Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Will Be Back Soon

Hey Guys,

So sorry for my absence from the blogosphere. I shall be back in the next week or two. Just finishing up another round of revisions, and then things should go back to normal I hope.

I miss you guys! How is everyone doing?

Any of you participating in NaNo this year? How are those WiP's going?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Kisses

I've recently discovered these incredibly addictive molasses candies that I am totally and completely in love with.

Okay, re-discovered is more like it.

Do you know the ones I'm talking about? The toffee like pieces of candy that come individually wrapped in the orange, yellow and black paper? I used to get these in my Halloween bag all the time, and I remember sorting them out and putting them in the "not so great" pile.

How could they possibly compare to peanut butter cups or chocolatey covered nougat? But that never stopped me from unwrapping one or two, just for the heck of it (I mean, who was I to waste candy?).

A few days ago, I bit into one and it immediately took me back to my childhood. They're soft and gooey and chewy, and oh-so-good. And even though I saw absolutely no value in them back then, that one bite almost fifteen years later changed things.

Not only did they have value, but I actually chose to get them over the Mars Bars.

So, of course, one thing led to another, and you just know it got me thinking. A lot of the time we may write off a scene, chapter or entire novel, because it doesn't fit into our current goals and objectives. And I know the golden rule is to cut what doesn't work. Clean it up.

But then again, maybe it just doesn't work right now.

Save it. Come back to it. Maybe it will better fit somewhere else in your life... at a different point, in a different chapter... in a new story. Go through your shelved manuscripts, your long forgotten short stories. Who knows? You may just find a sweet treasure hidden within the pages.

So, my burning question.... what's your favorite Halloween candy? ;) AND, have you ever found ideas in an old MS or story that you could use now?

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Blank Page

As you guys know, I'm currently hacking my way through edits on my MS.

Right now, I'm staring at Chapter One, wondering how I can rework it.

Again.

I've already changed it three times. And to be honest, there is nothing more I can do.

It's time. To scrap the whole thing and start over.

With a blank page.

Let's face it. A blank page is scary. As a writer, it can be hard to find anything more intimidating than that empty white screen with the flashing cursor.

But there is also something refresing and reassuring about the blank page. Because in reality, it's hope in disguise, even though it seems to be dressed up for Halloween, ready to haunt you.

There are no limits. The prospects are endless. Instead of working with what you've got, you have the freedom to explore, to create, to venture outside the confinement of your scene or chapter.

It's a canvas of possibility.

Even when you're halfway through edits and your story is pretty much complete. Sometimes it's even better, because you already have your framework. You know where you want to go... Where you need to end up. You just need to remove yourself from the slush. Rehashing and overthinking your scene can become repetitive, stirring the same spot over and over until all you have is one big pile of messy scrambled eggs.

Set it aside. Open a new page. And see what you come up with. You might be surprised.

Have you guys ever reached the point where you need to edit your scenes/chapters by starting afresh? Do you find it easier than trying to make sense of what you've got when it's not working? What works for you?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Keep On Truckin'

A guy wrote this in my ninth grade yearbook. That's it. No "see you next year" or "it's been cool knowing you". Just "Keep on truckin'" scrawled above his name.

After that I heard the expression everywhere, and it used to drive me crazy. Who even says that?

It drifted back to my mind recently as I've been struggling through edits. This book is finished guys, but it's still not...right. I can feel it. I know it can be better. I know there's still lots of work to do.

One of the most difficult things in this process so far has been the following:

Looking at a swelling 100k MS, realizing I have to add at least 30k more and then cut 50k... well... it's pretty daunting.

No, I'm lying. It's downright scary. And this is when the book is still living in only my hands.

But I soldiered on. And I did it. But it's still not finished.

And it won't be finished until it's the best I can make it. I feel like that moment is just around the corner... I hope, but I won't know until I feel it.

Until then... I'll just keep on truckin'. I think I've finally learned to appreciate exactly what this means.

Don't give up.

Don't let go.

Don't stop fighting.

Stay with it.

This is your dream, and you deserve it. The hard work will pay off in the end. It always does.

Sooo... which part of this process have you found the most difficult? The easiest? Are you soldiering on... because you better be!

Have a great weekend guys :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

After Happily Ever After

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, they met and fell in love, and went off in search of great adventure and journeys of epic proportions, bested the beast, slayed the dragon, received her parents approval....

...and lived happily ever after.

But then what?

What happened after all that?

Did they have kids? Grandchildren? Did the evil stepsister come back to exact her revenge? Did his best friend ever become a rock star and buy the jet pack?

Yes, even though I'm short of breath following all the excitement that makes the story what it is... I still want to know.

A part of it may be that I grow so strongly attached to the characters. They become my friends... I care about them, I care about their lives. I want to see them twenty years later... see for myself that not only are they doing well, but that they've succeeded.

Different from a sequel, or a series (although we WILL get into that another day), it's the after that you continue to ponder even when you've been rest assured that everything turned out okay.

Life doesn't just stop at happily ever after, does it?

I do understand the other side of the coin though--sometimes endings are best left exactly where they are. Trying to return to something twenty years later and re-create the same mood often fails. It's always better to end on a high note.

But gosh darn it, I still want to know.

I guess this is why I write... so I can make up my own "after happily ever afters" ;)

Are you guys okay with the happy/satisfying endings you're given? Do you ever wonder what happens to your favorite characters after? Am I the only crazy one who cares to know?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pay It Forward Blogfest

Happy Friday Everyone!

Today I am participating in my first ever official blogfest. Yuppers, the incredible brainchild of Matthew and Alex... The Pay it Forward Blogfest! As a general (insane) rule, I never take part in these things, but this is a great initiative, and I couldn't resist.

