Thursday, March 31, 2011

New Look - Part Deux

Okay, Traci tweaked the header for me . . . again . . . to include the leather bound journal, a gift from a very dear friend of mine.

She experimented with a few options . . .

The second header incorporates a picture I staged at home with the secretary, some old books, a quill and ink pot, and the leather bound journal. I love it, but . . .

The third header incorporated the original idea and included the journal. At this point, I'm going with header #3.

What do you think? 1, 2, or 3?


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New Look

Thanks to Traci @ Words, Words, Words . . . for designing my new look. As mean as she can be (ha) she does have her moments. The new look is a work in progress and will be tweaked over the next few days. S

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Still Here - Again!

I'm still here . . . just not as much between work, life, and other things. So, don't abandon ship . . . at least not yet. What I've been doing -

  • Finished the first round of edits on the still untitled project.

  • Set tasks for next stage of revision process of still untitled project.

  • Began work on one page synopsis - almost done, just need a bit more.

  • Researched a few more agents to submit mystery project.

At some point, I need to delve back into the rough draft of Book II of the mystery series - probably sometime this week.

I'm still out here reading blogs and commenting, just not so much right now. I think I just needed a blogcation. Ha!

Hope everyone else is doing well and having a fabulous time writing.


Thursday, March 17, 2011


First - Schoolhouse Rock is goes through my mind any time I write about adjectives, nouns, adverbs (Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, get your adverbs here)! Ah, the memories of Saturday morning cartoons.

Second - adjectives fall into that pesky little rule category. Follow or ignore, it's all up to you.

Anyhow, I get a daily email from www. They always have neat emails. Tuesday's email was about adjectives. More importantly, it was about the use of strong versus weak adjectives.

Adamant - hard
Baleful - foreboding
Corpulent - obese
Guileless - innocent
Turgid - swollen
Zealous - eager

Okay, they gave a list of 100, which I'm not repeating here. I think you can find them on their website.

The point - adjectives are not always a bad thing. Sometimes, the lovely little adjective that modifies a noun is, well, adroit (i.e., clever) - Ha!!

So, before you follow the rule about limited use of adjectives, perhaps considering the type of adjective (strong vs. weak) might be a better option.

One personal note - a lot of the strong adjectives are words that a good portion of people wouldn't know right off the top of their heads. In my writing, I consider the following question: do I want my readers to have to stop and look up a word, or should I use a more common word that everybody knows?

I normally take the second option, solely because - well, when not using my Kindle which has a built in dictionary - I don't want to stop, go find the dictionary, look up the word, and get back to reading. It's easier with the Kindle, but, still, don't really like having to look up a strange word.

So, if it twere (yes, twere) me, I would use strong, but identifiable adjectives so my readers don't have to go to extra effort to figure out what the word means.

How about you? Strong or weak adjectives? Do you adhere to the limited use of adjectives rule?


Oh - HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!!!! May you always dance like nobody's watching, and hope they're not videoing it in case you're a really bad dancer. Just saying . . . Ha!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Thursday Next

If you haven't read the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde . . . what in the heck are you waiting for? OMG - LOVE THIS SERIES.

Jasper Fforde takes a tongue-in-cheek approach, to, well, writing.

In his latest adventure the fictional Thursday Next, not the real one from this world, because in Jasper Fforde's world, the fictional characters are as real as, well, you and I. Uh-huh! Too dang funny.

In this latest adventure - One of our Thursdays is Missing - when the real Thursday Next goes missing, it's up to the fictional Thursday Next (as written by the real Thursday Next) to discover what happened.

Okay, so in the first chapter, one of the fictional characters (yeah, try keeping that straight in your mind) makes the following statement "My author couldn't be bothered to give me one (i.e., backstory)" - p. 2.

Now, the fictional Thursday Next, speaking in the first person . . .

I always appreciated honesty, even as personal as this. There weren't many characters in the BookWorld who had been left unscathed by the often selfish demands of their creators. A clumsily written and unrealistic set of conflicting motivations can have a character in therapy for decades - perhaps forever. (p. 2)

Too, dang funny. And, dear Jasper continues to make jibes like this throughout the entire series. In fact, the endings to the books that we know Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, etc. - well, you'll have to read the series to find out what I'm talking about. Clever, very, very clever.

But, raving about Thursday Next isn't the point of this post. The above italicized paragraph is the point of this post. Oh, and if you read yesterday's post, you don't have to pay attention to this post . . . unless you want to. Ha! Anyhow, the above italicised paragraph demonstrates the following: backstory is a necessary part of writing, as are realistic non-conflicting motivations.

Whether I like to admit it or not, my characters don't begin their existence on Page 1, Page 20, Page 40, or whatever. That might be when they first appear to the reader - fully formed, sometimes clothed, sometimes not - but they had complete lives before the reader first read about Jack and Jill going up the hill. Jack, in fact, was one of seven kids, the middle child, and . . . well, you see, he didn't just appear on Page 1, holding Jill's hand, and going up the hill.

