Friday, November 6, 2009

Royalty Statements

Lynn Viehl is a truly remarkable person and writer.

If you don't believe me, check out this post she just put up on Genreality. What a brave woman, and what a wonderful snapshot for us aspiring authors to see how the business side of writing works.

Thank you for sharing this with us, Lynn!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

NaNo Update

I decided to do it...50,000 words and non-stop craziness.

I started out strong the first two days (my days off) and started to slump since. I think I'm about 1,000 words behind.

Here was my plan -
  • Wake up at 4:00 and write for one hour, then go to work.
  • Write (and maybe eat some too) during my lunch break.
  • Play with my daughter after work and then write some more after she goes to bed.

Here is what actually happened -
  • Hit the snooze button repeatedly, then later in the week actually change the time to be later...much later.
  • Write during my lunch break - okay...this one was done.
  • Play with my daughter after work and then watch some of my favorite shows...then get a couple hundred words in.

Yep, not up to a fantastic start...but I keep thinking I'll make it up on my days off of work. I mean, I should be able to get about ten thousand words in on Monday. Right???

Here are some other ladies who have blogged about their experience much more eloquently.

And I'm sure there are so many more...but I lost them after reading them in google reader. Yes, I've been a lurker this week.

Now, should I change my alarm back to it's original eye-blearing time?

Are you doing NaNo? How is your progress? What is your writing schedule?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Writing the Where

I visited Alcatraz last Thursday. It was a foggy morning, giving the island an eerie feeling as it appeared (not that Alcatraz needs any help to make it feel eerie).

I took pictures as we walked the path to the cell-block and other buildings of the island. I kept thinking how it was awful that I didn't have a book planned for this setting. I would've been able to use those pictures to create a detailed setting. I'd have been able to accurately describe the rusted and broken top of the water tower, the green moss climbing ten feet up a rock face, and the red roof of the guard tower.


The details in our settings ground us in the story, making us feel that the place (and so the characters) could exist.

Of course, it is much easier to create a vivid setting when you have been to that location. I struggle with real life locations and so prefer to create my own whenever possible. But I still have to make sure the details are right for what hints I want the reader to get about my characters and what emotions I want to evoke.

Do you prefer to write real or made up settings?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I've started thinking about Nanowrimo.

I didn't participate last year and I'm seriously thinking about doing it this year. I've started thinking about the characters I want to write about. Deciding on names and vocations, strengths and flaws. I'm getting more and more excited as it gets closer. And more and more scared at the daunting challenge of it.

Are you going to participate in Nanowrimo? What are you doing to prepare?

Friday, October 16, 2009

I'm Insane

I've decided I am insane. No, the voices in my head didn't tell me. I figured it out all on my own.

I'm insane because tomorrow I am flying with my one-year old. That's right, I will be trapped on a plane with my daughter and whatever snacks I bring along (good luck getting an extra bag of peanuts from the airline). And I paid money to have the experience!

I'm also insane because I decided to write a novel over a year ago. And it has stayed with me. The novel haunts me during meetings, in the shower, and just before I fall asleep. The characters act out in my mind, creating their world and beliefs and values. They develop into people I hate and love. And I also love the process of creating them.

What about writing your novel has been haunting you lately?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hello World!

I took a break from blogging. I know - you may have noticed since it was well over a month since I posted anything substantial.

There were several reasons for the hiatus.
  1. I tiled my kitchen, dining room, and guest bathroom. (Okay - I did not tile it all myself, but I most definitely grouted)
  2. My team at work doubled in size.
  3. Season premieres of my favorite shows - Castle anyone? And wow, Flash Forward is my new fave!
  4. I started thinking about blog posts when I should have been thinking about my book.

That's right - I met that dreadful stage when blogging started taking over much of my writing time. Since I have so very little of it, I wanted to focus more on writing. I also started feeling stressed about blogging. Something I quickly realized was ridiculous since the only person putting the pressure on to blog was me.

So, I went cold turkey for a while. I didn't quite get my novel to where I want it (grrr...endings!) but I did feel the stress level go down.

Are you at (or over) the point where blogging takes up most of your writing time? What do you do to combat it?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

What If?

