Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Day 21 - Reflection and Progress

There has been a great deal going on in my personal life over the past few days that have made it difficult to concentrate and nearly impossible to write.

My husband's mother is approaching her last days here with us. It is heartbreaking to watch her slip away, but more so to watch the pain of the family. Soon her suffering will come to an end, while that of her husband, children, grandchildren, and everyone else in this large closely-knit family will grow.

I often preach about the importance of making and taking time to write. About how crucial it is to set daily goals and stick to them no matter how badly you may feel.

The truth of the matter is there will be times in everyone's life so tumultuous that everything else (including writing) will take a back seat to just dealing with surviving and helping loved ones survive.

Does this mean I still won't encourage others to make time to write? Or to set and keep daily goals? Does it mean that I will no longer hold myself accountable for these things as well? Absolutely not.

As with all things, "this too shall pass." And when the regular chaos of life returns, I will pick up my pen and make myself write. Until then, I will write when I feel like it. There are times I even find it soothing to escape into my work and live in that other world for awhile.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this. Writing is personal. It is probably one of the most individualized activities in which a person can engage. What works for one person, may or may not work for another. I like to share activities and resources that have worked for me, but it does not mean they will work for everyone.

Just keep that in mind when you are reading the umpteenth article you've found about how to write more or write better or whatever. Never be hesitant to try something new, and if you find something that works for you, use the hell out of it. If it doesn't work, don't dwell on it - just move on. And remember there will be times that life is completely out of control, and day when you don't write anything. And that's okay too.

Until next time. . .

Good Day and Good Writing to you all!

Novel Stats - pages: 83; word count: 22079
For the past month - beginning word count: 5683; word count for the month: 16396
Currently, Welcome to anytown is approximately 1/4 completed

Friday, August 15, 2014

Day 20 - Writer's Block and Mining for Ideas Through Generators

For me, writing is much like riding a bike along mountainous terrain with bouts of terrible struggle to get up the hill followed by the exhilaration of gliding swiftly down the other side.

I thought that detailed outlining and planning would be helpful, and it has been - but not this week. This week has been a struggle. While I have been diligent about sitting down to write every day, the story has eluded me.

This week has been a test of my fortitude as a writer. When the writing is going well, it is easy to say, "I love writing." When the writing is going badly, it is easy to ask, "What was thinking when I decided to write a novel?" For me, the thoughts of being a failure actually work as an impetus pushing me forward. It keeps me working even though I may only write 100 words, and that scant offering is like trying to take a bone away from a hungry dog.

I keep at it because I realize this is just a part of the journey. Eventually, I will reach the crest of that hill and fly down the other side.

What Do I Do When I'm Struggling with Writing?

I use the times when I am slogging along up the mountain to engage in my 3 R's. I read. I revisit. And I research.

READ - This week's reading has been provided courtesy of Richard Matheson's Nightmare at 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories. Matheson's writing inspires me. His stories epitomize the fact that sometimes the worst monsters come from within us.

REVISIT - Sometimes it's old stories, sometimes it's whatever I am currently working on. This week, it's been old writer's journals. Revisiting things I have previously written sometimes will jump start ideas for current projects or remind me of ideas for new projects. This week's offerings have inspired a couple of new short story ideas.

RESEARCH - This takes many forms depending on where my head is at when I begin. Sometimes it is research for a current project. Often it is craft research on some aspect of writing that I am working on. This week it was research for ideas. This week's research led me to the discovery of a ton of random writing generators, and these are what I am going to share with you today.

Random Writing Generators from Around the Web

  1. Plot Suggestions Generator from RanGen - choose a genre and get plot ideas.
  2. Random Title Generator - Gives 6 results at a time to help spark ideas. Also an excellent tool for free writing.
  3. Character Appearance Generator from RanGen - choose gender, type, and detail level. Get a brief physical character sketch.
  4. Bulk Identity Generator from Fake Name Generator- Need a crowd of identities? Look no further. Choose name sets, countries, genders, ages, fields to include (given name, surname, middle initial, address, and much more), and quantity (up to 50,000). The whole list will be delivered to your email as soon as it is complete.
  5. Identity Generator, also from Fake Name Generator - get a single detailed identity generated based on gender, name set, and country.
  6. Character Quirk Generator - Random ideas to make your character more unique.
  7. Character Motive Generator - Another offering from RanGen. Looking for what drives your characters? Find ideas here.
  8. Cause of Death Generator from springhole.net. This generator offers cause of death for characters, but the site has many other interesting generators to choose from.
  9. Fantasy Name Generator - Choose from a long list of types of names to generate, from serious to fun to specialized and generate away.
  10. Worlds Terrain Generator from RanGen - Where are your characters going next? Choose forest, ocean, desert, mountain, jungle, or river and receive a description of the area.
  11. Worlds City Generator from RanGen - Offers a collection of statistics to lay the foundation for your fictional city or town.
  12. City Map Generator - Downloadable program that allows users to create a physical map of their town or city.
  13. The Forge - For help with all things fantasy. The linked portal takes users to fantasy name generator; creature name generator; spell, effect, and arcane name generator; and setting and location name generator.
  14. Serendipity - another site with a collection of generators, including city and country name generators and a variety of character name generators.
  15. chaotic shiny - Tons of fantasy-themed generators. People to culture, accessories to evil, plot to color. This site has a lot to offer.
  16. RanGen - While I've included specific links to several generators on this site, there is so much more available. Many more generators and monthly writing challenges, A visit to the site is worth your time.

