Write Your Novel this Summer Challenge

Summer Writing Challenge Check-in: Week 7 | Are we there yet?

Cast of characters in The Big Bang Theory. Fro...
How can I be expected to write anything when The Big Bang Theory is on? | Cast of characters in The Big Bang Theory. From left: Howard Wolowitz, Leonard Hofstadter, Penny, Sheldon Cooper and Rajesh Koothrappali. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been on a writing roll this past week. I continued with the experiment I started last week and have managed to write one full chapter every single day!

I almost didn’t make it yesterday. I had suffered a bout of insomnia the night before and hadn’t fallen asleep until after 2 a.m. When I woke at 8:00 yesterday morning, I was so exhausted, I just couldn’t seem to function. I spent the first half of the day crashed out on the couch beating myself up over the fact that I hadn’t written my day’s chapter yet. Then I spent the afternoon thinking about it while hanging out with my kids, looking through old photo albums. Continue reading “Summer Writing Challenge Check-in: Week 7 | Are we there yet?”


10 Day Writing Blogger Challenge: Day 2

10 day writing blog challenge, day 2Day 2 Prompt: Make 10 Writing Related Confessions

Today’s writing blogger challenge prompt might be a hard one. I am sitting here racking my brain and not coming up with more than one or two. So, here’s what I’m going to do: Let it simmer. I am going to simply leave my Word doc open and run back to write these down as I think of them.

Hopefully I’ll have come up with ten by the time I need to post this. Otherwise, I may end up posting a partial list –OR- using the alternative prompt, which is to take a blogging break for the day. Nah, I’m not taking a day off!

Okay, here’s my list: Continue reading “10 Day Writing Blogger Challenge: Day 2”

Blogging, Uncategorized

10 Day Writing Blogger Challenge: Day 1

Welcome to the 10 Day Writing Blogger Challenge.

I’ve been reading Vikki Thompson’s responses to Hunting Down Writing’s 10 Day Writing Blogger Challenge over on her blog, The View Outside and decided to partake in the challenge myself. So, without further ado, here is my response to the Day 1 Writing Prompt:

For this first post, I chose to use the alternative prompt, as I believe I have already shared a pitch of my current novel project.

Here’s the first prompt: Discuss whether writers should blog about writing.

And my answer: YES! I think writers should blog about writing for a variety of reasons. Continue reading “10 Day Writing Blogger Challenge: Day 1”

Blogging, Digital Marketing, Uncategorized

What’s in a (my) name?

July 2013 picture of me wearing explorer hat
My ex-husband’s father’s girlfriend took this picture of me recently. Do I look like an Amanda or a Mandy to you?

When my mom was pregnant with me, she wanted to name me Mandy. I think this was around the time Barry Manilow’s song, Mandy came out. My dad said there was no way he was naming his kid Mandy. So they settled for Amanda, which happens to also be a family name.

Then I was born, and my dad was the first person to call me Mandy rather than Amanda. The nickname stuck, and I have been Mandy my whole life to everyone but my grandmothers, some schoolteachers, and an ex-boyfriend who insisted on calling me Amanda despite the fact that it irritated the hell out of me (only special people get to call me Amanda, and he just wasn’t that special.)

When I set up my online portfolio and blog a couple of years ago, I set it up using the name Mandy because that’s what everyone calls me. Now that I am seriously considering actually getting something published, I think I want to publish under the more formal name, Amanda L. Webster.

Here’s the problem: Continue reading “What’s in a (my) name?”

Write Your Novel this Summer Challenge

Summer Writing Challenge Check-in: Week 5 | I just don’t know how to say no

my new kitten lulu la gata
This is my new baby kitty. Her name is Lulu La Gata. (La Gata is Spanish for “the cat.)

I should consider changing my Friday Writing Challenge Check-in series to “This Week’s Excuse for Not Writing.” Seriously, people, if I keep this up, I’m going to have to stop calling myself a writer. Maybe I should change my title to “blogger” since I can at least manage that.

Anyway, last Friday I headed out to Illinois for a huge family campout (huge as in somewhere around 60 to 70 family members showed up.) Of course, I brought my notebooks. Of course, I was too busy camping and visiting with family to write in them.