And guys.. blogfests are FUN... like the "jump out of your seat, run down the street hollering at the top of your lungs fun"... it's fantastic to visit a variety of blogs and read everyone's take on things.

So the name of the game is to get us meeting people, and connecting and making new friends and all that wonderful stuff. All participants must list three awesome blogs they read and think others would also be interested in.

Kapeesh?

Sooooo... without further ado... blogroll please!

1. Theresa's Tales of Teaching Tribulations and Typing Teen Texts - Theresa never fails to amaze me with her down-to-earth, inspirational posts. Always relatable, always spot on and always thought provoking.

2. Words and Such - I've known Kenda for quite some time, and I can always count on her for beautiful, creative posts that just make my day.

3. Claudia Del Balso, Writer - Claudia is a power house of stellar advice and helpful tips for new and aspiring writers. She has published nine short stories and writes for an online magazine.

Please check out these blogs if you have time. No time? Bookmark them and come back to them later... I promise you, you won't be disappointed! :)

What is everyone up to this weekend?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Dark and Stormy Night

It's pouring rain outside today. The skies are dark and gloomy... there's a definite chill in the air.

I'm sitting in a familiar foreign place, surrounded by what I don't know, and what I dream about everyday.

Half the time I don't even make sense to myself, let alone anyone else.

Today I am broken. Small pieces. Fragments of what I normally am.

It sounds bad, right? Surprisingly, it's not.

Sometimes I find it the best place to be. It's the place where you reflect, where the thought process takes on a life of its own. Where the words transform on the page... they become more than just words. They hold a deeper meaning.

So what should you do? Use it to your advantage!

Take that dark mood and those swirling emotions and write. Sure, it's the opposite of happy, but it's still beneficial. Just in a different way.

I do some of my best writing in this place. Maybe it's where I do most of my soul searching.

This is also the best place to write those particularly difficult scenes--you know the ones, right? The ones that tear at your heart, and stump your fingers. The ones you have to erase and re-do over and over. The ones that are so hard to get right because they need to be conveyed just so.

Sometimes all it takes is a dark and stormy night...

What about you guys? Does the mood you're in affect your ability to write? Do you find it easier to write gloomier or difficult scenes when you're also in a likewise mood?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Finding Windows and Opening Doors

Hi Everyone!

Thank you for all your comments, supportive words and encouragement on my last post. It's great to know I'm not alone :)

If I haven't gotten around to your blog as yet, I promise you I'm on my way... apologies for taking so long, a few unexpected things cropped up over the last couple of days that I needed to deal with.

So let's review a few items that have been helpful when I've found myself in the "room with no windows". (If today's topic is new to you, please refer to Wednesday's post for a quick recap.)

There are two main stages to this phenomenon. One is the BEFORE, the other is the AFTER.

See below.

1) First Stage - The Creative Process

This is a great place to be. The ideas are flowing. Inspiration speeds towards you like a runaway train, you can barely keep up. This story is practically writing itself. Only one problem - it's all in your head.

Write it down
  • Grab that pen and paper and jot it down while it's still fresh in your mind. That way, when you sit down at your computer later, you've already got most of the groundwork complete.
  • If you have access to your computer and MS, get it in there.
No access to a pen and paper
  • Quite a few bloggers on Wednesday suggested using a recorder or dictaphone - awesome idea guys! I didn't even think of this one--thanks so much for this suggestion. Record it, listen back to it when you're ready to write.
  • Your cellphone or other favorite media device (obviously this only applies if you have one). I don't go anywhere without my phone. And phones nowadays have all sort of features. The simplest one? Open up a memo or notepad and type in your thoughts. Again, this will save you the grunt work for later.
  • None of the above? Try using a mnemonic technique. Create a memorable poem or think of a unique string of words that relate to your thought process. When you return to this phrase later, it can help restore you to the track you were on.
2) Second Stage - The Dark Room

You had no time to get those ideas down. The only tools at your disposal were your mind and a handful of possibilities that you dared to dream while you gazed out the train window or dropped the kids off at school.

Now it's (insert number) hours later, and those same brilliant ideas are no longer coherent... they're tangled up with one another in a disarray of colors, stray letters and clashing sentences. It just doesn't sound right anymore.

Your new problem? You're staring at a blank screen, your brain refusing to connect with your fingers.

Write Anyways
  • Just start writing. Whether it's good, bad, or complete garbage. Force those words onto the page. Sometimes it all just sorts itself out.
Recreate the Moment
  • Close your eyes and delve deep in the recesses of your mind. Mentally go back to that mindset that you were in when the ideas came to you. Oftentimes this helps to open the door and let words out.
Take a Short Break
  • Go for a walk, listen to some relaxing music, surf the web, read some blogs. Take deep breaths, clear your mind and refocus your energy.
Forget About It and Do Something Fun
  • Just leave it alone. Put it out of your head. We tend to put so much pressure on ourselves and these words that the strain is overwhelming. We freeze. Tense up. Turn off that screen and go do something (else) you genuinely enjoy - something that makes you feel light and happy, even downright giddy. Once that pressure is off, you will be amazed at how quickly the ideas return.
I just realized how long this post is (sorry guys!), but there we have it--what usually works for me. Try them all, and see what works for you. Anything you would like to add? Did I miss any? Please share!

Hope everyone has a wonderful, inspirational and creative weekend :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Insecure Writer's Support Group: A Room With No Windows


So today is my first post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group hosted by Mr. Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Today I wanted to talk about something that's been plaguing me for a while. Maybe the last couple of months.

I'm stuck.

But not in the way you would think. The inspiration is there. The ideas are there. The words are there. I just can't seem to get them out.

Last Friday I touched on the subject of how cluttered spaces can create a cluttered mind. Well, that's how my mind has been feeling lately. Cluttered.