I hope you can find something helpful or worthwhile among these sites. If nothing else, they are great resources for free writing, challenge writing, or sprint writing activities. 

Until next time. . .

Good Day and Good Writing to you all!

Novel Stats - pages: 72; word count: 19986 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Day 19 - Writing and Dialogue

The writing has been slow and steady. Chapter 9 (AKA Warnings and Watches) is complete, and Chapter 10 (better known as 1916) is on its way to becoming a fully realized section. Chapter 9 is highly dependent on the occurring dialogue, so I thought dialogue would be a good topic for discussion.
Anyone who has attempted to write dialogue knows it can be tricky. Good dialogue can transport the reader into the mind of the speaker, offer insights into the character, and help solidify story elements such as location and time period. Conversely, reading poorly written dialogue can become the literary equivalent of getting a root canal – something to be avoided at all costs.

Personally, I have a few tricks I use to try to improve my dialogue.

1.  I take a page from Steinbeck and read what I write aloud. Sometimes I even enlist my kids to read the conversation I write, which often works even better. Hearing the words out loud is one of the best ways to catch inconsistencies in voice, over-use of dialect and/or accent, misuse of dialogue tags, and gaps in flow. 

2. I eavesdrop on conversations when I’m in public. I promise this is not nearly as creepy as it sounds. Really listening to the way people talk to one another is a fantastic way to learn about writing dialogue. Pay attention to the age of the people talking, the pace of their conversation, and pauses and fillers used (e.g. umm, like, ya know, ETC). While writing dialogue and transcribing it are two totally different things, listening to people converse in the real world can help make fictional conversations feel more realistic.
     3.  In the same vein as #2, I also watch people in public. (Again, not as creepy as it sounds.) Conversations do not happen in a vacuum. People move around. They gesture. They make faces. They engage in movement and action. A conversation written without these things will feel flat and fake.

As with most things related to writing, there are many great resources to help writers improve their dialogue-writing skills. Here are a few of my favorites.

1.  10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Dialogue from Ali Luke on write to done.

2.  How to write dialogue that works from Creative Writing Now

3.  Speaking of Dialogue by Robert J. Sawyer on sfwriter.com

If you are struggling with dialogue, you must be diligent about searching out ways to improve your dialogue skills. As with all things writing, the more you study it and the more you do it, the better you become.
Until next time. . .
Good Day and Good Writing to you all!

Novel Stats – pages: 69; word count: 19100

Friday, August 8, 2014

Day 18 - Writing and Character Building

The novel has been humming along nicely for the past two days. I have been doing A LOT of character work over the past two days; and with the imminent completion of Chapter 9 (either tonight or tomorrow), I will enter Chapter 10 and begin the whole character building process again.

Because every other chapter of my novel addresses the lives and deaths of a variety of characters from the past, I decided character building would be an excellent topic to talk about for this post.

A couple of days ago, I struggled to complete my last story for Chapter 8. When the character finally emerged, the writing came very quickly. After I was done, my daughter asked me how the novel was going. I told her, “Good, now that Rebecca informed me her name is actually Lila, and the way she died was not even remotely what I thought it was.” First, she looked at me as if I was crazy. Then, she patted my hand and said, “Okay, Mom. Whatever you say.” J

Building Characters

Writers have as many ways to build their characters as there are characters in literature. Being heavily influenced by visuals, I always tend to see my characters before anything else. After that, if everything works out well, they will begin to tell me about themselves and their stories.

I have always seen value in creating character sketches because, let’s face it, it doesn’t matter how fantastic your setting is or how engaging your plot may be, if you don’t have strongly developed characters to live in that world and carry out that plot, then you have nothing. I use character sketches at different times during my writing. Many times they are the first thing I do when I begin a story. Other times I will revisit character sketches while I am writing or when I decide to introduce a new character.

