Welcome Aboard

Welcome to my first blog.
I'm excited you've come along for the ride with me, as I blog my thoughts and adventures on the way to being a published writer. Take a look around, post a comment or two, and enjoy!

29 October, 2010

Pins and Needles

I'm sitting in front of the remains of my strawberry belgian waffle and I'm constantly checking my email before I head into work. Today they announce the winners of the Hint fiction contest and on Monday the winners of the short short story contest. Haven't received a you didn't win email so I'm hoping that is good. Stay tuned, I will keep you posted.

28 October, 2010

4 days

Nanowrimo starts in four days. In case you haven't heard of it, it stands for national novel writing month. Look up www.nanowrimo.org
and peruse their website. Four days to get ready to write a novel in one month. Think it's crazy? Well it is and it isn't. Some people need a deadline to motivate them to finish their novel. Other people need that community of fellow writers to encourage them and to share in cheering each other on. Having completed one novel I know what it feels like to be able to look at it and say- I wrote a novel. It is possible to do. It's made writing the next one go much smoother.
So what am I writing about? I'm returning to my sci fi roots. It will be in diary format.
My focus is on getting the words on the page and joining in on the madness that is nanowrimo.
I'm still working on my second YA novel, I'm 7500 words in the past month. Taking the writing of this one much slower-not trying to win any medals in the 100 yd. dash. I'm more concerned with telling the best story possible with the richest deepest characters possible.
Check out nanowrimo and see what you think. I remember as a child my mom working on a story at her typewriter. Bet she could write a novel next month.

26 October, 2010

Decisions We Make

I'm actually blogging from home this morning. Yes, I know I've been gone for awhile. Still working out the bugs in my writing schedule. This new novel is consuming me so much that I hate to use any free time on anything but it. And yet, my blog is dear to my heart also.
I took the day off of work. To get things done during the week, that I normally cannot, and to rest and reflect.
Right now I am trying to type with a sore right arm. Flu shots will do that to you.
Let's see where did I leave off?
Decisions we make... sounds ominous doesn't it?
Decisions based on Christ require faith.
Decisions not based on Him require bull-headedness.
I have come to enjoy my morning writing ritual. Being a night owl, I wasn't sure how that would work out, but it has. I always thought there were two reasons that kept me from writing: writer's block, and being a night owl with an early morning job to go to. Now I find that both of those were symptoms masking the real condition-fear.
What if they like my writing? What if they don't like my writing? What if I win the academy award for Best Adapted Screenplay of my own novel? Ok that last one is a real dream of mine.
If I get stuck in my writing, I whip out "The Write-Brain Workbook" by Bonnie Neubauer. It helps me focus on a really short bit of writing, and some of it has spring-boarded onto ideas I've been able to put into my idea book for later use.
Too tired to write, I head to Starbucks, or put on a pot of my favorite loose tea, crack open my writing journal (not the laptop), grab a gel pen and write. Within five minutes I'm back in my zone. And it's ok if I only get one page out. The point is being consistent.
Staying up late wanting to work on my writing, or a read a book in a genre I'm considering writing in, or reading a screenplay to get the format down. Ok, I haven't quite figured out what to do about that yet. I stayed up late Sunday and Monday night finishing "The Dead and The Gone", by Susan Beth Pfeffer. I really couldn't put it down. Didn't want to Sunday night but the clock reminded me I only had six hours before I had to get up and go to work so I had no choice but to finish it Monday. Young Adult Sci-Fi but not hardcore, more end of the world stuff.
Being a night owl I get my second wind around 10p.m. and it will burn if I let it, until 2a.m.
What I am finding irritating is when I have to leave off my writing in a place I don't want to leave off. Because the clock says "Hey Des, you need to be in your car headed to work now". Or it says "You have to go to bed. You'll be too tired to work tomorrow." Grrrr! It's not that I want to finish the writing the entire novel in one sitting, it's just that I need to finish a paragraph or complete a thought and I don't have time to. Then I end up scribbling down in handwriting, that is worse than chicken scratch, just so I can get to work, or go to bed.
Grrrr!

Had to take a deep breath there. Even as I work on this blog, my mind is thinking about the scene in the novel I'm working on, and what I want to happen next. My main character has just been dealt a heavy blow. Last night, or really 3 a.m. this morning, when I couldn't sleep because my mind was going a thousand miles a minute, I thought back to all the heavy blows I've been dealt just this year. How we deal with those shows our character, our true selves.
What does this have to do with decisions? I made a decision to spend my free time writing. I write in the mornings. I write during my lunch break. I write at night before bed ( or I do research, or read other novels). I've noticed a change in my mindset as a result and I like it. I feel more and more like a writer. And I am signing off now so I can get back to my novel writing.

