Before I Go

Status Update: Book 1 – no progress – Book 4 – 7,242 words (783 word difference) – added to Notes file

Between my impending trip to California and the fear that my beloved Nana will die before I get down to San Diego to see her on Wednesday, I’ve done little or no writing.

This morning, however, I plan on a marathon writing session. The little princess is with her Grandori and I have until 2pm to leave and go up and get her. So that’s six plus hours of writing. What, if anything, I might get accomplished on our trip will be a hit or miss situation.

So with that update…to work, to work!

later…approximately 8am…

I wandered off the reservation and checked out a bit of erotic fiction for a scene I was writing. It didn’t give me any good ideas, but it was an excellent lesson on how not to write. No concept of what paragraphs are for, flat descriptions, predictable plot, and flat conversations. Wow. I know I probably sound like a high-browed snooty bitch, but it was truly terrible writing. I looked it over and recognized the bones of a decent story, one that could be turned into something really cool – once the writer progressed past the mental age of a ten-year-old with a very dirty mind. On the other side of it, I found myself questioning just how my writing might strike those experienced and published writers. It is still lacking. I wonder if it will ever be at the level I expect and want it to be.

I once read/heard that writers are notorious for never being satisfied. We forever wish to tweak and edit that which has already been written and published. The sentences forever appear lacking in perfection. However, there is still the other side of things, a point in which one quits too soon. I think I fall somewhere in between.

Now…to work!

later still, 10:30 am

Status update: Book 1 – 23,357 words (909 words) and more details added to the Notes file

Moving along, moving along.

I’m going to take a short break. Nibble on something, turn down the air conditioning, maybe take a shower.

Later still, time for dinner and maybe a movie

Status update: Book 1 – 24,273 (2,142 words written today). I deleted some notes that detailed what would come next. I’ve got a short bulleted list to work from and that should work well.

We drove up at 2pm and got Emily, but it took us nearly 2 1/2 hours to return since my mom had handyman jobs for Dave. I downloaded Elektra and I’m starving. Time to roust the child from her nap, raid the fridge for food and perhaps enjoy a movie. In short, I think I’m done for the day.

That Kiss

Status Update: no change

So, yeah, never made it to my goal of 27,000. I was doing great and then I just…stopped. No block, no nothing. I just wandered away from the keyboard and never really came back.


So for the past month or so I’ve accessed YouTube and watched, rather obsessively, the kissing scene in “Catch and Release” over and over and over and OVER.

For those interested it is Catch and Release: 5 and the scene starts at 6 minutes 48 seconds…not that I’m down to the precise second or anything.

I want this exact scene in Flea Keep (Book 4) if I can manage it. Damn, but that man is HOT!

He reminds me a lot of my husband. Not so much in who Dave is on a daily basis, but looks and personality-wise. It is a shame we do not keep the crazy passion that begins relationships. But I guess if we did, it would make life very distracting.

Going Strong!

Status update: Book 1 – 22,448 (was 19,506) so approximately 3,000 words

Woohoo! I was frustrated Monday and Tuesday, it was as if I were at a wall and nothing, and I do mean NOTHING was happening. And now? Well, I’ve managed to type close to 3,000 words and I have about 4,500 to go to make goal for the week. This is entirely do-able, since I have some time before my cleanings this morning, but also a nice afternoon and evening to get even more typing done. Tomorrow, which is Thursday, I will have all morning to work on the book. I think I can get a lot done.

I have also added to the Notes file as well as the Timeline and Character Descriptions files. I added a “to do” list for what happens next in the story as well.

I’m feeling good about it, and that’s what’s important. Perhaps my ‘lack’ over the past nine days has been period related, who knows. I know I had been feeling quite depressed. But I’m not now and that is great.

I’ve bought the tickets and we are going to California in thirteen days if all works out. This is for a court case (the idjit that hit Dave while texting – good going dumbass) and I’m staying to celebrate Dee’s birthday with her and spend some time with my favorite firstborn child. I think it will be fun. I hope to take a memory stick with me and continue to write while I am there. But most likely I won’t have much time for that, so it will be good if I can get as much done before I leave.

Hopping back on the horse after time away is never easy.

My Heroines

Status Update:19,506 words in Book 1 (Mainly I edited yesterday)

Not to be confused with heroin, which is a drug and not something I would ever dabble with.

I have found in my writing that I have two ‘tells’ in how I construct a heroine…

First, she is strong. She may not appear this way at first. In many cases, she may even be a victim, but she evolves. Perhaps this is to be expected, but that is not why she is this way. It is because that is the way I view myself. I spent many years being the victim or being victimized – hell even working for someone else was a type of self-victimization. But divorcing those two husbands, surviving what I have survived, and eventually quitting the jobs I hated all taught me a great deal about the strength inside of me. My heroines (and so far they are very rarely heroes) are women with the potential for great things.

