’s Book Review: Eternal Seduction by Jennifer Turner

"After living on the streets of New York City for over a decade, Logan Ellis admits her perceptions might be a little skewed. But twisted or not, there's a satisfying irony in watching a well dressed vampire stand in the middle of a ghetto alley, windblown trash scraping small circles near his feet. What she finds even more intriguing, is waiting for him to decide whether or not he's going to kill her.

Kerestyan Nelek hasn't quite made up his mind. As the Lord of New York, he can't allow a homeless drug addict, whose memories are packed with knowledge of vampiric existence, to run free in his city. It's not the first time he's been in this situation with a human, it's just the first time in thousands of years he's come face to face with one who doesn't seem to care. And that's what makes the decision so damn difficult.

What horrors would you have to witness before you went numb? How many years would it take for you to feel that way? What would it take to make you care again?

Logan's answers are simple: the worst humanity has to offer, almost thirty…and something she never expected."
Darkness Within Novels


As many of you might remember, not too long ago I was the winner of a contest sponsored by
Bitten By Books. By simply participating in an interview session with author Jennifer Turner, I ended up winning a wonderful prize package that included a copy of her self-published novel, Eternal Seduction, as well as advanced copies of the next two books in the series when they're ready.

Due to all of my spare time being spent writing my own novel, I was unable to read this book until recently. Now I'm kicking myself for not reading it sooner. I loved the book! I ended up reading this book in three sittings, although it would have been in one if silly things like plans with friends and the need for sleep hadn't of gotten in the way... Almost immediately I felt drawn into the mystical, yet realistic, world that Jen has created. After only a couple of chapters, I already felt as if I knew the characters and all of their quirks and idiosyncrasies.

Why traditional agents and publishers passed on the opportunity to buy this series is truly beyond me. The characters are rich, the world is believable, and the plot draws you in and keeps you turning the pages. The only "negative" thing I found with it is that I wanted certain scenes to last longer, but isn't it the sign of a good book that you find yourself wanting to spend more time in the world created? I think so, but that's just me.

Now, I cannot wait to receive my advanced copy of Eternal Hearts, book 2 in the series, some time next month so I can read more about these wonderful characters. Eternal Hearts is scheduled to be released in May 2009 and, from what I've read online, fans can't wait. If the publishing industry was smart, they'd see the potential behind this talented author and pick up her amazing series up ASAP.

For anyone interested in purchasing this wonderful book, it can be found in print format at or in eBook format at locations listed on Jen's website, The Darkness Within Novels.

I'm no professional book reviewer, but this one definitely gets two thumbs up from me!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Out Sick.

Well, it's official. I have to take a few days off from my writing... and I HATE it. I'm on two different medications right now and if either of them would do their job, then I could probably continue my daily writing regimen. But as modern medicine has yet to create an instant cure to sinus and ear infections, I'll have to be patient and wait it out in misery.

If the antihistamine would kick in and get rid of all of the pressure on my eardrums, then I could stop taking it. It's a good medicine and I feel pretty good while it's working, but I live my days as a zombie in medicine head-land. Normally, this wouldn't bother me and I'd just ride it out, but it's really annoying with how my writing process works.

You see, I'm a very visually stimulated writer in that I see all of my scenes playing in my head sort of like a movie before I write them. Thanks to the potent effects of this medication, it's almost as if I'm looking through a foggy window. I can make out the vague shapes of my characters and hear their muffled speech, but I can't see or hear anything clearly enough to write it out. No matter what I do, I can't seem to clear the glass, as if it's dirty on the inside... so I sit outside and wonder what mischief my characters are getting themselves into and what scenes I'm missing out on...

If the antibiotic would kick in and start fighting the infections, then maybe I would feel well enough to at least work on the chapters that I've already started. Do some editing or at least add in a few comments of what parts of scenes don't seem to work right in my medication clouded brain.

But, as it is, I have no choice, (and believe me I've tried fighting this for the past couple of days...) I have to force myself to take a couple of days off of trying to write anything good. Sitting and staring at my open work in progress (WIP) like a drooling idiot all day doesn't get anything done.

I know that I could write up a lot of short little scenes that could, possibly fit into the story, but without being able to keep the whole story in the back of my mind, this idea really wouldn't work all that well. These scenes would be too hard to tie in when I can't write them successfully in context with the rest of the book.

So, please pardon my whining... whining that I can't write the scenes and chapters that I want... whining that I let myself get so horribly sick before going to the doctor... just whining in general...

I think that I've decided what I'm going to do to remain somewhat productive during my recuperation. Recently, through
Bitten By Books, I won a copy of Eternal Seduction by Jennifer Turner. Jen is a really nice woman that I was able to speak with via an open interview session where the readers would comment on her blog post, asking questions, and she would answer back. I've been dying to read this book since it came in the mail, but never had enough free time to dive into it. As, I seem to have quite a bit more free time, (all of the time that I would normally spending writing...) I figure that now's the perfect time to give it a read. This is actually pretty decent timing because as another part of my prize, I should be receiving an advanced copy of the second book in this series, Eternal Hearts, sometime next month when it doesn't actually release until May.