17 October, 2010

It was a dark and stormy night.

Cliche-yes, but it leads me to the task at hand. While having dinner Friday night at my favorite restaurant- Macaroni Grill (the chicken and spinach and penne pasta were baked to perfection), I was having a conversation with my close friend. She shares my love of writing and reading. This led to a discussion of nanowrimo (national novel writing month). Check our their website at www.nanowrimo.org. Anyway, she's doing it this year and we were brainstorming ideas she could write about. Something clicked in me, maybe it was the proximity of the date to Halloween, buy I gasped and looked at her and said "Thanks, you just gave me another story idea."
Then I groaned for two reasons: 1. When do I write this (where on my list of books I'm writing should it fall? And 2. I know nothing about serial killers, or mapping out a murder mystery.

The answer to number one is easy-I have a list of writing projects (novels, short stories, screenplays) that have a timeline including a due date for each. I jot down the title, the estimated word count and then I divide the word count by the number of days (750 words per day divided by 65,000 words for example) then I know what date I need to be finished by.
I found out this summer I work better with a goal of X number of words per day, rather than say "write 2 hours today". So problem number 1 is solved.

Problem 2- serial killers. I would have to do the research, and do an extensive profile of my protagonist and antagonist (light and dark). This would include reading about serial killers and reading books already written in that vein.
I guess this is confession time. The research and the writing of this novel are going to scare me. Not as in I'm afraid to leave my home scared, but as in-give me nightmares. Even reading the book of Revelation scares me and I'm a believer!

There have been two authors who have given me nightmares- growing up it was Stephen King, and now Ted Dekker. I can't read them right before bed, and I can't read them at night with just my booklight on. Nope. Now I grew up reading Stephen King- he was one of mainstays in middle school. I read him along with the likes of Bradbury and Alan Dean Foster, when other kids were reading Judy Blume. I was a huge sci-fi and horror buff with a little Anne McAffrey's Dragon riders thrown in the mix. I love to get scared. I even wrote a short story in high school based on a scary dream I had about Frankenstein growing up. It scared my friends-the ones I let read it.
I want to write this but I'm gonna scare myself writing it. I will have to plan the research and the writing for daytime hours only.
Yeah, that should cure that, until I do what I always do-think about my work in progress while falling asleep. Guess I need to head out to walmart and get a couple of nightlights.

16 October, 2010

Impossible

I have thought impossible thoughts. I have dreamed impossible dreams. Now the Holy Spirit reminds me to pray for these impossibilities.
Hebrews 11:6-now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe He exists and rewards those who diligently seek Him.
I had dinner last night with a good friend of mine. She talked about faith. My faith needs to be stronger in the area of the impossible. What that verse means to me is that God wants me to the point where I turn it over to Him. I have many dreams-to be a published, full time writer, to be married and have more children...
Case in point- my desire to go to Scotland to do research on two novels. Estimated cost $1400-1700.00. Do I have the means to pay for it? Nope. Is this desire to go from God? Yes. Solution. Pray for Him to bless me with the funds or a plane ticket to go. What should I not do? I shouldn't do what I found myself falling into-the surely God didn't say, or didn't mean it mind game from Satan.
I thought about Joseph. How he had a vision of his future life. I often wondered while he was in prison, did he doubt his vision from God? He spent three years in jail for a crime he didn't commit. Yet it lead to the fulfillment of the vision (see Genesis 50:20).
Do I trust God with my impossibilities?

11 October, 2010

I didn't win

I'm currently drowning my sorrows in Vanilla wafers. The generic brand. So the results came in today and I didn't win. There was only a first place slot-no second or third. Really wish they had given all the entrants feedback. If you're gonna read it, jot down some notes and pass those, or your tally sheet on to us. Help me out here. I'm just as in the dark as I was before the contest.
Oh well.
7 vanilla wafers later and the sugar has started kicking in. Keep moving forward right?
I had all day at work today to chew over, in my mind, what went wrong- Or what I think went wrong. So here is my critical analysis of chapter one:
By DM (my alter ego).
Ahem,
In her debut novel, the author, Desiree Middleton, presents to us a new spin on the female heroine. Her character is forced into a situation not of her own doing and finds that any wrong move can be deadly. I felt moved in several sections of chapter one-I even found myself cheering for the heroine, but- the opening scene while attempting to frighten only makes us mildly uneasy. I would like to see the author revamp the beginning scene and make me feel terrified of the dark and the shocking event that takes place. Slow starts are like death in waiting for a novelist.
I look forward to seeing the author rework the scene-adding an intensity so sharp that I jump at the slightest noise.