Often, if I find myself stuck in the middle of the story and not knowing where we are going next, it is because I do not know my character well enough. Rewriting or revising the character sketch can reinvigorate the story. It is my opinion that if you are involved deeply enough with your characters, it doesn’t matter what you throw at them – you are going to understand how they will react and why. This can dramatically affect both the output and quality of the writing.

I unequivocally believe that any writer can benefit from taking the time to do character sketches – no matter how long he/she has been writing or how much he/she has written.With this in mind, I would like to share a couple of resources I use to complete this important process.

Writing Resources for Character Building 

First, Character Questionnaires are a great way to get to know your characters. There are two good examples available through Gotham Writers. You can even download them as .doc files to fill in on Word or to print out and fill in longhand depending on your personal preferences.

Second, I personally also use character sketches to fill in my characters’ back-stories. I find this helps me not only get to know my characters, but also to gather information that I can use to show readers where my characters’ actions, feelings, and motivations come from. It is particularly helpful for creating flashbacks and dropping clues within my stories. Corey Blake has written a wonderful article featured on movie outline – Writing Characters Using Conflict & Backstory. My heartfelt suggestion is to read this article and follow its directions.

Until next time,

Good Day and Good Writing to you all!

Novel Stats – pages: 66; word count: 18377

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Day 17 - No Writing Today, Researching Writer's Platforms

Day 17

I'm not going to try to defend my lack of writing yesterday. I didn't write - not a paragraph, not a sentence, not a word. I own the fact that I did not make the time to move my story forward. 

It sucks! But, it happens to most writers at one time or another. The important thing is to not make excuses - "oh, I had x, y, or z going on yesterday, otherwise I most certainly would have gotten some writing done." 

Sorry, but there are no justifications for not doing your job. At the end of the day, writers must hold themselves accountable for their writing. Whether you have an editor breathing down your neck or simply a group of supportive friends and family, you, dear writer, are the beginning and end of the work. No one can do the work for you, and no one is responsible for it getting done except you.

So, today, I will pull myself up by the bootstraps and make time to write.

Instead of Writing

What did I do instead of writing yesterday? Well, I'm glad you asked. 

I spent my writing time yesterday researching and reading about creating and building a writer's platform. If you've been writing and selling (or trying to sell) your work for awhile, you probably know all about this concept. However, if you are new to the world of publishing and self-marketing, then you are probably not familiar with the term.

A writer's platform is the public, online, and publishing presence writers build for themselves. Not only do you need to write a kick-ass story that people want to buy and read, you also have to take the time to get your name and ideas out there for other people to see. Unless you plan to go the self-publishing route, publishers expect you to have the drive and tenacity to get this done.

Now, you may be thinking this is a case of putting the horse before the cart, but I assure you it is not.

Since it is election time around the country, look at it this way - being a writer who hopes to be published is much like running a political campaign. Name recognition is important, but the ability of the voters (publishers) to find out about you, your ideas, and brand (platform) is imperative.

Susan Grigsby, one of my writing mentors, has told me many times about the importance of self-marketing, particularly online. To paraphrase Susan: 

Potential publishers will look for you online if they are interested in your work. They want to see that not only have you taken the time to build an online presence, but also that you have the technological skills to do so. If the choice comes down to two authors, one who has a strong online presence and one who doesn't, they will choose the one with over the one without every time.

The fact of the matter is this - publishers only spend marketing money on their top selling authors. The remainder are expected to market themselves and their work. This is where building your writer's platform comes into the picture. In my personal research of a wide assortment of publishers, I have found approximately 25% (particularly smaller presses) ask about either what you are willing to do to help market yourself (readings, conferences, workshops, ETC) or what platforms you are currently active on (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, ETC) - more often than not, they ask both.

Resources for Building Your Writer's Platform

During my research yesterday, I found some good resources to share with you about this important facet of being or becoming an author.

Moving Forward

I am going to have to work on this process. I tend to get lost in a time suck when I enter some of these online forums. I need to streamline the process. I'm looking into HootSuite to help with that (fingers crossed).

For now, I'm imposing time constraints on the amount of time I spend in these online endeavors (because there really is no point if I never finish this book). The way I figure it, if I can't accomplish what I need to in an hour, I'm not doing it right.

I'm going back to my writing. Yesterday, I encountered a stubborn little girl who insists her story be told differently than I first saw it in my head, so I had better get to it.

Good Day and Good Writing to You All!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Writing Day 16

I chose this bit of wisdom regarding rejections today because I feel it is something I need to remember as I ready myself to jump back into the fray - the wonderful world of editors and publishers and rejection letters.

