Monday, February 21, 2011


Occasionally I think we all need a kick to get us up and moving. Today, mine came in the form of Dawn Metcalf’s post. Because of this, I’m all kinds of inspired to finish my rewrite. After being sick all weekend, I’m also trying to catch up on housework, but I WILL get some writing done today, and I WILL finish my rewrite by the end of this week.

You heard me!

No more excuses, no more allowing life to get in my way. I know I haven’t been as determined as I should have been. I've allowed life and struggles with K to get me down and used it as an excuse to put off my writing. Not that I didn’t need to spend time caring for my family, I did and do, but I could have done more with my writing between caring for the family.

From now on, I WILL.

I won’t let my piles of laundry, dishes, and floors needing mopped keep me from writing. I will write while the washer and dryer are running. I will write while the dishwasher is running. I will mop one floor and leave the other for tomorrow. I’m getting back on track, and I won’t allow myself to make excuses not to write.

This is what I want. This is what I need. I WILL do it.

As Dawn so eloquently put it, “Go! Write! FTW!”

In the face of life’s challenges, what inspires you and keeps you writing?

Write on!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Subconscious Author

Authors talk about the Internal Editor all the time, but they don’t often talk about their Subconscious Author. This post by Lisa Schroeder got me thinking . . . does every writer have a Subconscious Author? I would think we all do, but I’m not sure.

I guess it would help to define what I mean by Subconscious Author (SA). This is the force that makes you add a plot point, or detail without knowing why. In Lisa’s post, she mentioned making a conscious choice to include a certain element into her story. She wasn’t sure how it would work, but knew she wanted it in there. I’ve done that too, and then figured out a way to make it work, but I consider this to be my Conscious Author (CA). The SA makes you put things into your story without any clue why or how it will work out or if it will work out (though it usually does). If someone were to ask you why the element/plot point/detail was there, you couldn’t give an answer other than, “I think it’s cool” or “I want it there” or “It just is” or some other lame reason.

For example, in my current WIP, I assigned eye colors to my characters. I didn’t know why, but they had to be certain colors . . . not just the main characters, but the minor ones too. While my CA didn’t worry about it, my SA mulled it over, worked it out, and determined the reason. During the rewrite, I discovered this reason. Sometimes I think my SA does more work on my novel than my CA does.

There are other examples as well . . . little plot elements that didn’t make sense, but had to be there . . . but if I share them, it will give things away. I’m always so excited when I discover why the element/detail had to be there and how it all comes together to make the book stronger, or add a twist. I wonder if this is how other authors work . . . especially when planning a series. Maybe a little detail the author threw into the first book because the SA author said to ended up being important and came to play a larger role in a sequel . . . even though the author didn’t plan it that way.

I’m a plot driven author, and I get a plot idea before I get my character idea. But I know there are character driven authors out there too, and I wonder if their SA works differently than my own.

What about you? Do you have a SA inserting little things into your WIP for your CA to discover later?


Write on (no matter how you do it . . . just do it).

Monday, February 14, 2011

Just Another Day

The kids are off to school where they’ll hand out the Valentines they’ve been bugging me about for a week. I was going to bake a treat for them to take (all the classes are having “parties”), but I spent the weekend sewing a dress for K, and I ran out of time.

She wore the dress to church yesterday and is wearing it to school today so she’s happy. This makes the backache and sleepless Saturday night worth it! This coming weekend, I get to make a dress for J. Thank goodness for my Pfaff coverlock machine! It’s sew much faster. Winking smile 

Honestly, the worst parts about sewing (IMO) are folding the pattern to the proper size, pinning it to the fabric, and cutting it out. Otherwise, it’s a breeze . . . I don’t even mind doing buttonholes or zippers!