Dear DM, thank you for your insight into my novel. I will go back and rewrite the opening scene. I will make it so intense you jump if there is a knock upon your door. The novel does need to push the suspense alot more. I will get to work immediately on that.

See it does help to talk to yourself. Now send those guys in the white coats away, I've got work to do.

10 October, 2010

Watercolors

My favorite class in high school was Adv. Art Honors. You had to have the teacher's permission to be in the class. That involved taking Art 1, and showing her a portfolio of your work. If she likes it, you were in. You could repeat the class yearly, which we all did.
In class we were able to dabble around with different media. I tried needlepoint, silk screen, pen and ink, and finally watercolors. Our senior year we had to pick one media and base our work on it. I chose watercolor. I excelled at it-won some awards and even had my art on display at school and places around town. There was a point I was working on a huge painting (size), and our teacher was out for the week. Prior to leaving she told me she wanted me to try mix media in my watercolor-she wanted me to add acrylic paint to my watercolor. She gave me basic instructions and turned me loose.
Her first words to me upon her return to class were-Stop! You're ruining it. It wasn't said in a mean way-after being under her instruction for 3 years I knew it was her personality. But what was I ruining? I has painted a picture of a guy in a boat, fishing in the middle of a storm so fierce, the sky was grey and the seas were choppy foam. My thought was to add the acrylic paint on top of the watercolor to emphasize the clouds and the waves. While painting I never liked the way it looked so I kept adding black here, and white there, until in frustration I was going to paint it all gray and move on to something else.
She came along side me and dipped my brush in white acrylic paint, put her hand over mine, and helped me paint a white-capped wave. She paitiently did this several times, then she removed her hand and watched me fix the rest of the waves.
My writing is alot like my painting, I need someone to come along side me and tell me to Stop! Or show me how to fix something.
I know there are areas in my first novel I need to fix, but I need an expert to show me the best way.
I tried joining a writer's group. Our assignment was to take the story of Cinderella and rewrite it. We had ten minutes. As the others gathered read what they had written, it dawned on me-wow Des, you really are way out there. They had all, to a person, rewritten it, continuing in the happily ever after vein.
What did I write-I made Cinderella a bully who harassed and beat up her sister to get the invitation to the ball. It is Cinderella who rules the household with an iron fist and makes the women cry.
Yeah...
So I'm still looking for a like-minded (insane), writing group or class that can help me fix what I know needs fixing, and catch things I never saw.

07 October, 2010

Salisbury Steak

I've been splitting my time between writing my second novel and revising my first.
When I looked over what I'd written so far on the second novel I noticed something. Depth and richness.
My first novel is like Salisbury steak. Now I love Salisbury steak and always will, but my second novel is more like t-bone steak (med. rare with sautéed mushrooms).
Both are good but the latter is richer in flavor and satisfies better.
I want my first novel to be t-bone steak too, so I'm doing another revision, I think this makes number three, before I give it to my friend to edit.
Second novel-
I am really enjoying this character even though I'm still in the developing the character-setting up the premise stage.
She's not a good girl. Me growing up, I looked for ways to avoid getting into trouble, to not let my awkwardness show. I was painfully shy and liked to hide out in the library in middle school. My lead character seeks out trouble and doesn't care what happens-until she pushes too far and that which she did not see coming hits her full force.
It's still a YA Fantasy though.
Since I'm home today with a sick teenager I'll be writing while she's napping. My goal today is to get thru act one on the new novel and add a scene in act three of the first novel.

05 October, 2010

Too tired

I spoke in a prior blog about having to adjust my writing schedule. I had to split my writing time up. Instead of doing all my writing at night, I now have to do the majority in the morning-but not every morning. I literally have to look at my writing schedule to see which morning I'm writing. It's a learning curve and eventually I'll have it committed to memory, but yesterday was my morning writing day and I was tired. I'd had a long emotionally draining week prior and come Monday morning there was nothing in me that even remotely wanted to write. Then this soft still voice spoke to me-go to starbucks and take you writing notebook.
So I listened. I sat for a few minutes looking at the writing I had done previously then I decided to work on more ideas. I thought about how hard it was growing up in my teens and how I felt like I didn't fit in anywhere, least of all at home.
I wrote down my ideas for this new ya novel. When I write my ideas I am in essence doing a synopsis. When I looked back over my synopsis, one sentence caught my eye.
I re-read it, then I got a rush of adrenaline. I flipped to the next available blank page and fleshed out that sentence into a story idea.
I looked over it and realized-hey that's got enough meat to it to make it a novel series.
Listening to the Holy Spirit and writing when I didn't want to led to a blessing.
A synopsis for a young adult novel and a synopsis for a three-four part young adult series.
God is way awesome!
Eek! When do I find the time to write all of this? God always makes a way.