Writers Unite!

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Passionate writer and avid reader. I am writing my first Young Adult novel and working to get it published.

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012: Review of last year's resolutions

I hope everyone had a great Christmas. I flew home before the holidays to spend some time with my family. Sadly, I didn't write while I was there, but I gained some great memories of my family. Most of my time was spent with my four month-old nephew. I won't be seeing him again for another 6-8 months, so it was nice babysitting him.

As the new year arrives I began to think about last year's resolutions, which can be read here: 2012 New Year's Resolutions

I planned on finishing my novel and I did.

I planned on quarrying agents and I did.

I also said I would write every day. Okay that one didn't happen.

Even though my book still isn't being published and I don't have an agent. I have to consider 2012 a writing success because I finished my book and put myself out there. Even this blog has been alive for a year now.

Did you accomplish your writing resolutions? What do you hope to achieve in 2013?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Happy Birthday Bram Stoker

Just wanted to take the time to say it's Bram Stoker's 165th Birthday today. If you haven't heard of him then surely you've heard of Dracula. So Happy Birthday Bram Stoker, the original writer of vampires!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My status on Nanowrimo

I feel as a writing blog I need to address the fact that November is Novel Write Month. To all of you who are participating this year I wish you good writing and good luck. Last year I wrote 75,000 words in a month, which was a record for me. It was also my first year ever participating in Nano.

This year I have decided not to participate in Nano for personal reasons. I am still writing and you can find my newest travel articles on Hubpages. I also started a new novel a little bit ago, but I'm using November as my personal goal to continuously write it. I don't have the time or energy to try and get 50,000 words this month on top of my other writing, so I'm settling for writing every day. If I do make it to 50,000 words then that's great!

I support everyone who is participating in Nano and would like to give you some links of resources that I have found.

Writer's Digest is offering a free download for everyone every day that has something to do with writing.

Nathan Bransford blogged some old Nano resources that can be used any time. I found his information about characters very helpful.

Veronica Roth, author of "Divergent" reposted one of her Nano advice blogs too.

Again, I wish everyone good luck and if you have any other Nano resources that you feel will help people out please feel free to leave your advice in the comments below.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Celebrating Banned Book Week

It's that time of year again: where authors, publishers, agents, librarians, teachers, students, journalists, and anyone who enjoys the freedom of censorship come together and celebrate. That's right, you guessed it. It's Banned Book Week.

From Sept. 30- Oct. 6, all readers unite to honor the books that have been banned or attempted to be banned from libraries, school's, etc. At least once in your lifetime, you've probably read a banned book. For example, the famous Harry Potter Series. Can you imagine a world without Hogwarts? I know I can't.

As writers and/or readers it's very important that we have the freedom to express ourselves. A lot of Young Adult books are frowned upon by parents because they paint a harsh reality that they don't think their kids can handle. Some explicit material incl., drugs and sex. Please someone find me a teenager who doesn't get asked to use drugs or the chance to have sex because I'm hard pressed to believe that most teens don't experience this. Books don't put these ideas in teenagers' minds, they're already there in their every day lives. Books do, however, give teenagers an escape. A way to let them know they aren't alone.

If you would like to join the celebration, go read a banned book. More information on Banned Book Week can be found here.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I can't help it, I'm a Pantser

I've been trying to outline this novel I'm working on and while I have some great ideas written down, tonight I began to write what I outlined for the beginning. I wrote 1700 words tonight and I think that's a very good start. I can't help myself, even as I outline what I want to happen, I'm constantly running dialogue through my head. I decided not to fight it anymore.

I am a Pantser and I'm okay with that. I am going to continue to outline, but if the mood strikes me to write down what I'm thinking I'm going to do that too. There is no wrong way to write a book as long as you get to where you want to go. Sometime even that will surprise you.

Until next time keep on writing and reading!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Outlining by a "Pantser"

In my last post I talked about attempting outlining before writing a word. Here is my progress so far:

Outlining has actually been very successful. I found a book writing blog, http://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/archetypal-characters.html which gave me eight steps in an outline. The steps this blog gives you to creating an outline gets you to the thick of your story. I had problems outlining my existing story, which means there are more problems than I knew about. But I was successful with another story.

I've had this idea for a story in my head for a while now and I haven't pursued writing it yet. I figured I would try to outline both my stories at the same time and see which one had a better flow to it. My new story now has a beginning and an ending. I still need to figure out the meat of the story, but the idea is clear. The goals are set and the stakes have been decided.

Outlining the new story is easier. I'm not sure why, maybe it's because everything is new and still undecided. Now I have to make the decision which story I want to spend all my time with. Even though my original novel is technically written, I'm thinking about putting it on the back burner while I see where this new story takes me. What would you suggest? Have you tried outlining yet?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pantser or Plotter?

Last year around this time, I began writing my first novel. Everything I wrote came directly from my head as I wrote it. I didn't have anything written down and I had no idea where my novel would take me. Trust me, having ideas constantly running through your mind makes for very little sleep. Whenever I had an idea I would write it down, so I wouldn't forget it. But as far as plot and character development goes, I had nothing. This is called writing -by- the- seat- of- your- pants or the other famous term, a Pantser.

It's pretty safe to say I am a Pantser. In fact, I'm writing this blog post to you right now as the words come to me. But after reading numerous stories of authors who have to outline everything in great minute detail before they write a single word (Plotters), makes me wonder if maybe I should give outlining a fair shot.

The story I wrote last year has been edited over and over again and I haven't ripped the entire thing apart...yet, but I started a major rewrite a couple months ago and I feel stuck. I'm worried I might be hurting a story that could have had a chance. I wonder how you know when you should give up on a story, but that's a post for another day. So back to this novel I wrote. I'm thinking about changing pretty much everything and before I go through and destroy a year of work, it might be a good idea to outline my ideas.

I'll leave today with a word to my fellow Pantsers: We may let the story come alive under our fingertips and a surprise even we weren't expecting may come to us at any time, but try to switch it up. Try plotting everything out before you write a single word and see where that takes you. Plotting isn't for everyone and I honestly can't see myself liking it, but I'm going to try it. I'll let you know how it goes. Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Defy the Dark Contest entry sent!

I told you a couple days ago I was working on a short story for a contest. Well, I turned it in this morning. I am attaching the link to this post if you would like to check it out. I won't know who wins until September 15. It would be really cool to win this, but at least I entered in the first place.

Here's the summary I wrote on the figment website: 
Kylie Shuler is a happy sixteen-year-old girl, but when an accident takes away her sight she must learn to live life in the dark or give in to her anger and let the darkness destroy her.

Waking to Darkness

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Writing at last again!

Hello Bloggers! Long time no write, well at least for me. I am sorry for disappearing on you, but I needed to focus on my life for a little bit. I took a trip home just in time to be with my sister when she had her baby. It's a baby boy, Lathan. I am so happy for my sister and her fiance. He's the cutest baby ever, if I say so myself : )

Anyway onto the writing talk: I haven't written anything in a good three months almost. There was one day where I wrote 200 words or something like that, but I didn't write for many days after that. However, I can finally say I have written over 3,000 words in three days and I finished my short story. I have five days to edit it before I must turn it in. Maybe I will post it on here later. Now I just need to start working on my novel again...Well that's all I have to say for now.

I hope you are having luck writing and finding the inspiration you need.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Writing again

Today I wrote 250 words. I know that doesn't seem like much, but it's more than I've written in two months. I knew I would find my way back; I just needed to take some time.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Writing woes

Have you ever felt numb and just couldn't bring yourself to do something, no matter how much your mind is telling you to do it? That's how writing has been for me lately. Every day I tell myself today is the day I will write again, but I don't. I will read or take a nap instead. I have been working a lot, but that's no excuse for not writing. I could write, I just don't.

Even though I write for myself sometimes I just feel like I need a break to recharge my batteries or something. The ideas haven't stopped flowing, it's me. I've stopped. My roommate told me he believes creative people have on and off switches. The switch can be on for months, but eventually we need a break, so our minds will just switch off. That's exactly how I feel, like my mind has just switched off.

