Monday, December 28, 2009

The Idiot's Competition

Here's a fun contest I discovered via Twitter.

Thankfully I had the perfect "idiot" moment not long ago so I've entered.

Now you go for it too.

Monday Goals & Friday Praises

I know at least for myself, I need to set short term goals to reach my long term ones. If I set no goals, I accomplish nothing.

So, in order to accomplish more in the upcoming year I've been working on some goals, resolutions and such. One of those goals was to clean off my desk and when I did, I found a note about "Monday Goals & Friday Praises." I think it's just what I need. I hope you feel the same way cause.

Here's how it works:

Either sometime Sunday or Monday morning you post your goals for the week in the comment section.

On Friday, you update us on how you did. Even if you don't achieve all your goals for the week, you'll have a record of how much you get accomplished. Plus, the rest of us will be cheering you on. We'll also poke and prod as needed.

So, start getting some goals in mind for the upcoming weeks.

Remember for some great writerly resolutions, check out J.A. Konrath's blog.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas Y'all!

Make a Custom Christmas Card at

Have a great holiday season y'all.

We'll be back to normal on Monday the 28th and we'll get started with some revising tips.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Agent Appreciation Day

I'm not one for sappy lovefests but I just have to chime in on Agent Appreciation Day. And no, I don't have an agent but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate all they do for me. Yes, I hope to have one by this time next year.

Thank you for your blog. The advice posted is one of those "priceless" items. From answering questions from struggling writers, dealing with those who just don't have a clue and sharing how to make the best first impression, there's no limit to the good stuff found on agent blogs.

Thank you for attending conferences. Meeting agents in person at a conference is one of the highlights of many writer's weekend. Whether it's pitching sessions or query letter workshops, it's another invalueable service provided.

Thank you for twittering. Yeah, I know. Some folks think Twitter is a waste of time but when taken in small doses, it tends to be quite helpful. Not only do we get to see a more casual side but they also pass on some great links.

And I want to say a special thanks to all those agents who respond to all queries, even those they aren't interested in. And thanks for responding in a timely manner.

Thanks for those little comments that make the dreaded form rejection letter a tad less painful.

Thanks for reading the slushpile when you have 900 other things you need to be doing.

Thanks for the encouragement, the wisdom and insight you share with those who aren't your client and probably never will be.

Thanks to those of you who judge contests. And thanks for the feedback you provide.

I know I've more than likely forgotten something so just THANKS!!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tuesday fun...

This is just too cool!  Link to Talking Photo found at PaperBack Writer.

This had us laughing like crazy.

blogmyspacedvd to ipod video convertertalkingphoto, dvd to psp convertertalkingphoto, dvd to zunetalking photo album

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell

As I've said before, I love books on writing and one of my favorite "how-to" authors is James Scott Bell. So naturally, when his latest book on writing came out earlier this month, I just had to have it. The Art of War for Writers didn't disappoint either. Divided into three sections, there are tactics and strategies for writers of all levels from the newest novice to the grizzled veteran.

Section 1, Reconnaissance, gets us into the right mental frame of mind with pointers on discipline, self-motivation and putting one's heart into their writing along with admonitions against worry, desperation and fear.

Section 2, Tactics, starts by encouraging us not to settle for "mere fiction" then gives us the tools needed to take our own writing to the next level. From "write hard, write fast" and "edit slow, edit tough" to "utilize the Q factor" you'll find tips and techniques for dealing with dialogue, backstory, characters, pacing exposition and the all important starting point.
Section 3, Strategy, guides us through the day to day, business side of writing. Practical tips include goal setting (which I plan to put into practice real soon), when to start the agent hunt and how to get the best results. I especially appreciate his advice on query letters and the synopsis.

The Art of War for Writers is stuffed full of great advice and I see myself returning to its pages again and again. And while I say this is one for the keeper shelf, I have the feeling it won't be spending much time on the shelf.

