Blogging, Reading, Uncategorized

How to fall in love with a reader: Part One

a picture of me with my niece
Did you fall in love with this reader yet? This is a picture of me with one of my nieces at my sister’s recent bridal shower. My niece is a reader too, but she’s too young for you. I’m the short one.

The other day, I read this blog post that mentioned a New York Times essay discussing a “36-question interview devised to make strangers fall in love.” The author of the blog post revised the questionnaire with the intent of making specific people – readers – well, if not fall in love, at least “have an interesting conversation about books.” In this post, the first in a three-part series, I will answer that blogger’s questions. Continue reading “How to fall in love with a reader: Part One”

Description, Writing Prompts

Describe something in ten different ways

Child Art Aged 2.5 Smiley Face with Writing Un...
Sometimes, I think my descriptive writing looks a little like this. | Child Art Aged 2.5 Smiley Face with Writing Underneath (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Chuck Wendig/TerribleMinds writing exercise for today is to describe one thing in ten different ways. I decided I needed to attempt this one since description is NOT my strong suit. I chose to describe description:

Writing description, for me, 1) is like pulling teeth. Yes, cliché is often my go-to strategy. Don’t most of our brains take the path of least resistance most of the time? It’s 2) like a traffic jam when I’m already late (HA!)

Okay, now that I’m done dating myself, let’s proceed, shall we?

Writing description 3) is hard for me. Once in a great while, 4) it pours out of me as though someone has turned on the rusty description faucet in my head, full-blast, if only for a few minutes. Continue reading “Describe something in ten different ways”

Blogging, Flash Fiction

200 Words: Part 2 of Making Merry

My cat making merry in the christmas tree
My son’s kitten has been making her own bit of merriment in my tree. Stop, ornament thief!

The past two weeks, I have been participating in Chuck Wendig’s 200 Words flash fiction challenge. This week, author Michael Woods picked up my story start, Making Merry, and added the next 200 words. You may read it over on his blog.

So far, my favorite part about this activity is seeing how another author can completely change the setting you had in your head just by adding a couple of words. For example, I had originally pictured a lower-middle class suburban neighborhood with small ranch houses, but the addition of the Saab and BMW parked on the street suddenly morphed the setting I had in mind to more of an upper-middle class neighborhood. This totally changes the dynamic of the story moving forward. Continue reading “200 Words: Part 2 of Making Merry”

Novel Writing, Writers on Writing

Do all writers have iron stomachs when they’re writing?

English: Western corn rootworm (Diabrotica vir...
This is an adult version of a corn rootworm. I decided not to share any larva images in case you are eating while reading my blog. | English: Western corn rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte) on corn (Zea mays) Italiano: Diabrotica su foglia di mais (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am so glad I decided to go for a walk this morning. For some reason, I always get my best ideas while I’m out for a walk. Today, my walk ended in a jog, as I was in such a hurry to get home to scribble out this new scene.

I grabbed my notebook and pen, then turned on the coffee maker and threw a slice of whole grain bread in the toaster. I wrote while making my breakfast because I knew I would lose steam if I didn’t get some food in my stomach and caffeine coursing through my veins.

At one point, I realized I needed to know what a corn rootworm looks like so I could show it in the scene. I ran from the kitchen table to my computer with a piece of toast dangling between my teeth. A quick Google search produced a plethora of gloriously disgusting images of corn rootworms in every stage of life, from egg to larva to beetle. Continue reading “Do all writers have iron stomachs when they’re writing?”

Facebook, Mount Mary College, Novel Writing

Are you ready to write a novel this season?

a stack of library books
Today’s library haul… who says fiction writing doesn’t require research?

I had a great time with the summer writing challenge and got to know several of you quite well in the process. I want to thank everyone one more time for participating. If you managed to write even just a few more pages than you would have otherwise, then I consider the challenge a success!

Since I am not ready to stop challenging myself, this morning, I changed the name of my Write Your Novel this Summer Facebook page to “Write Your Novel this Season.” I think it’s a good idea to keep cranking out new material even while you are working on revisions for your previous stories. What do you think?

What’s next? Well, I did a complete read-through of my “Bees to Honey” novel (this is not a title, just a descriptive phrase to keep track of which novel is which) and wrote a few new scenes. I have reached the point where I need to do a ton of research on a certain element of my story before I do too much more writing. So, I went to the library this morning and picked up a huge stack of source material. I have a LOT of reading ahead of me! Continue reading “Are you ready to write a novel this season?”

Setting, Writers on Writing

Writing the second draft

The Story Thus Far
My story thus far is full of dialog but lacking in the description department. How about yours? | The Story Thus Far (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy first day of autumn!

I am currently working my way through draft #2 of the novel I wrote for the Write Your Novel this Summer Challenge. What goes into a second draft probably varies from one writer to the next. Dialog and action come easy for me. Description? Not so much. I can do description, but it simply does not pour out of me as dialog does. For me, description takes a lot of work.

When writing my first draft, I literally listen to the voices in my head and write down what they say. I am nothing more than a glorified court reporter. The result is what I think is an exciting story that is set in the empty expanse of Vagueland. While the dialog thrills me, the average reader would be lost in an attempt to determine where and when, exactly, this story takes place. I can picture it, but I haven’t yet built it on the page. Continue reading “Writing the second draft”

Book Reviews, Novel Writing, Random Writing Rants

When it is bad to get feedback on your writing

Stolen A Letter to My Captor by author Lucy Christopher
I recommend this book for any writer who would like to study the art of taking a reader on a journey without the reader knowing where she is going until she arrives.

I have said it before, and I will say it again. I do not believe that you should share the first draft of your novel with anyone – ANYONE — until it is complete. The more I learn, the more I believe this to be true.

I just finished reading Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher. I can’t help but picture myself in a writer’s critique group with the author, bashing her work and ensuring this novel never comes to fruition. I wouldn’t kill her darling for her on purpose. But not being able to read through to the end of her story, there is no way I could possibly understand what she was attempting to do as she wrote this novel. Continue reading “When it is bad to get feedback on your writing”

Writer's Block

Try this new motivational strategy next time you’re stuck in an unproductive day from writing hell.

This is reading. Old school
This is reading. Old school

Want a rush? Try this little motivational strategy I just stumbled upon. I was having one of those really productive days where I had so much I wanted to do I ended up taking a nap instead. I needed to do a read-through of my current novel draft, but I was SO sick of looking at it on my computer screen. I considered printing it out, but my printer can’t handle such a large job. And I wasn’t in the mood for an expensive trip to the library printer. So yeah, I took a nap.

I woke up groggy and continued to accomplish nothing for the rest of the afternoon while I watched cruddy daytime television and the minutes crawling by on the wall clock. My kids were going to return from school soon. After 3:00, my chances of accomplishing anything for the day would drop to around 0%. Continue reading “Try this new motivational strategy next time you’re stuck in an unproductive day from writing hell.”

Blogging, Uncategorized

10 Day Writing Blogger Challenge: Day 1

10-day-write-blog-challenge-button300
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”

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”