Not writing hasn't been a bad experience. I've been spending time with new friends, making time to exercise, reading some good books, watching some good movies. I'm going home to meet my new niece or nephew in a month. So am I a bad person for not writing? No, my mind just needs a break and in the mean time I'm going to gain memories and probably more writing ideas.

I know I will find my way back to writing. I always do. It just might take some time. So I apologize for not having any new material for Short Story Sunday, but when I do I will post it here. There's a writing competition I'm thinking about entering, so I will need to start writing again sometime soon. Until then please be patient with me and I hope some of you can relate to what I'm going through.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Overworked = no writing

I know I promised a new post for Short Story Sunday today, but I didn't plan on working over forty hours last week and then ten hours today, so I appologize, but there is no new post today.

Friday, June 15, 2012

ROAK Completed

It's been over a week since my last post and for that I apologize. I hate to say it, but writing took a back seat while I took a break to do some reading. Then there was that whole just jump in the car and drive to Vegas thing. That was  a fun and interesting trip. Now I'm back to reality, which means back to work and hopefully back to writing.

I also wanted to say as promised for my ROAK I told Nova Ren Suma I would buy each of her books. I purchased them all yesterday and they should be here in a week. I can't wait to read them!

I'm not sure if I will have a new post for Short Story Sunday this week, but I promise to have something next week.

Thank you all for your patience and understanding.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Short Story Sunday

After work, I rushed home to get changed. Riley said she’d pick me up at 10:30 and the clock on my nightstand said it’s 10:15.Tonight is my first night out as a free woman, so I threw on an outfit that he never let me wear in public; a mini skirt and a blue midriff baring tank top. Then I overloaded my makeup, another thing he wouldn’t approve of. Tonight is my personal screw-you-outing. Too bad he wouldn’t see me.  I should be happy he could no longer tell me what to do, but the girl in the mirror looking back at me wasn’t smiling. Her eyes looked dead.
My hand paused on the doorknob when the hallway floor creaked. Pressing my ear up to the door, I listened as Momma walked down the hall and out the front door; starting her nightly drinking routine right on schedule. I rushed to the window to see who gave her a ride to the bar tonight, a silver Taurus pulled out of the driveway, Rob’s car. Rob was one of Momma’s many drinking buddies.
As I watched the Taurus drive away, a blue Kia pulled up. At that moment, my phone started singing. My heart stopped at the sound; it was his ringtone. No longer able to control my body, my hands flipped open my phone. “Hello,” I whispered. Clearing my throat, I tried again, “hello,” I said louder and more clear.
“Hey I was just calling to see how you’re doing?”
See how I’m doing? Umm hello you broke up with me last night. How do you think I’m doing? To him I said, “I’m great, never been better. In fact I’m going out tonight with some friends.” Calling Abby a friend was way over exaggerating the truth, but he didn’t need to know that. Riley walked up the porch steps.
“That’s good. Where are you going?”
I opened the door before Riley could knock and held up my finger to let her know I’d be right there. “To a party.” And just to be petty I said, “I’m wearing a sexy outfit you’d never let me wear. Because I can do that now since we’re you know, just friends,” sarcasm dripped from my mouth.
He didn’t say anything at first. I thought maybe he hung up. He used to do that when we argued. “If you want to dress like a whore,” he said in a low-pitched voice, “that’s your problem.” Did he just call me a whore? My face grew hot.
“You’re right that is my problem.” Riley honked her horn telling me to hurry up. “Well I’d love to stay in chat, but I have people to see, alcohol to drink, and boys to makeout with. Goodbye friend.” I hung up before he could say anything back to me. My phone immediately began ringing again. I hit ignore and turned it off.
“Wow chica you look hot!” Riley said when I climbed into her car.
“Thanks.” My heart still beat rapidly from his phone call. How dare he call me a whore? He’s the one who broke up with me. I know it was for someone else, even if he denies it. At first I wanted to go to the party to forget him, now I wanted to drink to prove that I can do what I want. He’s no longer the boss of me, the stupid pig.
“So you want to tell me what’s going on?”
“What do you mean?”
“Come on Lexi, you don’t drink.”
“How do you know,” I raised my eyebrows.
Riley sighed. “Because I’ve worked with you for three years and I’ve never known you to drink or go to any parties for that matter.”
“Yeah. Well, things change. So where’s this party anyway?” I asked, trying to change the subject. Riley just stared at me with her big brown eyes. “Ugh, fine we broke up, okay. I just want to have some fun and forget about him for a while.”
“I’m sorry. Do you want to talk about it?”
“Not really.” I looked out the window, watching the streetlights pass, my way of saying I’m done talking.
“The party’s  at Ryan’s brother’s house near OSU campus. And let me tell you, he has some H-O-T roommates. A few seconds with them and you’ll forget all about what’s his name.”
“Sounds perfect.”

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Short story Sunday

Here’s a couple hundred more words. I planned on writing a little more for this week since I skipped last week, but I got caught up in editing my novel. I also decided instead of posting the same part every week and then adding the newer part at the end, I am just going to post the newer part. When the story is completed, I will post the entire thing together in one post.

Well, here you go:

Work was going to suck tonight. I’d call off, but one of us had to be responsible in this household and I knew Momma couldn’t be counted on for that. On top of everything else, I refuse to be homeless. Pulling myself out of bed took all my energy, but I did it.
The guy at table 254 looks like him. I did a double take to make sure it was all in my head. Walking by again I noticed his nose was too long and his face too short. This guy also looked a little older. The guy looked up and smiled at me, probably saw me staring and thought I liked him or something. Too bad I’m dead inside, poor guy didn’t stand a chance. After picking up some empty plates off another table, I hurried back into the kitchen to hide.
Sarah, Abby, Laurie, and Riley all huddled together, talking quietly in the vestibule. “Hey girls what are we talking about?”
“Ohh nothing, just a party we’re all going to after work,” Laurie said in a tone, which implied I wouldn’t be interested.
“Really? Cool, can I come?” Four sets of wide eyes stared back at me, as if I spoke a different language.
“I don’t really think it’s your type of party,” Abby said.
“Why’s that?”
“There’s going to be drinking and other things you’re probably too innocent to comprehend.” The other girls nodded their heads in agreement, except Riley. She looked like she wanted to smack Abby as much as I did.  
I smiled sweetly at her and said, “what’s the matter Abby? Afraid I can drink you under the table?” Riley laughed as Abby glared at me.
“Let’s find out,” Abby smirked. “We’ll see you tonight, if it’s not past your bedtime.”
“Great, I’ll see you there,” I said cheerfully. Challenging Abby was stupid. She’s like the head cheerleader at work and if she doesn’t like you then your life can be a living Hell. All of the younger girls flock to her side whenever she’s working. Good thing I’m numb on the inside and don’t care what Abby thinks, I just need to get out of my head and going to a party seems like the perfect distraction. At least I wouldn’t be stealing from Momma tonight.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Editing, my old friend

I edited over 20 pages today, which is the most I've edited in a while. I forced myself to sit down in front of my computer all day today. I feel like progress is finally being made. I still have over a hundred pages left to re-edit, but a little bit everyday will eventually get me there.

Once I finish this edit, I will have to reread it since I've made so many changes I am going to have to make sure everything is grammatically correct and makes sense. I'm trying to make this series into a stand alone book, just in case no one is interested in the series, but there's so much in these books that I'm having a difficult time doing that.

Then when everything is fixed I will work on my query letter again. It's nice knowing I can send my letter to Chuck Sambuchino for an edit before sending it to an agent.

What are your writing plans?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I'm back!

It’s been a great week with my mom, but now it’s time to join reality again. I haven’t written in a week because I wanted to give her my undivided attention. It was hard to give up a whole week of writing, but I’m happy to say things are back to normal. I will have a new part of the short story for you to read on Sunday.

For all of you who participated in the ROAK Blitz! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Congratulations to Becca and Angela on their Emotion Thesaurus. I am enjoying reading it. I will post a review later, so all you writers will know what I am talking about.

Now I really need to get back to writing and editing.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ!