You can download a free sample of The Art of War for Writers here.  I found my copy at Books a Million but you can also purchase online with Amazon.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

To the future...

I wasn't sure what to do with this blog now that Nov. is over but as I was wondering what in the world went wrong with the Twitter updates, I happened to read the purpose and goals that I'd come up with when the idea for this blog hit me in the middle of the night.

Our Purpose:

To empower those who take up the challenge to write a novel with knowledge while supporting our fellow writers, forging friendships and encouraging each other to be the best writer possible.
Our Goal:

For every writer to complete his or her novel project.

There is no mention of NaNoWriMo or November.  Novels are being written year round.  So, why does it have to end with the arrival of Dec?  I say, it doesn't.

So, we'll carry one here.  We'll put one word on the page and continue moving forward with our writing.  I'll do my best to find interesting things to share with you, things that will help you become a better writer. 

To that end, everyone head on over to StoryFix.  This month Larry will be doing a 10 part series on getting published in 2010.  He includes a list of links to articles he's posted or guest blogged to get you ready for the series.

StoryFis is a great site and one you should have in your favorites.  Not only does he have a lot of great info there, he explains things so everyone can understand. 

Here's to the's to getting our novels writte, revised and ready to send out.  Cheers!!!

Monday, November 30, 2009



I knew I'd be seriously busy and would be spending more time away from the puter so set up posts automatically.  For some reason, they didn't post.  Sigh.

So, all those witty posts that I took the time to write will languish away.

But...maybe I'll figure it out one day soon.

How did y'all do?  Did you finish?  Did you get farther than you thought?  Will you give it another shot next year?  What did you like about NaNo, what did you dislike?

And, while I'm here, Happy Holidays y'all!!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

How to Write all Weekend

Here's a really good link to check out if you need to make up some word count.  Lots of good advice there.

I'll be using some of these tips myself.

Have a great weekend y'all and write well!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Nov. 18th - Affirmation

Everyday my writing is getting better and better.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nov. 17th - Affirmation


I got so busy with my own writing I totally forgot to post this morning.  Here's today's affirmation anyway.

I am a winner.  I was not created to fail.

Even if you aren't  on track to finish this month, keep on writing.  You'll have more at the end of the month than when you started on the first.  Don't let not reaching 50k cause you to doubt or stop writing.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nov. 16th - Affirmation

Each day I consciously remover from my  mind the imagainary bindings of self-doubt and the unnecessary limitations of uncertainty and fear.

Happy Monday y'all!!!  Today starts the last half of Nov. and NaNo.  Y'all should be over halfway through your 50k now and in the middle of the story.

How y'all doing?  Any unexpected happenings?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Nov. 13th - Affirmation

I am steadfast and persistent in the pursuit of my goals and I will not give up.

Congrats to our first reported 50k winner!!! 

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nov. 12th - Affirmation

I am a talented writer!

Repeat this one many times throughout the day.

Almost halfway!!!   Time is flying.  How y'all doing?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nov. 11th - Affirmation

I have the craftmanship and creativity to successfully finish this book. of now, I have internet and power to  my computer.  And, most importantly, I have chocolate. 

What are some of the things attempting to distract you from your writing this month?

What are some good things you've discovered doing NaNo?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nov. 10th - Affirmation

I have talents and skills and abilities.  I even have talents and skills that I don't know about yet.  And, I'm discovering new talents inside myself all the time.

How y'all doing? 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Finally...Nov. 9th Affirmation

I'm back online at home...

Here's today's affirmation even though late.

I have unlimited potential; I have unlimited creativity.

So, how y'all doing?  I'll update things later this afternoon or this evening.

Oh...seems like part of my dish had a crack and when it rained, water filled up in the crack.  It had begun drying out cause I discovered I could get online about 20 minutes before the techy guy got here to fix it.  He replaced the part so it'll better now. 

Friday, November 6, 2009

Nov. 6 - Affirmation

I have a positive expectancy of big success and I take temporary setbacks easily.