Coming off a rejection for my most recent academic offering, it becomes imperative to remind myself that my writing does have worth. On the plus side, two of the three reviewers did say that while my piece was not quite academic enough for their use, it was a promising op/ed piece for a different venue. so, that's exactly what I did with it. I used it, along with some of the resources I discovered while writing it, as a new post for my academic blog. If you are interested, you can read it here.

Having digitally submitted my children's book to two publishers and getting my hard copies and queries ready to submit to three additional houses, I feel it is necessary to remind myself again that even if my book doesn't find a home with one of these publishers, there are more out there. I just have to keep looking. Now, an interesting thing about children's publishers is that they do not send rejection letters. If they are interested, they will respond to you within a given time frame - usually 3-4 months. If they are not interested, you will hear nothing from them at all. They will recycle your manuscript and move to the next one in their pile. There is an awful lot of waiting involved in publishing, but I'm not sure how I feel about submitting and not getting anything back. However, if you think about it, it's just like filling out job applications - submit them and keep your fingers crossed someone will call you.

In the writing class I took over the summer, we spent a good chunk of time talking about publishing, researching publishers, writing query letters, and working out the best way to present our work to editors. In the process, I learned a great deal about matching your work to publishers and querying with an eye toward not only each house's current catalog, but also their affiliates and partners. Getting published (especially the first time) is A LOT of work. It's not for the faint of heart, that's for sure.

If you are looking at publishing, the best advice I can give you is be prepared to do your research. Get your hands on a copy of Writer's Market (you can get the previous year's volume at a deep discount which is fine because by the time the next one gets published many of the entries are already outdated or you can subscribe online for $5.99/month). Visit the publishers' websites, check their criteria, browse their catalogs, read their books, research their company, and decide which houses seem like a good fit for your work. Submit to a variety of publishers (make sure they accept simultaneous submissions [SS]) both large houses and small. Do not submit to publishers not accepting unsolicited submissions. Make sure you read their guidelines carefully AND follow them to the letter. Personally, I would not submit to a publisher who doesn't accept SS unless I felt strongly that they were the ones for me.  The publishing world changes quickly, so I don't see the value in paying for a subscription when I am going to have to do all this work either way.

At the end of the day, I write because I love to write. I will continue to write for the same reason. I'm not saying it wouldn't be wonderfully satisfying to see my work in print or to see it in the hands of readers who enjoy it as much as I do, but whether or not this happens, I will continue to write (and to look for homes for my work).

With all this being said, let's talk about the novel for a moment.

It is steadily coming along. I finished another section of Chapter 8 today. One more and I'll be ready to move on to Chapter 9 (and back to Verity's story again). While I did a lot of work today, I didn't get as much writing done as I would've liked - 592 words today. But before I beat myself up too much, I did get almost 600 words and really that's nothing to sneeze at. :)

Tomorrow, I will be talking about another aspect of writer's work beyond writing - self-marketing AKA building your writer platform, but until then. . .

Good Day and Good Writing to you all!

Today's Stats -

NIP - WTA - pages: 58; word count: 16121

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Writing Days 14.5/15

Today, I chose to include this quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald because over the course of my writing work this week, I have discovered that there are far more people living in my head than I previously believed.

To put this into perspective, I feel it is necessary to provide you with a little background on the current novel. The story follows Verity, a woman born and raised in the rural Midwest, who upon beginning work on a community-based genealogy project realizes something isn't quite right in her idyllic small town. As she begins investigating the cycle of deaths she has uncovered, she  begins experiencing vivid dreams of these "accidental" deaths from the perspective of the deceased. So, over the course of the novel, she not only is telling the story of her search to find answers and uncover the truth, but also the stories of the unfortunate souls who have lost their lives in and around the town.

If I were to say this involves a lot of stories, I feel like I would be downplaying the reality of the novel. It is a ton of stories - or a shit ton if you'll forgive my overuse of a colloquialism. All of these people insisting their stories be told becomes somewhat overwhelming if I think about it too much. So, I have decided, much like Verity, that I will tell them one at a time as I come to them rather than ponder on the enormity of the task as a whole.

I have to say one of the positive aspect of this experience is that I am still madly in love with this story, and from everything I've read, this is a good sign for me. Also, I constantly doubt whether anyone will actually want to read it when I finish; however, according to my sources, this is also totally normal. So there you go.

