Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas! Peace on Earth!

As a writer, I always have my dictionary close at hand. Sometimes looking up familiar words is a good thing. Today I revisited Peace. The Webster's definition: (in part)

Peace [Latin pax, pacis, peace] A state of quiet or tranquility; calm, quietness, or repose; freedom from war or hostility; a cessation of hostilities; absence of strife; tranquility of mind; harmony; serenity; public tranquility and order. This Peace is what I wish for the whole world, today and every day! And, I hope to live my life as a reflection of this peace.

Image from this website

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Now appearing at...

If you're in the neighborhood... I'll be at Village Lights Bookstore in Madison, IN this Saturday from 1-3 p.m. Village Lights is an awesome place and I am thrilled to be doing another event with them. It promises to be a beautiful weekend, so if you're close by - you should come to Madison. It's a wonderful walking/shopping town - and there are some good eats to be had - and I'd love to see you!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dancing with Manuscripts!

It's been awhile since I posted anything - period. Just wanted to let y'all know that book 3 is simmering on the back burner - taking a needed rest before editing/revising begins on May 1st.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch - or more accurately, back at the 1890's bungalow I call home - I have been hard at work on a contemporary YA novel, the first draft of which I will (hopefully) have completed by April 30th.

Flipping back and forth between book 3 & new book reminds me of changing partners when ballroom dancing. Here's an excellent post about why that's a good thing. I think the reasons listed in the article translate well to writing, also.

Changing things up forces one to focus - and writing well requires focus.
Changing partners in dancing requires one to adjust to a different style - writing in a different genre, on a different story requires style adjustment, too.

Change, while not necessarily comfortable, is the only way to keep from stagnating. No writer wants to stagnate!

So - on to more Dancing with Manuscripts!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

First Draft, XVI series, book III - Done! (& a teaser)

Just so y'all know... the first draft is cooling its heels - waiting for a week or so until I jump in and start edits / revisions.


Wei looked as scared as I felt. 
“Skivs,” we whispered, simultaneously.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Baking bread / Plotting / Laura Ingalls Wilder

There is a connection, but first... a couple of facts.

1. I love to cook - specifically, I love to bake bread.
2. I am short. (almost 5' 2")

Today I decided to try a new recipe--Spiced lentil, sweet potato, and kale whole wheat pockets.  Because the pockets are yeast risen, the dough must be kneaded. Kneading dough is fun for me for a couple of reasons. I love the repetitive motion of press, fold, turn, repeat... and I find it meditative. It's also the perfect time for creative ideas to bubble up.

Unlike many bakers though - who move the dough effortlessly from mixing bowl to their kneading surface (mine is a big old board reserved exclusively for bread and/or pie crusts), I have to get out my trusty stool to stand on. Why? Because my kitchen counter is too high for me to get good leverage on the dough.
trusty stool

This morning, as I was kneading, I thought about Laura Ingalls Wilder. When my daughters were little (way too long ago for me to admit), on the way back from visiting family out West, we drove to Mansfield, Missouri to see the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum. It was the last place Laura and Almonzo lived, and he built this farmhouse there.

picture from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home & Museum website

One of the things that most impressed me about the house was the kitchen counter. Apparently Laura was short, like me. Well, actually a lot shorter! (4' 11") And, Almonzo built the kitchen counters so that they would be comfortable for her to use. (What a guy!)

So - today, while the dough is rising, and the outside temps are frigid (1° F), I am at the dining room table writing what I plotted earlier while kneading the dough.

Teaser from XVI Series Book 3:

"Every muscle and sinew was poised to leap on him, to destroy him. But, that was exactly what he wanted me to do—fight. I would fight, but not with my body."

Keep warm & have a FUN Thursday!

Monday, February 16, 2015

A snowy day/ book 3 update / teaser

What more can a body want on Monday? If you live in the Northeast, maybe not snow - but we've had so little here in the Midwest this winter (at least where I live!) - that it's beautiful to look at. Large, soft flakes - dry, powdered sugar snow. I'll take a day or two of this... then Spring, please!

Over 2K words added to XVI Series, Book 3 today (that's 86K total & I'm still writing...) Here's a little teaser for y'all:

Spence smirked. “You pack quite a wallop for a girl,” he said. “One I won’t forget.” The smirk darkened.
“Play nice,” CiarĂ¡n said. “Besides, what else would you expect from Alan Oberon’s daughter?”
“Ah, the great Alan Oberon,” Spence said. “Long may he reign.”