How's it going?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Nov. 5th - Affirmation

I write daily with excitement, enthusiam and confidence.

Sigh...while I'm not here with you online, I'm with you in spirit.  Hopefully soon I'll be back.

So, how y'all doing?  I've made progress and things are going well. 

And...what's your favorite snack for NaNo energy?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Nov. 4th - Affirmation & Progress

By think I've got it!!! Just in case I'm not able to get online today, I'm scheduling today's affirmation.

I don't wait for inspiration.  Work inspires inspiration.  If I succeed, I'll keep working.  If I fail, I keep working.  Whether I feel interested or bored, energized or tired, encouraged or discouraged, I keep working.

How are you feeling about your progress so far?  Are your plots going as expected or are your characters acting up?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Nov. 3rd - Affirmation and Progress

I'm trying to get this right again...will see what happens this time. :-)

Images and words come easily when I sit down to write.

So, how'd you do today?  Are you having fun?  Any problems or unexpected surprises?

Monday, November 2, 2009


Well...somehow I screwed that auto-posting thing up.

And yes, there is a place called "WhatABurger".  They have really great chocolate shakes and free wifi so here I sit while son is at piano lessons.

But...I should have (got all 15 toes crossed anyway) internet at home sometime tomorrow.  At least hubby thinks that's what the guy said. 

Since I screwed up the auto-posting thing for the other day and today...I'll repost the affirmations now.

1.  Creativity flows through me easily and effortlessly.
2.  I am a creative person and develop my plots with confidence and imagination.

Now...repeat several times a day.

So, how are you doing in your writing the last two days?  Share in the comment thread and let us share the journey with you.

Also, if you want to have your progress meter added to the side, create one at StoryToolz and email me the html code and I'll post it soon as I can.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Nov. 11th - Affirmation

I am never afraid to try.

How y'all doing?

Saturday, October 31, 2009


The storms that came through here Thursday blew my dish out of allignment so now I'm not getting any signal.  I'm at WhataBurger using their wifi now.  I'll be back soon though, the repair guy will be out probably Tuesday.

I'm going to schedule a couple posts though.  Each one will have a writing related affirmation so be sure to check in and then post your daily progress in the comment section.

So, get ready...write well and remember, have fun.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

10 Ways to Write Without Apology

Or, How to Write Confidently.

I really need this post.  Hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Sorry I missed a couple days...our internet has been iffy.  We have a dish on top of the house and when it rains, we often have no internet.

This afternoon I fixed a big pan of lasagna for dinner.  And boy was it really good.  But, as I was eating I happened to glance at my plate in search of the next cheesy, meaty bite of goodness and was struck just how much writing a novel was like creating a great pan of lasagna.

Each ingredient in lasagna is needed and lends a special flavor.

Same thing with a novel.  There are so many different ingredients that HAVE to be there in the right amounts.  You must have characters, conflict, plot, twists, dialogue, description, exposition, and structure just to name a few.

Then, once you have all the ingredients, they still have to be layered in correctly.

So, during these last few days, gather up all your ingredients.  Get you pan and be ready to start cooking on the first of Nov.

Remember...if you want to have your progress meter added to the side, just send me the html code and I'll be happy to add it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Progress Meters

 One of the cool things about the NaNo website is it's progress meter.  It's a boost to see the numbers add up and the progress bar change color.

But, you can't do much with that progress meter and you can't take it other places.  So, check out the progress meter at StoryToolz.

This progress meter can be added to a blog, website or what have you and each time you update it at the StoryToolz site, it automatically updates the word count. 

So, if' you'd like to share your progress meter with all of us here, set one up then email me (jeanlauzier @ the code for it.  I'll add it to the side board. 

Friday, October 23, 2009

Free Stuff for Writers

yWriter  I've heard this program  mentioned several times but never checked into it until today.  I spent the afternoon playing with it and so far I really like it.  It doesn't have the bells and whistles a lot of programs have plus it won't write or come up with ideas for you but it will help you keep things organized.