“What If” is one of the most important questions we, as writers, can ask ourselves.
What if all of the Earth's volcanoes exploded tomorrow?
What if my grandfather started speaking to me while in a coma?
What if conjoined twins' souls got separated during surgery?

Well, you get the idea. Asking "What If" helps strengthen our writing. We can create more complex plots, sharpen our timing, and deepen our characters. But too often we get fixated on the wrong What Ifs and negatively impact our writing.

What if that agent doesn't like my query?
What if I don't get published?
What if everyone laughs at my Illusions’ Mini Excerpts?

Wait- you don't ask yourself that last one? Hmmm...must just be my “friend”.

How has asking "What If?" improved your writing?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Illusions Mini Excerpt

“I don’t get you.” He brushed a hand through his hair. “You climb cliffs and attack strangers without blinking. But one little rat has you screaming like a girl.”

“I am a girl, in case you hadn’t noticed.”

“Yeah. I noticed.” He bit his bottom lip, then turned his head as he rubbed at the back of his neck.

She didn't know if he was hiding a smirk, but wanted to deck him anyway. Just in case.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

I Learned It From Backyardigans

I watch a lot of Backyardigans. My daughter is 18 months old and it is the ONLY thing that will keep her still for more than five minutes, so we usually watch one episode a day. The more I watch, the more I've come to appreciate the writing.


They have a great group of five animated kids/animals who live their imaginations in their backyard. But even though they are pretending to be different people (pirates, spies, trash collectors, clowns) their individuality still shows through.

Pablo panicks easily, Austin is shy, Tasha plays the diva, Tyrone states the obvious, and Uniqua...well - I haven't quite figured her out yet.

Of course, they are much more complicated than that - but the consistency and strength of these traits shows through, regardless of what's happening in that
particular episode.

They have very basic plots for each episode (hey - my 18-month old daughter can kinda follow along). But it is still something that can be translated into plotting a novel...ifjust do it with more subtlety.

    1. They start by telling you their goal.
    2. They introduce the characters in their roles - antagonist, protagonist, plucky side-kick.
    3. They sprinkle in some conflict or obstacles to be overcome - usually something for each character to help with.
    4. Finally, they achieve their goal and have a happy ending - because really...who wants unresolved, unhappy endings?

Of course, they add in a nice musical number every couple minutes...I wonder how I can work that into my novel?

What have you learned from watching TV?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Illusions Mini Excerpt

She ignored the whistle and the “hey, hot stuff” called from a yellow convertible filled with frat boys. The car slowed and she gave them her peel-yourself-off-my-sneaker look to get it speeding along again.

The only danger there is having my shoes puked on.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Good To Know You

Visit Give a Girl a Pen to see my Good To Know You post.

Monday, August 10, 2009

And the Winner Is...


Congratulations. Email your physical address to and I'll send out your prize.

Thanks for celebrating with me!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Drawing - Entries Close Sunday

Just a quick reminder to enter a comment on this post to be entered into the drawing for the $10 Target gift card.

Drawing will be on Sunday.

Now off to stop my daughter from destroying the house. Oops...too late!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Happy Birthday, Illusions!

Happy birthday, Illusions!

Well, it isn't technically Illusions birthday. But it is the last save date on the first, first, first version of the prologue (which no longer exists in any form).

I look back and am amazed at what a transformation Illusions has gone through. I am so very grateful I didn't have a clue about the whole publishing process when I first sat down at the keyboard.

To celebrate, I'm giving away a present!

Just comment on this post telling me what made you start to write. You'll be entered you into a drawing for a $10 Target gift card.
Winner will be announced on 8/10/09.

Good To Know You

Visit Give a Girl a Pen to see my Good To Know You post.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Warning - I thought of this post while brushing my teeth.

Editing is like whitening your teeth.

You may just need a quick brush to polish it.

I equate that to the whitening won't get too much bang for your buck. But it's better than nothing. If you are an experienced writer, with years of manuscripts behind your belt, then this might be the choice for you. (I was naive after finishing my first draft of my first novel and thought this was all it needed...boy was I wrong.)

Then there is the do-it-yourself whitening kits.