I have one complaint over the past two days which I feel obligated to share. I am certain that I am not the only one this happens to, so here it is. WHY is it that I can sit and stare at the television for hours and no one feels the need to speak to me, BUT as soon as I open the laptop and put the ear-buds in, everyone in my house is suddenly possessed with the need to engage me in conversation or ask me questions or beg me to do something for them??? Why is that? It drives me absolutely up the wall! I'm like "OK guys, I have been sitting on the couch for two and a half hours watching crap, but as soon as I start typing, you all need me for something!" Good Grief! I feel like Charlie Brown - can't win for losing. Anyway, I needed to get that out there. I feel better now. I just have to remind my family members from time to time that if I am typing, I am working, and they are NOT to bother me when I'm working. :)

I believe that's it for the past two days. The novel is steadily progressing in a forward motion which is a good thing. Chapter 8 is nearing completion, and after finishing Chapter 9, I will officially be a quarter of the way through the project. Hopefully, this week will be at least as productive as the last few days have been. Of course, either way, I will let you know. :)

Good day and Good Writing to you all!

Writing Stats -

NIP - WTA - pages: 56; word count: 15529

Friday, August 1, 2014

Writing Day 14

I love this quote from Joseph Heller. It seems that when you write, trouble is just a part of the process. I think this is so important to remember when you are writing anything, but especially when you are working on something as long and drawn out as a novel. Sometimes, when the trouble comes it seems like you will never write anything again. And that negative outlook is just no good. You begin doubting your writing ability ("I don't really think I can write anyway."), then you doubt your capability ("Even if I could write, a project like this is just beyond the scope of my abilities."), then you doubt your publishability ("Even if I ever get this thing written, no one is ever going to publish it."), finally, you doubt your salability ("Even if someone takes a chance on publishing it, no one will ever read it.") Okay, so I took some liberties with the -abilities, but you get my meaning. It all becomes a spiraling mess of self-doubt circling the trash can drain.

With this in mind, I have taken a couple of days respite from the novel to re-energize and refocus my writing. And you know what? It actually worked! Can you believe it?

If you have read my previous entries, then you know Verity (my main character) and I have been having a bit of a struggle with telling her story in a way that suited both of us. I did move forward with other aspects of the story, but because Verity is THE center of the story, it just seemed wrong to move on without her.

Yesterday, my daughter and I took a field trip. Just as Verity had to "go home," I decided I needed to take that trip myself. To go out and drive the back roads, to be out in the country (the real country), to go down those old gravel roads and pick wildflowers, to be "home."

Just for fun, here are a few of the pictures I took on our little field trip.

"Going home" has been highly productive for both me and Verity. Today, I finished Chapter 7 and half of Chapter 8. I also posted two new articles to my education blog (Building Intelligence Plus Character). All in all, a full day of work. I believe I my need to make field trips a regular part of my process. :) So, until next time. . .

Good day and Good Writing to you all!

Today's stats -

NIP - WTA - pages: 51; word count: 13621

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Writing Day 13

In light of the way I've spent my research and writing time this evening, this particular writing problem is quite apropos. Now, you may or may not be asking yourself, "What in the world has she been doing?" Well, either way, I am going to tell you. I have spent the evening researching a wide variety of accidental deaths and writing obituaries and flash pieces. For those who don't know what flash is, flash fiction is a super short story. They are typically 1,000 words or less (some people consider flash 300 words or less).

Yes, you read that correctly. I have been writing obituaries for a few hours tonight. I wonder how many people outside of the field of journalism can say that.

Since Verity and I came to an understanding over the weekend and put her part of the story on the back burner until later this week, I worked on telling some of the other stories in the book. Verity's story is not all hers after all. Half of the story is her journey to find the truth, and the other half is her telling the stories of those unfortunate souls who no longer have a voice of their own - which, by the way, is a necessary component to her finding the truth and shedding a light on the dark past of her hometown.

I'm excited at the prospect of digging out these stories. Especially because I have absolutely no idea where they are going to end up until I begin writing them. All of the deaths are elementally-linked, so I know going in where the ultimate end is coming from (earth, air, fire, or water); however, learning the where, when, and how comes along as I write for each person or incident. Much like Verity, I have no idea exactly what happened until I see it for  myself. Once the obits are complete, the characters determine where their story will go. They tell me, and I write them down.

While this is an energizing way to write, I certainly wouldn't want anyone (particularly if you are squeamish) to look at my recent image searches. :)

I've been working in the binder today, so I have no new stats to share at the moment. I will be transcribing tomorrow, so we will see just how much work I have managed to accomplish then.

Good Day and Good Writing to you all!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Writing Days 11/12

Okay, so what can I say about this weekend. . . well, I guess I would say "interesting" just about covers it. Did I get a lot of work done? Ummm. . . not really. Did I learn a lot. Yes, yes, I did.

I started out the weekend with high expectations. I was able to get so much writing done over the week that I just knew this weekend would be full of writing genius. I set everything up to work - as is my habit - black notebook, 2 blue ink pens, cigarettes, and Diet Coke, all laid out and ready to go. I sat in my favorite spot on the front porch, opened the notebook, and. . . nothin', absolutely no single thing came to mind. I knew where the story was going. Knew what needed to be said. Knew where my character needed to go next, what she needed to do, and what obstacles were to be laid in her path. Still nothing.

