Reflections of 2013

The year is just about over, and many people will be working on New Year’s resolutions – goals for the coming year. But for now I want to take the time to look back and remember where I have come from.

How and why did I begin writing?

It all started for me back in 2008 when my daughter said, Mom come check out My Space. I looked and saw all the blogs on the site and began reading. It was a neat way to keep a kind of journal of some sort to share with others. We left comments for each other, made friends, and left lots of Kudos.

Do you remember Kudos?

Then my daughter turned 18. Ah – the proper age when the child is supposed to leave the nest. The only thing was, she hadn’t finished High School. Ugh!

Yep – she left home – no rhyme or reason. Quit school too.

I was mad. What kind of sane mother wouldn’t be? I went through life trying to help her make it from point A to point B. One grade to the next – it wasn’t my fault that she needed to stay back in school a couple of times. The first time was absolutely all on her. She wanted to be obstinate while in Kindergarten. She is my stubborn child.

So, when she left home in 2009, of course, I was mad. That was the year I wrote Friends of Choice. I put all my worries, fears, angers, and everything into that story. I also wanted her to know that I was actually listening to her all those years. I got her. I knew how she felt, by feeling out of control because we had to move when she was finally in a school that she truly was accepted into.

By the time, the book Road Salt came about my son had entered back into the picture. We had an on and off relationship for the past ten years while he lived with his dad. Most of that time he spent getting into trouble with drug addiction related crimes.

2010 was the year my Granddaughter was born. She and my daughter now reside in upstate NY. That was the year that I published Friends of Choice.

In 2011, my son entered a residential rehab and remained in that program for just about a year. While he was there, my writing began to take on a different meaning. I no longer felt as if I were writing just for myself. I was now writing with a purpose. I wanted to help the public learn about drug addiction and how it can find its way into all walks of life. No one is immune to the disease of addiction.

Road Salt was a hard piece to write. I wanted compelling facts for this fictional story, and without the story sounding too preachy. Besides, the designer drug bath salts is a terribly scary substance.

By the time, I was half way done writing Road Salt, a good friend of mine introduced me to Romance Writers of America. Now I had a new element to add to my writing. This was a new challenge for me.

To many times drug addiction ends in tragedy with the user dying from their drug usage accidently.

In Along Came Neil, I not only sought to write a story about romance, but I wanted to learn how to write a story with a happy ending. When I accomplished this for the first time, it felt fantastic.

Everyone desires to have Happy Ending no matter how much they have screwed their lives up over the years. There is always that small chance that they might make just one single choice that might lead them to recover their lives and live. It does happen. Not as often as it should

If only there were more residential rehabs out there like Delancy Street or the Phoenix House maybe more people would be able to find the strength to stand up against and fight back substance abuse. If the government were to spend money as they spend on the incarceration of an addict, on recovery programs where solid communities are made, maybe more of these addicts would become active community law-abiding citizens and survive to live more than just another day.

Yes, I write fantasy too.

Will I stop writing stories like Road Salt?

No – I can’t. Stories like Road Salt give me a compelling reason to write.

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Over the NaNo and on with the #ROW80 Update

Thanksgiving is over, and the turkey is dwindling, NaNoWri Mo is over.

Were you successful with the NaNo Challenge?

I wasn’t. I never expected to finish on time anyways. But I was fine with that.

After writing almost 15k words on The Dubious Heir I must say I kind of like how it is shaping out.

NaNo said I averaged about 400 words a day. I can live with that kind of average. It is a doable average. At that rate, I should be done with the first draft by the end of February. This story marks once again, uncharted waters. This is a story where the censoring filters are to be shut off. An Adults only story that I am writing for sheer fun.

I like trying new things. You never know what you might learn from just trying. Maybe a new concept, new idea, a different form of voice.

Writers are always evolving. Each new story can take them into another direction.

So, it’s been awhile since I last did ROW80 check-in. I can report a total of 400 words written for today. Most of my Christmas shopping is done – does that count? Oh right, writing, not wrapping and shopping. It is just one more distraction out of the way.