You know, the Rembrandt Whitening System or the Crest Whitestrips. This is the editing that most of us do...some help from the critique group, some flushing out of characters, cleaning up plots and emotional arcs. Time consuming, but effective. And cost efficient.

Finally, there is the go to the dentist and have them put the radioactive goop on your teeth under the light and walk out with TV worthy teeth.

I think of this as the legit, professional editing services. You walk in not realizing there was a stain on that incisor (or inconsistency in your character dialogue) and walk out with something shiny (though you do have to put in the hard work of actually making the changes). Granted, you also walk out with a flatter wallet. And I wonder how much you learn and improve by doing it this way.

Disclaimer: I have never had my teeth professionally whitened, or even unprofessionally whitened. Nor have I gotten my manuscript professionally I'm just guessing about how helpful it would be.

So now your teeth are white and shiny. But they are still the same teeth. And your manuscript is still the same story you fell in love with. And now it is one you can proudly show the world.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Cliches for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

We've been told to avoid cliches like...well, the plague.

Sometimes that can be difficult. After all, they are cliches for a reason - they give the image you want to portray. But not the tired feeling that may come with it.

I really wanted to use "like a hot knife through butter".
It became "like an Olympic diver piercing through water".

I'm still not completely satisfied and it will likely change before the edits are finished...but you can't say it is a cliche. Or at least not one I've heard of.

What cliches have you caught yourself trying to use. And what have you changed it to instead?

Friday, July 31, 2009

What the Excerpt?!?!?!

I started thinking about why I put excerpts of Illusions on my blog.

It is intimidating to put your writing out for everyone to mock read. I've worked hard on my baby of a novel and sending it out of the nest, into the world, is difficult.

But it has been beneficial.

First, it has made me (usually) read those few sentences very carefully to see if I want to add or remove anything. I know that my work is going to be judged by just that, and nothing more. So each sentence needs to add punch. Sometimes I get the knock-out. Sometimes I hit, well, like a seven-year-old girl.

Secondly, it helps build up my tolerance for negative response (though my commentors have been very positive). I know that if when Illusions is published I will have to deal with the good, the bad, and the outright rude feedback. I guess it is better to start building up the thick skin now.

So that is why I do it even though it is scary nervewracking blood-boilingly terrifying. After all - no risk, no gain. Urgh...or so I've been told.

Why do you put your WIP out there? What benefits have you found from sharing it?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Illusions Mini Excerpt

Her foot lost traction, slipping from its foothold, jerking her right hand loose. Kate clung to the side of the mountain by the fingertips of her left hand, straining to hold on as she scrambled for purchase with her feet.

She refused to listen to the frantic thoughts that kept bubbling to the surface. She'd always known she'd die on a mission. But not here. Not on this stretch of dirt too far away for anyone to even hear the splat. Not like this.

Her right foot found an outcrop, then slid. Her fingers scraped against the rock, tensing with the exertion. Then, as if in slow motion, they slipped.

She fell.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Good To Know You

Visit Give a Girl a Pen to see my Good To Know You post. Please join in the discussion.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

To Save or Not To Save

My mother-in-law just had a big computer meltdown this past week. Dell Support couldn't help her breathe life back into the old PC, the family computer expert couldn't jerry-rig it to work.

So she bought a new PC, and external hard drive. Then, with those new boxes tucked in the office, the old PC felt threatened enough to raise itself from the dead.

The whole thing got me worried about my WIP. I'm good about saving while I write, but I mostly save it on my PC. When I remember, I'll bust out the flash drive and pop a copy on there. But I don't save in both places every day. I emailed a version to myself a couple months ago - but that is hours and hours of writing ago. I can't quite find a method that works perfectly for me.

I'd love some tips.

How do you save your novel?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Plugged Back In

I'm back.

I didn't get anywhere near the amount of writing done that I had hoped, but I did get to spend some quality time with the family.

Believe it or not, my to-do list for the current round of edits on Illusions has actually increased. Of course, that just makes the challenge of finishing all the more fun.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Good To Know You

Visit Give a Girl a Pen to see my Good To Know You post. Please join in the discussion.

Friday, July 17, 2009


I'm jumping on the unplugged bandwagon (why do they call it a bandwagon bands ever play on, near, or around wagons?).