I began doodling around the edges of the paper and thinking about the story. I wrote a sentence, then another, then a paragraph. And the entire time, the voice in my head kept saying, Crap! This is crap! What are you doing?

I wrote a second paragraph, finished a page, then two. But, I still couldn't shake that voice. No, no, NO! This isn't right at all.

Now, before I continue, I feel it's necessary to mention that I do not actually have schizophrenia. However, I have been living with this story for much longer than I have actually been writing it. When you read interviews with writers, many talk about writing as a kind of itch in their brains, something that keeps them up at night. That sometimes a story demands so insistently to be told that it will wake them in the middle of the night and refuses to quit until they get the ideas down on paper. That has happened to me for as long as I can remember. I sleep with a notebook and pen beside my bed (have for years and years) just so I don't have to completely get up. Hoping that if I can write it down quickly enough, I may actually be able to just drift back off to sleep quickly. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't.

But I digress. This story, and perhaps more importantly this character (Verity), has been rattling around my subconscious and my journals since an early creative writing class I took back in the spring of 2009. That is a long time for someone else to occupy that very personal space. By the time I actually started the story in 2013, Verity had already been present for four years, creeping around the periphery and pushing for her story to be told. She has changed very little over the years, other than aging a bit (she began life as a teenager, but she now lives quite happily in her late thirties).

Struggling through those Saturday morning pages, the voice seemed familiar, but I couldn't quite place it. I took a break. Walked around the yard. Then, it hit me. Verity! And, man, she was not happy with me.

I went back and re-read what I had written. Verity was right. It was crap. At this point in the story, Verity is returning to her old home place for the first time in many years. All the family is gone and all that remains is her great-grandmother's old empty house. Besides being a pivotal piece of the story, this is an important moment for Verity - an exorcism of demons, in more ways  than one. I did not do it justice. I did not do her justice. And she let me know that quite plainly.

 I knew it wasn't right, but the words still refused to come. So, what did I do?

I stepped away. I played with my granddaughter. I watched Frozen three times in a row. I went grocery shopping. I cooked supper. I took a breath. Sunday, I watched movies with my daughter and paid a long overdue visit to an old friend. I thought about the story, dreamed about it even, but did not pick it back up.

Driving the dark tree-lined road to get back to town, I realized what needed to be done. A field trip is in order. I already have it planned for Wednesday - just me, Sis, and the camera.

Until then, what's on tap for the novel? Well, fortunately for me, while this is Verity's story, it is also about her telling the stories of others. So, while her story is going to go on hold for a moment, she is going to go ahead and tell the others' stories in the meantime.

She and I are both very happy with this arrangement.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Writing Day 10

It has been a very long day.

In the real world, I had to make not one, but two, trips to the license bureau which means I got to spend better than two hours sitting in  crowded room waiting for someone to call my number. To turn this experience into a positive, I used my time observing and making character notes in my phone.

In the writing world, I carved out a couple hours to write this afternoon. I also started a Facebook page to link to this blog. If you are so inclined, you can find it here. I spent about an hour transcribing my longhand writing to the digital copy of the novel, and I am happy to report that Chapter Five first draft is OFFICIALLY complete!

Hoping to find the time over the weekend to work on Chapter Six and maybe even Chapter Seven (fingers crossed).

But for today, I will leave you with this tidbit from Neil Gaiman (a personal hero of mine).

This may seem like common sense, but sometimes we must remind ourselves that while it may not always be easy, one word after another is what will get it done.

Good Day and Good Writing to you all!

Today's Stats - 

NIP - WTA - pages: 43; word count: 11,158

Friday, July 25, 2014

Writing Day 9

Today's entry is going to be a short one. It has been a very good day for writing today!

It was so nice outside, so I decided I would sit on the porch and work this morning. I didn't look up until my daughter walked out three hours later to make sure I was still living and breathing out there.

I used some time this evening to transcribe my longhand onto the laptop. And. . . drum roll, please. . .
I broke 10,000 words! This is OFFICIALLY the longest piece I have ever written!

I am excited (if you couldn't tell), and I am extremely tired. So, that is going to be all for my update today.

I will leave you with some wisdom from the world wide web:

I believe that this can apply to a great many goals we set for ourselves in life. Making excuses can become a habitually bad habit and failure a self-fulling prophecy. We have to concentrate on what is important to us as individuals and do what we can to make those things a reality.

Good day and Good Writing to you all!