New goal, for the week. 400 words a day. If I try writing 400 words a day for a week, who knows maybe I will get back into the daily writing habit I had over a year ago. I just need to stay away from World of Warcraft if I want to succeed.

How about you? Did you finish your NaNo?

How about your Holiday Shopping?

There were some pretty decent deals over the past week.

I wonder what kind of deals they will have for Cyber Monday?

NaNoWriMo is around the Corner – #ROW80

Friday !

Who can’t wait for Friday to get here?

If you are thinking it is just the beginning of the weekend, then you must not be a writer. This Friday is November 1st. The first of November marks the beginning of none other than Na No Wri Mo. That is National Novel Writing Month. It is the challenge where you are to write a novel of 50,000 in a month. That is 1654 words a day or something to that extent to meet the challenge.

No cheating now!

What will I work on? Hmmm…

At first I thought of working on the next Orgarlan book for this challenge, but I have changed my mind. I’m in the mood for writing crap. Maybe a crap storyline that I have no investment in so I can beat it up or make it as sloppy as I can make it without worry of the outcome.

I did this once before, and nothing ever came of the story line except it remains half done and in my slush pile. That was Wish Away. My genie story. Maybe someday I will open that manuscript up and give it another shot.

This time I think I want to try shutting off my internal editor and filter. If it turns out to be something worth keeping in the end, I would probably publish it under a different name since I have a feeling that it will be an adult story.

I have an idea too. Nope, I’m not going to divulge at this time. You will have to wait and see what I’m toying with. Hint: some kind of fantasy and a stand-alone.

Dog Update:

Julie is doing better. A week ago she was getting terribly lame. So lame that she barely could stand and move about. We feared the worst for our family pooch of 13+ years.

Last Thursday we pulled ideas out of the air as of what to do for her. After giving her three doses of Benadryl in a 24 hour period, she began to show improvement. My thought was to try and lower the swelling around some of her lumps. This seemed to help.

Then on Saturday we went out and bought her some Glucosamine for her hips and joints. We got her the good stuff in the red bottle, but it is only stage two. We wanted stage three, but apparently a lot of dogs are having this problem, now that the cold has hit the New Hampshire region. Regardless she has been getting three tablets a day and her improvement is remarkable. She had been in such a state that was so grim seven days ago, her recovery now, is so incredible. Now she is running, climbing up stairs, skipping and some jumping. This stuff is truly remarkable. Thank God she appears to be doing so much better.

ROW80 update:

I have not done any more work on the next Orgarlan book from last Saturday. I also missed my Sunday post update. I posted, but it wasn’t an update announcement. The thought was there. Trust me.

I do believe I will switch from the Orgarlan novel I was working on to work on to the NaNo Novel. This plot is kind of taking over me brainstorming. Why fight it? Who knows how it will turn out?

Falling Plot and finding Plans for NaNo – ROW80 Check – In

It is fall – no doubt about that. Here I am, on a Wednesday with my Round of Words Check – In. Sadly I do not have anything to report except for my up and coming NHRWA meeting that is coming up this Saturday in Bow, NH. I’m certainly looking forward to it.

My lack of writing does not have anything to do with writers block. I’m sure it has a lot to do with shifting gears by going from Teen Contemporary to Fantasy. The switching from one set of characters back to the other set does slow the muse down. I guess that is why some writers recommend staying with only one genre. Other writers recommend not writing series or trilogies.

I can’t help it. My stories come in spurts. It is just the way I write and the stories come about.

But today on our Facebook group for ROW80 one of our comrades posted a link to a post for NaNo Planning 2013. I checked it out. I must say I will need to use this when I begin work on my next story. It just might be the plan I need to get my butt in gear and get the story written.

Just think – NaNo is right around the corner. I’ve been using this challenge for the past three years to get my stories into motion.

Hm… Maybe that is what my muse is waiting for.

But I do remember one of my goals for this round is Deliberate Writing. So I had better go and get to work by planning and plotting.

I hope your writing week is going strong.

Check out how other ROWers are doing and what kind of goals they are working towards this round by visiting the Linky List.