I'll be incommunicado for the next week. Well...except for my Wednesday Good To Know You post. Hopefully I will be able to finish the list of changes I want to make on Illusions...a girl can dream.

The Sound of Inspiration

I know plenty of writers who must have music on while they write. They create playlists that go mesh with their WIP.

I am not one of them.

Most of you already know that I cannot think and listen at the same time. And my mind does not tune out the music the way so many others can. But that does not mean that I am not inspired by music.

Music can create a mood, a picture, an emotion that tugs at a very basic and raw part of our souls. Something all of us are striving.

I mean - what is Jaws without those two two notes played over and over again, building up the suspense? What is E.T. without that sweltering series of notes while they fly in front of the moon?

By the way, William Joseph is old friends with my husband. His style of music is the type that inspires me to write.

How has music inspired you? Do you use music to help you write?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Illusions Mini Excerpt

I'm really hoping you can help me with the punctuation on the second sentence since I am struggling with it. Commas, dashes, individual is a dilemma for my grammatically challenged mind. And I know this is a first draft of my first chapter - so there is a bunch to fix, but tell me if this beginning works to pull you in.

Kate ran three steps and flung herself out the broken window. Crisp air slapped against her face as she fell five stories- ten, fifteen. Neon lights flashed as she rushed to meet the ground. The line caught her weight and her descent slowed.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Good To Know You - Guest Post

There is a guest blogger today for my weekly Wednesday Good to Know You post at If You Give a Girl a Pen. (Yes, that was an awkward sentence. No, I will not rewrite it.)

It is a seriously embarrassing story for everyone to enjoy provided by Angie Lee. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Art of Inspiration

picture found here

I look through flickr often to find pictures that coordinate with whatever I'm blogging about. I'm continually amazed by the talent and creativity of so many photographers and artists.

Art inspires my writing more than anything else. Graffiti, billboards, photographs, landscapes, sculptures, whatever - I automatically create a story in my mind surrounding a piece of art. I have several WIP-in-waiting because of a piece of art I've seen. Hopefully someday I will actually get around to writing them all.

What pieces of art have inspired you lately?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Illusions Mini Excerpt

She looked at herself in the mirror. Specks of dried blood spattered her hands.

Greasy hair and frightened eyes – what a combo.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Good To Know You

Visit Give a Girl a Pen to see my Good To Know You post. Please join in the discussion.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


I have a new novel idea percolating in my head. I've done an inital plot and some basic character sketches. I'm thinking about my theme and emotional arcs. I'm starting some basic research.

Essentially, I'm doing everything I didn't do when writing Illusions.

And I bought a new (as opposed to used???) bottle of nail lacquer. That's right, they don't call it fingernail polish anymore (because then they wouldn't be able to charge as much). It's called Fuchsiamania and it is the exact color my MC would wear. So, in the name of research, I am going to see if having my little piggies lacquered in candy pink will help me get in my MC's head.

What have you done in the name of research?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Don't Show the Crazy...Yet

One of my friends told me that you date for your entire life, it just morphs as you get older.

You start out as a teen, just dating for fun. Eventually, you take things more seriously and date to find that special someone. You become a couple, perhaps get married, but the dating doesn't stop. You begin to go on double dates with other couples.

Finding an agent is like dating. You want to make a good first impression. They don't need to know that you color-coordinate your closet, alphabetize your DVDs, or save jokes from the Reader's Digest in case you need an ice-breaker. (For the record - I don't do any of those things...I tried the closet thing and it lasted through one round of laundry.)

Wait until after the after the third date (they offer representation) before you let them see a glimmer of the crazy. So that means you follow their rules (you mean you didn't want that query on neon green paper and size 24 font?), be professional (no "Yo Agent, wuzup"), and don't act desperate (You like really like me?).

Of course, I'm still in the stage of gazing adoringly from afar. I haven't even asked them out for a cup of coffee yet. So what do I know?

What is craziest thing you (or a "friend") have done in the attempt to land an agent? Or what is the craziest date you've ever had?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Post-It Love

I LOVED this and just had to share.

Illusions Mini Excerpt

“Not in this lifetime. Oh, please don’t tell me I dreamt about him.” Kate’s mouth dropped, horrified at the thought.