Here's some info from the website:


Organise your novel using a 'project'.
Add chapters to the project.
Add scenes, characters, items and locations.
Display the word count for every file in the project, along with a total.
Saves a log file every day, showing words per file and the total. (Tracks your progress)
Saves automatic backups at user-specified intervals.
Allows multiple scenes within chapters
Viewpoint character, goal, conflict and outcome fields for each scene.
Multiple characters per scene.
Storyboard view, a visual layout of your work.
Re-order scenes within chapters.
Drag and drop of chapters, scenes, characters, items and locations.
Automatic chapter renumbering.

Changes from version 4:

There are lots of usability tweaks such as drag/dropping.
Full screen editor.
Automatic daily zip of the entire project.
NEW: Text-to-speech built into the text editor.

One thing I really like is the very detailed and easy to understand user guide.  I sat down with the program this afternoon and had no trouble figuring it out.  Naturally, this may not work for you, and that's cool but you might want to check it out.

45 Free Things For Writers  I got this link from Twitter today.  There are some cool things here.

Cheryl, this ----->Free Report – “The Non Celebrity’s Guide to Getting a Children’s Book Published” made me think of you.  I didn't check it out but it might be worth it for you.:-)

Also another link I found today is TweetGrid.  Now, you have to have a Twitter account for some of it but you are able to follow any twitter threads in a streaming format.  Right now, I'm following #NaNoWriMo and getting any tweets that mention NaNoWriMo.  It's kinda cool to see all the different tweets and people.  Definitely a time sink but you can follow other topics that interest you so it could be useful.

On a more personal note...I think I've settled on my NaNo project finally.  I'm 90% sure anyway.  :-)

Time to think about...Setting!!!

So, by now you should have your characters named and know a bit about them along with a general idea of what's going to happen in the story.
But, do you know your setting well?  Have you spent time building your world?

If you are using a "real" place you can use maps and traffic light cameras and such. 

However, if you are creating your world, where the heck do you start?  Here!!!  This is a "fantasy" world building questionaire but many of the questions apply to all world building. 

This is another item I've copied and saved.  I've not printed it out yet cause I think it's about 56 pages of just the questions and if you left space for answers it'd be lots longer.   I do consider these questions as I build my world though.

So, get to world building!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Link Salad

Y'all get links tonight.  I'm reading and can't think about much else.  Wish I could sit up and read until book is finished but...  Will tell y'all about it later.:-)

First...I LOVE Donald Maass.  Well, not really since I've never met him but I love his books.  Here's "4 Techniques to Fire Up Your Fiction" and includes exercises to apply to your WIP.  I have his "Breakout Novel"  and the workbook that goes along with it.  I actually typed all the questions up and printed them out, added a cover page with the title of my novel and had it spiral bound for a couple bucks at an office supply store.  Now, when it's time to go through all the exercises in the workbook, I won't have to mess up the book and can have it for later.

More on characters.

Tips for Finding More Writing Time

P&G is looking for "Bathroom Bloggers" and even pays.  I think I'll pass though.:-)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Off Topic...sorta:-)

Over at StoryCrafters a couple of us are debating the pros and cons of writing short stories along with novels.

So, I'm curious. How many of you here write short things along with novels? How many have only written short stories or only novels?

Do you think writing short stories helps your novel writing?

Do you think that getting short stories published will help when you try to get your novel published?

If you don't write short stories, why not?

Also, I want to invite you all over to StoryCrafters. It's a nice little group of writers. There's a lot of good info there, we're a friendly group though we've been kinda quiet for a bit. Things are perking up so join our little group. We even have a private critique area to protect our first rights.

Ten Rules for Writing


These are rules I’ve picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I’m writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what’s taking place in the story. If you have a facility for language and imagery and the sound of your voice pleases you, invisibility is not what you are after, and you can skip the rules. Still, you might look them over.