There is a serious game of table tennis going on in a windowless room with no doors in the confined spaces of my brain. These words go back and forth, each one ricocheting off the other, colliding with the next new onslaught of "ah-hah's" and "I should do that!".

And there they bounce, with no where to go, not even a small sliver of light in the darkness to provide any release. I sit down each night, and face my screen... overwhelmed, excited, nervous.... and then...

...nothing.

My fingers freeze. The room shuts down. Sentences which made perfect sense three hours before now exist in fragments, each one blending into the next, until it's all a blur.

I know what's causing it. I'm stressed beyond words right now. Too stressed to believe in those very words that keep me going, help me make sense of the daily craziness, of things outside of my control... the ones that normally keep the stress at bay.

Maybe I put too much pressure on them. Maybe I'm not putting enough...

Okay, I'm going to leave you there, because this post is already long enough as it is, and I know there are many more to go through... but pop back here on Friday when we'll explore various ways I've found helpful for dealing with this.

Thanks for listening--er--reading guys, and thank you to Alex, for being the driving force behind this wonderful idea!

Please do share, have you ever experienced this? Have you found yourself stuck lately?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Halloweeny Shaped Clam Chowder Made By Simon Cowell

Hi Everyone!

Goodness, we're already in October! It's crazy how quickly this year is moving.

I was originally going to talk about cluttered spaces and ideas being trapped today, but I've recently signed up for Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group (first Wednesday of every month), and I think I'll save this topic for then. You guys should definitely head over and check it out if you haven't already (and if you haven't heard of Alex or visited his blog, please rectify this immediately, because he is just awesome!).

Hmmm, so now that my topic for today is gone, I think I'm going to share a few bits of Monday randomosity with you... since it's been a while ;)

1. I've recently started watching The X Factor (US version). I don't know what it is with me and Simon Cowell--he just cracks me up.

2. I'm itching to finish my edits today, but I think I've just discovered a major flaw that will require a significant rewrite.

3. I seriously want to go to Disney World (again), and have the clam chowder at Magic Kingdom.

4. I'm feeling very Halloweeny (yup, it's all about making up the words today)... I want to watch scary movies and make cookies shaped like witches and ghosts. Must be the weather.

5. There is a spider web outside my window in which a gazillion little midges are caught (May and September are their seasons). It's disturbing. I was going to include pictures, but after careful consideration, decided against it.

How about you guys? Any bits of random to share on this lovely Monday? Anyone else feeling Halloweeny? Should we plan a trip to Disney World? Who's in?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Getting In The Mood

Hmmm... I hope your mind isn't in the gutter right now ;).

No, I'm talking about getting in the mood to write.

I know some people have their own special routines... making tea, putting the kids to bed, watching a few episodes of their favorite shows... others just hop onto their computer or flip open their notebooks and let the words flow.

I don't have a special routine--I just try to write any spare moment I can find.

And while there is absolutely nothing specific that I do, sometimes when I'm stuck, it helps to clear the area around me. Paper somehow manages to pile up in skyscraper-like stacks in choice spots along my desk. Goodness knows where it comes from.

An uncluttered work area usually steers me back on track when I find myself not in the mood sometimes. Clearing the clutter clears my mind so to speak, and reveals the window when the ideas get trapped (we'll delve more into this on Monday).

It may be purely psychological, but I think it helps. Sometimes we all need a little nudge, a little motivation. Even when it comes to things we love.

Even if the nudge is served warm with a nice helping of procrastination on the side ;).

What sorts of things do you to get into the mood to write? Do you need to do anything at all? Do you follow a specific routine? Do you find having a routine helpful?

Have a good weekend everyone!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Social Network

Or maybe I should say networks.

They exist in all forms, shapes and sizes...each promising to be bigger and better than the next, the solution to every communication and connection dilemma you could ever dream up.

Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+.

And to date, how many have I joined?

Exactly ONE. And this is it.

To all of you who have an account on each of the above (and others), AND manage to keep them up to date, I have such total and complete respect for you. You guys are super ninjas. I know how hard it is. I struggle with just the one!

But I do plan on joining Twitter soon, and possibly Google+ because it just looks so darn cool.

And of course, as writers (or any other artist or business person), they help us to build our platforms, which is what we're supposed to be doing from the get-go. Meeting the right people, growing an audience, spreading the word, promoting what we do...

But in truth... they do connect people...the ones travelling the same path, the ones searching for answers or support, the ones who just want to share. They do bring us closer together. They do offer new means of communication. And they do allow us in to keep in touch in an age and world where lives can get too hectic to have a nice long chat over the backyard fence to find out how "so and so" is doing today.

How many of these social platforms have you joined? Did I miss any crucial ones? And how do you manage it all!?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Can You Smell That?

Smell is one of the strongest senses tied to memory. Nothing transports you faster to days long ago than a whiff of a long forgotten aroma from your past.

The smell of a new car. The wet pavement after a summer rain. Fresh bread baking in the oven. A field full of clovers. The first snowfall of Winter.

For me, it's the smell of a book, and the places where they come from. There's just something about the smell of a library or a bookstore. Whether it be the musty aroma of hundreds of novels that have passed through thousands of hands over the years, or the crisp scent of pristine tomes just hitting the shelves, it's the unique smell that you can only get from hundreds of books situated in one room.

It's like... magic.

I remember when I was younger, I used to make my dad come and sit with me in the library while I sorted through and eventually picked about 15 - 20 books to take home for those three glorious weeks. When I hit my teens, I used to make my parents drop me off at the giant bookstore about fifteen minutes away from my house while they did groceries.

And regardless of where I was, when I was amongst those books, time just disappeared.

When I hear that in the future bookstores and libraries will cease to exist, it just about breaks my heart. I know in this day and age, it's much easier to order your books online or have them directly downloaded to your e-reader, but nothing, absolutely nothing, beats walking into one of those sanctuaries and re-escaping to your childhood.