Secondly, and this will sound silly, is physical appearance. My heroine’s hair will vary in color, but her eyes will always be blue. Who knows, that might change now that Emily’s is this amazing hazel blend of my blue and her father’s brown. They are truly beautiful. I of course have blue eyes, but I have had every shade of hair color there is and it has actually been my natural color.

How is this possible, you may ask? Well, it goes something like this. My mother swears I was born with jet black hair. Which fell out practically overnight when I was approximately six weeks. This event panicked her, since I was her first and only child. When it grew back, it was a strawberry blond (aka red) and gradually it lightened to a golden blond. I stayed a blond through high school and into my mid-twenties. However, by age 26 or so, my hair began to darken. My grandmother actually accused me of dyeing it, which I most definitely had not. By my mid-30′s it was a solid ash brown, not a blond lock left. And now, at 40, I have a liberal dose of gray/white hairs running through it.

Except when I get mistaken for my youngest child’s grandmother (friggin’ idiots) I have been quite happy to leave it untouched. About once a year I get all stressed out and color it a medium brown.

So there you go, two aspects about my heroines that are pretty much reliable.

And now, to work, to work!

Tip #1 – Write Down Your Dreams…Right Away

Status update: No Change

Damn it all, I know this rule, and yet, I didn’t follow it. I was so darned sure I would remember my dream last night that I did not get up and write anything down. I remember actually saying to myself, “Now, remember this, it’s important to the story.”

That was approximately 2 or 3 a.m. this morning.

Can’t remember worth shit whatever it was. All I can tell you is it was important. So important, that I spent the rest of the night tossing and turning and dreaming of the book, only to forget all of it by morning. Worse yet, I was really looking forward to writing in it. Realizing this morning as I booted my computer up and tried to peer through the non-headache pulsing eye that I couldn’t remember a thing was distressing and rather depressing.

I’ve pretty much kicked the headache.

So my week looks like this:

Monday (today) – Emily and me alone today, then Supervised Coaching from 8-9:30. I need to review the ICF competencies and prepare for my oral examination as well for tonight. It is a good day for writing!

Tuesday – 5 am ICA call regarding the Research Paper, then story time with Emily, up to Mom’s to drop her off, and then down for a 2pm cleaning in Belton. An Ecosystems class at UMKC from 7-9pm, but I should have some writing time in the mid-afternoon.

Wednesday – two cleanings, and Supervised Coaching from 8-9:30. I should have time for some writing in late afternoon, early evening

Thursday – morning is totally free. Hopefully I can get some writing done but I also need to get together a handout and the supplies for the Purse Magick class and of course verify that the class does has participants. Then it is off to Hallmark for a research study in the early afternoon and then up to North Kansas City for the class if it is a go.

Friday – THREE cleanings, starting at 8am in the morning and then straight up to Mom’s to pick up Emily. I doubt I will have any time for writing on Friday.

So…I think my goal will be this…

Monday (today) – 1,500 words, Tuesday 2,000 words, Wednesday 2,000 words, Thursday 2,000 words – for a total of 7,500 words for the week.

I’m currently at 19,055 words. I would like to see that number increase to 27,000 by the weekend. That’s a little more than I’ve detailed above, but I think it is do-able. I was reading today in Chris Baty’s book “No Plot? No Problem!” that a deadline really helps. So there you have it, my deadline/goal is to be at 27,000 words by 8/21/10.

Oh and today, I have around SEVEN books I’ve sold on that I need to take to the post office. I also need to get together a list of foods to buy from some of the healthy foods classes I have taken recently and go by Wal-Mart for that and other supplies. Past that, I don’t think I’ll be doing much else!

A Different Approach

Status Update: NO CHANGE

So yeah, I took a week off. The last time I typed a single word was last Saturday.

I don’t feel bad about it. Not at all.

I got a lot of ‘other’ things done and I came up with a different approach that I think will put me back on track.

So first, a rundown of the ‘other’ things…

I had cleanings on Monday, Wednesday and Friday – all of which Emily came with me to. On Tuesday we had Story Time at the library and the shopping afterward and more shopping that evening. After my cleaning on Monday we drove over to a house in Raymore where the husband had lost his job and they ended up losing their house. They are moving to Utah and she is an avid crafter. I got tons of craft supplies, most of which I didn’t really want. So on Tuesday morning I went through everything and took 3/4 of it to Goodwill. The rest of the week was spent going through what I had kept and squirreling it away.