Today's Stats - 

NIP - WTA - pages: 41; word count: 10,055 :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Writing Days 7/8

Stuck. Stuck. Stuck. I absolutely hate knowing what I want to say and not being able to come up with the words to say it. It is one of the MOST frustrating things in the world to sit down to write and the words just refuse to come. 63 words was all I could manage to pull out of my stubborn self today.

On a positive note, I finished my grant proposal yesterday outlining a cross-curricular media literacy and production program for which I have been designing the curriculum for about a year now. The whole program is put together, I have found a funding source I believe would be perfect to pay for all the equipment purchases - now, of course, all I have to find is a school willing to give me a job with a faculty who are down for some major collaboration, and who will take a chance on the implementation of such a program. Ah, to dream the impossible dream.

Also, I am readying myself to send my children's book out into the great unknown. I am so in love with this book. I hope I can find it a good home somewhere.

As far as the novel goes, tomorrow is another day, dear Scarlet. Since I struggled with writing today, I did some minor revisions and made some expansion/clarification note on the manuscript to look during later revisions. I plan on getting up early and hitting it hard in the morning. Hopefully, I will be able to power through this block using pure unadulterated will power.

Good day and Good Writing!

Today's stats -

NIP - WTA - pages: 32; word count: 7813

Monday, July 21, 2014

Writing Day 6

Today has been both interesting and productive. I attended the last meeting of my writing class, and I was fortunate to have both an excellent instructor and a great group of peers with whom to work for the past eight weeks. My children's book is "in the can" so to speak, and I am ready to start sending out manuscripts later this week! Very excited about that!

On the novel front, I finished chapter 4 (transcribing all my longhand work onto Word and writing the concluding paragraph) and am ready to move on to chapter five tomorrow. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

The next chapter is a time period shift which is usually slower going than the present day stuff, but I am already kicking around some great ideas for this next section. So, my fingers are crossed that it will go at least somewhat smoothly.

On another topic, the deadline for my academic article, Poetry and the Common Core: The Great Non-debate, has passed, so I'm looking at receiving notification one way or the other in about 4-6 weeks. Again, keeping my fingers crossed the news will be good.

Plans for tomorrow (other than working on chapter five of the novel) are to finish a $5,000 educational grant proposal I have been working on for the past month. The grant is for the initial equipment funding for a cross-curricular media literacy and production program I have been developing for about six months. It is a project I am extremely passionate about, so the writing should go smoothly. All the statistical research, sustainability studies, and expansion potential worksheet is done. I just have to put it together and write it with enough appeal to convince the grantor to hand over that money. :)

All in all, it has been a GREAT day! (And I even managed to run a few errands and do a load of laundry.)

Today's writing inspiration comes from James Thurber - cartoonist, author, journalist, playwright, and celebrate wit. I chose it to remind me (especially going into this particularly tough chapter) that getting it written is more than half the battle. Revision is a necessary aspect of all writing, so it by no means has to be perfect the first time around. It just has to be written.

Good day and good writing to you all!

Novel stats for today -
NIP - WTA - pages: 33; word count: 7750

Writing Days 4/5

After the past two days, this bit of writing wisdom seemed most fitting. I would amend the 97% to also include being distracted by life in general.

The past two days have been filled to the brim with those everyday distractions that happen when you have kids to raise and a household to run. With the schools currently on summer break, I can't blame work for not being able to write; however, I can blame grocery shopping, house cleaning, laundry, running errands, being a mom taxi, cooking, and the ever present masters class homework.

Fortunately, this is my final week of summer term classes, then I will have a couple of weeks until school (both work and mine) starts up again. So, I will not have either of those things to use as an excuse.

Despite the internet and life in general, I have done some work over the past two days. I have put together a total of six solid publishing leads for my children's book and completed queries/cover letters for each one. So, I am ready to submit (ready or not).

I also wrote another five longhand pages for chapter four of the novel and roughed out chapter five. I have night class tomorrow, but my plans are to complete chapter four longhand tomorrow and attempt to get most (if not all) of it in Word at some point tomorrow. I have one more major assignment due this week, which I hope to get knocked out Tuesday. Then, WATCH OUT! I will be a writing fool for the rest of the week. :)

Novel Stats for Today -

NIP - WTA - No updates, still working with pen and paper. :)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Writing Day Three

Today's writing inspiration from Mr. Clive Barker.

I have nothing to add. This says it all.