To this day, every time I hold a book in my hands, I can't resist taking a quick sniff of those pages...

What are your favorites scents? Which ones transport you back to your childhood? Do you have a strange obsession with the smell of books too?

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Road Less Traveled

I have two day planners. One was given to me, and the other I bought. I love them both, and herein lay my dilemma. I wanted to use them both. Both have great features unique to each - the dates even extend to the end of 2012.

I spent a good couple hours of this weekend ripping both planners apart and shuffling things around (and this was no easy feat, mind you--the pages are completely different with the holes in varying places). I then put the whole thing back together to my liking.

The result?

The PERFECT planner. MY perfect planner.

Sure, it would have been easier to just go with one, and suck it up, or even just buy a new one. But I'm very particular - I know what I want - and I found it in both.

And it got me thinking. This is the same approach we take with our writing.

We hear it time and time again: the easy way isn't always the best way. By taking the easy way, you may end up cheating yourself out of what you deserve.

You deserve the best. But it will be hard work. You may have to rip those pages out and put them back together time and time again. Then do it all over from the beginning. Until you have the perfect work of art. YOUR perfect work of art.

Yes, it will take longer, but it will be worth it. It's always worth it in the end.

And just remember, you should never, ever have to settle. Reach high and reach far. Use what you've got and turn it into gold. And never give up.

So tell me, how many times have you reconstructed your MS until it was perfect to you? Did you ever take the difficult road with something when the easy road was right in front of you?

Friday, September 16, 2011

"Hogwarts Will Always Be There To Welcome You Home"

Those of you who have been with me for a while know that I was late to the Harry Potter game.

So to recap...

While I'd watched the movies over the years, I only got around to reading the books last summer. I even had it in my head that the movies must be better than the books because they were THAT good.. How could anything top them?

For the other three people who don't know, I was wrong my friends... If you think the movies are good, the books are a trillion times better. I read all 7 books over the course of two months.

I couldn't put them down. I just COULD NOT PUT THEM DOWN.

I read every spare second I got. I summoned every last ounce of will power that I had to not sneak peeks at them during work hours. My day was spent thinking about when next I'd be able to re-escape back into the world of Hogwarts.

But this is the feeling you get from reading an incredible book with an equally incredible story. And while you will almost never find me without a book in my hands, it had been a long time since a story moved me that way.

I only saw the final movie four weeks ago, on the very last day it was playing. Because I just didn't want it to end.

But in truth, it never really ends, does it?

The stories that touch your heart stay with you forever. They become a part of you, and like the best kept of promises, re-enter your life from time to time... to bring a smile to your face... to remind you.

What books have you read recently (or in the past) that had a profound impact on you? Which ones did you have a hard time putting down?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Finding Your Passion

If someone had told me ten years ago that I'd be trying to make a career out of writing, I would have risen one very disbelieving eyebrow.

I mean... I love to write. But come on, a writer?

Everyone knows there's no money to be made in writing. Writing is something you do in your spare time (on the premise that you actually have any). A silly side hobby for the dabblers.

It's just for FUN.

I mean... isn't that what they always say?

And how can you possibly write a whole novel? Isn't that, like, 400 pages?

My life has taken a lot of unexpected twists, yet through all the ups and downs, the one thing that remained constant was writing.

Without even realizing it, it became my truth. It resurfaced as my drive. It thrived as my passion. The more I wrote, the more I wanted it. The more I STILL want it.

And you know what?

I finished that novel. I wrote the 400 pages. I found the time. Because when it's something you truly love--you always find the time. Even when the only opportunity appears at 2:00 a.m. after a sixteen hour work day, and you've finally gotten the baby to fall asleep.

Because passion like that comes from deep within. It's what keeps you moving forward, moving towards your dreams. It's what makes you dedicated. And as long as you hold on to it, anything is possible.

Is there money to be made in writing? I don't know. It isn't the most clear cut profession.

Is it rewarding? Being able to touch someone with your story? The feeling you get watching the words fill the page?

Definitely.

And I guess that's what makes it all worth it, isn't it?

And just for the record, we shouldn't always listen to what "they" say. ;)

So tell me, what made you realize you wanted to be a writer? When do you find time to write?

Monday, September 12, 2011

WiP Update

Wow. I can't believe how much time has passed. We're almost at the end of another year.

As you know, summer just sort of took over my life during the last little while. Between work, writing, numerous family get together's, writing, work, writing, work... did I mention writing and work--blogging fell to the wayside.

I've been visiting over the last week, and quite a few people have taken temporary hiatuses as well.

But alas, September is here, and it's time to get back into the grind.

So. To get things started, I wanted to give you a quick WiP update.

Where things stand now:

I'm just about at the end of a major revision/rewrite which I hope to fully complete by the end of this week. After that, I will be doing another minor revision round of things I've highlighted, and then print the whole baby out for final edits.

What about you guys? How are things going with your WiP's? What has everyone been up to? Any interesting summer stories?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Still Alive and Rach's Third Writers' Platform Building Campaign

Hi Everyone!

Just wanted to let you know that I am still alive and plan to be back to regular posting within the next couple of weeks. I apologize for my absence - I was bitten by SUMMER and all that comes with it - you know what I mean.

I hope you are all doing well--I miss you guys and can't wait to catch up! :)

I've been truly missing blogging and visiting you guys. I feel very disconnected and out of sorts. But everyone knows the best way to get out of this type of slump is to not only reconnect with old friends, but make some new ones.

And honestly, there's no better way to do this than Rachael Harrie's awesome Platform Building Campaign. For those of you who don't know Rach or haven't heard of her Campaigns, you need to click on the link below and zoom on over there because she is absolutely amazing.

I just signed up and as today is the last day to join, I wanted to let all of you know so you can as well.