A smile. An encouraging word. A thoughtful gesture. Each day people interact with us, help, and make our day a bit brighter and full. This is especially true in the Writing Community

Take a second to think about writers you know, like the critique partner who works with you to improve your manuscript. The writing friend who listens, supports and keeps you strong when times are tough. The author who generously offers council, advice and inspiration when asked.

So many people take the time to make us feel special, don't they? They comment on our blogs, re-tweet our posts, chat with us on forums and wish us Happy Birthday on Facebook.

Kindness ROCKS!

To commemorate the release of their book The Emotion Thesaurus, Becca and Angela at The Bookshelf Muse are hosting a TITANIC Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ. And because I think KINDNESS is contagious, I'm participating too!

I am randomly picking Nova Ren Suma, author of Imaginary Girls. From giving me great new debuts to read to letting me know that I am not alone with her Writer's Turning Points series, her blog is always a pleasure to read. Nova, for my RAOK gift, the only thing I feel like I can offer you in return is to purchase a copy of each of your books as a way to say thank you for writing such a great blog! 

I really appreciate Nova, who blogs  at 99distractions (http://distraction99.com/). If you have a minute, please stop in and tell her how awesome she is!

Do you know someone special that you'd like to randomly acknowledge? Don't be shy--come join us and celebrate! Send them an email, give them a shout out, or show your appreciation in another way. Kindness makes the world go round. :)

Becca and Angela have a special RAOK gift waiting for you as well, so hop on over to The Bookshelf Muse to pick it up.

Have you ever participated in or been the recipient of a Random Act Of Kindness?  Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Short Story Sunday

I’ve always wondered what makes a person go mad. Now I know the answer and I wish to God I didn’t. After watching my momma drink her life away every night after my daddy left us, I told myself that could never happen to me. If I only knew one day I would eat those words. So what makes a person go insane; love does or rather the loss of love. At only eighteen years old, the loss of my first love turned me into a mad woman.
“We’re done.” That voice once so loving and full of warmth now sounded cruel and cold. No explanation just those heart-wrenching words.
My response stuck as thick sobs clogged my throat. My mind tried to comprehend what his words meant. We’re done. As in we’re over? It was only supposed to be a break. He said by Monday everything would be back to normal. We would be back to normal.
“Is there someone else?”
“No. But if there were I wouldn’t tell you.” Again that cruel, cold voice answered me. What am I supposed to think? Of course there’s another girl. That must be the reason the perfect couple that was us is now pieces in the form of my heart scattered on the floor.
“We can still be friends.” Friends? We were passion. We were soul mates. We were a freaking love story that would go down in the history books and now we were—friends?  
“Okay. Sure. We’re friends.”
Two hours later I’m chugging my first bottle of Malibu, desperately trying to forget him for just a few hours.  I knew better than to drown my sorrows in alcohol, but at that moment I didn’t care. I stole the bottle from mom’s secret stash in her closet. Using an empty shoebox to hide your liquor isn’t very creative.  I felt like I needed to teach her that lesson. As I continued to drink my vision blurred and the room spun around me, but his face still haunted me. How do you just forget about someone who’s been a part of your life for the past three years? You don’t.  That would be like losing an arm and pretending you didn’t feel the missing appendage. It was a part of you. You don’t get over losing a part of yourself in a day. It takes time and therapy; in my case self-medicating with the rum bottle until I passed out.
I woke the next morning with someone grabbing onto my shirt collar and violently shaking me.
“Lexi wake up!” I opened my eyes to see my mother’s face in mine. When she noticed my eyes opened, she stepped back and picked something up off the floor. “Did you drink some of my liquor last night?” She held the empty Malibu bottle in her hand.
My head pounded and the sun silhouetting her in light hurt my eyes. “If you didn’t want me to drink any of your alcohol then maybe you should hide it better.”
“Don’t get smart with me. I outta whip your butt for stealing from me.”
“Lay a hand on me and see how long I stick around to take care of you,” I threatened. Momma was hopeless without me and she knew it.
“Get up and go replace the bottle you stole from me.”
I chuckled as I covered my eyes with my hand. “I’m underage. No one is going to sell alcohol to me.”
“You should have thought of that when you decided to steal from me.”
Sitting up I took in momma’s appearance. Her dark hair hung in strands around her face. Her blue eye shadow smudged around her puffy eyes. Her black slip dress had some kind of white stain on the hemline. No wonder she just now came into my room, she was out all night at the bar.
“Tell you what momma, when you stop spending our bill money at the bar then I will replace your alcohol.” Momma stared at me in surprise for a moment then she waved her hands at me as if I wasn’t worth the argument as she walked away. I listened to her footsteps until I heard her bedroom door close. After drinking a couple more beers, she would sleep the rest of the day.
It took me a moment to remember why my insides felt like they were scooped out with a spoon.  For the first time I could sympathize with how momma felt when daddy left. I’m surprised she didn’t laugh in my face and joke about me no longer being perfect. For all the lectures I ever gave her about drinking; I turned into a hypocrite overnight, but I didn’t care. Hollow, empty, and numb; that’s all I felt.

Friday, May 11, 2012

It's not so black and white

Sorry I haven't written a post in a few days. I told you before a lot of good books came out in May, so I might disappear. I went into my reading cave while I read City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare. As always, I loved it!

Cassandra does a great job reaching into the darkest parts of our psyche. I love books that make you question what is good and what is bad because I don't believe everything is black or white. There are many shades of gray, which I hope to show in my own writing. I want to show that even the "good" characters have the capacity to be "bad." I also want to show how far some people are willing to go to protect the ones they love. I've been rewriting my novel and these are some of the points that I hope show through.

In other news:

I have a special post scheduled for Monday. You will not want to miss it! I can't say anything else about it, but you should definitely stop by to check it out.

My mom arrives tomorrow and she will be here for a week, so I will probably be absent for the next week. I want to spend as much time with her as possible since I don't know when I will see her again. I wish all you mothers a Happy Mother's Day!  

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Short Story Sunday

It’s short story Sunday again. The Last week’s paragraph is reprinted first then the new stuff is in italics. Every week I will continue to add to it. Enjoy!

I’ve always wondered what makes a person go mad. Now I know the answer and I wish to God I didn’t. After watching my momma drink her life away every night after my daddy left us, I told myself that could never happen to me. If I only knew one day I would eat those words. So what makes a person go insane; love does or rather the loss of love. At only eighteen years old, the loss of my first love turned me into a mad woman.

“We’re done.” That voice once so loving and full of warmth now sounded cruel and cold. No explanation just those heart-wrenching words.

My response stuck as thick sobs clogged my throat. My mind tried to comprehend what his words meant. We’re done. As in we’re over? It was only supposed to be a break. He said by Monday everything would be back to normal. We would be back to normal.

“Is there someone else?”

“No. But if there were I wouldn’t tell you.” Again that cruel, cold voice answered me. What am I supposed to think? Of course there’s another girl. That must be the reason the perfect couple that was us is now pieces in the form of my heart scattered on the floor.

“We can still be friends.” Friends? We were passion. We were soul mates. We were a freaking love story that would go down in the history books and now we were—friends?  

“Okay. Sure. We’re friends.”

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Creativity flows

When I wrote the first draft of my novel, somewhere along the way the ideas started flowing and the story practically wrote itself. During my past edits I didn’t have that happen. I drudged through it. Last night that changed.

The ideas started flowing once again and the novel is once again driving me in a direction I didn’t see before. I love that feeling. I missed that feeling. It’s different this time because everything has to connect to the rest of the story, so it requires more time and more thought. Like fitting pieces of a puzzle together. Cross my fingers everything will fit perfectly once I finish this major rewrite.

Have you had any great ideas come to you recently?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Short Story Sunday

I want to try something a little different for today’s post. As a way to share my writing with you, my awesome followers, I am going to start posting my short stories here. But I am not going to post the whole story at once, because to be honest I won’t have the whole story written yet. This will force me to work on something besides my novel I’ve been reediting. It will also keep me from going insane from working on my novel.

How it works

Here’s how Short Story Sunday is going to work. Every Sunday I will post a little more of my short story. Today I am going to make it easy and start with the opening paragraph I’ve written. Hopefully it will entice you to want to read more. Because I want to be a Young Adult/Children’s writer each story will deal with this genre.

