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My Novels
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Apr 30, 2010

Flash Gordon? No! Flash Fiction!

I’m doing a brief experiment with Flash Fiction!

Not familiar with the term?

Flash Fiction: A complete story told in 150 words or less.

150 words, that’s it. That’s 0.115% of the words in my first novel! (Well, the first draft anyway)

So, how do you fit a beginning, a middle and an end into such small constraints?

Begin with cutting adjectives. No one really needs to know that “Jenny had beautiful curly red hair.” You can just as easily get your point across with “Jenny had beautiful hair.”

Find shorter ways to say things. Conjunctions are the Flash Fiction-ist’s friend. Substitute I am with I’m, did not with didn’t, etc.

When writing something short, don’t take off on a tangent. I don’t care how much you love a facet of your mini story, Flash Fiction requires that you be focused and to the point.

Apr 29, 2010

Productive Day

I have nothing really important to talk about… frankly that’s a good thing. I’ve gotten lots of editing and re-writing done on D&D so we should hopefully see it come to fruition shortly… though not as soon as expected.


Current word count: 87,500

Apr 28, 2010

- Who I want to be when I grow up -

Let’s explore what makes me love a character.
The vast majority of the characters I love are those with very real faults. I have to believe a character is/was a real person; therefore the author has to make them human with human mistakes.


I’ll give you six examples, in random order.

Poor Emma Woodhouse of Emma by Jane Austen, she does her best to make her world turn out exactly the way she wants it too, and it turns out to be a complete blunder. And while she makes these mistakes, she feels terribly about them, because she truly is a nice person. Her life is boring and she just wants to entertain herself. In that situation, I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same. She’s a bit impetuous, but I think that makes her more endearing.

Anne Shirley, from the Anne of… Series by L.M. Montgomery: Oh what a treat these books are. How can you not fall in love with this little girl who, in trying to do what’s right, often blunders into mishaps due to her over active imagination? I still love these books, even as an adult. I can remember being a child and feeling as though I’d never be able to do anything right (Yes, I was one of those children).

Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, I realize that this doesn’t strictly meet the requirements, as they are not one person (though that would be an interesting adaptation…). The reason I mention them both is because I don’t think I would like them half as much if they were not both in the novel. Yes, I like Lizzy. Yes, I like Darcy. I can assure you though, that I would not like them half as much if they were not together. Their faults are more human because they are amplified by each other. Lizzy becomes the indignant idiot prone to rash out breaks because of Darcy, and we wouldn’t get to see Darcy’s other side, if Lizzy didn’t bring it out.

Behemoth, the cat form the Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, He doesn’t strictly have faults, but … I mean, come on… he’s a giant alcoholic cat in the service of the Devil. How can you not like that? Sure, he’s helping the Devil bring chaos to Moscow, but he’s doing it all cute and fuzzy, cuddly!

When I think of who I’d like to be from all of the characters I have read, Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare comes to mind. She’s snarky.She’s bold and strong willed. She thinks she knows better than everyone else, but secretly knows that she doesn’t. She’s faithful to her friend even when the worst is suspected of her. She can hold her own in a conversation with the men (who of that time were considered above her) and she is willing to love, though she has thought she hated for so long.

And last, but certainly not least… Dirk Pitt of the Dirk Pitt Series by Clive Cussler. Here is a man’s man, a man who can rescue you from a psychotic Japanese business man and fix up your antique car (which is always good when your dream cars were built in 1953 and 1937). He’s strong, humorous but has his tender side. And he definitely looks nothing like Matthew McConaughey in that horrible movie that should have never been made (or at least should have been casted better)

These characters are vastly different, and yet they have all captured a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf.

Apr 27, 2010

On Names…

When it comes to naming characters, it can be hard to find a good fit, and other times a character just is their name. When I started writing my first novel, two characters came to me with their names attached to who they were, there is no other name I could give them, because their current names are who they are. Their names helped me to developed their character in an extraordinarily easy way.

