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.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Making Progress Again...

All I can say is finally! The past month has been horrible for my writing and I'm going to have to work my butt off this month to meet my personal goal of having my rough draft done by the beginning of April. Now that I have something writing-related to put on my query letters, I can't wait to have something to send out. Even though it will still take a long time to polish my novel once I finish it, I'm still excited and looking forward to everything that I'll no doubt learn along the way.

February was rough, but I guess setbacks are to be expected, but they're so not fair. Having the flu pass through our household wasn't cool at all. And who got the worst of it? Me, of course. My husband had maybe two days of it and my son (the only recipient of a flu shot this year) had none. I had it for over a week and it even developed into a sinus infection to boot! It was a long week of huddling under blankets and wanting the world to just go away and let me succumb to the germs, but I somehow survived and I'm back!

In case you missed it, my son wasn't sick at all this past week. Imagine if you will, a stay-at-home Mom, horribly sick and unable to move, watching an over-active two year old boy. Sound like fun? Yeah, I'm not ashamed to say that the Little Einsteins crew were a near constant in our house this past week.

Now that my husband and I are better, you'd think things would be looking up again, right? Wrong! The day that I starting feeling better, the toddler got a cold. Fun, fun, fun... So now he's all snotty and won't let me wipe his poor little red nose. Lucky for my writing, he's mostly wanting to just sit with his toys or lay on the couch. He lets me know when he needs me, but mostly just wants to be left alone to be sick. Poor little guy.

But on the bright side of things, I've been writing again. Yay! I'm hoping to finish the chapter I started this morning sometime this afternoon/evening. It's pretty fun to write. Running into an ex that you've been avoiding, that you still have feelings for, is always interesting, especially when you're the one who ran away from the relationship. I've missed writing about Casey and now that she's speaking to me again, things are going great!

I think the contest win snapped her into perspective. I let her know that if she didn't want to cooperate, I could always write the novel inspired by my short story. People already like Megan and Joseph, why not tell their story first... I woke up this morning and she was all ready to go and suggesting scenes to start on. Is it bad that I'm making threats to imaginary friends who live inside my head?

With what I've written so far this morning, I'm at 90,648 words and thinking that my goal of 100k words is too small. It's hard to say what the final word count will be though as those 90k+ words that were counted aren't all completed scenes. Thanks to my blue text technique, every scene is mapped out, it's just not written in the correct POV. I just need to go back and change those incomplete scenes from "campfire story telling" format to having it told from Casey's POV. Does this mean that "technically my first draft is "done"? The story is all there, I just need to polish it and make it flow with the rest of the text. Hmmm...

Let's see, what else... Oh yeah, my strange, glowing skull dream never returned. It's a shame too, that dream was so vivid and I really wanted to know what was down that next small hallway. Sure, I could play the "what if" game and come up with several answers, but I really hate doing that in this instance. I have no idea where this dream came from and don't even know how to get my head into that frame of mind again. I should really pull out my dream dictionary and look up the hidden meanings of everything that I saw, but that would be another procrastinatory outlet that I don't need right now. I have enough ways to keep myself from writing ithout adding something new to the mix. Google Reader, I'm looking at you...

Oh yeah, still no news from the editor about my short story. Its been about a month now and I'm not sure what to think. What is the typical turn around on hearing back on a short story? Is no news still good news with how the industry is changing or does no news mean no? I know that I've read about literary agents having to forgo sending out rejection letters, instead letting no response after a certain amount of time mean "no", but are editors doing the same? The publishing house that I submitted to doesn't accept unagented work, except for one line and this short story promotion, so its hard to find information on their response time.

My "think positive" assumption is that either a) he likes the story and is doing whatever needs to be done to see if he can use it, or b) he hasn't gotten to it yet. There have been all sorts of changes at this particular publishing house recently and I can only imagine how backed up people are. The short story promotion hasn't been cancelled though, as new stories have continued to be posted every week as promised. I'm doing my best to maintain this positive outlook and to not worry about it. I've let the editor know about the contest win associated with the story and now, again, it's out of my hands. Unless I've suddenly developed the ability to bend people to my will, there's nothing else I can really do- except wait. Just tested things out, and no... I still don't have that ability, darn't!