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Deliberate Persistence – My ROW80 Goals

I am entering my third year of Round of Words in 80 Days Challenge. It is hard to believe that I’ve been blogging for this long, when it seems as though I started keeping a blog only yesterday. This challenge has helped me write Witch Book, Road Salt, and Along Came Neil. That is a total of three novels.

Kait announced that this round we should use Deliberate Writing as our topic of discussion. That is such a terrific idea.

I’m an indie author. The writing life for an indie author is not easy, nor is all the hard work that goes into being this type of writer. Someday, I am sure it will all pay off.

How does deliberate writing fit into the indie world?

It is the biggest part of an Indies world. We have to write with Deliberate Persistence or we will never get anywhere with all the self-promoting and self-publishing we need to do.

Deliberate Persistence is the power of inertia that keeps the stories coming. If we didn’t practice deliberate writing, many of us would have given up long ago. We just can’t give up.

It is practice, practice, practice… That is how our stories come about.

This past year has brought me a lot of growth with my joining RWA – Romance Writers of America. I took part in month after month of online workshops given by several of the Chapters of RWA. One in particular was YARWA – Young Adults Romance Writers of America. I think I got a lot out of them too. It sure made the steep cost of their membership well worth paying.

This year I will be focusing on writing fantasy and honing those skills.

Over the past year, I gave a lot of thought to when I was young I used to play a game of make believe with a good friend. We used to say to each other before we came up with our daily skit – let’s make believe that this happened, or that happened, and we are so and so. I remember those days well. It was when I was five and six years old. I don’t know if she remembers them at all. I apply what I learned from playing these games to my writing. Now instead of having the make believe being about me, it is about my characters. So I came to know, after all those years gone by, I had been practicing fiction long before I knew what I was doing. It was just some childish game. The game became a writing tool in the end.

Enough of my ongoing Deliberate practice…

I am to state what my Deliberate practice will be for this round.

  1. Orgarlan Saga needs a new plot outline for the next book in the series. I’m subconsciously cooking it at this time. I did finish up the time line for the first two books. Now I just need to decide who wants what and why, then the plot will come together like a puzzle.
  2. Blog more deliberately. I have been lax in this area in the past. I must make every check-in, even if I have nothing new to report.
  3. Maybe take a look at one of my slush pile unfinished works to see if anything can be done to resurrect the story line.
  4. Continue to take part in more of the online workshops offered by the RWA Chapters.
  5. Learn to put together a Self-Publishing workshop to be given locally in my area. ß—– Just thinking about this gives me the jitters. A good friend of mine keeps telling me I need to do this.

Check out the goals of other ROWers by following the Linky List link…

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Marching your Manuscript Onward

 Now that we are three weeks into September I have noticed how I have not been posting as much as of late. I have decided to try and actively change this. And, thanks to Kait and her ROW80 Challenge, I believe I’m ready to get my butt into gear and stick with her posting schedule. My focus this year will be on writing discipline.

So, now that I have you all here I have to tell you about a newbie writer who recently attended their first critique session. I heard how she was not fully prepared for what she was about to walk into. Supposedly this session turned out to be a horrific experience for her. What a shame, critique sessions are meant to be a writer’s tool. The feedback one gets from such a group is priceless.

Maybe some people think that just because they are college graduates the first book they write will be perfect.

I don’t know about that unless you are some kind of genius who has the imagination of a schizophrenic. The writing process just does not happen that way.

We all think our stories are great when they are coming straight out of the box. Pride can get in our way in the beginning. The best writers have replaced their pride with a deeper understanding as to how great stories are created.

You may call it collaboration when a critique group is used, but when you bounce a story idea off someone else’s mind and they tell you what they understand your story to say is two different things.

I saw this with Along Came Neil. This book took part in my first critique session. One chapter, mind you, can change the whole course of your story. Just one chapter is all it takes to rid yourself of anything that comes across as back story, or that unnecessary prologue. – who reads prologues anymore anyway?