Other characters are a pain. You think you have the right name and then you realize you don’t. or you realize that the name you’ve given one character is the name you should have given a different character… Oy! This is frustrating, no? Yes! In MFB (book #3) I got through 160 pages and realized that I needed to switch the Father and Son’s names.



This is how that conversation went in my head:

Me: Grrrr! Why are you doing this to me?!?

Lars & Liam: We didn’t do anything, you’re the one who’s been calling us by the wrong names this entire time.

Me: You could have helped me out sooner…

Lars & Liam: We didn’t want to be rude.

And then I click Find and replace and hope to catch any slips in the editing.



Now that I’ve said that, let me mention that First names are infinitely easier than last names and middle names in my opinion. I dislike them so much that if I can get away with not giving a character a name… I won’t.

You can thank an hour’s worth of character development for this post.

Apr 26, 2010

Write, Revise, Repeat...

Location: Just East of DT Phoenix

Status: Elbow deep in revisions
Current W/C: 86,000

Writing “To Do” list for today:

1. Finish Chapter 2 (Done. I wound up combining 1 & 2 due to the much smaller scene that once encompassed al of Ch.2)
2. Work on Space opera (and do my best to not think about a title)
3. Print out Chapters 2-7 to edit

I’m dealing with these revisions the only way I really know how: Write it, and then worry about whether or not it makes any sense. How does that saying go? “You have to make it messier to get it clean”?

Regardless, I’m on schedule to have my revisions completed this week, and I’ve got my “space opera” to keep my brain from exploding… overload, you know. Then it’s off to my beta readers for review…

On a semi related note, I found the perfect quote for an epigraph…

“What makes the desert most beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.” - Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry

Whether or not this would actually be used still remains unseen.

Apr 23, 2010

Major Surgery

Location: A stone’s throw from the airport
Novel: YA Romantic Fantasy (Duty & Death)
Current W/C: 85,000

Reworking a novel is a lot like major surgery. If you don’t know what’s going on when you walk in on the middle of it, it looks dreadful.

Monday, my first novel was 131K words. Thursday it had dropped to 91K. Rewriting the first chapter I realized that my second and half of my third didn’t make sense in context, so today I removed them in order to start a complete re-write.

Current word count is 85000 (granted, if this was surgery, my book is missing several vital organs, so their replacement weight – read: word count – will factor-in in the end) which is by no means short (that’s approximately 340 printed pages). It just feels so small in comparison to what the story was originally.

It’s painful to pull apart this work. It’s the first thing I wrote and there are pieces that I love that I’m cutting (and pasting into another document) in order to make the story much more cohesive. In the end I know it will be a better story for the changes.

Apr 21, 2010

Apr 20, 2010

Let me tell you a little about my writing process.

I don’t have one. Every book, so far, has been different.

The first book, Duty and Death, was not in any way intended to actually turn into a book until I was well into it. Character development was done on the fly. The word “outline” didn’t exist in the same world as this book. It was 0% planning, 25% research after writing and 75% writing.

The follow up to duty and death will probably be something along the lines of 30% planning, 20% research, and 50% writing. Just because I have to fit things into a constraint now.

The second book, Forfeit Souls, started from a brief moment of madness when I contemplated death (obviously I’m not saying I was thinking about suicide) and wrote extensively on the subject. The resultant pages became the first chapter in that novel, but there was much more character development and research than the first book before the bulk of the writing actually happened. It was 25%planning, 30% research and 45% writing.

Magic is for the Birds, my third novel started with a simple sentence that ended up in chapter 2… I think? (not actually looking at the book right now) This was a strange thing. Because it kept mutating in my mind, even as I wrote it. The world kept expanding and expanding. Causing me to do a lot of mid-step changes and re writes. It was 5% Planning, 7% research before writing, 15% research after writing, 33% initial writing, 40% rewrites.

I’m curious to see which book will make me finish it next and what sort of ratio it will have.