Well, I think that's about it for my writing-related news. I want to thank everyone who's following my blog now, whether publically or through some reader program. I do a little Snoopy dance every time I see that someone else has started following my little blog here. So thanks!

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


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Interviews, Tarot Readings, and Crazy Dreams...

Hey everyone!

As the first part of the title explains, my interview with The Pen & Muse Blog has been posted. Yay! Click here if you'd like to read it. It was so surreal sitting at my laptop, filling out an interview questionnaire. It kind of made me wonder if someday I'll be doing this regularly. Making the rounds online doing blog tours and other promotional stuff for my writing career...

All-in-all, this entire experience went completely differently than I had ever thought it actually would. Sure, I had those random, daydreaming moments where I could see myself winning... but then reality would kick in. It would remind me that no only am I an unpublished author (even though everyone in my category would be too...), but I had also never submitted anything before. Yup, this was the first writing contest that I had the nerve to enter.

To make this situation even more surreal, actual published authors have been congratulating me both on the interview site as well as on my blogs. Part of me is fully convinced that I'm going to wake up tomorrow and this will all have been a dream. I get up each morning and double check my email just to make sure that I wasn't dreaming this all up.

Hey! I have an overactive imagination. This situation would be nothing for me to dream up... but I guess that overactive imagination is the reason that I'm here...

I know why I'm here. I'm here to write. Not because I want to, but because I have to- not that I don't enjoy it, because I really do. Coming back to writing only made me realize that I was missing a very vital part of my life before. Writing is truly my passion and I can't imagine ever giving it up again. And if my tarot reading, given by the amazing Karen Mahoney, is any indication... I'd better not give it up! As part of her blogiversary, Karen performed 50 tarot readings (simple three card spreads) for people who left comments on her blog. I was able to get in before the cut off and asked for a reading having to do with my writing. Here's what the cards told her:
"So a general reading about your writing:

The Moon, Princess of Cups, 9 of Pentacles.

The Moon is an interesting and powerful card. It highlights creativity and imagination - you are filed with ideas right now and you are possibly confused about which roads to explore. The Moon says you need to explore as much as possible, because only by doing that will you find out for sure which is the right path for you. You might have some particularly vivid dreams (or just plain weird ones!) in the coming weeks - take note of those you remember, because even *they* might hold the seeds of more ideas you can write about. :) You might want to try writing something you've never tried before. Sometimes this card indicates mystery, so perhaps a story with a real mystery at its heart?

The Princess of Cups, in this context, backs up the rush of ideas you are already having - or will soon have. She also says that writing fiction for children could be a good thing to explore. Cups also = romance, so you should do well with romantic themes, whether in YA or not. The 9 of Pentacles confirms that writing is your calling - this is a wonderful, fertile card. You will one day make money from writing, so stick with it no matter what stage you're at right now. Work hard and you will be rewarded."

The really cool thing? I have been having amazingly, vivid dreams lately. Some have been really sweet and are ideal scenes for YA novels with a romance element to them, while others have been of the creepy, mystery sort. I've been bombarded with inspiration from everywhere the past few weeks and have, at times, struggled to outline it all and store it in my TBW (To Be Written) folder on the laptop. One dream in particular keeps me wondering what would've happened if I hadn't woke up when I did.

It was night and I was with a group of people wondering, lost through a gigantic mansion of sorts. There was an older gentleman with white hair, a woman in her mid thirties with red hair and wearing a lime green suit dress, two teenagers (a boy and a girl, both wearing punk-style clothes and hairstyles), and myself. It was dark in the hallway we were in and we were following tracks on the ceiling because, for some reason, we were certain that they would lead us where we needed to go.