For more details, click on the following link:

Third writers' platform building campaign

It's going to be great!

Alrighty everyone - I'll be back in about a week. "See" you soon!

Monday, June 6, 2011

You Know You've Got It Bad When...

...you choose not to watch the American Idol finale, even though you've lamented for 3 three years about missing it because you were on vacation.

...you forgo reserving tickets for the musical that was just extended, even though just three months ago, you were upset that you waited that long in the first place and lost the opportunity.

...you nearly miss your cousin's wedding (this one needs no further explanation, it's just plain bad).

...your friends start to wonder if you don't like them anymore because they haven't seen you in months.

But you're writing. Writing. Maybe you're in the thick of revisions, and you've almost gotten that scene just the way it's supposed to be. Perhaps you're so close, you can almost taste it...

Yes, my friends, this is the stage I'm at right about now.

It's all I think about. I don't want to do anything else. It's like I'm possessed. At work, I have to force myself to stop dreaming about this book, and the next chapter I get to rewrite, that last little bit of detail I left out, the amazing, better ending...

Sure, it's great... it's wonderful to feel this passionately about something again. It's been a while since I felt that zest (another story for another day), but at the same time, it's pretty amazing and strange how it can change your life. How both things that used to seem so important, and things that are still very important start to mesh... and the only time you feel any clarity is when you're working on this darn MS.

But I didn't miss my cousin's wedding, and I am going to call my friends back. I know my priorities, but it does seem like this book is determined to remain in the spotlight.

Do you guys ever experience this? Do you ever give anything up in order to write? Have you noticed that your priorities have changed since you started writing?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dream the Day Away

"Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night" - Edgar Allan Poe

We're all dreamers... I doubt any of us would be in this business if we weren't. Dreams fuel our ideas, provide energy for our imaginations, and lay the foundation for our creativity.

Some of our most memorable dreams happen while we sleep... those dreams create their own stories... we're just lucky enough to witness them. But the dreams that take place during the day, while we're awake and fully conscious, are the ones that we control.

I find some of my best ideas occur on the train ride to work. Usually I'm reading, but some days, I do nothing but stare out the window and watch the sun glitter across the lake until the train curves around the bend... and the scene changes to trees and houses whizzing by like meteorites... but amidst the gentle rocking and hum of conversation and newspaper pages turning, it happens.

The ideas start to flow.

It's hard to give into your daydreams when you're supposed to be concentrating on your day job, or feeding the baby, or mowing the lawn, or figuring out how you're going to make your next mortgage payment, but in those quiet moments.. the ones that are yours and yours alone, that's when you can let your imagination run wild... and before you know it, that jungle finds its way onto the pages.

Just this past week I was struggling with a chapter that needed to be changed. It wasn't one I could just delete; it needed a whole new direction. And on Wednesday morning, as the rain pelted against the grimy window, the sun nowhere to be seen, it came to me. And not only that, but it just might be a very important factor in the rest of the series.

So let your dreams run rampant, day or night... let them get a firm hold on you and lift you to the sky... you don't need a train ride, but it sure helps ;)

Are you a daydreamer? A night dreamer? When do your ideas flow the most freely? Anybody have to take the train everyday?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Looking Back

Do you ever look back at your old blog posts?

I somehow ended up browsing through mine today while trying to determine my next post, and it hit me that I've been blogging since July 2009. Almost two years...

This was my very first post.

And I realized, while not much has really changed since then, everything has changed.

Things are still the same in some ways, but unrecognizable in others.

I've actually written a whole novel since that rainy summer. All I had back then was a dream churning in my heart and a couple of pages tap dancing on my computer. I didn't know where they might lead--I still don't--all I knew was that for the first time in a long time, I was finally looking at something that felt real, that made me feel real again, if that makes sense. I was holding my life in bits and pieces in both hands, trying to salvage what I could still carry, to not let anything else slip through my fingers.

I've been rebuilding since then, and looking back over these posts, I can see just how far I've come.

I'd like to think I've matured, grown, and learned, and hopefully will continue do so, because there is still so much more to go. We never really stop, do we?

And my sister is still the only person who knows what my secret passion is, just how much it means to me, why I keep at it day after day, night after night, why as soon as one work day ends, another begins, why I can't stop...

But you know what?

Now you guys know too. You guys share it. You guys live it. We've all come such a far way... and this is just the beginning.

So tell me, do you ever re-read your old posts? What have you learned about yourself? When did you first start blogging?

Monday, May 16, 2011

How the Godfather Helped Me With Revisions

So, it's been a crazy couple of months. I've been molding and shaping this book to my satisfaction, then going back, and doing it all over again.

I'm still not finished. I'm really beginning to wonder if I'll ever be.

So far, I'm likening revisions to two things:

1. Pulling teeth with no Novocaine
This is painful, the realization of what the heck have I gotten myself into, why did I agree to this, how can I get out of it? There is no way I can get through this alive.

2. The Godfather - Part 2 (yes, I'm totally stealing this from the movie Serendipity)
Part 1 (the first draft) gave me something to work with, Part 2 gave me something to appreciate. Not only do I now understand how it all began, but I'm starting to see where it's going. I couldn't have gotten here without Part 1 though. The first draft that started it all...

I guess it's true though... you usually can't get to the good parts without going through some pain, right?

But for the most part, I'm actually really liking revisions. It's hard work, but it's like breathing life into my monster. And it's a beautiful thing.

I'm not going to lie. There have been times in these past few weeks when I've literally just stopped myself from pulling my hair out. I've wondered exactly where I came up with that line... what the heck was I thinking when I added in that phrase... I've lamented over how I was going to fix this train-wreck of a manuscript...

I've wanted to shelve it and start anew. It would be much easier.

But easier doesn't mean better... it's just means easier. It's just putting off the inevitable.