UPDATE HERE

Apr 16, 2010

Grammar 101 - Part 3 Prepositions

We’ve all heard the rule, don’t end a sentence with a preposition. But rarely does anyone delineate what a preposition is. So what is a preposition?


A preposition is a word that links nouns, pronouns and phrases to other words in a sentence. They indicate location.

**** AN EXEPTION****

Sometimes, a word that looks like a preposition is actually a part of a verb and is called a particle. (Side note: I hate the word particle.)

Here’s an example: “Miguel turned up the radio.”

Up is a preposition, but in this case it is actually a particle. It is part(icle) of the verb “Turned up”. If you’re not sure if it’s a particle or a preposition, try this test: place the word that you are unsure of at the beginning of the sentence.

Up the radio Miguel turned. This sentence makes no sense, and thus you know that “Up” is a particle in the sentence.

*** END OF EXCEPTION

Here are examples of prepositions (this is not a complete list, there are about 150 prepositions in the English language):

About • above •according to • across • after • against • along • along with • among • apart from • around • as • as for • at • because of • before • behind • below • beneath • beside • between • beyond • but • by • by means of • concerning • despite • down • during • except • except for • excepting • for • from • in • in addition to • in back of • in case of • in front of• in place of • inside • in spite of • instead of • into • like • near • next • of • off • on • onto • on top of • out • out of • outside • over • past • regarding • round • since • through • throughout • till • to • toward • under •underneath • unlike • until • up • upon •up to • with • within • without

If you’ll notice, “to” is listed in that big-ol-block of text. Yesterday in Who/Whom. I told you the correct way to ask the question was, “Whom does this jacket belong to?” but in reality, the “correct” way to ask this question is, “To whom does this jacket belong?” Because “to” is a preposition and therefore we should never end a sentence with it.

As with who and whom, sometimes using the correct grammar sounds stuffy, in the case of finding out who owns the jacket, it can get even stuffier when two rules are combined! Does that mean that we should ignore these rules? NO! If your grandmother was a stuffy old bag, you wouldn’t ignore her would you? I don’t care that prepositions don’t give you sweets, it is no reason to ignore them!

Often times, a sentence needs to be reworded completely in order to make sense AND follow grammatical law. For instance:

"That is nonsense up with which I shall not put." –W. Churchill.
That doesn’t work at all!

Apr 15, 2010

Grammar 101: Part 2 - Who & Whom

Who is this you might ask? Who, he is, indeed. Dr. Who to be precise. *le-sigh*


Who and Whom- Oh what a fun little subject. (This is going to be fairly long, so if you want to skip ahead to the part where I actually impart some wisdom on you, please, do skip ahead to the heavily asterisked heading.)


Don’t you just love pronouns like this? Interrogative Pronouns to be precise. Why can’t they just be nice pronouns like the subjective pronouns be they first person (he, she, it, etc.) or second (you) or even inclusive (we). No these little buggars had to be pesky and annoy school age children through to adult hood.

I must amend my statement, I don’t hate all interrogative pronouns. What and which are perfectly fine. I have no problem with you, you may go if you don’t want to hear the rest of this, save your poor little ears the trouble.

Who does Whom think it is! I mean when you use it correctly it sounds so stuffy! Who does it think it is! To Whom does it think it’s speaking? I often feel silly when I use it in a sentence, even when I know I’ve used it correctly.

The English language is a jungle full of pitfalls and scarry monstrous rules that threaten to swallow you up unless you have some understanding of them.

*** When to use Who and Whom ***

First things first. Who is used in reference to the subject of a clause. Whom is used when referring to the object of a clause. Have I lost you yet? (Or “Whom have I lost?”)

Ok as a refresher, the subject is the person performing the action and the object is the person having an action done to them. In the case of “whom have I lost”, “I” is the subject and “Whom” is identifying the object.

I enjoy this example: If I say, "I love you," you are the object of my affection.