I encourage you to share your ideas with me. I might make some of these suggestions for the next part of the story. Without further ado, this week’s story:

I’ve always wondered what makes a person go mad. Now I know the answer and I wish to God I didn’t. After watching my momma drink her life away every night after my daddy left us, I told myself that could never happen to me. If I only knew one day I would eat those words. So what makes a person go insane; love does or rather the loss of love. At only eighteen years old, the loss of my first love turned me into a mad woman.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Exciting news!

Chuck Sambuchino, one of Writer’s Digest’s editors held a contest in celebration of his new book coming out, Red Dog/ Blue Dog. All you had to do is comment on his post. He would pick three commenters at random to win one of his books and a free query critique. Also, if you tweeted about his contest, you can send him the first 10 pages of your manuscript and he will edit it. I jumped at the chance for a query critique because as you know I have been struggling with mine.

Yesterday I opened my email and saw a message from Chuck letting me know that I’m one of the lucky winners! I couldn’t believe it! The best part is there is no time limit on the query critique. I can send it to him a month or a year from now.

I also decided I want to attempt writing short stories. It will be a challenge. This may sound strange, but I’ve never actually written one before. I played with my own writing prompt the other day and realized I didn’t have to write a novel every time to express myself. I can then post my stories on my blog or somewhere online for free to see how the public views my writing. I will still write in the Young adult genre, maybe dabble in MG because that’s the type of professional writer I want to be. Literary magazines publish short stories all the time. It would be a great way to get my name out there.

Have you written any short stories? If so, do you find them more or less challenging than writing a novel?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Writing prompt: Write with your emotions

Writing is joy and sorrow, happiness and misery, excitement and depression all rolled into one nice little package. These are the feelings that constantly run through me when I write. As you can see it’s an up-hill, down-hill loopy roller coaster.

My emotions are never in one place when I write. But I love that aspect about writing too. I am free to express my feelings and thoughts in whatever way I want. Sometimes my character gets attacked when I’m feeling scared about something. Other times she will fall in love when I’m happy about something. It’s kind of like interpreting your dreams. You have a dream about flying or falling, but it’s really your subconscious trying to tell you something. This is only valid if you believe your dreams have meanings.

For a writing prompt you should think about what you are feeling right now. Then write a situation that could make your character feel the way you are feeling. Or you can make a list for reasons your character would feel this way. When you’re writing later you can look at that list and decide which one fits with your story.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Writing, waiting, and reading

I haven’t written in a few days because I haven’t had anything to say. I’m still editing, which is slowly coming. But at least I am making progress. I have deleted a total of 3,000 words or more. I’m also making progress on my hooks. I have a couple I like. My querying is still on hold until I finish this edit.

In other news:

Cassandra’s Clare’s City of Lost Souls book trailer is out! I can’t wait for the book. May 8, I will be locked in my room with this book in my hands. Actually, May is going to be a busy reading month for me. With Insurgent, Destined, Endure, and Last Rite, all coming out. I may just go on a hiatus the month of May.

Are there any books you’re excited to read next month?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Revising and hooking

I’ve been going through a major revision, which is coming along very slowly. I’m only on page 30 of 300, but hopefully this one will be better. Less passive voice. People are right when they say changing passive voice to active voice tightens your writing. I already erased close to a 1,000 words.

At Barnes and Noble today I walked around reading the backs of a bunch of books to see what catches my eye. I wrote down ones that I liked. Later I will analyze what I found so intriguing about them. Then I will try to create my own hook. This query letter writing process is frustrating, but I hold onto the hope that I will eventually create one good enough to catch a literary agent’s eye.

What are your ideas for a hook?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Praise of modern technology for writers

I am a fan of real books, but I also love my nook. I put my novel on my nook the other day because I just got one of the Simple touch ones, which allows you to add your own PDFs. It was like reading my story with fresh eyes. While reading through my story on my nook, I came to the decision to hold back the reigns a little bit on querying agents.

I am still going to work on my query letter, but I’m not going to send any of them until the manuscript has been changed. I found myself using a lot of passive voice, which is a no no in the publishing world. Also, I thought of a few ways to make my story stronger.

In other news:
I have almost 100 followers on Twitter. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but to me it feels like a milestone. If you would like to help me get to my 100th follower you can click on the Follow me button or go to your own twitter page and add @BrandiDaniels

Thank you for all of the support!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Websites with the best query letter advice

I am doing what I said I would not do anymore: stressing over query letters. For the past two days I find myself reading article after article on query letters, which only makes my head spin. I understand the format of a query letter, it’s my summary I’m having problems with. All the advice says keep it short, but all the examples I’ve seen pretty much contradict that advice. They all say the point of the query letter is to entice the reader. I have linked to some of the websites I felt offered the best advice below:

Agentquery has some good advice. It says there are three parts to any query letter:
  1. The hook
  2. The mini-synopsis
  3. Your credentials as a writer
Nathan Bransford’s Query mad lib is also helpful for writing a basic query letter. This is from back in 2008, but I still feel the information is relevant.

There are also websites where you can read other people’s query letters and how they were critiqued.
Query shark by Janet Reid
Slush pile tales by Lauren Ruth
Pubrants by Kristen Nelson

These are some of the most popular websites, so I’m sure most of you have already heard of these. If not you need to check them out immediately. They give you an inside look on how real literary agents view query letters. I have been trying to dissect these suckers and crossing my fingers that this query letter will be better.

There are tons of other sites that offer helpful information. Which ones do you live by?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Don't lose yourself as a writer

I am back in my groove of writing and listening to music. I must say it’s about time. Yesterday I wrote the beginning and ending for the second book in the series. I am starting to feel like myself again. For a moment there I was so caught up in writing the perfect query letter that I lost sight of my actual writing.

I am still working on my querying, but I am no longer letting it get in the way of my writing. I write because I love to write and while I would love to see my work published, if it doesn’t happen I am not going to stop writing. I wrote for me before I started this publishing road and I will continue to write for me whether I fail or succeed. Writing keeps me sane; besides reading it is the only way I can check out into another world. At least when I write I control the outcome and the lives of my characters. I can’t do that when I read.

So to all my fellow writers. I wish you the best with all your writing, whether you want to see it published or it’s a way to keep you sane like me. I hope you always keep writing and never lose sight of yourself as a writer. If you do then I hope you find your way back like I did. I’m sure I will lose myself many more times as the self doubt and fear kick in again, but as long as I fight I know I will always find my way back.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How writing has become my therapy

I figured out my problem and why I have only wanted to read recently. I have been shying away from writing my sequel. Every time I tried I would write a few words and then stop to go read something that’s already been published by someone else. I couldn’t figure out what my problem was, but last night as I was lying in bed I came to a conclusion. Fear and stupidity are holding me back.

As you know I am working on getting my first novel published. But I don’t know who or when my book will be picked up, so I have been struggling with writing the sequel not knowing if this book will ever be published. I don’t know what will change in the first book that will affect the second one. So I have been procrastinating writing it. However, I realized last night that was stupid. I started writing the first book as proof that I could. Yes, I would love to see it published and I will work hard to make that happen, but that’s not the main reason I wrote the story.

I also realized this book is in a way a healing process for me. It’s a way for me to come to terms with some of my deep emotions that I haven’t known how to deal with, so every emotional situation in that book reflects one of mine. I’m not saying the situations reflect what happened to me, but if I want you feel fear or pain or even love, it is because that is what I felt at one time in my life. Since this book is a healing process I came to the conclusion that I have to finish this trilogy. I have to finish resolving my emotional issues. Putting them down on paper and letting my character go through these issues gives me a chance to think about some things that I have tried to suppress or forget. Writing has become my therapy.

It is also hard for me to mention this because if my book gets published you will know that I am laying myself bare. It’s very scary to put yourself out there on the chance that people will reject you. At this point part of me also doesn’t care. I feel like writing this trilogy is good for my soul and therefore I will persevere whether my book ever sees the light of day.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Reading instead of writing

I’m back in that reading mood. All I want to do is read. I read Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.