Tina laughed. “I didn’t mean to scare you. But you do need a solid bout of kissing. Preferably by someone who knows what he’s doing.”


"You're getting grumpy. A good make-out session would do wonders.”

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Good To Know You

Visit Give a Girl a Pen to see my Good To Know You post. Please join in.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Illusions Mini Excerpt

Kate grabbed the rock, felt it dig into her palm, and felt a rush of alertness from the pain. She threw the rock and swung herself around, knocking the legs out from under the attacker. She lurched to her feet an instant before he did.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Good To Know You

Visit Give a Girl a Pen to see my Good To Know You post. Please join in the discussion.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Illusions Mini Excerpt

“Hmph. Why do all the girls wear skirts so short their tooshies hang out? It’s so gross. Look - this page alone I see three micro-minis.” Kate turned the glossy page in protest.

“Boy, you're such a scary spy. I mean really…tooshies? Maybe you should retake your anatomy classes.”

“Fine. This skirt lets the girl’s Gluteus Maximus hang out. Better? Besides, I got a solid A in Anatomy 311, thank you very much.” Kate deliberately bit off a chunk of Twizzler.

“Yeah, gotta really know your body parts to kick some serious Gluteus Maximus, eh?” Tina laughed so hard she fell, sprawling, off the bed.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Good To Know You

Visit Give a Girl a Pen to see my Good To Know You post. Please join in the discussion.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Illusions Mini Excerpt

The fingers of vertigo tickled, teased. Kate carefully took two steps backwards. Away from the cliff.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Good To Know You

Visit Give a Girl a Pen to see my Good To Know You post. Please join in the discussion.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I'm a Citizen of Procrasti-Nation

Monday was the perfect day for me to write. My hubby is at work all day. My daughter took a five hour nap. That’s right – five hours (I had to peek in at her several times since she NEVER sleeps that long). So I could’ve written a couple chapters…right?


Instead, I procrastinated…I surfed blogs, ate chocolate covered almonds, and perused news articles. I read and took a nice nap. But I did not write one word.

I’m asking myself why.

Did I just need a break from writing? Probably not.

Was I out of practice, since my writing hours have been severely cut since going back to work? Probably.

Was I forcing my characters to do something they wouldn’t do, so they decided to give me the silent treatment? Hmmm…gotta think more about that.

Whatever the reason, it was a lost day. I’ve just gotta shake off that writing funk and move on.

Why do you procrastinate writing?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

I Won Something

I've never won anything before. Not in elementary school. Not in high school. Not on the radio....NEVER.

Well, my 28 year streak of bad luck has just ended. I just won Cindy Wilson's drawing for a historical romance novel. Thank you, Cindy. I'm so excited!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Cover Art and Voice

I talked a bit about branding on Tuesday, but wanted to discuss it further.

To me, branding is about voice.

Yes, the art department will create a cover for your book when it is published. And hopefully all the sequels will be consistent so when your fans see a new book, they immediately identify that it's the next (insert your name here) novel.

I think of Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls and Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series as examples of great branding. You see their covers and automatically know who wrote it, without ever needing to see the name of the author.

But even more important than their cover art is the consistency of their voice. If Ally's next book was serious and depressing, I would never pick up another one of her books. Why? Because her brand is fun, exciting, interesting. Not serious, dark, disturbing. I'd feel tricked into buying something I didn't want. And whether they pick up your book at the local library or the local bookstore, the reader is buying into your story by reading that first page. They want the product they expected.

What type of brand do you want your voice to express?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Illusions Mini Excerpt

I've gotta admit, this one isn't my favorite excerpt - but it's appropriate for my birthday.

Tina tossed a small cardboard box. “Like the wrapping? I did it myself.”

"Yeah. I can really see the effort you put into it." The plain, white, unwrapped box fit in the palm of Kate’s hand.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Good To Know You

Visit Give a Girl a Pen to see my Good To Know You post. Please join in the discussion.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pigeon Holed

When I think of M. Night Shyamalan, I think of movies with a twist at the end.

When I think of Quentin Tarantino, I think of smart movies that are just a bit too violent and/or twisted for my own personal taste.

