28 March 2011

Blogging/Querying/Vacation and an Engagement

Ahh, finally, after two hours I have finally caught up on my blogs.  I have no idea what I would do without Google Reader.  I subscribe to some fifty blogs (I know many of you will shake your head and say, I subscribe to wayyy more than that)!  I can't get over how connected I feel to the writers community out there since starting my blog and I am continuously blown away by how many amazing writers there are out there.  Blog on fellow writers!

In other news, I officially started writing my first query for Rupert.  Yesterday morning, I fired up the computer, bit my nails, and took out my trusty Notebook of Ideas.  I flipped to Rupert's section and began taking notes.  I started with Nathan Bransford's blog, headed on over to Rachelle Gardner's blog, and scoured their sites for any and all resources they had on writing a query.  What I found, is that queries look easy, but really aren't.  I wrote a first draft after researching, shut my notebook and haven't opened it again. 

Why am I so hesitant to keep working on my query?  Mostly because it's not that much fun to write.  I would much rather work on my new WIP.  Don't worry folks, I wouldn't be a writer if I wasn't prepared for through the not fun stuff too.  My big plan is to construct as good a first query as I can in the coming days, possibly post it here, or else send it to my CP's to see what they think.

Lastly, I'm going on vacation and GET TO SEE MY FAMILY!!!  Cale and I leave for Phoenix Thursday morning and will meet up with my Mom, Dad, sister, and future brother-in-law.  That's right, my sister got engaged!!!!!  Chris is pretty awesome and I am super excited for him to officially be family.

We'll be visiting some of our best family friends and my god-father.  Want to know how excited I am to see everyone?  I'm so excited, I packed three weeks ago.  Yup, three weeks ago.

I'm 10,000 words into my new WIP and am looking forward to working on it more when I have spare time this coming week.  Rupert is finished and is being critiqued again.  (If anyone is looking for a critique partner, I would LOVE to read/edit whatever you have if you are interested in checking out Rupert.  It's ended up at about 23k).

24 March 2011

Flash Fiction Anyone?

This is taken from a potential character from a potential book.  The inspiration for her came from my reactions after a car accident a year and a half ago.  Thankfully, her fear is much more exagerated than mine was.

Second Guesses

I pause.  My hand wavers over the four sailboat hooks beside my front door.  The yellow hook has a hat hanging from it and the blue one has my spare car key on a heart shaped key ring dangling from its tail.  This leaves the red and white hook.  My stomach quivers and threatens to upset.
            Will someone die if I hang it on the white hook?
            No, that’s ridiculous.
            But a car accident, that’s possible.
            The keys slip on my sweaty fingers.  I fight with the muscles in my arm so it slides over an inch to hover before the red hook.  Red for love.
            But white for the Holy Spirit.
            I slam the keys down on the white hook and take a step back, only to immediately come forward again, lift the keys from the hook, flip them around, and place them backwards on the sailboat.  I think for a moment and then turn them back again.  Air catches in my throat as I breath in
            Safe, safe, safe.  My mantra slides across my vision.
            With a frustrated growl, I propel myself through the hall, away from the keys, and throw my shoes from my feet.  One lands tipped sideways against the wall.
            Shoes don’t like sitting like that.
            Using my toes, I rearrange the shoes so they sit beside one another nicely.  Five pairs of shoes line the hall, each one sits beside the next equally spaced apart and perfectly arranged.  Hiding behind a closet in the hall is a cardboard box filled with a tumbling pile of shoes I seldom wear.
I fill the green cup in the bathroom with cold water and let its coolness slide down my throat.  Setting it down, I twist it so its square edge lines up perfectly against the sink.  Pausing, I stare at the cup and then inch it closer to the toothbrush holder, waiting for the moment when it will feel right.  I move it back the inch.
            It never feels right.
            Safe, safe, safe.  I stare at my reflection as I think these words.  My fists clench suddenly so fingernails scratch into my skin.  The pain brings me back into my body and out of my mind.
            The water I drank sits heavily in my stomach and I sit down on the toilet as if the water weighs me down.  My back curves, hands fold into lap, knees tuck inward and I pray I never have to move again.
            I want to stay here where I am safe from my nervous fear.  Thoughts bounce between my ears and clamber together so loudly I fear my neighbors will ask why I make such a racket.
            I forgot to get milk. 
Haltingly, I stand and hobble back to the front door.
            Who will die?
            Someone will get hurt.
            Your car will get smooshed by a truck.
            “Stop!”  My voice sounds pathetically quiet compared to the words in my head.  “Safe, safe, safe.”  I say out loud to make sure I have actually thought, and said them.  I need it to be true.
            Closing my eyes, I breathe deeply.  Air fills my belly, lungs, and throat.  Sharp pain pulls at my ribs.  Without looking, I lift the keys and walk out the door, ignoring the second guesses in my head.