For those who don’t know it’s a dystopian novel about a girl, Aria who grows up in a world that is cut off from the outside, known as pods. Everything she wants or needs is provided by the eye piece that lets her live in an alternate reality. But when something goes wrong she is exiled and left for dead in the outside world. All Aria wants to do is find her mother who was working on another pod.

Enter Perry, an outsider whose nephew was kidnapped by Aria’s people. He thinks he can use Aria to get his nephew back. They soon find out that they will need each other, so they make a pact to help each other. Does Aria find her mother? Does Perry get his nephew back? You will have to read the book to find out.

This book was an interesting read. I love reading books from different times and places. It’s so exciting to see the worlds other people create. Whenever I read a book, I wonder what was their journey to publishing like? How many rejections did they get before someone took a chance on them? How many times along this bumpy road did they think about giving up or start to doubt everything? Now I am just rambling. I can only relate to my own feelings and thoughts, so it would be nice to know that I am not alone. That struggling is a rite of passage. How do you feel?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hunger Games mania

I was finally well enough to get out of my cave to go see the Hunger Games. For those of you who have been following my blog you know how I have been looking forward to seeing this movie for months. While there were some important ideas left out of the movie, I must say as far as movie-book adaptations go this one was pretty good.

I have heard a lot of rumors about people being upset that Cinna and Rue were black. I have one thing to say on this subject GET OVER YOURSELVES! Who cares that the characters are not exactly how you pictured them to be. I think Lenny Kravitz and Amandla Stenberg did an excellent job. Color should not matter. Race shouldn’t matter. All that should matter is if the actors do a great job portraying the characters, which they did. Cinna is my favorite character in the book and I love him in the movie too! That’s all I care about.

Okay now on to the other characters and the movie overall. Katniss Everdeen is a teenage girl who is forced to live in a world where she must be the strong caretaker for her family. When her sister Prim is chosen to fight in the hunger games, she volunteers to take her place. The book is in first person POV, which I feel is very hard for movies to show how the characters are feeling and thinking. You are left to guess through their expressions and actions. A lot of things are explained through dialogue by other characters. I feel Jennifer Lawrence had huge shoes to fill to portray Katniss and I think she did a great job.

I liked how the movie showed the people dying, but wasn’t too bloody. It was tastefully done in my opinion because let’s face it a movie about kids fighting to the death could have been very gory. This movie might just join my favorite book/movie adaptation list along with Harry Potter.
What did you think of the movie?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Nothing's final until it's published

I wrote a spunkier query letter than I have before. I am still a little on the fence about sending it out, but then I figure what do I have to lose by sending it? Worst case scenario I get a rejection letter and the best, someone wants to read my manuscript. I need to find a good agency to send it to.

Meanwhile I ended up changing my beginning again. I say this every time I change it, but I feel like this one is better. It’s simple, which I kind of like. It’s not cliche and it just feels better. I’m sure a month from now when I change it again I will say the exact same thing. But that’s part of writing, nothing is final until it’s published.

It’s really bad because I have another story brewing in my head and I desperately want to start on it, but I’m not going to abandon my other characters just yet. However, I am going to write these ideas down that come to me, so when I am ready to move on I will have all of my ideas in one place.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Living with the insecurities

I have been sick and it’s really wearing me down. It seems whenever something is going around at work I am always the one to catch it. The worst part is the insecurities are able to grab a hold of me and I am too tired to fight them off. So for the past few days I have been trying to keep my hope up that someone will want to read my manuscript, but it’s hard to stay positive with my stupid insecurities slinking in and latching onto me like the leaches they are.

I do have a little hope and I am no where near the point of giving up. Once I am healthy again I will be able to fight back these evil thoughts with a stick, but for now they can hold on while the strength is drained from my body. Hopefully by my next post I can tell you they are gone, but I am too tired to think about that right now.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Connecting with nature

I finally went hiking in the mountains today. I have lived here for seven months now, so it’s about time I actually see this beautiful countryside. During my 5.7 mile hike I not only enjoyed the scenery, which was breathtaking, I took the time to work on my descriptions.

I observed anything that could be used in my writing, from the sound of my feet crunching on the rocks to the feel of the wind blowing on my face. I took pictures, so I can look back and remember the things I felt and thought during my hike. It was great because I payed attention to little things that I normally would not have thought of. Now all I can think about is how sore my feet are, but even that can be used for my writing.

Every experience is a potential element that can be used in my writing. Just being outside and immersing myself in nature gave me a better perspective on my characters. I think besides music, nature is my biggest inspiration in my writing. If you haven’t tried it, I recommend you take a walk and pay attention to everything around you. Then come back and write it all down; everything you felt, saw, smelled, etc. Trust me: you will be a better writer for taking the time to try this exercise. If nothing else it will open your eyes to the world around you and make you a more observant person.

Monday, March 19, 2012

What's all this white space?

I missed a blog day yesterday, so I am going to make up for it now. Have you ever stared at a blank page, completely oblivious as to what you should write about? I am doing that now with this post. I keep writing whatever comes into my head hoping to break this current spat of writer’s block, but I don’t think it’s working.

So once I write what’s on my mind I just continue to stare because nothing is coming. Even as the words are formed on my computer screen I couldn’t tell you what the next sentence is going to hold. It’s kind of like my writing. When I have writer’s block I will just start writing whatever comes to me. Then I will usually go back and end up erasing everything I’ve written, but it makes my brain relax when there are finally words on this big blank screen. Too much white space seems to stress me out. I don’t know why. Maybe because the white space represents all the possibilities that could happen within this story, chapter, page, etc. Every white page becomes a challenge that must be overcome. I accept the challenge. I will win. This is why I can’t outline, some of my best ideas come to me while I am typing out my thoughts.

Sorry for the randomness of this post, but look at that: white space has been filled and this post is completed. Now back to writing my novel.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Quote of the day

Supposing you have tried and failed again and again. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call “Failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.

~ Mary Pickford

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My turning point: Finding the writer in me

I follow Nova Ren Suma’s blog. She has a turning points series that makes me realize I am not alone. A lot of people have struggled to become the writers they are today. You can check them out at distraction no.99. Her turning points have been put on a hiatus while she is at a writer’s colony for a month, so I thought it would be a good time to write about my own turning point.

Just a dream

Writing to me is everything. When I was fifteen I began writing my first novel. I never finished it. Instead every year I would pull it out and add to it. Mostly I would end up rewriting the whole thing. I always wanted to be a writer, but I always thought writing my own books was just something I would dream about.

I pursued a degree in journalism. While I was in school I wrote for my college newspaper. I even worked my way into becoming the Assistant News Editor my final year. I could write news stories or opinion pieces no problem, but I secretly always wrote for myself. It was how I coped with my emotions. I would write poems, but I wouldn’t show them to any one. My creative writing was something I did just for me. I never planned to actually pursue a creative writing career. I thought I would become a journalist because that’s what I went to school for. I realized I didn’t want to write for a newspaper as a career. It didn’t make me happy.

Finding myself

Once I graduated, I was lost. I even went to culinary school thinking I wanted to became a food writer. It became more stressful emotionally and financially, so I quit. I no longer wanted to write about food. I felt like I was one step closer to figuring out what I wanted to do. I couldn’t get a job because I had no experience and I had no experience because I couldn’t get a job. One of my friends from college told me about a freelance writing opportunity for a local newspaper. I applied and a few weeks later I was called into an interview. I was excited when they offered me the job, but it didn’t take me long to realize I had thrown myself back into a career I didn’t really want for myself. On top of that I couldn’t afford to pay my bills with this job alone. I got to the point where I was working four jobs. I was depressed. I couldn’t picture a future for myself, and I was physically, emotionally, and financially drained. This wasn’t the life I wanted for myself.


I realized if I was going to ever be happy I had to decide to make the changes in my life. I quit my jobs and moved to Arizona to try to make a fresh start. I vigorously applied for all kinds of jobs. A month later I was offered a copy-writing position. It seemed like the perfect job. I worked 9-5 M-F and I had the weekends off. I told myself I was happy. This was what I wanted. It wasn’t.