So to that newbie writer – my heart plays that sad, sad song for you  😦 , but what are you going to do about your manuscript? Do you give up that easily? Why did what they say hurt so much? Could they possibly be onto something?

If I were you, I wouldn’t give up. Listen to what they said. Critique groups are there to try and give you a view of your story from a reader’s angle. Use it as for what it is, your very first review. If you reacted to the critique group that way, how will you take your first one star rating? Believe me, we all get them at one time or another.

Which leads us to another topic for a future date: Revisions and editing…

ROW80 Check-In:

Revisions – for the past two months I have been working on Revisions of all my previously published works. I’m kind of on a roll with only one book left to go.

Since Along Came Neil came out during the beginning of July I decided to revise the whole series, which does have its benefits, like fixing proofing errors, and story gaps. This is a good thing. By starting at the beginning of the series, this helped me make sure that the story remained on track, right to the end. Along Came Neil brought a lot of closure to the story. I can either continue the series or let it end. I feel confident that I did achieve a decent ending. Now all I can do is wait for my readers to tell me what they think about the story.

In the meantime, I moved on to my fantasy series. I actually had no choice but to go over the story once again if I’m to start working on the next book in this series. I don’t keep a time line. (I should – shouldn’t I?)

So by doing a revision of the fantasy series I am not only raising the quality of the story but I am regaining where I was at with the story.

I have about thirteen chapters left to go. Maybe I will be done by this weekend so I can start coming up with my next plot.

So while I regroup my fantasy series I hope, even if you have had a terrible critique group experience you will keep your Manuscript Marching Onward. The parade only stops if you stop marching.

Stop by and cheer on the progress of other ROW 80 writers by following the Linky Link, or better yet, come join us!

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Meeting Happenings

What a day we had yesterday at the Bow, NH RWA
meeting. It was our first meeting of the year. The meetings run from September to June, if your interested.

Yesterday there was a deep discussion over the changes taking place between the National levels and the chapter levels. But, not to worry, it is all good changes that seems to be creating a bit of havoc in some of the chapters. I’m sure it will work itself out. I’m not going to go into detail. For those who need to know more you can contact your local chapter for more information.

After lunch the best part of the meeting took place. It was our speaker Hannah Bowman. She gave us a workshop on Plots, Structures, and Pushing your Characters.

It was a great workshop.

I will only highlight some of her points here. You can look for her at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference which I hear is coming up soon.

Hannah uses a check mark approach for mapping out conflict and climax within a story. You can use this approach while either creating your plot outline or with a finished manuscript where you give it a go over to see if there is enough rise and fall of conflict in your story. The check mark can be used with multiple character development in the way of a graph. Use colored pencils and you will see how your characters rise and fall at different places within your story.

I saw what my goal would be too. That would be to have all the characters begin at the same point and have them all end at the same point. This may seem to indicate that closure of the story has happened. If they don’t end at the same point you may be looking at a cliffhanger.

Some readers like cliff hangers and then there are others who are completely turned off by cliff hangers. Personally – I like both.

Next week
is the Monadnock Writers’ Group in Peterborough, NH. They hold their meeting downstairs in the Peterborough Library. This meeting is open to the public and they will have a speaker as well. So if you are in the area come on by. The meeting starts around 9:45 am. I like to get there early so I can meet and greet.

ROW80 Check-In:

I haven’t been to active with my checkins as of late. I really need to get my butt back into action and disicipline my self to make these posts on Sundays and Wednesdays.

So for the past week I have been slogging. I let the internet distract me from finishing up the revisions and edits of Witch Book. That is the last book I need to go over before I begin working on my next fantasy book to go with my Orgarlan Saga.

I think the Teen Contemporary series has come to an end. Or so it seems.

But you never know, something might happen with either my son or daughter to spark a new Contemporary idea to take hold. See, kids do have their uses when they are older, they just don’t know it. (lol)

My daughter is waiting for the next Orgarlan book to come out. Jeesh…

I guess I had better get to work on that.

Have a great week and don’t be shy, check out your local writing group if you haven’t already. It could be a rather fun experience.

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