One of the things was an easel, which I transformed into a chalkboard for Emily…


Which matches the paint in her ‘garden room’. This also brought to my attention the little red rocker. Which used to look like this…

But Emily took it outside at one point and the paint began to flake. So I painted it and it now looks like this:

Which has made me eye the rest of her room and think, “I really need to finish the project I started last year.” Which I think I will do over the next couple of weeks. I might add more to the blackboard as well. I’m thinking of ‘framing’ the blackboard in little flowers and then also writing the names of famous artists on the purple painted board below. Finishing her room will include finishing the counting theme I started and also expanding into her closet and including that section for the wall paint and counting theme with creatures.

I’ve also figured out what I want to do with my office, which is in desperate need of painting. I want to paint all of the walls blue, similar to the ‘picture’ wall already there and then do a mural, a tree with birds and flowers on it.

Ambitious? Yes. Achievable? Definitely.

We won’t get into the living room and master suite that also needs painting. Let’s just say I’ve got a lot of painting projects coming up.

This weekend will be full. I have  a Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme class to teach and also a coaching call at 8pm. Tomorrow I will paint and possibly garden, and I have a 30 minute coaching call at 5:40 pm. I still plan to write, though, which brings me to say, enough of the other things. Let’s talk about that different approach!

So my problem was this: I still didn’t have a complete handle on the plot for Book 1. Big problem? No, not really. At least not according to Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and author of “No Plot? No Problem!” Now that’s a great title and so appropriate for the problem at hand. Chris writes in the Introduction to the book about the lessons he learned in the first years of running NaNoWriMo, (which by the way, I fully intend to participate in this year) that “Plot Happens.” And I believe this, I truly do. Another good lesson he shared right before that is “Being busy is good for your writing.” And I could not agree more with this.

I LOVE writing, I truly do. But I also love my garden, and teaching classes and spending time with my daughter and doing projects around the house. For others it may seem to be a frenetic pace, but damn it, I’m determined to manage to do everything I love and not miss a minute of life and living.

But back to the problem at hand. Where to go next? I realized that it was actually two things stopping me – the ‘rule-breaking’ of having a schoolhouse in a medieval town (and a Victorian schoolhouse at that!) and the fact that I didn’t have  a fully realized plot. Both of these things combined stopped me dead in my tracks.

The situation reminded me a lot of when I was writing “War’s End” and the time had come to kill off a major character. The thought of her dying, and all of its bloody finality, flummoxed me for weeks. How could I kill her? I liked her! But she had to die, and I had to learn to kill off people who I liked to move the story forward. So instead of writing the death scene right away, I wrote the moments up to it and the moments and day directly after. In essence, I killed her bloodlessly, then finally, after I had done the deed, went back through flashbacks and showed how she had died.

So I’m going to do something like that with Book 1 – I’m going to write the action scene, the destruction of the thing that is the source of the illness and death. Then I can write backward and explain it. I am essentially skipping forward, as I did soon after I began Book 1, in which I wrote the end of Book 1. And that is what I will do here. I’m simply skipping forward a few chapters and writing the conflict scene which I think will help me with the details leading up and away from it.

Convoluted? Confusing? No worries, I think I can do this and when I do it will make sense to me, and eventually to you, the reader. By the way, I just set a Task in Outlook to remind me of NaNoWriMo and wrote this in the Notes section:

2,000 words per day

How about a funny novel? Have fun with this, go for it!

Start it with this:

It was a dark and stormy night. Well, actually, it was a warm and sunny day in Florida.

Here is another thing I’ve been thinking of. When I told Dave I had twelve books he asked, “How long is it going to take you to write these?!” A reasonable question when you consider that “War’s End” has taken about twelve years of on and off (mostly off) writing. He actually suggested I put out one every three months, which I kind of rolled my eyes and scoffed at when he said it. But you know what? I think he may have a point. I think that, if I can manage 1,000 words a day I could have a book completed in about four months. Four and a half months with editing and six if things were slower than I would like.

Now that is an ambitious goal. I’m actually proposing having the entire series done in less than six years, possibly as little as four. Impossible? No. Probable? Probably it will be longer.

So now I leave you. I have a house to clean and food to prep for the PSRT class.

The Toilet Stays In!

No update on status, it hasn’t really changed. Other than the following decisions:

  • The toilet scene stays in – if only because I read it to Dad and he laughed and said “Keep it!”
  • The school house is out, along with all things Victorian in nature
  • I need to figure out the SITUATION AT HAND before continuing to write. I’ve got plenty of ideas, but I need to clarify and make it interesting. Without that, Book 1 and the series that follows, are completely dead in the water.

It’s like this…I told a friend yesterday (and my dad later), “There are only so many rules you can break before the believability factor is called into question. If the reader cannot believe, than you are lost, and with it, your story and your book.”

Toilets in a medieval world? Yes – we have had flushing toilets since B.C. But Victorian schoolhouses in the middle of a medieval village? Shit no, people. Anyone educated at the time was rich and very lucky.