But you know what you're getting when you go to their movies. Because it's their brand, their style of film-making. You wouldn't go to a Quentin Tarantino movie if you wanted a heart-warming love flick.

What does that have to do with me?

Are you a romance writer? Are you a young adult writer? Are you a horror writer?

If you've written six horror novels, you may not have a great reception in the children's picture book community. Why? Because they will get used to viewing your material as horror, and not suitable for children.

If you've written young adult romance novels, you may have some resistance when writing an adult thriller.

That is one reason why many well-known authors have used pen names (think Nora Roberts vs J.D. Robb) They don't want to offend their existing fans by branching into other genres. Even if *wink wink* we all know who's really writing the novel, we know what to expect when we pick up the book using the pen name.

My point in this post (If I have one) is to think about your long-term writing career. Don't just write whatever is coming to you right now, write the kind of books you want to be writing five, ten, even fifteen years from now. If you want to write both YA and Adult novels, don't write five novels that are solely young adult. Mix it up so your audience won't pigeon-hole you into one genre.

What genres do you like to write?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Awards- And Not the MTV Movie Ones

If you've noticed my silence on your blogs this past week, its because I've been sick. Yucky time here at the Wolfley house. But I guess I should get sick more often, because all of a sudden I've been given some blog awards.

And to that I've got to say WOW! (That's right- capitalized with an exclamation point.) I never expected this little blog to get followers, much less awards from followers.

Thanks to Danyelle of Myth-Takes and Kimberly of Zook Book Nook (which is the coolest blog name ever, IMO) for giving me the One Lovely Blog award. Thank you both!

And to make everything even more special, Robyn of Putting Pen to Paper gave me this Este Blog investe e acredita na...PROXIMIDADE! award. I have no idea what that means in English, but it says:

These blogs invests and believes in the proximity - nearness in space, time and relationships, they are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends, they are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated.

Which I think is pretty cool to get. So big thank you to Robyn!

I know I'm supposed to pass them along. But there are so many wonderful bloggers to choose from, and I'm the kind of person who breaks the chain letter even though it will cause me to grow fungus on my face, and never find my one true love, and get a hex of apocalyptic proportions. (Some people call me brave, I prefer lazy!) So I will ponder some more about who to give these awards to, but I am committed to not be the breaker of the chain.

And yes- I can be bribed by chocolate, pistachios, and Nutty Bars.

But in all seriousness, thank you to these wonderful ladies. I have truly been amazed by how kind and generous the writing community is. I have met so many amazing writers who provide me with a new outlook, motivation, and support.

Thanks goes out to all of you!

What is your favorite thing about being part of the writing community?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Illusions Mini Excerpt

It hurt to breathe. It hurt to move. It hurt to think about breathing or moving.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Good To Know You

Visit Give a Girl a Pen to see my Good To Know You post. Please join in the discussion.

Monday, May 25, 2009

You Have Hobbies?

I enjoy expressing my creativity through writing. I love putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, not quite knowing what will come out. The story I thought I'd write may suddenly twist on me, challenging me to rethink my characters.

But writing is not the only thing I enjoy doing. I have hobbies *shocked gasp*. And when I feel I have no more creativity within me, I'll turn to digital scrapbooking. After a couple days of scrapbooking, I find myself rejuvenated to continue with my WIP.

I think it's important to take time for your hobbies. You might end up incorporating them into your novel (so don't feel guilty). And you might end up trying new hobbies because of your characters.

But even if you don't ever use them in your book- it's still important to flex those creative skills in a different way, and let your WIP simmer.

What hobbies do you enjoy? How has it affected your writing?

Friday, May 22, 2009

First Ever Contest Winner

Thanks to everyone who entered into my First Ever Contest. I had a blast reading your posts and I got some new blog readers. Welcome to the cult, newbies! :)

The winner of my First Ever Contest is:

Karen Amanda Hooper

Congratulations! Please email me at to give me your address so I can mail our your gift card.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

First Ever Contest Reminder

A quick reminder that the First Ever Contest deadline is tonight. The drawing is for a $10 Target gift card.