I’m sure most of us are more concerned with “whom” than we are with “who”. I know I for one rarely find myself inserting “whom” when I’m unsure of which to use

Here’s how I determine the right use of these two words (and frankly I’ve found a lot of other sites suggest you do the same):

I found a useful tool in using the “he/him” method. By this method, you find the correct format for your question in its answer.

For instance.

If the question is: Who/Whom wrote this book?

We answer the question, “He wrote that book. Obviously we do not say “him wrote that book. Therefore, the correct question is “Who wrote this book?”

If the question is: Who/Whom does this Jacket belong to?

We answer the question, “It belongs to him.” Unless of course you’re really batty and then you answer with “That Jacket belongs to the great Ulysses S. Grant!” but you’re not batty and you want to do it right, so it is correct to use Whom. “Whom does this jacket belong to?”

*** End of the “Real Information”***

I hope that’s left you with a better understanding of how to use Who and Whom, hopefully Whom’s feelings weren’t hurt too badly by my scathing remarks… but there are always casualties in the battle of grammar. Hopefully you won’t be one of them!


*************************************************
As a disclaimer I would like to say that I am in no way a grammar goddess. I make lots of mistakes - as I'm sure some grammar nazi's reading this will note.

Apr 14, 2010

Grammar 101: Part 1 - An Introduction & Its/It’s

I’ve decided to do these because my biggest fan asked me about tomorrow’s topic in an email and I figured, what better way for me to bone up on my grammar (which I’ll admit isn’t often the greatest) by teaching others – it is the best way to learn something, at least that’s what dear ol’ dad says.


In these I'll always let you know when I stop rambling and the real info starts.

As this won’t be a full “lesson” (*giggles incessantly at the idea of someone learning from me in a classroom environment*) I figured I’d start out with something silly, but that tends to trip me up occasionally still.

*** Begin Relevant Information***

“It’s” the shortened version (aka the conjunction) of “it is” or it has. The “i” or “ha” is replaced with an apostrophe and it becomes one word. Not that hard right?

I’ve had issue with this before and I do occasionally find myself writing the wrong thing… its bad, I know. I’m willing to admit that it’s purely an issue of carelessness and not paying attention on my part. I’m still mortified that one will slip through and an agent will look at my manuscript and think… “This girl doesn’t even know how to use ‘its/it’s’ properly!”

I know the reason I place the wrong one in the wrong place is because in my head I’m still at the point where I’m putting the apostrophe in for the possessive. If the dog has a leash, it’s the dog’s leash.

It’s Andrea’s sister’s dog. It pooped on their brother’s bed. Andrea’s cat Mitsy got blamed for it, thrown out of the house and some nice old lady has adopted her and is now keeping her from Andrea! So now Mitsy is the old lady’s cat. (This instance was made up purely as an example.)

Possessive adjectives baby! You have to think of “its” like you think of “yours” or “theirs”. There is no need for the “_’s”

When you’re talking in possessive, “Its” is the way to go! No apostrophe. The apostrophe indicates the conjunction “It is” that is when you use “It’s”.

*** End of all matter relevant to the topic of “Its/It’s”.

Bonus: Complimentary/Complementary

When something is complimentary (with an “i”) it means it is either complimenting you – i.e. saying you look good (and you really do *winks*) or it means that it is free, or done as a courtesy (those little bottles of shampoo and conditioner in hotel bathrooms are generally* complimentary).

*I say generally because people are beginning to charge for everything these days.

When something is Complementary (with an “e”) it means something goes well with something else. If you’ve seen the commercials for… golly I can’t remember who… with Chevy Chase in them, you’ll remember the snooty concierge making a comment to this effect. “It complements the room, it isn’t free.”

I hope I haven’t confused you more than you were before. Tomorrow: Who/Whom!

Apr 13, 2010

Issues with Motivation and a stomach that is going to eat me!