1. Never open a book with weather. If it’s only to create atmosphere, and not a character’s reaction to the weather, you don’t want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways to describe ice and snow than an Eskimo, you can do all the weather reporting you want.

2. Avoid prologues.

They can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in nonfiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want.

There is a prologue in John Steinbeck’s “Sweet Thursday,” but it’s O.K. because a character in the book makes the point of what my rules are all about. He says: “I like a lot of talk in a book and I don’t like to have nobody tell me what the guy that’s talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks. . . . figure out what the guy’s thinking from what he says. I like some description but not too much of that. . . . Sometimes I want a book to break loose with a bunch of hooptedoodle. . . . Spin up some pretty words maybe or sing a little song with language. That’s nice. But I wish it was set aside so I don’t have to read it. I don’t want hooptedoodle to get mixed up with the story.”

3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.

The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied. I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with “she asseverated,” and had to stop reading to get the dictionary.

4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” . . .

. . . he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances “full of rape and adverbs.”

5. Keep your exclamation points under control.

You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful.

6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”

This rule doesn’t require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use “suddenly” tend to exercise less control in the application of exclamation points.

7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.

Once you start spelling words in dialogue phonet8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.

Which Steinbeck covered. In Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” what do the “American and the girl with him” look like? “She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.” That’s the only reference to a physical description in the story, and yet we see the couple and know them by their tones of voice, with not one adverb in sight.

9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.

Unless you’re Margaret Atwood and can paint scenes with language or write landscapes in the style of Jim Harrison. But even if you’re good at it, you don’t want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill.

And finally:

10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

A rule that came to mind in 1983. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer is doing, he’s writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perhaps taking another shot at the weather, or has gone into the character’s head, and the reader either knows what the guy’s thinking or doesn’t care. I’ll bet you don’t skip dialogue.

My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

I stole these of course but they are all over the web. And while we should never follow any rules just cause they are rules...these make a lot of sense.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Is it really Monday??? Or, Eight Rules for Writing a Short Story

Hubby worked both days of the weekend and I spent Sunday afternoon in bed with a migraine so I didn't realize it was Sunday until about 11 last night and by then I'd shut the puter down and was almost asleep.    It doesn't feel like Monday at all here but the calendar doesn't lie.

So, this is late, and I copied it from here.  And while it says short stories, most of it applies to novels.

1.  Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

2.  Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

3.  Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4.  Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.

5.  Start as close to the end as possible.

6.  Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to   them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

7.  Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

8.  Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Over the last couple years I've heard other writers talk about soundtracks for their novels (music they write by) and while I've never put one together for any of my writing I think it's a cool idea.

And while for some, music is a distraction, for others it's part of our daily life.  I know for me, I need some kind of noise when I write.  When I'm really focused on the story, I tune everything out but I still like to have it on in the background.  In fact, for my mystery novel, I write in our bedroom with the tv tuned to the XM radio station that plays music from the time of the story.  It's a way of connecting with my MC since I'm listening to the music that she would have been listening to.

Thing is, music has a great power to influence our moods and our mood tends to influence our writing.  So, if you are writing a romance, maybe a playlist of love songs would make the words flow easier.  For fantasy, maybe some celtic music would put you in the mood. 

Or, writing vampire fiction?  Check out Nox Arcana and their "Transylvania" album.  I call their music gothic but really like it. 

I'm not sure what would go with a mystery but maybe some classical for a literary novel.

Anyone else come up with soundtracks for their novels?  Got any suggestions?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Shoulder vultures...

Sooner or later, and sooner rather than later for most of us the shoulder vultures will show up.  And they are even worse than inner editors. 

Inner editors really, truly just want your writing to be the best it can be.  They nag and annoy but they ultimately have only the best in mind.

Shoulder vultures are not nice at all though.  These are the critters that lurk over your shoulder, whisper in your ear that even if you did manage to get published, that no one would ever want to read anything you could write.