So the moral of today's story?

See it through. Regardless of how bad you think it might be, how far you want to throw it into the next century, don't.

I mean, once you start something, you've got to finish it right? How else are we going to get to the finale? And it might just be one you don't want to miss.

How about you guys? Which side of the fence are you on when it comes to revisions? Do you love them or hate them? Have you seen The Godfather trilogy?

p.s. And for the record... I actually have seen all three Godfather movies ;)

Monday, May 9, 2011

I'mmmmm Baacccck!

Hi Everyone!

I'm back... erm... yes... it's...uh... been a WHILE.

I'm so sorry for just disappearing like that... I actually didn't mean to, but edits, work, edits, work... did I mention edits--sort of just took over and monopolized all my time. I'll spare you the details for now--I'm still not quite finished with revisions as yet, but I decided it was time for me to come out of the cave... it was getting lonely in there :)

I'll have updates on my progress for you this week though.

I've been trying to make my rounds this past week, so if I haven't come by as yet, I will be there soon!

I've missed you guys :)

I hope everyone is doing well, and I can't wait to catch up.

So tell me...how are you guys? What's new and exciting... not new or exciting... anything... what's been going on???

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

For the First Time

I write Young Adult Fantasy.

In the past, I've dabbled with general YA, Paranormal YA, Romantic Suspense YA...

...you get the picture, right?

From as far back as I can remember, it's always been some form of YA (unless you count my baby chicken story in first grade).

I love it. I love the ideas, the emotions, the angst, the glances of longing, but above all, I love that it's mostly about the proverbial "firsts".

First date, first boyfriend/girlfriend, first kiss, first love, first heartbreak (and in many cases, all the while battling the bad guys--or becoming one of them, having adventures, learning, experiencing and discovering). Teenagers are on the brink of figuring out who they are, and while they may not know for years to come--I know adults still searching--they're at that stage where they're willing to take the risk.

Everything is so new and wonderful and scary and exciting... we lose a lot of that wonder as we grow older. We forget that ability to view things like we're seeing them for the first time. Like we're feeling them for the first time. And teens feel everything about a hundred times stronger than adults.

It's that time when you're still young enough to believe in the impossible, but old enough to discern the unfathomable. It's when you question everything, but you're still able to "think" with your heart, even though you know how to use your mind to guide you.

Teens really do see the world differently, and I'm not sure if I ever moved past that phase. I still see the world quite differently from most people, although I'm sure many writers/dreamers do.

There are days when I'm so tired, it all just seems to blend together, and sometimes I don't know whether I'm coming or going... but when I get home and finally make it to my computer and open up that MS... none of it matters anymore. Somehow it all disappears as I lose myself in the story.

Because just like that, it's all new again. Like the first time.

This is why I write YA.

What genre do you write? Why does it appeal to you?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Why The Oscars Gave Me Writing Nightmares

I watched the Oscars for a bit with my sister last night, and right before they started, they panned out to show a view of the audience taking their seats in the enormous Kodak Theater.

I looked at my sister and shuddered. "That's a lot of people."

"Imagine you had to present an award there," she said. "Imagine they called you up to present the award for the movie based on your book."

I rolled my eyes, but I couldn't help feeling flattered to know she believes in me that much. Hey... when we dream, we dream big ;)

It got me thinking though.

Although I've had to do them all through school, and even still at work for meetings, I absolutely, completely and totally HATE presentations. Because they always involved public speaking.

I abhor being the center of attention... I am by no means extroverted in any sense, and I've always shied away from the spotlight. Unless I'm very comfortable with people, all eyes turned to me usually means sweat city accompanied by a woozy stomach on the side.

The thing is, if you want to be a successful writer and dream BIG... chances are--someone, some day is going to ask you to speak at something, somewhere.

Then what? Can you say no? Is that bad?

They say practice makes perfect, and the more you work at something, the better you get at it. I think I may be an anomaly when it comes to this rule. Maybe it skipped a generation...

I've actually tried to take a course that would help with this, and ended up dropping it at the last minute because I couldn't go through with it.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see... this could all be fruitless worrying ;)

What about you? Are you an extrovert or an introvert? Do you like being in the spotlight? Do you think it will have an impact on your writing career?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Crusader Welcome and Chocolate

First of all, I would like to say hello and WELCOME to all of the Crusaders and new followers! :)

*Waves HI!*

I spent most of yesterday catching up on my blog list, and following everyone back... if I haven't made it to you as yet, I promise I will soon. I want to make sure I get to everyone, so it will be a short post today.

It's been awesome checking out everyone's blogs and meeting lots of fantastic people. I love how this platform allows us the opportunity to do this. Thank you all for not only showing the love, but for also spreading it around.

For anyone who is not participating in this year's Writer's Platform-Building Crusade, hop on over to Rach's page to check out some fabulous blogs when you have a chance.

On a side note, I have a serious craving for chocolate chip cookies, double chocolate chip cookies, and banana chocolate chip muffins (do you see a trend there?)... hmmmm... yeeeah... since I'm home today, I think I'm going to be spending some quality time in the kitchen too ;)

How was everyone's weekend? Did you do anything new and interesting? Not new? Please share!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Your Cheatin' Heart

You know... we're in love... my MS and I.

We really do like each other despite the differences. We've been together for so long... through all the ups and downs. And although things have been crazy lately, we are trying to sort through our problems.

But these last few weeks have truly been a test to our relationship. Nothing seems to be going right... I'm finding issues that never existed, things I overlooked in the past because I was blinded by the love...

And... the thing is... there's someone else...

...Someone who's been lurking in the background, just waiting for their chance with me. Someone who's been filling my head with all sorts of ideas, and fancy notions, and exciting twists... trying to monopolize my time and pull me away from the one who needs me the most right now...