I stared at a computer for eight hours a day, writing about boring topics. The money was good, which was nice since I have a lot of student loan payments. I felt like I was always struggling. Nothing I did was ever good enough. I was afraid I was going to lose this amazing job. Everyday I went home afraid that was going to be my last day. When I received my first review I wanted to cry. I knew I wasn’t going to last long at this company. This was my first real job and I was failing. I had never failed at anything. I even graduated a cum laude so this experience was new to me. The day they finally let me go, I thanked them for the opportunity and I walked out the door. I couldn’t even cry. I came home and I stared at the ceiling in my room trying to will the tears to come. I felt like a failure. I decided writing wasn’t for me. I thought I would never write again.

A light at the end of the tunnel

Losing this job was an eye-opener for me. While I am still ashamed that I failed at my first real job, I realize it was the best thing that could have happened for me. I knew I wasn’t happy there. Before I was fired I started dreading going into work every morning. I couldn’t see myself doing that job every day for the rest of my life.

During my month of unemployment I had time to reflect on everything. It just happened to be November and the beginning of NovWriMo. I pulled out my old novel. Tore it apart and began writing for myself again. This time I added my feelings into the situations. This time I finished the novel. I found my love for writing again.

That’s when I knew without a doubt it was time to try for my dream. I wanted to write my own book and this was the perfect time to try. I was young, single, and had nothing to hold me back. I am not a published author yet, but I hope to change that. I write and work everyday to reach my dreams. My struggles are far from over and there are still days I wake up afraid of the future, but there is no giving up this time. I have found who I am. I am a writer and I always will be.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Quote of the day

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

~ Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Just keep on going

I have worked the past six days, so I am really tired. This post will probably be a short one. I continue to query agents. I reworked my query letter, so I hope I will get some bites. I also changed the beginning of my manuscript—again! I know, I know. I said I wasn’t going to, that I was done changing things, but I couldn’t help myself.

This beginning feels more natural and flows better in my opinion. The next two days I will probably really start writing the next part of the series. Whether it gets published or not, I will finish this series. If I don’t, I think the characters in my head will never shut up.

Monday, March 12, 2012

"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan press on has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race"

~ Calvin Coolidge

Sunday, March 11, 2012

What's your writing style?

I began writing my second novel. My mind wouldn’t stop bugging me, so I turned on my computer at 3am and just started typing.

I have wrestled over the amount of time that should lapse between the first novel and the second. I also couldn’t decide who’s POV I should start with. But like the first story I just started typing and let the story that wanted to come out write itself. I thought about writing an outline for this one also because it will have a lot more elements involved, but I think I am just one of those people who can’t plan ahead. I take one day at a time and I write my novels freestyle. It’s just who I am.

What type of writer are you?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Effort Quote

You must not for one instant give up the effort to build new lives for yourselves. Creativity means to push open the heavy, groaning doorway to life.
~Daisaku Ikeda

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The waiting game begins

I have officially begun submitting my query letter, so the waiting game begins. I want to remain optimistic, but I’m also a realist so I’m anticipating a good amount of rejections. I feel like I have just signed up to ride an emotional roller coaster. I will let you know if I crash going down the hill.

How many of you have submitted your query letters? Any responses yet? I hate that it can take months before someone contacts me back, if they contact me back. I will just have to learn to be patient. In the meantime I will start writing the second part of my book. That should kill some time and keep me preoccupied.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Information overload and my blog schedule

Sorry for all of the blog posts in one day. I have been keeping a blog on Tumblr, but for the past month it's been acting up on me. I can't access my pages without the website freezing. This is why I have decided to paste all my previous blog posts here. I wanted to keep them all in one place.

I know this is a lot of posts at once. But the new ones will come every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. On the other days, I will begin posting motivational quotes.

Put down the manuscript and step away, slowly

I think I like my query letter. It’s short, it’s professional, and it’s to the point. I still need to work on my two-page synopsis, but it’s coming along. All the main points are in it, now I just need to Jazz it up to make it sound appealing.

I am no longer going to stress over my query letter or my synopsis. When I think it sounds great. I will set it aside and reread it. Then I will check for spelling/grammar errors. Afterwards, I’m sending it off. I will never know if it’s truly good enough, if I don’t try. Besides, if I don’t I will keep rewriting my manuscript. I need to put it away and say it’s done. So it’s done! I rewrote the beginning and the ending—no more, I’m done! Once I send out my queries and am forced into the waiting game, I will begin writing the second part.

Stressing over a query letter? Don't

So from the past couple days of researching query letters and writing synopsis, I have come to the conclusion your writing is the only thing that matters. Yes you need to be professional and yes you need to address it to the correct people. But as far as finding a way to write the perfect query letter, that is up to you.

Follow the agent’s guidelines, so your query will be read. Then think about your book for a couple minutes. If you need to write an outline to help you, you may. Just remember the query letter is only supposed to be a page long. Agents are busy and they do not want to read a bunch of words.
Then write. Without thinking write the plot of your book. See what words come out. Try to keep it 1-2 paragraphs. If you have problems, you may want to go over your manuscript again because you could have a problem with the plot.

Finally, relax. I have been stressing over writing this query letter and the only thing I can do is make it the best that I can. Afterwards, it will be up to the agents if they’re interested in my book. What are your tips for writing a query letter?

Research, research, and more research

My research into the query letter is coming along. I have the first set of agents that I would like to send my letter to as soon as I polish it. I will post what I have come up with so far. The synopsis is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write. I read the back of my books to get some ideas, which was probably the most helpful thing I could have done. I was able to see how a 300-page book is shrunk down to just a few words. Here is what I came up with for my book:

Paige Williams thinks she is an average fifteen-year-old with an overprotective grandmother. She’s about to find out she’s a fheary—a cross between a human and a faery.

When a mysterious boy, Jay enters Paige’s life she begins to see and feel things that make her question her sanity. Jay’s interest in Paige might be more than an innocent crush. He has been sent by the Fhearie Queen, Diana to retrieve Paige who unknowingly holds the fate of the fhearies in her hands. As Paige is thrown deeper into this magical world, her family’s secrets began to unravel, revealing a dangerous plot that could end up costing Paige her life.

I’m not sure if I am going to send out this synopsis, but I feel like I have a start. I never thought writing a one-page letter would be so hard. I must have written twenty of these, before coming up with one I liked. And I’m still not sure. At least it is only the beginning of the month, so I have time to figure things out.

Making a list, checking it twice

I read my book for a third time. It only took me three days to edit this time. I only made small changes, which had to do with grammar. I am ready to begin my search for agents.

I went through all my books that I loved the other day, so I could figure out who represents some of my favorite authors. I have a nice start. There are still other agents I want to look into, but for the first batch of query letters I think I have my list. Now I am going to all of these agents’ websites to find out their submission guidelines.

I am also looking at examples of query letters and trying to write my “hook” which is a lot harder than you would think. I probably won’t send my letters out for another month. I am giving myself a month to perfect the query letter. If I need more time I will adjust my timeline, but as of now I am still on track for my writing goals for the year and I would like to stay on track. How are your writing goals coming along?

3 reasons to despise the query letter

I have officially started my research into the query letter. There are some things that have come to bug me about the whole query letter process.

You spend all your time making your novel as perfect as you can and then someone might not even read it if your formatting is off on your query letter.

Your book could be amazing, intriguing, unique, or the best thing ever written and it won’t matter if you can’t make it sound great in a query letter.

You have to describe your book in 3-5 lines. I spent two months writing it and another two months making it pretty, so 3-5 lines—okay, sure, no problem…

You have to write it and rewrite it, read it, revise it, then write it again to make it perfect because you only get one shot to impress an agent.

I wish my book could speak for itself or I knew someone who had an “in” with an agent. It would make my life so much easier, but I suppose nothing ever gets accomplished without a lot of work, so off I go to research more on the query letter.

Playing catch up with my editing

I have finished my first full edit. I am already on my second revision with the help of my aunt. I rewrote the ending, which I think makes much more sense now. At least I know my sister is happy with it.