20 March 2011

The More You Write the Better

I know I have already posted this link.  It's the first in a four part series by Ira Glass on storytelling.  If you haven't watched it, you need to.  Now.

Part of what Ira says is that at the beginning of your career you will produce a lot of crap, but the more you write and the more you work, the better your material will become.

I am extremely excited by how Rupert is evolving and becoming an even better piece of work then I had thought it would be.  Cale has said that Rupert is much better than the first book I wrote.  With this in mind, I'm taking a note from Ira Glass and am looking forward even more to this third book I have begun plotting.

I had a free day today and filled it with listening to Harry Potter on C.D. and writing (interspersed with taking the dogs on a walk, swim suit shopping- which was a failure, and biking).  I decided to begin the first chapter of this third book.  Yay!  It was a great day of writing a few thousand words and feeling good about the direction my writing is taking.

I guess the moral of this post is to keep writing as much as you can! :)

16 March 2011

Silly Mistakes

Lesson learned: make completely new copies of your MS after it's been critiqued by someone.  I don't know how I did it, but when I copied and pasted edits into my MS I ended up deleting a chapter.  Thankfully, I had a version of that chapter from a couple weeks ago, but I can't remember how much I might have changed since then.  Oops.

What else have I done recently that's been a bit absentminded?  I had to re-write a certain part of a chapter twice because it didn't save.  I still think my computer was doing something funky there though and it wasn't my fault in not saving.

Let's see...I've torn up a piece of paper I thought I had copied all information and ideas off of, but actually hadn't.

I've also left a book I was using to research on the floor right where my dog could eat it up.  Thankfully she's grown out of that stage of her puppy-hood.  (The same day, she also chewed up my boyfriend's mother's book she was lending me.  Ugh).

I thought I left my idea notebook at work last week, before the start of spring break (I teach twice a week an hour from home), but it was actually stuffed under the seat of my car.  That about gave me a heart attack.  I carry that thing with me everywhere I go.

At least I've never lost an entire MS.  My computer crashed last year but I had already saved everything to the internet, a flash drive, and a hard drive.  It never hurts to be prepared.

What silly mistakes have you made in your journey of writing?

11 March 2011

The First 312 Words

Gabi Lessa is having a fabulous contest on her blog in honor of her birthday!

Here are the rules if you'd like to join!
1 - Visit her blog to sign up for the contest. You have until noon on Saturday, March 12th, to sign up.
2 - The contest is open for everyone. You can enter either a finished manuscript or a work in progress.
3 - Post the first 312 words of your manuscript on your blog. Just the first 312! It doesn't matter if it ends midsentence, that's ok. But please be sure to count! 312 words, not one more, not one less!
4 - When you post your entry, post your title, your genre and your manuscript's status (finished or in progress).

So...here's Rupert!

Title: Rupert Reginald Robinson, the ninth & the House Next Door
Genre: Middle Grade
Status: WIP

My first 312 words...

Rupert Reginald Robinson clutched a thick book to his chest, his forehead rested against the glass of the backseat car window.  The car bumped across the road.  His head slid to a new place and left a smudge of grease on the glass.
            “Ouch,” he said as his head whacked against the glass for a third time.  He released his book and rubbed his forehead with two fingers.
            In his left hand he gripped a baseball.  The ball was worn and frayed as if a dog had chewed on the red bindings.  As the car bounced down the road the ball rotated around, his fingers moved methodically so the ball was always in motion.
            Rupert placed his head back against the glass and looked out onto the street.  At the corner stood Bobby.
Bobby was the school bully.  A small grey rat rode on his shoulder.  This rat was his favorite form of torture.  Bobby would hide it in kids’ lockers to scare them.  He scowled when he saw Rupert spying him through the glass. 
            “Aunt Miriam?”  Rupert asked and looked up to the front seat.
            “Hmm?”  Miriam kept her eyes on the road.
            “Are we almost there?”
            “No Rupert, we are not almost there.  Do not ask again.”
            Rupert turned back to stare out the window.
            Beside him, his cousin sat in a booster seat playing with dolls.  She hummed quietly to herself as the dolls clicked against each other.  Rupert could hear her lips moving as she silently talked to herself.
            “Mom? Are we there yet?” Delilah asked absentmindedly.
            “We’ll be there in just a few minutes, sweetie.”  Miriam said and reached back to pat her daughter on the knee.
            Rupert rolled his eyes.
            The car came to a halt in their driveway and Delilah began to squirm in her seat.  She quickly dropped both her dolls to the car

10 March 2011


I've read two posts on plotting recently, the first by Chuck Wendig and the second by Angela Perry.  Both of them are fantastic and have inspired me to revamp my plotting style.