So please forgive me if, over the next week or so, I don't do much real writing as I recuperate. Who knows? Maybe I'll write up a review of
Eternal Seduction when I'm finished and post it up. I'm an opinionated person who likes to write, I think I will write up a review of the book. I'll be sure to let you all know what I think of it as soon as I'm done.

Well, until I blog again... (hopefully with a clearer head...)
Talk 2ya later...


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Being sick... sucks!

I gotten absolutely nothing productive done today, well except going to the doctor. I've felt sick for a couple of weeks now, but thought that it was just sinus problems because of the crazy weather we've had recently, gotta love denial. Well, it finally got bad enough that I decided to go to the doctor today. For having to go to a walk-in appointment, it wasn't bad. By the time I got there, it was 12:15 and I was home about an hour later. Diagnosis: double ear infection and a sinus infection... So in other words, my head hurts all over and I feel like crap.

I'm a sniffly, sneezing, ears-hurting... mess, and I can't seem to get anything done with my writing. "Take a few days to get feeling better," and "It won't kill you to not write for a couple days," are the typical pieces of advice that I'm receiving right now. The sad thing is that, no matter how sick I feel, I still want to write. What really sucks is that I don't seem to be able to.

Between all of the pain and pressure, compiled with the sinus medication, I can't seem to focus long enough to actually write anything. I can't even spend my "writing time" editing my work because I'm so out of it. Researching topics doesn't help much either; I'm too easily distracted right now and know that I won't remember any of what I've read once I'm able to start typing again, so I'm not sure what I can do.

To have what feels like a physical need to do something, and yet be unable to do it, gets old really fast. Even typing out this blog post is taking forever because of my "medicine head."

There are so many scenes and chapters that I'm dying to write as I inch my way closer to completion of this novel. At last count I was at a little over 85,000 words, not counting those included in my imbedded comments.

I'm actually a part of an online writer's forum now and posted a section of a chapter up for them to review. I've received some amazing advice from the members of the forum that I'm sure I'll be able to carry through the rest of the book. The main positive feedback that everyone keep giving me is the realistic sound of my dialogue. Hearing things like this makes me so happy because dialogue is what I absolutely love writing. To know that I seem to be good at something that I love doing is, well amazing! Thanks to everyone at Writer's Beat for your continued advice! (

Let's see, one new thing that I did in the past couple of days that I can report on is the fact that I saved a new version of my main file. I know, doesn't sound exciting, right? But I went through and added heading information so that I can use the Document Map feature to have a type of clickable table of contents to use. This has already proved invaluable as, single-spaced, the novel is over 220 pages right now. Being able to jump back and forth between various scenes and chapters with just a click of the mouse comes in really handy. No more scrolling through the entire document to find out where a scene starts, it's wonderful!

On my document map table of contents, I've also annotated the chapter names with an "O" (for outline) if the scene has yet to be written. I made the main chapters a "heading 1" style using the following formatting:
"O - Chapter - Chapter Name".

Then I added special "heading 2" style text within the document to show where certain scenes within chapters aren't complete. I simply added in a line of text before each part labelled:
"Outline - Incomplete Scene"
I considered giving these scenes a more descriptive name, but decided that I should be able to tell what the scene is about by simply reading which chapter the scene is taken from.

I end up with an awesome nesting affect, where I'm able to click an image beside the main chapter name to make the incomplete scenes visible or not. It ends up looking somewhat similar to the following:
- Chapter - Chapter Name
Outline - Incomplete Scene
Within the document map, I can click the symbol before the "Chapter ..." text to determine whether I want the "Outline..." part to be visible or not.

This is nice because I'm able to tell at a glance what chapters are done, which ones I've yet to start, and where all of my incomplete scenes are. This lets me plan out what I'm going to try and write for the day. If I have a lot of time (and I'm not heavily medicated...) I can try and tackle an entire chapter. But, if I know that my time will be limited, I can start looking for smaller tasks within the incomplete scenes to work on. Not having to scroll continuously to find these scenes is wonderful.

I also swapped out all of my text box "post-it notes" for actual comments via the track changes feature. Before, if I decided to leave myself a note, I would add a text box, color it yellow and simply place it on top of the text. Made for some cute, fake post-its, but not so handy when you need to read what's behind the note quickly. Now, all of my comments are neatly recorded in special text bubbles on the right side of the document and can be completely hidden if necessary. Of course, a part of me will always miss my old post-it notes, but this new method is a lot better.

So, in closing... for anyone writing a novel in Microsoft Word, I'd definitely advise you to try out these tips. Well, if they're coherent enough to follow that is... I'll probably end up coming back in a few days and editing this post like crazy to fix all of the mistakes I'm making right now. Between being sick and having to stay up with a cranky toddler who refuses to sleep, I'm double loopy right now.

Here's to hoping that I'm feeling better soon... I just want to write the book, why does that have to prove so difficult?

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


p.s. - it took me about an hour and a half just to type this up... *sigh*