I will be starting my research soon into query letters and literary agents. I should have more material to blog about soon. I will be sharing some articles and tips that I come across. Also if you have any advice on the dreaded query letter and would like to share with me that would be great. I am a newbie and learning all of this as I go along. Thank you!

My love affair with the comma

While going through my story for a third time, I have notice my tendency to place a , instead of actually ending a sentence. I think I deleted hundreds of commas from my book already.

I couldn’t tell you why I am in love with the comma. It’s much more dramatic to use a period over a comma, but I can’t seem to stop using it. I think I need to go to comma rehab. Do you have a love affair with a punctuation mark? If so, which one?

I must break this habit immediately if I want to become a better writer, but even as I write this sentence I cannot give up the comma. Oh, whatever shall I do?

Below I have listed some rules for the comma just to clarify to anyone who may question if the comma is truly needed. I have found nine times out of ten that I had to get rid of it.

Rule 1. Use a comma to separate three or more things like bed, shoes, and dog.

Rule 2. Use a comma to connect two independent clauses, but don’t make the sentence too long, so it doesn’t confuse the readers.

Rule 3. Use a comma when you want to include an add-on, which would make the sentence better.

Rule 4. I think this one is used the most during writing. Before a quote, “I would add the comma.” Or “I could add the comma at the end of the quote,” this amazing person said.

Rule 5. Use a comma, to avoid confusion.

Okay I am only posting five rules. There are many rules to the comma. It would probably take me all day to list them all, which I just don’t have time for. Why must you know these rules, so you know when you can break them, of course!

You must read The Fault in our Stars

I apologize for the lateness of this post. I had some technical difficulties. I honestly didn’t know what I was going to talk about for this blog post. In between the Internet deciding to work and now. I read an amazing book. The Fault in our Stars by John Green.

If you have not read this book I recommend that you do so immediately. It is about a girl dying of cancer who meets a boy. Inevitably they fall in love. A book like this can have no happy ending, but it does have some lessons to be learned. For instance, how strong is love? Does true love exist? These are questions that are asked in this book. I don’t think the questions are necessarily answered, but the way he goes about describing the sentiment of love is interesting.

I am not going to lie to you; this book made me cry. I don’t think I have cried so hard in a long time. Let me just quote a passage from this book and you can decide for yourselves what you think of his writing:
“I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I’m in love with you.”

If you don’t love this paragraph then this book isn’t for you, but if it spoke to your heart the way it did mine, then please check out this book. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Great literary couples

In lieu of Valentine’s Day I will post a list of some of my favorite literary couples. These couples are the reason I love to read and also why no real guy will probably ever live up to my expectations. (Warning: some spoilers if you haven’t read Bloodrose, or the Hunger Games.

Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice)
Clary and Jace (Immortal Instruments)
Patch and Nora (Hush, Hush)
Magnus and Alec (Immortal Instruments)
Meghan and Ash (Iron Fey Series)
Sam and Grace (Shiver Trilogy)
Ron and Hermione (Harry Potter)
Katniss and Peeta (Hunger Games)
Sonny and Kelley (Wondrous Strange)
Rose and Dimitri (Vampire Academy)

With every great couple there is a person left behind, so let’s pay tribute to some of these poor souls.
Ren (Nightshade)
Damon (Vampire Diaries)
Adrian (Vampire Academy)
Gail (Hunger Games)
Eric (House of night series)

Here’s one more list for those famous ill-fated couples who loved too much and lost everything.
Romeo and Juliet
Tristan and Isolde
Lancelot and Guinevere (Queen of Camelot)
Heathcliff and Catherine (Wuthering Heights)

I didn’t include any unresolved love triangles because we will have to wait and see who will get their heart’s desire and who will be left behind. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Thanks for the support!

I would like to make something clear. I am very grateful for all the friends and family who are supporting me on my decision to write. The last post was in no way about any of you. I love you all and I thank you for your support.

Writing for a career is in a way choosing to isolate myself. It is not always easy. In fact there are days I want to throw my computer out the window. I have doubts and fears. It’s long hours and little pay, but I love it! I have always been a writer. I always knew I wanted to write. I am a writer heart and soul. I feel like there was never any other choice for me. My family has always encouraged me to follow my dreams. Even when they don’t agree or understand; I have always had their support. They are the reason I have the strength to go for what I want. So to my friends and family I just want to say thank you for being there for me. It means the world that I have your support.

In other news:
I have four chapters to edit before I begin editing all over again. I sent my story to my aunt who has been sending me great feedback on word usage, plot, characters, etc. It has been a huge help. I feel like I finally have someone reading my story who understands the critiquing process. I still plan on sending it out by this spring and I think it should be ready by then, so I am still on track.

My writing, my choice

Writing is a profession. It may not make a lot of money and I may have to work another job to support myself, but writing is a job. I am working towards a goal. I write for myself right now and yes, I have dreams of seeing my work published.

I feel like people just don’t get it sometimes. When you ask me what I am doing with my life, I will tell you every time that I am writing a book. It is my passion and my life. I have put countless hours into this project. I don’t feel like it’s a waste of time. I feel like it has potential. I like having a job that pays the bills, but also leaves me time and energy to work on my writing.

I don’t have fancy things. I’ll be honest I am sleeping on an air mattress right now and I am lucky that I can pay my bills every month. Who isn’t struggling right now? They don’t call it a starving artist for nothing.

It makes me angry and sad when someone asks me when I am going to find a real job. I wish they would understand. I don’t have a 9 to 5 job, nor do I want one. I don’t want to waste my energy trying to achieve something that I don’t really want because I have done that. I feel like that’s time and energy that can go towards working on my dream. I won’t be in this position forever, but for now I am content.

If someone questions your dreams, just tell them life is too short to do what other people want you to do. I want you to know I understand how it feels. I can only speak for myself, but I think most writers would agree with this sentiment. So if you are a struggling artist, hang in there and never give up!

Punctuation: When is it okay to break the rules?

I mentioned in a past post about how reading is a learning tool for me. There has been something that has been bothering me, so I thought I would discuss it with you today. Is there a right or wrong writing style?

I am driving myself crazy revising my first draft. I want the punctuation to be perfect, but is there such a thing as perfect punctuation?

For example, I feel the use of fragments is very gray. I was told never start a sentence with and, so, or but. I was also told always write a proper sentence; no fragments allowed. I took a class where the professor threw all those strict rules out the window. He said fragments can be written as a form of style. And it was okay to start a sentence like this. It’s more of a personal choice. Kaye Dacus, romance writer, wrote a great blog about when you should or shouldn’t use fragments. You can read it here.

I think it depends on the meaning of your sentence. What are you trying to convey to your reader? Does your punctuation truly made sense or do you think it just looks good that way. You can call me a nerd, but I love reading grammar books that show you how punctuation can change the entire meaning of your sentence. A really good book is Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.

If you think punctuation doesn’t matter, well look at this sentence and tell me if you can detect the difference in the meaning:
A woman without her man is nothing.
A woman: without her man is nothing.

This example came from Eats, Shoots & Leaves. There are all kinds of examples like this in that book. I recommend you pick it up if you have not read it yet. But to get back on target, I don’t believe there is any one right way to use punctuation in your writing. As long as you can spread your message the way you intend then I say break all the punctuation rules you want. It worked for Emily Dickinson —with the long breaks at the end—of her poems.

Editing with the help of caffeine

Thanks to a lot of caffeine in the past week, I only have seven chapters left to edit before I am finished with my first full edit. It took me a month and a half to write the first draft and it has taken me two months to get through my first edit. I am happy that I continue to make progress on this novel.

With the help of a large cup of coffee currently sitting next to me, I hope to finish two more chapters tonight. My last two posts focused on Fear and Doubt and I can happily say that for the moment both have decided to leave me in peace. After I finish my edit, I will have to go back through and edit again because I ended up changing some things half way through. It’s kind of tedious when you make a small change, like someone’s eye color and you have to go back and make sure the eyes remain the same color throughout the entire novel, but consistency is important.