Last night, I made a charm bracelet, necklace, and bookmark for E to give his girlfriend for Valentine’s Day.  It’s so weird he has a girlfriend. This time last year, he showed no interest in dating. *sigh* I miss those days. Smile

Hubby and I decided not to get Valentine’s gifts this year, and I’m happy not to have the pressure of trying to find something. We have each other and, with all the recent stress, that’s enough. Open-mouthed smile

I spent my Monday morning preparing a casserole for dinner tonight (it’s ready to bake and is waiting patiently in the fridge), doing dishes, and washing laundry. Now I’m hungry and am going to find something for lunch. After lunch, I hope to get some writing done.

Write on.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Without A Place

Last Friday I posted about making sure we use analogies appropriate for our characters. Today I’m discussing an often forgotten character. You’re probably thinking I’m crazy. You haven’t forgotten any of your characters. You’ve devoted hours (or days or weeks or months) developing them. You know who they are, what they want, how they’ll grow throughout the story, etc. Each character’s received the attention and development time they deserve.

You may be right. Perhaps I’m the only one out here with a forgotten character, but you might want to read on to be sure.

After months of revising and rewriting, I realized why my novel isn’t quite working for me. I’m missing a character.

The setting.

Yes, it’s a character, or it should be.

I’m not saying I don’t have some setting details scattered throughout my MS, I’ve several of them. The problem is, I haven’t spent time developing my setting like I have my characters and plot. I know where the story takes place, the time period, the world, the situation, but I haven’t conveyed it properly into the MS. A few details here and there aren’t enough.

But I already know where, when, what . . . there’s nothing left. Is there?

Yeah, there is.


No, really, “why” is it.

Before we get into a “Who’s on first” situation, let me explain. Your characters have a purpose, a why, and your setting needs one too. Ask yourself this:

Why is the setting I’ve chosen the perfect place to tell the story? Why will it work better than any other setting?

Don’t give me any of that “because I said so” or “it just is” nonsense either. Really take a minute to think about it. I’ll wait.

Back? Good. Hopefully you’ve gotten a firm idea of why your setting is THE setting for your story.

Now I want to experiment. Think about your favorite books (I know I’m making you think too much, but bear with me). You’ll likely think of the main character first, next, maybe the plot, but I bet you also think of the setting.


Harry Potter and the (anything)  by J.K. Rowling: I think of Harry. Voldemort. Hogwarts! Wizarding world. (setting, people!) What kind of a story would the HP series have been without the setting/world?

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan: I think of Mary. The village surrounded by fences. The eerie forest full of zombies waiting outside the fences. Setting plays a HUGE role in these books.

The Healing Spell by Kimberley Griffiths Little: I think of Livvie, her family. The Gator (Baby). The Louisiana Bayou. I’ve never been to Louisiana, but I felt like I was there while reading this book.

Shiver series by Maggie Stiefvater: I think of Grace, Sam, Cole, Isabel. Werewolves. Snow. Lots of snow. Cold. So much hinges on the setting (especially the climate) in Maggie’s Shiver series.

Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary, Dystopian, Steampunk, etc. no matter the genre, setting plays an important role in ALL of my favorites. I couldn’t think of one single book I LOVED that didn’t have a strong setting. Can you?

Just as your characters interact with other characters in the novel, they need to interact and react with/to the setting. We experience the world around us on a daily basis. If we’ve spent hours fixing our hair and step outside into a windy day, we’re upset. If we planned an outing and it’s raining like mad, we have to adjust. If we’re melting from heat, we’d sell our mothers on the street for a fan (you know you would). We need this same interaction/reaction between our characters and their setting.

Let’s say your character needs to climb a up a mountain (or down a cliff) and rescue his/her best friend. If it’s a clear day and your character is afraid of heights, that’s tension with some setting details. It’s okay, but if you changed that clear day into one with pouring rain or snow, the tension is heightened (pun intended). Now you have a setting as a character forcing your main character to interact/react.