I've always been a plotter, but it has been in the form of a shabby outline and more often than not, it's all done in my head.  I've always liked leaving things in my head for a while to stew before getting it down on the page.  That all has changed in the past week.

Rupert is finished, and by finished I really mean not even close.  I've changed the beginning a bit and have a lot of work still to do on the ending.  It certainly is exciting though to have a whole book put together!  Anyways, I'm going on vacation in three weeks and am going to use those weeks in two different ways.
1. I'm going to keep editing Rupert, and
2. Plotting!

I've had a novel sitting in my noggin since high school and recently it has been itching to get onto the page.  I tentatively began plotting this novel a few weeks ago but really didn't want to get into it before Rupert was done.  After reading Angela's post on plotting, I decided to plot more...and more...and now I have many many pages of plotting done.  It's exciting!  I've decided to use my vacation in three weeks to use the plotting I've done and write as much as I can of this other novel.  It will be a vacation from Rupert!  haha.

Here is what I have figured out I like to do when plotting:
1. I draw a map.  This is one of my favorite things to do when I am beginning to world build.  My maps begin by pencil and are slowly filled in with colored pencils, the more I figure out what the world looks like.

2. I write a one page, quick overview of the major events.  This will be expanded and filled in later.

3. I write a list of characters filed into two colums- if they are major or minor characters.  After this, I take the major characters and put them into a chart.  In it I include their motivation (abstract), goal (concrete), two values that conflict, their main conflict, and the change that occurs in them.  This is something I have taken from Angela.

4. I write an outline, including chapter titles.  I love making up chapter titles.  Under the titles I write, and highlight, the characters who are introduced in the chapter.  I try to write about a half a page of what I want to happen- character dilemma's, how the main characters are evolving, conflicts that are resolved and conflicts that are created, etc.  I also write questions here that I need to still find answers to.  Snippets of conversation get stuck here also.

5. Something else I have taken from Angela is writing from each characters point of view, even the minor characters.  I did this and ended up discovering unknown aspects to characters personalities and what makes them unique.

6. Lastly, I take a page from J.K.Rowling's book.  She puts together a spreadsheet that contains all important elements and character development that occur through out the novel.  I love doing this because everything gets stuck in one easy place to refer to.  This isn't always the easiest part of plotting for me, but when I finish I feel very accomplished.

Those are the main pieces for plotting I have fallen in love with.  What are your habits for plotting?

07 March 2011

Irresistably Sweet

The wonderful Sophia Chang has given me my first blog award!  I am honored :)

The rules:
1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
2. Share four guilty pleasures that you have.
3. Pass the award on to six other blogs.

Four guilty pleasures:
1. Running at the trails with Cale and my dogs.  I honestly can't think of a better way to spend a day than this.
2. Reading in the bath.  At least three nights out of the week I can be found relaxing in a hot bath with a good book.
3. Scouring J.Crew's for good sale items.
4. Scrapbooking while talking with my family on the phone :)

I'm assuming I can't send this back to you, Sophia, so here are 6 other fabulous bloggers:
1.Letitia Englund
2. Angela Perry
3. Gabriela Lessa
4. Pia Bernardino
5. K.M. Weiland
6. Chuck Wendig

For those of you who like interviews AND winning things, here's an interview with Chris Grabenstein and a chance to win one of his books, "The Crossing."

04 March 2011

Illustrations by Chris Van Allsburg

Rupert's story began some six years ago when I was in high school.  A friend had to write a short story based on a picture.  They couldn't think of one, so naturally, I helped.  I wrote half a page of ideas and tucked it away in my memory.  Tonight, I decided to find that picture.

I'm postive all of you have seen Chris Van Allsburg's illustrations.  They're incredibly...incredible.

Here is the initial inspiration for the plot of Rupert:
The caption for the picture is, "Two weeks passed and it happened again."
This picture isn't quite as I remembered it, but it is so utterly exciting to have it in front of me again!

My tip for all writers out there: pick one of Chris's illustrations and write a short story based off it.  Use your imagination!  No, it's not a rat under the rug, or a mouse.  Instead it's....well, you choose!