Sigh. Book 2... I want to... I really do, but edits on Book 1 HAVE to come first. All of our plans will have to wait. I promise, you'll have my full attention soon. Maybe when Book 1 and I are on another little break ;)

I may be weak, but I do have priorities.

How do you ignore the pull to work on something else while you're in the middle of edits/revisions? DO you ignore the pull?

Hope everyone had a FANTASTIC Valentine's Day :)
(sorry this post is late - it should have gone up yesterday, but Blogger hates me)

Friday, February 11, 2011

To Print or Not To Print

I ordered a new printer two days ago.

It arrived today.

And I am OVER THE MOON.

No... seriously.

I LOVE this thing.

It's a LASER printer!! I spent the last hour setting it up.

Nothing extravagant (it was dirt cheap), and it can't do more than print black and white, but it's SO fast for such a tiny little thing, and will have 400 pages sitting in front of me in no time at all AND I'll still have ink leftover! Which is more than I can say for my four year old Inkjet :)

I've been debating about this for over a year now. I really wasn't sure, but I eventually decided that at some point I would need to print out my MS for final editing and revisions (to send to agents?! Obviously that's quite a ways off)... I've done about 4 rounds of minor editing on the computer - finishing up the 5th round now-- but my old printer just wouldn't make the cut.

I can't wait to hold these pages in my hands! It somehow makes everything feel more real (or is that just me being overly excited again?). I actually want to take my pen and physically mark up those lines... see those scratches and side notes in my own handwriting.

Yeah, I need to get out more ;)

What's your take on this? Do you print out your MS for revisions or do you complete all your edits on the computer?

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

UPDATED: Join Rachael Harrie's Second Writers' Platform-Building Crusade! It's a great way to not only build your platform, but to connect with wonderful people on the same journey as you :) Click on over to get details and sign up!


Monday, February 7, 2011

Moments That Take Your Breath Away

Winter and I are not friends. Maybe a long time ago we were, but not anymore. Things have changed.

In fact, as I've gotten older, our relationship has pretty much dwindled to nothing.

You might even say we're borderline enemies.

I detest everything about it: the bone chilling gusts of wind, the slush that splashes all over the back of my pants no matter HOW carefully I try to walk, the obese, wet flakes that always manage to land directly in my eyes (don't ask), the fact that not only do I feel like the abominable snowman in my winter jacket, but I can't MOVE because it's so darn COLD... the list could go on forever...

Despite ALL of this though--every single winter, without fail--when the sky breaks open and releases those first few flurries of the season, I always stop in wonder and just watch.

And I remember.

Remember the good times. The happiness. The breathless anticipation of actually waiting for that blizzard to show up... I mean, come on... how can you possibly go sledding without snow? What else is there to live for when you're six?

But it's all it takes to remind me. AND inspire me. Because on that freezing, snowy day, I wrote like there was no tomorrow.

There's beauty in everything, especially the things we've long forgotten, but we're usually too busy to stop and notice. Our lives are so hectic, our days are filled with work and chores and responsibilities... but don't forget those moments that take your breath away.

What has taken your breath away lately? Have you been inspired by something unexpected? Show of hands--who has snow and hates it? Loves it?

Friday, February 4, 2011

If I Didn't Write

Those of you who have been with me for a while now know that I'm no fan of my day job. By no means is it what I ever aspired to do in life. It's stifling, boring and extremely stressful, but let's not get into that today.

I know one good thing that came out of it though: it led me back to writing.

I never thought of writing in any other fashion except that it was my outlet, something of a second nature that I not only used to express myself, but also something I truly enjoyed.

I've always written... for as long as I can remember, but only in the last two years did I start thinking that maybe I wanted it to be a career instead of just a hobby. This was what I wanted to be when I "grew up".

A writer.

They always say you'll enjoy your job if you truly love what you do. And I truly love to write. And I wish more than anything that it could be my "day" job.

But you can love more than one thing. And this is what got me thinking.

Since I'm not cut out for my actual day job, what would I be if I couldn't make a living from writing? It's good to have more than one dream, even while you're still reaching for the one you want the most.

I must confess - I have lots of dreams. I'll share one with you today.

If I couldn't be a writer, I think I'd like to be a chef or a baker... something to do with food. That would probably be my second choice. I like to experiment and create things from scratch... and thank goodness most of them have been edible... so far.

I wouldn't give up writing though... I think I'll always have that, even in the background... just because I don't think I can live without it.

And, of course, now I'm curious about you ;)

What's your back up plan? What else do you love to do? What did you want to be when you grew up?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Becoming Reacquainted

I opened my MS for the first time in 4 weeks yesterday. I know 4 weeks isn't that much time, but it felt like YEARS to me.

I was so scared and ridiculously nervous, unsure of what to expect.

It was weird, comforting, awkward and familiar all at once, if that makes sense.
Kind of like meeting up with your best friend after years of not talking. Knowing what's there (or what used to be there) at the core, but not sure in what other ways you may have changed.

Would we still like each other?

Would things be the same as before?

What needs to change NOW in order for us to get along?

My biggest fear though? Not liking it anymore. Because that's always my biggest fear. I don't want it to all be for nothing.

I was worried I would open it, read the first couple of pages, and wonder what the heck I was thinking. I only got about six pages in, and I am still undecided because my nerves haven't quite settled as yet.

I guess the thing is--just like with great friends--you don't let go that easily. You put in the extra effort to make it work. You hang on for dear life and try to make it better, even when it attempts to slip away.

Ultimately... YOU DON'T GIVE UP... even when it seems too hard. Even when it seems like it can't be fixed, make sure you put up a good fight - especially when it's to save something you believe in.

Because you know what? It's never all for nothing. You always learn. You always take away.

And you keep moving forward.