They whisper that you don't have the knowledge, the ability or even the sense needed to write a decent story.  They laugh and tease when you consider sending things to a publisher/editor/agent or contest. 

Shoulder vultures take several different forms too.  They can be friends and family.  They can be your spouse and most of all, shoulder vultures can be yourself.  And, they tend to sneak up on you when you least expect them.

Just as we need to deal with our inner editors, we need to deal with shoulder vultures.  I still fight with my shoulder vultures and I know from other writers they do also.  Even multi-pulished authors have shoulder vulture issues.

I don't have much advice in the way of battling these annoying creatures.  I guess the thing is just be aware of them, know they are wrong, don't listen to them and don't let them get to you.

Realize that you'll have doubts.  You'll have fears to overcome and there will be days you don't believe there's any point to continuing. 

So, smack those shoulder vultures, pull their tail feathers or whatever it takes to shoo them away, then, get your backside to the puter and write.

Remember, "Writers write."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Write with the heart...

I'm not sure who said it first but I've printed it out and posted it on the corkboard next to my desk where I can see it often.

"Write the first draft with the heart; the second with the head."

And that is just what NaNoWriMo is about. 

When we write with our heart, we write the story that lives within us.  We say to heck with the rules and write.  We tell our inner editors to take a hike and get words on the page.

So, it's time to start coming up with a plan to deal with your inner editor.  Here's a couple things that work for me.

Revise a bit of the previous day's writing to get warmed up.

Tell the inner editor there will be no revising and then when you get the urge to do so, ignore it.  (Not as easy as it sounds and she'll protest but keep ignoring and she'll soon go sulk.)

Make a note in your manuscript to remind yourself to fix the spot later.  Something like **fix later** works well.

I've had problems with my inner editor but the more I strive to "write the first draft with the heart" the easier it's become.

So, how about sharing any tips that work for you  and your inner editor.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Book in a Month

Not long ago I came across "Book in a Month" by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, Ph. D.  This is a REALLY cool book and while it is too structured for me, there are things I like about it. (I don't do structure well.) 

For example, one thing we are instructed to do is outline twelve key scenes and she includes the worksheets to to the plotting.  I bought the book just for the worksheets.:-)  This is a nice way to rough draft a novel in 30 days in an ordered, structured manner.  

She also has a Yahoo group specifically for "Book in a Month". There, you can download worksheets, get daily reminders and  support from others writing their book by this method.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

What happens when pumpkins drink...

A friend sent this to me last year and I saved it.  Now, I share it with you.   Enjoy...and keep the booze away from your pumpkins!


This week we're going to be talking plot. Now, I'm sure most of you know plenty about plot so I'm not even going to try to explain it other than a basic definition.

Plot is more than a series of's like the frame of a building with the building being the novel. Plot moves chronologically, it begins in one place, moves through time to another. Events are related to each other. For a plot to be effective, the intensity of each event must be greater than the last.

If we wish our plots to have a feeling of increasing intensity then we have to make our readers care about our characters. The character's problems must be serious/significant and they can't just be solved with no effort on the character's part. There needs to be struggle, defeat and them some more struggle. you start thinking about your story's plot, make notes about what your character wants, what events can take place to hinder your character's journey and give your character some challenging.

In How To Write A Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, he says something to the effect of find out the worst thing that could happen to your character...then make it happen.

And while I know this is very good advice, I have a hard time torturing my characters. What about you? Do you find yourself protecting your characters or do you torture them?

Oh, for more on plot, check out the book Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. This is an excellent book and has exercises at the end of each chapter to apply what you learn.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

More on Characters

**Flu update**
Much better today. No temp and am feeling almost normal. Can think again too. Thanks for your concerns.

Now to characters...

Three questions readers are going to ask about your story:
1. So what? (Why should I read this?)
2. Oh yeah? (I don't believe anyone would do that, or that was to convenient.)
3. Huh? (What the bleep is happening? Who's saying/doing that?)

All of these can cause the reader to choose another book. And we don't want that to happen.