Okay, so here’s my issue:


As I’m writing Book two in my Thinner than Water Series (Don’t worry, No spoilers) I’ve found a point where, a character says something that confuses me. I know what he says, I know that it has to be said and is relevant to the story line. I’m just perplexed as to where it is going to lead. I can’t put my finger on the motivation behind it.

This book is perhaps the most challenging of all of the books that I’ve written/am in the process of writing. I think that’s because it’s like I’m playing catch up. The story has been bouncing around in my head for so long – long enough to finish the rough drafts of two other novels – that in many ways its led a coup and taken over a portion of my brain. I often wonder if I let it consume more of my mind if I’d go insane. Some might say I already have, but they’re just figments of my imagination… I think…

As a side note, I’ve become a compulsive email checker. Patience is a virtue I’m working on, but it is in short supply, and when the small amount I have eekes away… I’m afraid that I will develop an ulcer and my stomach will begin to eat itself and then me! I can’t imagine the horror of being eaten by one’s own stomach!

Apr 11, 2010

Concerning Sequels

There was an interesting post by one of the agents whose blog I read. It concerned sequels. It wasn’t in their favor.


When it comes to Sequels, I have to admit, Mr. Bransford got at least one piece close to right.

Sometimes authors get so connected to a world they've created they develop symptoms of a disease I've previously diagnosed as acute sequelitis.
Here’s the thing: The story isn’t over yet.


I’ve been away from Skydra’s world long enough to complete two completely separate novels. And somehow, it’s as though I NEED to return to it, to finish her story…

Apr 9, 2010

Book #3

I've officially finished my edit of my third novel! Exciting? Not really, I'm at the point where I hate it and I'm just happy about being able to hand it off to my editors.
But there you have it. Its "done".
Word Count: 86,533
Pages: 298

Apr 8, 2010

Partial!

So I came back from a lovely vacation to San Diego to find a request for a partial in my inbox. After a quick read through I sent it off. Now just have to wait (possibly up to two months!) for their reply. *Fingers crossed*




I'm super pleased that the word-count alone didn't net me an automatic rejection!

Apr 2, 2010

Song of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy

I’m not one for writing Sci-Fi, because I don’t know how to put the things in my mind on paper when it comes to that genre, but I love reading it. Having said that I’ve found a novel that I know I am going to love. I only wish it came out sooner!


Sara Creasy’s debut science fiction novel Song of Scarabaeus

I am in love! I can’t begin to tell you how sucked into this world I was after reading the three sample chapters on her website. I can only tell you that I’ve preordered my copy of Amazon, and I think that if you like Sci-Fi, you’ll want to get your copy too!

Check out her blog and website… hopefully you’ll be in love too!

Apr 1, 2010

Editing: The Bane of my Existence

I’m going to put this out there right now: I’m not a patient person. I never have been, I doubt I ever will be. I hate surprises – especially if I know about them before hand. I’m the kid that wanted to open the presents the second they were under the tree, who cares about actually waiting about for Christmas.

That being said, the editing stage off writing a novel is probably my least favorite. Let me clarify though, it’s great to go back through and find all of those pesky little mistakes, or to pull out as many “slightly”’s as possible (it’s almost as bad as Granted. That’s the word I use serially when I speak. I’m a serial “Granted”er). The problem I have with the editing process, besides the amount of time it takes and the fact that I cannot seem to stop adding in things!* Is not when I’m editing it (as I’m doing now with my third novel) its when others are editing it.

It kills me that I can’t be peeking over their shoulder the entire time, in their heads, knowing what they’re thinking! I have to wait for them to hand the whole thing back to me, and then (generally) I have to beat opinions and comments out of them** – not literally obviously.

Granted, I know that several of these beta readers are too shy to tell me when they don’t like something, and that’s ok (though I’d rather they did) but I really wish I could see my novels from someone else’s head…

* This is how one ends up with a 131K-word novel

**Current record for longest discussion about one of my books goes to Jack BW, a phone conversation that lasted over two hours, and discussed the many facets of the first novel and its subsequent stories.