Flash Fiction

Football is King

            The back of Seth’s hand hovered an eighth of an inch from his center’s backside.  A drop of sweat slid through the hairs in his eyebrow and down the crease beside his nose.  His eyelid twitched as the salty water reached the white of his eye.
            “Throw the fucking ball!”  The shout flew from the crowd.  It hovered around Seth’s helmet and joined the other white noise dancing around his head.
            To the right of the field, blue lights flashed.  Police blocked the roads surrounding the football stadium.  Seth knew every man on the police squad was there and the majority of them had played on the team when they were his age.
            “Pump, pump, pump it up.  Pump that Tiger spirit up!” The cheerleaders shouted to Seth’s left.  He had heard their cheers since he was in his mother’s womb, but had never once listened to them and couldn’t tell you a single word they said.  Their bright lipstick and shiny hair caught his attention more than their words.
            12.  The play clock rolled between numbers.
            Monday.  A pissed off group of kids stopped Seth in the hall at school.  They stopped him not because he had lost the game on Friday, because he hadn’t.
            “You like the signs we put up?”  Croy’s mouth flopped as words spilled out.
            Seth shouldered his way through the jabbering crowd of students.
            “What, no response?”  Croy jeered and poked a finger at Seth’s neck as he passed by.  Seth side-stepped the poke and continued down the hall.
            “We thought it’d be funny to get you to move.”  Croy said.  Frustration at Seth’s lack of response lined his brow.
            In a moment of indecisiveness, Croy shifted his attention to Bear, a large kid who lumbered down the hall.
            “Hey, weird kid, planned any bombings of the school lately?”  Croy guffawed as the insult reached Bear’s ears.
            Seth’s took a step back in the hall.  His hand punched Croy’s breath from his chest as he pushed him into a locker.  “You know why you quit the football team, Croy?  Not because you were forced to or my dad was unfair and wouldn’t play you but because you’re a fat unathletic fuck who’s soft, weak, and a hazard on the field.”
            Croy’s face crinkled.  His nose turned up and lips pulled back revealing crooked teeth.
            Behind Seth, Bear fled down the hall.
            “I loved the ‘For Sale’ signs you so ingeniously stuck in my family’s yard.”  Seth continued.  “Come to the game Friday night and I’ll show you just how much I loved them.”  He released Croy and steadily walked away.
            8.  Time ticked down.
            The defense opposite him popped up and shifted coverages.  The chess board at the line of scrimmage was changing and it was time for Seth to react.  Seth swiveled his head, yelled to his linemen, pointed down the line and the play was reset.
            Two months ago.  Seth walked through the school between classes, a hall pass stuck into his back pocket.
            “Scruffy hair, days old beard, untucked shirt.”  Mr. Finkle stepped from the shadows and wrapped his fingers around Seth’s shoulder.  “You think because you’re the coach’s son you can get away with anything.  Skipping class.”  The principal’s black eyes squinted and fist bunched up Seth’s shirt.
            Seth jerked away but kept his mouth shut.
            “I hope you don’t mind, I told those coaches who visited last week you weren’t worth their time.”  He sneered.  “I’m watching you.”  He disappeared down the hall.
            Those coaches had backed Seth when the self-important principal uttered nonsense about his skill on the field.
            Seth had a mind for the game.  Many coaches wanted a big player, but those who knew Seth knew they would get a player who would get the job done every Friday night.
            Whatever Mr. Finkle might say, they recognized Seth’s talent.
            4.  Two more seconds and he would react.
            Way up on the highest bleacher, in the corner of the stands, sat Seth’s mom- the coach’s wife.  She wore the same clothes as last Friday and held her hands calmly in her lap.  Down the bleacher sat three of the Tiger’s previous quarterbacks.  They rested, one with elbows on his knees, the other with hands behind his head, and the last stood- hands in pockets.
            She sat there where people knew better.  They didn’t try to pretend they understood more than the coach or the kids on the field.
            Ten years ago.  Seth sat on his front step, a football between his feet.
            “Hey, Seth.”
            Seth looked up into the face of a man driving a truck.  He didn’t know who man was, but that sure didn’t stop the man from knowing him.
            “Tell your Dad he won’t last a month here.  Tell him ya’ll better not unpack.  Tell him none of you are good enough for this town.”  The man spit from his truck and it splattered on the road.
            “Get on, Roy!”  Seth’s neighbor hollered from next door.  “The kid doesn’t need to hear your nonsense.”
            Roy stuck his head in the air and squealed his tires as he drove away.
            Seth’s neighbor inclined her head toward him and disappeared into her house.
            2.  It was time.
            Seth raised his right leg and stomped his foot.  His center snapped the ball into Seth’s hands.  He pulled the ball behind his head as his feet danced him safely in the pocket.
            The game was on.