Let me explain it in another way:

Think about portraits . . . like the school photos you got when you were a kid. You sat on a little stool with a colored (or maybe gray) backdrop behind you. It was staged, lifeless. Now think about a picture (no, they’re not the same thing). Pictures are taken on impulse. They aren’t staged. They’re natural. Trees are in the background, snow is falling, people are laughing, throwing things, smiling, but not in a staged kind of way. They have life. They are interacting/reacting to/with the world around them.

Have you ever heard anyone say writers paint a portrait with words? NO! They say writers paint a picture with words. We don’t want our setting to be a backdrop for a portrait, we want it to be a part of a picture; a strong setting full of life that lives and breathes with our characters. It enhances them, challenges them, changes them.

If our setting isn’t a character, our story is without a place, and it probably won’t earn a place in readers’ hearts either.


Write on.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Believe Spring Will Come!

Even though I should have been working on my rewrite/revision, inspiration struck elsewhere.

I blame it on this blog post by Janni Lee Simner.

The contest inspired me to write a poem (which I won’t post here, but did post there). After I finished the poem (and wasn’t happy with it since I’m not the best poet), this line kept running through my head, “Within each snowflake lives the promise of spring.”

I decided to get out my pencils and drawing pad to illustrate that line.


Within each snowflake lives the promise of spring.

Now that my creative juices are flowing, it’s time to find something for youngest son to eat for lunch. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some word on my rewrite/revision done after we eat. =)

What are you doing to tap into your creativity today?

Create on!

Friday, February 4, 2011

“Ogres Are Like Onions”

I love the exchange between Shrek and Donkey where Shrek tries to explain ogres. It’s a great example of characterization, and also showing vs. telling.

Shrek could have told Donkey, “Ogres have layers,” but by using an analogy (onions), he illustrates (pun intended) it for Donkey. The exchange between them after Shrek’s declaration of “Ogres are like onions” further builds characterization for both of them.

Even though Donkey tries to sway Shrek to go with a more “pleasing” analogy (cake or parfait), Shrek sticks with his onion because it’s something he knows.

Like Shrek, our characters need to stick with what they know. Drawing an analogy with something unfamiliar to our characters damages their credibility and betrays our readers’ trust.

While we’re on the topic of onions/layers, we need to be sure to peel back the layers of our characters and get to the core of who they are. If we don’t know the core, the layers won’t matter.

Forms, interviews, personality quizzes, etc. are all good ways to get to know our characters. I use several different methods, but my favorite is the Psychological Type Profiles. I can access links to quizzes, etc. from this site.

Your own character building techniques will help you find the core and build layers around it . . . kind of like an onion growing. Starting small and expanding until full potential is reached.

In my current WIP, the MC would be likely to use analogies involving wood/whittling because it’s what she knows.

How well do you know your characters? What kinds of analogies would they use?


Write on.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Springing Into It

Punxutawney Phil did not see his shadow this morning and has predicted an early Spring. It seems Mother Nature wishes to argue the point, however, because temperatures are in the teens in my area right now (the freezing wind doesn’t help either).

With the horrible weather, it seems like a great day to stay inside and get some writing done. And I should be able to do it too!

Last night was the first night K has slept in her own bed since her seizure last Tuesday. Not that I got much more sleep because I kept getting up to go check on her, but the sleep I did get was probably more restful without her little feet kicking and her hands pushing me. She started her 2ml dose of Keppra yesterday so she’s really tired and cranky (side effects).

Being the horrible mother that I am (at least she thinks so), I sent her back to school today (though her blustering was fit to rival that of Mother Nature’s). We’ll see if she makes it through the day or if the teacher calls and sends her home.

I got the dogs fed and back inside (it’s too cold to be out), made myself a cup of hot chocolate, and am going spring into my writing as soon as I finish this post. I didn’t realize how much I valued my “alone time” until I wasn’t able to have it (for almost two weeks).

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids and the time I spent with them, but I missed having the house to myself with nothing but the clicking of the keys on my laptop . . . well, that and the occasional concert of dogs barking and Loki, the macaw, talking.

Music for my writing soul.

Spring on!