Well, on the writing front today, it was slow and steady with a break for creation of another kind. As I was falling asleep last night, I was struck with the idea of creating a book trailer for my work in progress. Ever since I first saw Ransom Riggs' trailer for Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, I have been utterly smitten with the idea of marketing written works through a variety of media. After a quick search on YouTube, I discovered that book trailers have become quite commonplace in the world of publishing. Of course, many of these (including Riggs') are slickly packaged mini-movies in their own right. For a newbie to the world of video production, I used MovieMaker and Audacity (both free programs). I taught myself to use MovieMaker for a class in Educational Technology that I took earlier this year, and did my best to teach myself to use Audacity this morning in the wee hours before the sun came up (see people, insomnia is good for something).

So, with no further ado, here is my maiden voyage into book trailer creation.

Now for the day's writing stuff. I did not progress a lot on the digital manuscript - adding a scant 76 words. I did, however, work longhand today - completing 4 1/2 pages. After working on the trailer, I was just digitally done for the day. 

Plans for tomorrow include working out some more longhand (the weather here is supposed to be bee-you-ti-ful tomorrow). If everything goes according to plan, I should be able to finish Chapter 4 and be well into roughing out Chapter 5 tomorrow. I also have to make time to complete the query and finish the publisher's search for my Children's Book - I have a quickly approaching deadline to meet.

Good day and good writing to you all!

Today's Novel Stats - 

No stats for today because the majority of my work was done the old-fashioned way. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Writing Day Two

Today's bit of writing wisdom comes from Jodi Picoult - a writer I greatly admire.

I think it is important to remember as a writer that an idea written on paper - or the keyboard - has not been carved in stone. Anything can be changed or manipulated, but only if it has been written in the first place.

Today was a productive day on the writing front. Although I didn't quite finish the section I have been working on the past two days, I did add 1000+ words to my manuscript. I also finished indexing the remainder of my notes and completed basic outlines for the entire novel (all 36 chapters of it). I also completed another round of historical research and finalized the founding genealogy for my town.

On the publishing front, I uncovered three solid leads for the children's book and two publications for the shorts.

Tentative plans for tomorrow include working on the novel, creating a query for the children's book, and searching for at least three more publishing leads for the children's book.

Ending the day with a positive feeling today.

Today's Novel Stats -

NIP - WTA - pages: 29; word count: 6772

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Writing Day One

Today has been a good writing day. I pulled out one of my novels I haven't looked at in quite some time. I was re-energized reading through the work.

I worked through a ton of long-hand notes, typed nine new pages, revised and reworked several sections, and began another set of outlines for the next two sections. Overall, I'm feeling good about today's progress.

On tap for tomorrow, finishing outlines, finishing the section I began today, and researching publishers for the children's book I finished last week and some of the shorts I haven't submitted in awhile (after I look them over again, of course).

Today's nugget of inspiration:

 After my work today, I feel saner than I've felt in a long time. I do believe Kafka was on to something. ;)

Today's stats -

NIP: WTA - pages: 25 word count: 5683

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Welcome to The First Day of the Rest of My Life

My entire life people have been telling me I should be a writer. Every year I ask my students to consider the question: Who am I? When I think about this same question, my response always involves "I am a writer" somewhere in the equation. If I am having a good day, it ends up closer to the top. If not, somewhere nearer the bottom. I "joke" consistently that all passionate English teachers are secretly harboring the desire to be writers. I talk about my novels-in-process. I use my personal writing as examples and mentor texts for my students as do many of my previous professors.

I know in the pit of my soul and with the entirety of my being - I am a writer.

I write short stories and flash fiction and academic articles and literary analysis and really, really long unit plans. I write poetry for my kids and all sorts of essays and half-finished novels.

And so far. . .

I am, as yet, unpublished. I have temporarily given up on submissions due to rejections (they have a tendency to make one question the worth of one's work). I do not spend the time or energy I know I should writing.

I recently completed a class on writing children's books, a genre completely foreign to me, and it has given me a new insight on what I need to do - JUST WRITE ALREADY!

With that thought squarely in mind, I have decided to start this blog. It is for me more than anyone else. A way to hold myself accountable for my tendency toward procrastination. 

I finally understand that rejection is just part of the process. The majority of my work can not be neatly pigeon-holed into a specific genre or niche - perhaps it would be easier if that were the case. But what I do know is this, my writing is true to who I am. It tells the story I want to tell in the way that I want to tell it. With perseverance, I will find a home and an audience for my work. I will finish the novels I have been playing around with for soooooooo long.

My pledge to myself is this: I will use this platform to document my writing journey. I will make time to write. I will begin to submit again. I will WRITE with the understanding that everything will not be great all the time, that I will have good days and bad, that not every person who reads what I write will "get it" (some people will even think it is worthless trash), and that this terrible/awful/wonderful journey will be a long one.

So, if you have stumbled upon this blog and wish to tag along or comment or even commiserate, welcome. Welcome to the first day of the rest of my life.