Have you guys ever felt this way after coming back to your MS after a long time? What did you do?


Monday, January 24, 2011

I DID IT

Happy Monday everyone! :)

I spent this entire past weekend working on the first draft of my query. And I do mean the entire weekend. I actually finished it, and fully rewrote it 9 times.

I'm definitely going to re-write it at least 20 more times before it's ready. And the thing is... this is just ONE page... what am I going to do at the end of this week when I reopen my MS and discover I need to edit and rewrite 368 pages???

You know... it's a nerve wracking thought, but regardless, I'm still looking forward to it.

Because it's moving me closer to one of my major goals... not the one of being published (although that is at the top of the list).

No, it's being able to stand back, and take a good look at what I've created and say... I DID IT.

And it won't be the first time I've been able to claim those words... I've done it at each milestone along the way... to remind myself of how far I've come, and how worthwhile the journey has been.

To remind myself that THIS is why I keep going even when it seems like there's no end in sight.

Each step in this process, as scary as they may seem, they're all taking us somewhere.

No matter which one you're at, whether it's finishing your novel or your query, opening that word document and writing that first page, emailing that agent for the first or hundredth time, DECIDING you want to be writer--even though you've never even written a short story... these are significant accomplishments, and we should be proud :)

Which step of this wonderful process are you currently at? What's next? When have you recently said, "Wow... I DID IT"?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My Name is WritingNut, and I am an Addict

Okay. I finally admit it.

But I know I'm not the only one.

We're all addicted to something.

I'm addicted to several things.

Writing/Reading
Everything that encompasses the Blogosphere
My computer
My blackberry
Chocolate
Sushi

I can't live without any of them--at the very least--once per week (well, the sushi and chocolate, but the other four - every single day).

You know how some addictions can be a hindrance on day to day life? Well, it's the opposite for me. These things actually keep me going. I feel like I'm lost without them.

Once I forgot my blackberry at home, got all the way to the train station, missed my train, and drove back to get it... because I knew my day would be ruined if it wasn't with me.

Yeah... okay, maybe I'm a little crazy, but hey, we all have our quirks ;)

What are your addictions?


Monday, January 17, 2011

Let the Challenge Begin!

Hey Everyone!

I hope you all had a fabulous weekend :)

So Theresa inspired me a couple of weeks ago to sign up for the 2011 100+ Book Challenge. I'm not sure what I was thinking, but I clicked on over, became extremely excited, and the next thing I knew, I was a participant.


I know it's hard to find enough time to read these days, so I'm actually pretty psyched to do this. I think I read maaaaybe 30 books all of last year, so this is a huge undertaking for me, but hopefully I will be encouraged enough to succeed.

I'm a little behind so far... I've only read 2.5 books to date, but I plan to catch up soon! :)

1. Love Happens - Elizabeth Chandler
2. Matched - Ally Condie
3. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins (currently reading)

Next on the agenda are the following two books of the trilogy.

If anyone is interested in joining, you can sign up HERE and review the rules.

I wanted to challenge myself with something different this year, and this is it.

What about you guys? Have you signed up for this particular challenge or something similar for 2011?

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Waiting Game - Round 1

So this whole week has been all about finishing the first draft of your first novel. Today I would like to talk about what you do after.

No matter HOW busy you are, regardless of the fact that you suddenly have all this wonderful free time on your hands, you will ITCH to go back to it! You will lament every moment you have to spend apart.

At least I am.

It's taking every ounce of willpower I have not to open the thing. I'm determined to give it its four weeks of "space". I know it will make our editing relationship stronger in the long run ;)

What have I been up to in the meanwhile (yeah, you know you're going to get a list :D)?

1. Blogging and visiting! I love having the time to make it around to all of you :)

2. Researching agents and reading up on the querying process

3. Drafting the query letter (and let me tell you, it's MUCH harder than it seems, even with all the wonderful resources at our fingertips)

4. And I THINK I'm going to write a little short story over the next week or so... just for fun, but we'll see

5. Reading (I've recently started The Hunger Games)

What do you do while you're playing the waiting game? How do you keep yourself busy after months of having no time?


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Finishing the First Draft of Your Novel: What to Expect

Okay.... I don't have children as yet, but finishing a draft of your novel (particularly the first one) is the closest I can imagine what giving birth must feel like.

Maybe I'm waaaaay off (and please feel free to correct me!), but here is why:

You carry this "child" around for months, maybe even years like me. You nurture it, feed it, wake up in the middle of the night with cravings (to write) related to it, research all about it because you need to make sure it arrives healthy and strong... And then all of a sudden, it's out and you need to care for it and raise it, and make it grow, turn it into something special that can one day stand on its own.

The range of emotions I've gone through in the past week and a half?

Here they are, IN ORDER:

1. Joy (it's done!)
2. Disbelief (it's done???)
3. Giddiness (I wrote an actual book... a WHOLE book...with chapters!)
4. Doubt (what if no one wants to read it? What if it sucks? Oh my God, it sucks!)
5. Motivation (No, I did this, I stuck with it this far... I can do ANYTHING!)
6. Stress (have you SEEN the querying process... there's NO way I can do this!)
7. Ambitious (I need to start on the sequel... like NOW)
8. Anxious (leave it alone... it has to rest... but it needs major editing! Major re-writing! No... MUST... LET...IT...REST!)
9. Sadness (what do I do now that's it's done... it's like a part of me is missing... I feel so alone...)
10. Overwhelmed (in both a good way AND bad - it IS done, now it's time to keep moving forward)

Um... yeah... so that's what my last few days have been like. One big roller coaster... can you imagine what the actual publishing process will be like (I know many of you are already there, and I'd love hear your stories)? I hope I get that far to find out!

Have you ever gone through this? With writing, finishing or starting your first drafts or anything else? Please share!