Neither do the characters I write about. I create backstory for them so that - hopefully - my readers can relate to them. For me, backstory happens continually throughout the book, especially when the characters react with family members. Because, trust me on this, there isn't a non-dysfunctional family out there, and there isn't a person that doesn't have a whole lot of emotional baggage dragging along behind them - fictional or real. So, backstory, in small doses, throughout my writing, is how I insure that my fictional characters don't end up in "therapy for decades - perhaps forever" (p. 2)! Ha!!

As for motivation, if it isn't clear to the reader, why keep reading? I mean, Jack and Jill went up the hill to get some water. The motivation is somewhat clear: they obviously needed water. But, what if clearer motivation was provided: they had to get water to put out a fire that Jill started by sneaking cigarettes from her chain smoking momma and, well, she tossed the butt into the dry leaves and - BAM - instant bonfire, which wasn't a good thing, because the pile of leaves was next to the house, and next thing they knew the thatch roof caught on fire and . . .

So, Jill's motivation - besides wanting some nookie from Jack - in going up the hill, was to get the water to put out the fire that she started.

Now, Jill might still end up in therapy. She was chain-smoking at a young age, and had illicit designs on Jack, and there was the whole lie I don't know how the fire started, Momma she told, and . . .

. . . you should hopefully have gotten my point by now. Make sure your characters have backstory, and that the motivation for their actions is clear.

Now . . . Go read the entire Thursday Next series -

The Eyre Affair
Lost in a Good Book
The Well of Lost Plots
Something Rotten
Thursday Next: First Among Sequels
One of our Thursdays is Missing

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Here's the thing about blogs - each blog is just one individual's opinion/perspective on a subject. This blog is my perspective (and sometimes opinion) on writing.

I'm not an expert and . . . I don't play one on TV. Ha! I'm just a writer, struggling along, and hoping that, one day - hopefully soon - an agent will take notice of my query and ask for more, more, more!

I write to the best of my ability. I read blog after blog, intake the knowledge, shuffle it around a few dozen times . . . and toss out what I don't need.


Because not every don't do this applies to every individual writer.

There isn't a definitive writer's guide that says write this way and you'll succeed. If there was, there would be far less aspiring writers out there in the blogsphere.

There are guidelines - seemingly everywhere - that say do this, do that, don't do this, don't do that and yet . . . if you read debut authors, if you see what they did and didn't do . . . you might find that they ignored all those rules so easily found within the blogsphere.

Hmmmm . . .

No, I'm not advocating tossing aside every rule. I think - maybe know, check back with me on that one - that too much information is a bad, bad thing because, often, with too much information, people begin to second-guess themselves.

Yes, been there, done that.

I can't write like Tolkien.

I can't write like Mary Higgins Clark.

I can write like me, using the knowledge I've gleaned over the years, the blogs I've read, the books I've read, tossing out rules willy-nilly, and nilly-will as well, and writing what feels comfortable to me.

If I follow every piece of advice offered . . . I'm doing myself a disservice. No, I'm not advocating discarding the bits of knowledge. But, I am suggesting, in addition to the many blogs that are so very helpful, to also read, read, and read . . . books, and more books, and more books, and more books, and more books - by established and debut authors, but more so by debut authors.


Not to copy them, emulate them, or any other such thing . . . but to see what rules they broke, how they broke them, and to understand - if that's possible - why it worked for them.

In the end, the craft of writing is finding your own, well, voice.

If you do everything out there on the blogsphere, every bit of advice, you're silencing your voice . . .

. . . because you've stopped listening to yourself, your instinct, and started paying far too much attention to what works for . . .

. . . somebody else.

In the end, it is what works for you (me), the individual writer, that is (perhaps, should) matter most.

The blogs - at least in my opinion, this one included - are meant to guide you . . . and not to silence your voice.

For every rule to follow, there is a person who broke said rule . . . and wasn't struck by lightning.

So, my advice/opinion - soak everything up, but understand, in the end, that you the individual, must do what's best for you . . . and your writing. Sometimes, the voice you create is created from broken rules that might . . .


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lost in the Writing

There are times when I write that time just drags on. Word after word, paragraph after paragraph, and . . . OMG, only 5 minutes has passed and I haven't written much at all. CRAP!

Then, there are times when I lose myself in the writing.

Sunday afternoon was one of those times. I sat down at the computer to edit a chapter of two in the Project with no Name (insert sound of big echoy computer voice repeating those words endlessly) and next thing I know . . . 90 minutes had passed.

Same thing last night.

I was lost in my writing. Nothing existed around me except the words on the page in front of me and, well, those synapsing with delight in my brain. Time didn't seem to exist.

These are the writing times I like the best. I love losing myself in my writing, caring about nothing, but the story and characters unfolding in front of me.

I wish every time I wrote was one of those times.

They're not.