At one point a glowing, red, crystal skull suspended from a metal rod appeared along the track and we followed it. The older gentleman tripped and we all stopped to help him. When we turned around not only was the skull gone, but we realized that we were at a T-intersection where the tracks went both straight ahead along the path we had been following, but also down a hallway to our right. I'm not sure why, but the teenaged girl had a piece of chalk, so we made a mark on the wall and turned right. We could've followed the path straight and stayed at the outer perimeter of the mansion, but the woman in the green suit said we should go right, so we did. We left the security of seeing the outside world through the large windows in the original hallway and ventured inward.

Looking out the windows before, we could tell that we were on an island of some sort and that the mansion was built on a cliff face, well, at least this side of it was. Looking down all we could see were crashing waves and jagged rocks in the moonlight.
We ended up in a gigantic atrium (I'm talking professional football field sized, gigantic). The ceiling was rounded and towered stories and stories above us. We could just barely make out the stars and clouds in the night sky through a holographic image of the world that was projected on the ceiling. There were symbols on different countries that would occasionally blink or change color before disappearing. This room was full of people and everyone was certain that we were at the end of our journey, that this was our treasure. And, to be fair, it was a pretty amazing room. Food, music, well-dressed people there for an amazing party ... it was magnificent.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the glowing, red skull zipping along the perimeter of the room as it headed toward another small hallway that would normally have been overlooked. I stood there wondering if I should follow. If this room- this party was our reward, then the skull should've stayed here, right? Was there a greater reward if we kept following? Was it a trap, meant to punish those too greedy to appreciate what they have?...

Then I woke up... and unlike my normal dreams, this one didn't pick up where it left off the next night. I guess I'll never know what happened...

Oh well, maybe now that I've actually typed up the dream, it'll finish tonight? It's late and I'm tired, still getting over the flu, so I'm going to end my blog here for the night and head to bed.

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

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Snoopy Dance Time!

Hey everyone!

First of all, if you don't know what the snoopy dance is... go out and rent a Peanuts movie. No one should go through life having not seen the beagle dance.

The picture to the left is my little way of celebrating. Celebrating what, you might ask? Celebrating the fact that I won the grand prize in the Pen and Muse Romantic Short Story Contest in the unpublished author category!!! So yes, that is the reason for the blog title, "Snoopy Dance Time!" When I read the email from Denisse last night, jumping up and doing the snoopy dance was the first thing that I wanted to do, sadly not the first thing I did do. I think it went something like this...
Slightly hyperventilating, Willow puts her hand to her agape mouth. "Honey!" she calls out to her husband.

"What is it?" he answers from his chair across the room.

"I... won... I won the short story contest," she says, re-reading the email, certain that she misread something.

"Awesome!" he says before pulling out the phone to call his mother and tell her the great news.
I then sent a Gmail chat to my beta reader, M, who happened to be on at that moment. I think she wanted to snoopy dance with me too. I really wish that I could've jumped up and celebrated, but sadly I'm getting sick again... ear ache, sore throat, the works. Getting the email about this contest was exactly what I needed to make me feel a little better after a day spent huddled under my blanket.

So today, once I finish this blog post, I'm going to be filling out a interview questionnaire and sending it off to Denisse. The awesome thing, she'll post it on the blog! How often do unpublished authors get interviewed about their writing? Answer: Rarely.

I still don't think I've fully processed the fact that I won. I mean, I believe in my writing and really enjoyed the story I submitted, but I really wasn't expecting to win, you know? I was just hoping to place, especially since this is the first writing contest that I've ever entered.

Hearing that someone else likes my story (other than family and friends who have to say they like it) has really re-energized me towards writing. I think I sort of hit that slump that I've read about where you feel like everything that you write is crap. I spent so much of my writing time second-guessing everything that I've written that I really wasn't getting anything accomplished. Once the shock wears off, I'm sure that I'll end up in another typing frenzy on Instinct, which will probably bring me to the end of the first draft.

So , I think I'll start on that interview questionnaire now. I'll post a link to it once it's up over at the Pen and Muse. I still can't get over the fact that I'm being interviewed for my writing... me... plain little, unpublished me... just wow... but anyway...

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