Illusions Mini Excerpt

Silence hit. The silence of quickened heartbeats and ragged breaths.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Happy Days in May

Wow. I just read about another fabulous writer landing an agent. Tess Hilmo has signed with The Chudney Agency. Tess is super special to me since she was the first not-already-a-friend follower of this blog.

Huge congrats, Tess! I am super excited for you.

So who's next? May seems to be the month for great things to happen.

Good To Know You

Visit Give a Girl a Pen to see my Good To Know You post. Please join in the discussion.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Congrats to Jody!

Did everyone see Jody Hedlund's post? I love hearing about writers getting an agent. Talk about giving back some energy. Congratulations, Jody!

Energy Vampires

I'm not talking about your DVR spiking up your electricity bill in the middle of the night.

I'm talking about those people that make you feel like you've gone through a meat grinder after a five-minute conversation. They bare their teeth and suck the energy right out of you with their negativity, or their narcissism, or their obliviousness. Or all three.

So what do you do? How do you cope? I mean, other than carrying around massive amounts of chocolate (because chocolate really does make everything better...until you step on the scale).

No, really- I want to know. How do you handle your energy vampires?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Speaking of Contests

Did you see the love scene contest at Give a Girl a Pen? It ends Saturday 5/23/09. I'm really jazzed about this one because I enjoy that moment when a character realizes they are in love...whether they want to be or not.

Good luck!

First Ever Contest

That's right- first ever contest. There will never be another first ever contest...ever again.

No, the next contest will be the second ever contest. And so on and so forth until I no longer have contests because I ran out of fingers and toes...and blog followers with patience for my ramblings.

I realized that Friday will be my blog's one month mark. So I decided to celebrate my achievement of blogging what I consider regularly for one month. As of the time I'm writing this post, I have exactly 25 followers. I don't consider that a bad following. Not enough to start my own cult yet...but I'm working on it. :)

So, says you, how do I enter this first ever contest?

Well, says I, you just need to mention my blog on your own blog (preferably saying good things...but it's not a requirement). Then note in this post's comment box that you did so by Thursday 5/21/09 at 5:00 Pacific Time. No, I am not going to check your blogs (though I already do on a regular basis (i.e. daily, or semi-daily) (you didn't expect to see so many parantheses in one sentence did you?)) but I know we are all honest writers here. I will then do a random drawing for one lucky winner.

So, says you, what is the prize?

Well, says I, I originally thought of sending you some Nora Roberts books. But not everyone loves her the way I currently do, and it would cost a ton to ship. So, to your utter relief, the prize is a $10.00 Target gift card. If you win and do not have a Target nearby, I will change it to a store or website of your choice (within reason- I'm not driving 30 miles to get you a card so you don't have to drive 30 miles to use it- yeah, I'm not nice). Oh, and limited to the US because I don't know how to ship international...yeah, I'm that bad- I don't even know where the post office is around here.

So for those of you skipping to the end of this post, here's the nitty-gritty:

First ever contest- ends Thursday 5/21/09
Post on your blog (or twitter) linking back here
Comment on this post letting me know you did it
Drawing Prize: $10 Target Gift Card

Friday, May 15, 2009

You Let the Breeezy Take the Whip to Cali?

Yep. I said, "You let the Breezy take the whip to Cali?"

Do you have no clue as to what I'm saying? Neither did I until I started a training class on Monday. In case my previous post didn't give it away- I work for a bank. We aren't allowed to use bank jargon with customers. It's like speaking a foreign language.

And the same thing applies to our readers.

References: If you are writing a young adult novel (which I am) don't you dare mention Bette Midler, Dolly Parton, or Elizabeth Taylor. Yes- they may be readily identifiable to you, but not so much to your teenage reader. Try Megan Fox, Vanessa Hudgens, or Rihanna instead.

Slang: One of the other supervisors says the best phrases. I've decided to follow him around and write down everything he says to use for one of my characters. He proudly declares himself a redneck and that is exactly what I want. So he says things like, "Happier than a frog in rain" or "Hammered dung". Something totally appropriate to that specific character. But I wouldn't have my MC say "swell" or "shucks" because it's not the language her age group speaks.