I think the down times, the draggy times, the times when it takes forever to write a paragraph are there to make me truly appreciate when the words do flow and I lose myself.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Title Block

I've been through the desert on a horse with no name . . . America. Okay, I love that song. I love that album. Ah, the memories . . .

But, this post isn't about a favorite song from my quickly fading youth. Oy! Okay, my youth's really not fading quickly . . . I hope.

This post is about a project I started a year ago . . . and haven't titled. That's right, there's no snappy title for this project. I have - gasp, the horrors - title block!! Ha!

For the life of me, I cannot come up with a title for this manuscript. Nothing. Nada. Zip!

I haven't had this problem before. Oh, I've changed titles on projects many times. That's fairly easy to do . . . because I had a starting title.

This time . . . nope, nada, nothing, zippo, zilch!! No title. No clue for the title. No nothing.

Title block.

My belief - hopefully not mistaken - is that, in time, a brilliant title will come to me.

If it doesn't . . . well, I can see the opening line of the query now: My untitled project is complete at ## words.

Uh-huh, a lead balloon has a better chance of flying than an agent has of not laughing his/her head off and sending me a response email that says AUTO-REJECT!

So, hopefully, somewhere in the nether reaches of my slightly depraved mind, the brain cells plan to synapse sometime in the near future so I'll come up with a title.


Monday, March 7, 2011


Sometimes you have to delete a chapter.

Case in point - current project. Friday afternoon I wrote a chapter. This morning I deleted 95% of said chapter.


Because it just wasn't working. I knew it when I wrote it, but I kept on writing it, and, well . . . DELETE!

I didn't trust my instinct on the chapter. Okay, I did, but I didn't, and it's a whole confused mess. Ha!

I knew what I wanted to write, to convey in that particular chapter. I wrote what I thought I wanted to write and convey in that particular chapter. But . . .

. . . it just wasn't working.

Today, I deleted a bunch of paragraphs, rewrote them and . . . voila!!! Yes, the chapter works much better now and also provides the jumping off point for revelatory passages about the victim in this current murder mystery.

There are two perspectives about every person: the known and the unknown. Those perspectives are often shadowed by misperceptions.

By using revelatory passages, I strip away the misperceptions and allow the reader a deeper insight into the victim, one not shadowed by jealousy, dislike, or any of the other factors that cause someone to talk bad about a person.

Why does it matter? Well, to me, as a reader, I want to care about the victim. I want to know who they were beyond the scattered comments of other characters that, quite often, paint a bad portrait of the victim.

So, at least in my murder mysteries, I plan to show who the victim was beyond those bad, often limited comments, that only present the victim in a two-dimensional format.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

WiP Wednesday - March 2, 2011

The progress continues on Book II. That's it. Update over with. Have a good day.

Okay, maybe a bit more . . .

Every manuscript I write is a bit different. Just like no two snowflakes are alike, no two writing of manuscripts is alike either.

Book I - frenzy! I wrote the rough draft in two weeks.

Book II - a slow progression, but the words are flowing, and I like what I'm writing.

I think the I like what I'm writing is the most important aspect of the writing process. If I don't like it, why am I writing it? If I don't love it, why am I writing it?

Ah, like and love! No, not going all philosophical on you . . . today. I don't have time.

I'm progressing and that's the most important thing (other than having a good hair day, good hair days are especially important) right now.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Writing Goals

I normally don't set writing goals. I pretty much figure they're the same thing as New Year's resolutions: easy to make and easier to break.

So, I don't sit down at the start of the year and say I'm going to do this, that, then this, then that, and so on and so on and so on.

I don't do it!

Okay, I didn't do it.

But, today, while working away at, well work, and thinking about my writing, and thinking about what I've done and what I want to do, well, I thought, maybe this once, a writing goal or three might not be such a crazy idea.

So . . .

1 - query the cozy mystery project.
2 - research some niche market, independent and/or small press publishers for Margarita Nights.
3 - write rough draft of Book II in mystery series.
4 - edit project that currently doesn't have a title.
5 - figure out title for project that doesn't have a title.

So, those are the few goals I've picked to accomplish this year.

The good thing - #1 & #2 & #3 are all in progress. Hey, that's not bad, is it?

#4 & #5 are going to have to wait a bit, because, well, life goes on. Still, it's nice to have a small set of writing goals to get me through the year. I may even add - start a new project - to the list.

I think that setting small goals is the way to go. Forget those ginormous goals. You're just bound to fail if you aim to high. Anybody heard of Icarus? Yeah, I thought so.

I remember getting a Franklin Day Planner years ago, going to a class on how to use the planner, and the instructor telling us: set small goals that you can check off each and everyday, even if it's something as simple as return all AM phone calls by Noon. Yeah, a simple goal, and yet something I could achieve and, well, check off my daily to-do list.

So, I've done that with my writing goals. I've set achievable goals and some goals, not listed, that are going to take more effort.

In the end, I can hopefully look back and say: hey, look at that, I achieved every goal on my list . . . and then some.

How about you? Do you set writing goals? Do you aim to high? What are some of your goals?