Stay warm & dry & read if you're snowed in!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Update on Book 3 & a teaser

Whew! Got smacked down by a vicious head cold and am just now getting up and back in the writing saddle again.

While I was down for the count, I did a lot of reading. I highly recommend the Chief Inspector Gamache mysteries by Louise Penny. And, if you haven't read the latest in Maureen Johnson's thrilling Shades of London series - The Shadow Cabinet - then hie thee to your local bookseller or your local library with great haste!

Here's a bit of a teaser from XVI series book 3...

              Wei looked pointedly at Chris. “Mission accomplished then, eh, big brother?”
              His jaw tensed. “You could say that.”

Stay warm & healthy!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Writing Book 3 thoughts...

While rushing to the climax of XVI Book 3, I've been thinking of the rambling way I write a first draft. I'm more of a "pantser" than a "plotter". I start out by knowing (what I believe to be) essential scenes, and the end of the book... nevertheless, my writing seems to go all over the place. While doing the writing however, a fundamental thread of theme emerges and the story organically grows into what I'd been imagining... while ofttimes not even knowing what that was. (One of the things that makes writing so freakin' cool!)

Today's teaser:

"Power seekers believe no means too heinous to attain the ends they desire."

Back to writing...

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Book 3 progress report...

Over 82K now... it's all coming together... racing to the climax.

"[People] need to see for themselves what’s really going on."

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The writing continues...

Passed 80K in Book 3 of XVI Series.

Today's teaser:

"Don't let this love slip away," Wei said.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Working hard on book 3!

1300 words today (78K total) XVI Series Book 3

Teaser "[Men] must advocate as strongly for the equality of women as they do for their own rights."

Monday, January 19, 2015

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Today in particular seems appropriate to share a quote from the draft of XVI Series, Book 3, on which I am working.

"Violence destroys the road to freedom."

So glad that we had a man like Martin Luther King, Jr. So sad he was taken from us much too soon.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Skeletons & First Drafts

This morning as I was writing in my daily journal, I was thinking on the first draft of book 3 of the XVI series. I'm bearing down on its completion and I was looking ahead to editing/reworking. All of which led me to journal about the convoluted structure of my first drafts.

I don't fit squarely in the middle of either the plotter or pantser model of writers. Upon this morning's reflections, however, I could refer to myself as the skeleton dresser. I may not be alone!

What I mean by skeleton dresser is this...

I generally start a first draft with my main character, the basic plot, and what I see as the end result. As I build upon the story, other characters enter/leave, subplots weave in and out, motives become murky, clear up, or change completely, etc. My first drafts are filled with highlighted and capped directions to myself, such as:
  • rewrite this
  • did (s)he really know this before
  • if this happens then you have to change that
  • oooh, I like this direction better, go forward from here...  
If I see my first draft as the skeleton of the book-to-be, then all these changes, about-faces, revelations are hung upon the bones of the story, embellishing it and making it fuller. Also made me think of when I played dress-up as a kid, I piled on an excess of ornamentation! Hats, scarves, jewelry (not just one bracelet, but an armload!), gloves, lipstick, perfume... whatever there was that seemed good at the time. And, it was always too much! 

Now, back to the skeleton analogy. When the first draft is done, it's time to look at the skeleton with all its adornments and start removing some, shifting some, maybe adding a little more here, and taking away a little more there. After I have it looking acceptable to me, I let someone else (my critique group) see the skeleton in all its glory. Then they get to make/suggest their adjustments, which I can (or not) accept and I go back in and adjust the skeleton's dressings.

When all is said and done, and I don't think it needs any more or less, the most interesting phenomenon occurs. The skeleton has transformed into a real person. The first draft has become a real book. And, along the way, I've had fun doing it! 

For my writer friends - is this how you approach first drafts? As dressing the skeleton? I'd love to know!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Back in the writing saddle & a new website

After some issues with my website, I am switching to this format. It may take a while to get everything up and running the way I'd like it to be. But, I'm so excited about the work I'm doing on the third book in the XVI Series, that I'm going live here right away!

Just a little teaser from today's writing...

"I would not be the first person to find solace for a broken heart in someone else’s arms."

Looking forward to updating the new website & keeping in touch!