Oh, and "You let the Breezy take the whip to Cali?" means "You let your girlfriend take the car to California?" Yeah- I've got a lot of learning to do on what's hip.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Illusions Mini Excerpt

Kate closed the door and leaned against it. After a brief debate between an arctic shower and a warm bed, she headed for her room. Drooping eyes won out over sweaty stench.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Good To Know You

Visit Give a Girl a Pen to see my Good To Know You post. Please join in the discussion.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Setting Effective Goals

There are a lot of amazing writers generously offering to share their work experience and training- for free. I'm thinking of Archetype, H.L. Dyer, and Where Romance Meets Therapy to name a few.

I started thinking about how fabulous these bloggers are for doing this. Which got me wishing I had a job cool enough to share my training and experience with all of you. Working for a bank for 10 years just does not give you the cool factor that being a therapist does. I mean, want to know about simple interest loans, credit agencies, or fraud rings and I'm your gal...but who really needs or wants to hear about that? But then I decided that I have learned a few things worthy of sharing.

So I'm going to blog about what I learned from my years of management, customer service, fraud, and collection training.

Career Development
Career development is part of the reason we want an agent. They'll coach us to move from aspiring to published authors, from mid-list to NYT Bestsellers.

In my world- Career Development is the best part of my job. Hand and hand with career development is setting goals. A lot of time goal setting sounds like this:


Get published

Actions Needed:

Finish novel

Improve writing skills

Network with writers and agents

A solid start. But still not as powerful as you can be. What about this?


Get published

Action Needed:

Finish novel

1. Write 80,000 word novel

2. Create interesting characters

3. Edit novel

Improve writing skills

1. Decrease use of passive voice

2. Balance dialogue, description, and narration

Network with writers and agents

1. Create and maintain blog

2. Comment on agent blogs

Even better, right? But how are you going to know when you succeed in reaching these goals?

Get published

Action Needed:

Finish novel

1. Write 80,000 word novel

Plan: Write for 2 hours daily

Tracking: Novel completed

2. Create interesting characters

Plan: Create character sheets to keep character traits and flaws consistent

Tracking: Feedback from Beta Readers

3. Edit Novel

Plan: Send to beta readers for feedback

Tracking: Positive feedback with no recommendations for improvement.

Improve writing skills

1. Decrease use of passive voice

Plan: Search within Word shows few uses of was, is, am.

Tracking: Only conscious use of passive voice

2. Balance dialogue, description, and narration

Plan: Highlight dialogue, description, and narration with different colored

Tracking: No page is marked with all of one color.

Network with writers and agents

1. Create and maintain blog

Plan: Write 3 posts every Saturday and schedule them to publish the following week.

Tracking: Number of posts actually posted per week.

2. Comment on agent blogs

Plan: Read and Comment on (Specific Agent Name) that represents my genre 4 days per week.

Tracking: Number of comments actually posted per week.

Do you see how much more manageable each goal and sub-goal is when there's a plan and a method of tracking your progress? It's no longer a matter of getting published. It's about writing on your blog, removing passive voice, and creating character sheets- all much less daunting than just stating you need to finish a novel and find an agent.

By creating a method of tracking- you keep yourself accountable. Did you meet your goals? No? Why not and by how much?

Write down your specific goals and update them regularly (I recommend bi-weekly or monthly). Doing so will help keep you focused on developing yourself into a NYT Bestselling Author.

How do you write and keep your goals? What tricks have you found that helps you
stay focused?

Next Up: Professionalism

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Power of Motherhood

As you can see from my profile picture- I am a new(ish) mother. Just recently, my daughter has started to say "Mommy" with some regularity (though I still claim it as her first word). Yes, whenever the tears start falling and the world as a 15 month old knows has ended she cries Mommy. It's the most potent when she wants her bedtime bottle. She'll look up, reach out both hands and say it over and over while I rush to get the milk warmed.

It's sad, even pathetic, and yet I love hearing those words from her mouth.

Sure, she says Daddy when she's happy. Or silly. Or bored. But when she needs something - she says Mommy.

And I wouldn't change that for anything.

Becoming a mother has made me apppreciate my own so much more. I do my own version of the "look up, reach out, and cry Mommy" and she still makes me feel better. That's the power of motherhood. I don't think it ever goes away.

What do you find most rewarding about being a mother? Or what do you appreciate most about your own mother?