I started researching literary agents and their companies. I have also read a lot of articles about the dreaded query letter, which I will discuss in more detail in another post. I can’t help wondering how do you know when you are ready to start querying. This could probably be another post in itself and I might turn it into one, but as I go through my edits, I know I have to reread at least two more times before it will be ready. After that I think I might just go for it and start querying. If nothing else, maybe I will get some feedback on the novel. I am happy to say that I feel like I am still on target for my new year’s resolution and my personal writing goals. How do you decide if your writing is ready to query?

Getting over Fear

As promised, this post is going to be about Fear. We all experience fear, but it’s how we deal with that fear that truly makes us who we are.

Last time I talked about Doubt and how its trying to hold me back. Well, Doubt is able to make me question everything, Fear has the ability to paralyze me if I let it. Fear of people not liking my book. Fear of never being published. Fear that my writing isn’t good enough. Here’s a little tip that I tell myself whenever Fear tries to get in my way: I remind myself that as of now all of these things could be true. I am not published and if I don’t try, I never will be. I won’t know if people like my book or writing if I don’t let them read it. My fears are irrational and I just have to keep telling myself that.

Sometimes, in order to push myself I will use my fear as a challenge. If I’m afraid of how someone will view my writing, I will give it to someone to read. I tell myself to keep going because I made it this far (i.e finishing the novel) so I might as well continue my editing. It is the only way I will know for sure if my writing is good enough.

It’s easy to let Fear take over and hold you back. I could give up on my writing right now and no one would be the wiser, except me. I am in that stage where I write for myself. I read a quote the other day that said, “Write what you want because no one cares.” I have this quote hanging on my wall as a reminder that I can do what I want. Now is the time to embrace my fear and just go for it because at this moment I have nothing to lose.

How do you get over your fear?

A demon called Doubt

That demon has been creeping into my head again. I am sure all you writers know exactly what demon I am talking about. It slithers like a snake and whispers terrible thoughts into your ear. Making you question every word or idea you have previously loved. You feel like you are on the right track and then Doubt comes along and changes everything.

I am in the middle of revising my novel and Doubt has decided to take up residence in my mind. Doubting whether my writing will ever be good enough? Are my characters strong enough? Does my plot make sense? Will other people like my novel? I am finding it hard to fight this demon off. I have to remain strong and positive or I am never going to finish this novel, but Doubt is trying its best to kill my motivation. I worked on my novel all day on Friday and I reached a point where I had to turn my computer off and walk away.

I am now fighting through another one of my chapters and Doubt refuses to leave my side. I get so frustrated that I want to scream sometimes. I refuse to let Doubt win. I am pushing through this chapter. I will win, I will win…win win win! This is all I can do to keep myself going. That and chant, “my writing matters to me.”

Have any of you had this experience? If so, what did you do to overcome it?
Next time I will talk about Doubt’s older, stronger brother known as Fear.

Sherlock and Watson: The first bromance?

I was reading Sherlock Holmes on my nook when I realized it only had the first twelve adventures. I went to the book store today and I found a complete Sherlock Holmes edition with the original illustrations!

I know Sherlock Holmes is a classic, but I had never read any of the stories before. I have seen both of the movies, which were great in my opinion. The more I read about Sherlock Holmes, the more I can see Robert Downy Jr. He really makes a perfect Sherlock Holmes. He portrayed his cynicism and arrogant personality really well.

I love figuring out the relationship between Sherlock and Watson. Arthur Conan Doyle created two characters who will do anything for the other one. Watson always comes with Sherlock even when he knows it’s dangerous and I think Sherlock finds comfort in Watson coming with him. He always warns Watson of the possible danger, but I think he knows Watson will still come along. It’s refreshing to read a friendship that doesn’t get destroyed by a female, at least I don’t think it does. Sherlock and Watson might have possibly been the first “bromance” in history.

The details in his characters mostly come to life through their actions and dialogue. And the creativity that goes into these mysteries, amazes me. For example, a woman being killed by a snake, which has been trained to climb through a vent and down a rope…I can’t stop reading, wondering what the next mystery and solution will be. So if you’re in the mood to read a classic with a mystery, then I highly recommend you take a look at Sherlock Holmes.

Why I love author interviews and chats

Have you ever taken time to participate in a live chat or read interviews from your favorite authors? If not, you should because there can be a lot to be learned by picking the brains of your favorite writers.

Goodreads is a great website to read author interviews or even participate in the live chats. I have read interviews from Cassandra Clare, Rachel Vincent, Becca Fitzpatrick, and many more. I love hearing how these books that I love so much have come to exist. Reading about published authors’ hardships and trials they encountered during their road to being published gives me hope.

For example: Did you know most authors have over a hundred rejections before they get someone to accept their manuscript? Their persistence and hope seems to be the only thing that keeps these amazing authors from giving up.

These interviews have taught me I need to believe in myself. I need to be patient and keep writing. Most importantly, I can’t give up, no matter what. Could you imagine life without Stephen King? I mean he is the King of scary novels. It took him over 700 rejection letters before someone saw the potential and now he’s a bestselling author.

Also, participating in live chats gives you the chance to ask your favorite authors about their own writing process. Becca Fitzpatrick answered a question I had about the Query letter and she told me good luck on my book! Most authors have blogs or websites nowadays, so it’s easier to contact them. But they get hundreds if not thousands of emails a day, so asking them during a live chat will be quicker.

Well I’m off to read another interview, I just can’t get enough of them!

Getting stronger every day

I think I figured out why I am having such a hard time editing. When I write I listen to music, which keeps me in my own zone. Music actually helps my ideas flow better for whatever reason. When I edit I need my full concentration because I am not just writing words down on a page. I am making sure everything makes sense, checking grammar, and everything in between.

I need the silence, but at the same time the silence is deafening. I have been fighting the urge to constantly play some music while I am editing. I know I just need to push through it. I was able to edit three more chapters today, so it is still coming along. I feel my descriptions are getting stronger with every chapter, which is also a good thing for me.

I have sent my edited chapters to some friends to get second and third opinions. I am still afraid to show people my work, but I am no longer letting the fear hold me back. It never hurts to see what others will say about my work, as long as it’s constructive criticism and not just negative feedback. My roadblocks are slowly becoming stepping stones leading me in the right direction.

Morning solitude

I would not consider myself a morning person, but there is something I love about the early morning hours between 4-6:30. It’s very peaceful and for whatever reason a great time for me to wake up and work on my novel. I don’t wake up at these hours very often, but every time I do I can get a lot accomplished in those few hours before the sun comes up.

The world is still asleep and I am not constantly plagued by the random sounds of living in an apartment building. I am free to reflect quietly on my writing. If you have ever woken up during these hours then I am sure you know what I am talking about. If you have not tried writing during these hours then I recommend that you do.

Perfect endings

I finished the Hunger Games and…Wow! It was messy and I knew not everyone could get a happy ending, but it was a satisfying one. Some people think the ending is all that matters. I happen to be one of those people. An ending can define if the series was worth your time reading. Audiences will usually feel cheated if questions are left unanswered and conflicts are left unresolved. I don’t agree that everything has to end perfectly happy, but it does have to have it’s own perfect ending. For Mockingjay it was about Katniss learning how to survive and of course choosing which guy she’d end up with.

I read that Suzanne Collins wanted to show the affects war has on children. I feel that she accomplished this in The Hunger Games Trilogy very well. This book was about a war and in war people die. No one is considered safe or off limits, which is also true in any finale of a series. I was very surprised by Mockingjay’s ending and I wasn’t disappointed. However, I did end up crying, but if you haven’t read the books yet I won’t spoil it for you.

I am a fan of the tragic open endings myself. This means important people die, but there is still hope for the main character at the end. These are the books that will make you cry and want to rip up the pages, but at the same time love every minute of that pain. I love writer’s who aren’t afraid to kill their characters. It takes a lot of guts to get rid of these people you spent months or even years creating. The characters become like your children and now that I have been writing I can understand this sentiment. You want to see your characters happy because you fall in love with them and you want everyone to love them too. The hard truth is some characters serve their purpose better by dying. I have always known how I would end my novel, but I have been playing with it more and more recently. There are things I want to do, but I’m not sure if I will have the courage to pull them off in the end. What type of endings do you like to read?