We camped until Sunday morning, then went to my parents’ house for a couple of days. Then I made a stop at my sister’s house a couple of hours north of my parents. I was planning to come home Wednesday, but she begged me to stay another day since she was off Wednesday and we could actually hang out and see each other. Once school starts, I’ll hardly get to see any of my family at all until next summer, so I couldn’t say no. Continue reading “Summer Writing Challenge Check-in: Week 5 | I just don’t know how to say no”

Novel Writing

Narrowing my focus: Choosing a niche and a time frame for my story

Novels in a Polish bookstore
How do you decide which shelf your book will finally end up on at your local book store? | Novels in a Polish bookstore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since I began writing my current novel almost one full year ago, I have often struggled with determining which genre my story falls into. My thesis adviser pushed me (a lot!) in the direction of Young Adult (YA,) but it just never felt right to me. Although my protagonist is seventeen years old at the outset of the novel, the story will unfold over the course of several years and will include a failed marriage and other “adult” themes that rule out the possibility of selling this novel to a YA audience.

Another element I am struggling with is my time line. Exactly how many years should my protagonist be married to her jerk husband before she escapes? I need her to stick it out for at least a few years. But then, how do I write her through those years and get to the next big event without boring my reader?

This morning, I was reading a blog post by David Fernandez of DLFWriting titled, Becoming a Storyteller: New Adult, or, Wizards and Vampires and Sex! Oh My! that gave me one of those Aha! moments where everything suddenly becomes so clear. In this post, Fernandez discusses the growth of New Adult (NA) fiction, which is aimed at the previously ignored age group of 18 – 25 year olds. Continue reading “Narrowing my focus: Choosing a niche and a time frame for my story”

Novel Writing

Studying the four-part story structure

William Faulkner's Underwood Universal Portabl...
I wonder if someone will one day turn my crappy apartment into a shrine to my writing? | William Faulkner’s Underwood Universal Portable sits in his office at Rowan Oak, which is now maintained by the University of Mississippi in Oxford as a museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The second half of my novel is shaping up to be the toughest to figure out. The first half seemed to flow straight out of my subconscious mind and onto the page without much thought or effort on my part. Which is strange, considering I had no idea where I was going with my story at the time.

Now that I know where I want to go, I can’t seem to figure out how to get there. A recent Writer’s Digest blog post titled, How to Structure a Killer Novel Ending got me thinking about my story’s structure again.

In the early stages of writing my novel, I considered my overall structure many times and in various forms. It’s something I might not have done if not for the fact that I was taking an advanced novel writing course and was forced to do so by my professor. I am glad she did though, because that intense examination of structure really helped me get my story moving. Continue reading “Studying the four-part story structure”

Memoir, Write Your Novel this Summer Challenge

Summer Writing Challenge Check-in: Week 4

word count work in progress
This is the actual word count for my work in progress.

I haven’t added many words to my novel this week, as I have spent much of this writing week engaged in weaving. It’s all because of this one very important character who suddenly popped up around page 150. I think he is important enough that he needs to show up sooner. So, I’ve been reading my way through my first 150 pages looking for opportunities to include him in the action.

On one hand, I think this could be a second draft activity, as it is keeping me from writing forward in my story. On the other hand, this character is important enough to the overall story that I think I need to spend some time getting to know him and seeing how he interacts with my protagonist. Thus, the time spent weaving him in. Continue reading “Summer Writing Challenge Check-in: Week 4”

Character Building, Memoir

Character building: I just got a BRILLIANT idea (I think)

mother memory book
This is one of two memory books I am filling out for my sons. Each books asks tons of questions about the mother’s life.

I’ve always been obsessed with these memory books that are designed for parents and grandparents to fill out and leave for their progeny to remember them by. When I was a teen, I bought grandmother versions for each of my grandmas. Both of my grandmas totally filled their books out and left me all sorts of memories of them that I will treasure forever. I am lucky enough to still have my maternal grandmother, but my paternal grandmother has been gone for seven years now. I feel so close to her when I can open her book and read her handwriting.

I bought the parent versions for each of my parents a long time ago, but I don’t know if they’ve ever started to answer the questions inside. Maybe they’re still too young to worry much about whether or not they’ll be remembered when they’re gone. Continue reading “Character building: I just got a BRILLIANT idea (I think)”

Random Rants, Random Writing Rants

And this is why I should vary my headlines

Photo of newspaper headlines about polio vacci...
Perhaps I could put a bit more thought into my blog post headlines. | Photo of newspaper headlines about polio vaccine tests (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Random thought:

I just noticed my last two blog posts both ran with headlines that began with the words, “This is why…”

Should I write a whole series of “This is why” blog posts so it appears that I did it on purpose? Continue reading “And this is why I should vary my headlines”