Oh, and speaking of toilets. I have been reading all about them, their invention, their design, everything. I’m sold on the squatting toilet. I’ve terrified my husband with the prospect that we will replace our toilets with such. Apparently, colon cancer, hemorrhoids, IBS, and more is being attributed to the improper seating of the modern toilet. It doesn’t allow for full evacuation of feces, causing many, many problems – short term and long term. Weird, gross, but ultimately…true. Look it up for yourself!

And Again About Details

First a quick status update:

Book 1: 19,055 words (nearly 1,000 more words since my last update)

It seems ironic that I have 37 pages of notes and it is still not enough. Take this morning’s revelation. The schoolhouse can’t be Victorian, even if the 1st Protectorate did commission it. In reality, a schoolhouse in itself violates the rules of the world on a very simple level…if the world is medieval in appearance (buildings, clothing, weaponry) they aren’t going to give a tinker’s damn about educating their kids. There is basic survival needs going on.

And don’t get me started on the toilet scene. Yes, I know, I know, toilets didn’t necessarily exist in medieval times. Well they did and they didn’t…I just spent the last fifteen minutes reading about squat toilets and I’m damn near converted.

The point is, I’m frustrated. I need to figure out this world better and decide the rules. If I don’t know what the rules should be, then I should avoid those particular topics. Let the reader figure it out or come up with a theory all their own. For now, I’m taking a break. I need to think about it and I also need to do other things. Like, house stuff. I think it might be a good idea to paint the molding in my office today.

A short break from world-crafting and book writing is definitely in order.

The Thing About Details

First, a quick status update:

Book 1 – 18,165 words (about 1,800 words more)

Notes – 18,777 (I added a new twist to Book 1 and needed to make note of it before I forgot)

Added a Creatures List to my files and moved everything into a larger binder. The 3/4 inch binder was totally full.

Okay, so here is my sarcastic take on DETAILS. They are nice, they keep the story going, but mostly they are just there to fill up the plot with fluff. It wouldn’t really work for a book to say:

Liv turns 21 and is pulled into an alternate world where there is magic and she’s a big shot Protectorate and Life Sorceress. She gets attacked, her car radio gets eaten and she conquers her fear of heights to cross some damn bridge, drink some crazy magic wine and send sparks from her fingers while bringing a wooden chair back to life and growing a tree. She then spends the night, saves the day, and wakes up in her car, with a police officer knocking on her window. Was it real or a dream?

There you go, there’s the story. All the shit that happens in between is just that…shit.

But damned if we don’t love that shit. Love it, love it, love it.

So I guess I better get back to writing the shit. So you can read aforementioned said shit.

Forgive my petulance…I’m listening to Tool’s “The Pot” and feeling overly sarcastic and irritable and wondering why the hell I started this crazy-insane project. 12 books? Tool’s right, I “musta been high.”

How It Works

First things first, here is a quick status update:

Book 1: 16,318 words (I’ve written about 1,500 words since last update)

Notes: 18,530 (no real change)

I am pleased to say that I have finally figured out my own writing style. Somehow, understanding how it works for me, is reassuring. It isn’t chaos, I have a plan, and it actually…works.

I wondered for a long time just how a writer went about writing a series. I mean, how do you keep track of all the details? The subplots?

Do you envision everything from the beginning to the end in one fell swoop or what?

Karen Moning wrote in an author’s note at the end of her most recent ‘Fever’ book that the Fever series came to her, complete. I guess that, to paraphrase that, I would say that she knew how it would begin and how it would end.

Here I am, with twelve books outlined (more or less) and ready to pump these babies out. So two answers come to mind.

Organizing a series – I currently have a binder titled “The Chronicles of Liv Rowan.” Within it I have the 37 pages of my Notes file printed out. It includes a Table of Contents. After that I have sections, complete with tabs with designations like: Maps, Creatures, Genealogies (printed from an Excel file), Structures, Characters (printed from my Characters file), Weapons & Artifacts, and Calendars (MS Outlook calendars I’ve printed out for the specific times each book occurs.

So that’s how I keep it organized so far.

As far as the details…

Well I take the main plot outline from the Notes file and plop each one into the individual book manuscript file and then break it up. A sentence here, a paragraph there, separated by chapters that I name as I begin to write. So with each chapter, as I begin to write, I have a short synopsis to work from sitting just a few lines below on the page. It looks something like this…

Liv dreams of Snerdoom attacking her and then the dream changes to that of the scene from the tunic, where man and Snerdoom get along.

Or something like this…

the girl Aine talks about this bedchamber where the Bishop Payne’s representative stayed recently. Aine shares the details of the visit with Liv

In other words, I don’t have a step-by-step “and then this will happen” level of detail. I discover a lot as I begin to write. And the story flexes and alters as time goes on. So for those wondering, that’s how it works for me. How about you?