Characters in scenes:
1. Who must be there?
2. Who might be there?
3. Who has been there?

Types of characters:
1. Major - these are the characters you want the reader to connect with The ones who's activities and desires/motives drive the story. The hero, heroine, antagonist, protagonist.

2. Minor - these are secondary characters. Friends of the major characters or possibly co-workers. They are part of the story but the story doesn't focus on them.

3. Walk-ons - these are your spear-carriers. Store clerks, the waitress and so on. They are in the background. Many times they don't even have a name.

Here's a couple questions to think about.
What's your character's motivation?
What is his or here goal and what will they do to reach it?
What will they not do, what are their limits?

The more you know about your characters, the better you can write them. The better you can show them to the reader and that means the better the reader will connect with them.

Oh...I've got to pull up some files from my old puter but I'll try to get that info out tomorrow...this weekend for sure.

And, on more personal note...the fall issue of Mysterical-e has a short story of mine in it called Up In Smoke. This was my first try at first person POV and written about a year ago. If you need a break, click on over and check it out.

Monday, October 5, 2009

It's official...

I finally have to say it...I've got the flu. Between the hot flashes, chills, sneezes, coughs and temp...brain has taken wings. Not sure when it'll be back.

So...since I'm having a hard time putting together a proper sentence, I give you a link tonight.


There are a lot of great articles on all stages of writing, from beginnings, middles and ends to revisions and finding a publisher. It's a great place to spend some time.

I'm off to a hot shower, warm bed and hopefully a decent night's sleep. Take care y'all!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Why Your Story Stinks

Taken from "5 Reasons Your Story Stinks" so click on over and read the whole article.

If you consider these now, it may save you time later.

Clammy Characters
There’s something fishy about your story. The characters… well, they don’t seem to think, behave or talk like real human beings.

Stop and take a close look at the stars of your story:

Are they well developed?
Do they have believable motivations?
Do your characters speak using credible dialogue?
Are there so many characters your reader can’t distinguish between them?
Will people easily identify with them and their problems?
It’s irrelevant how gripping your plot is, if the characters who carry that plot aren’t real enough to speak to the reader.

Remember if you want the character worksheets or interview questions, email me and I'll get them out to you in a day or two.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Characters - take 2

I'm sure y'all have figured out by now that I LOVE StoryFix. There is so much great info there it's easy to spend hours without realizing it.

Here's a great series on characters from StoryFix. (I haven't read it all yet but plan to this weekend.)

When planning your characters, think about what your character wants more than anything. Think about what he/she needs that they may not realize they need. Consider their strengths and weaknesses.

Also, think about some of the things in their past that have shaped them into the characters they are now.

I've got a huge list of interview questions for characters and if anyone would like to have it, email me and I'll be happy to send it to you. I've several character worksheets too. My email addy is jeanlauzier at Be sure to change the at for an @ :-) Be sure to put something in the subject line so I won't think you are promoting cheap meds, performance enhancing drugs or letting me know I won a lottery I never entered.

Also...the NaNo website is up and running. It's a bit slow but that's normal this time of the month. Stop by when you get the chance, sign up if you haven't and look around.

Next week...we talk conflict.:-)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Who You Are and Who You Ain't

Who You Are and Who You Ain't by James N. Frey

Maybe I should have saved this for about mid November but I needed it now. This should be mandatory reading for every writer. Here's a paragraph.

"But by becoming a writer, not only have you joined another faith, you’re a member of the priesthood.

By mastering your craft, by bleeding through the forehead, you are gaining a sort of supernatural power, the power to create stories that cause people to enter into a kind of trance, to be in the story world that you have created, to think and feel things they never would have thought or felt in their ordinary life. You are creating stories that tell people how to live and how to believe. You can actually bring change to the world; you can give voice to the voiceless and hope to the hopeless. People with this kind of power are scary."

I have James Frey's How to Write a Damn Good Mystery and LOVE it!!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Character Names

I don't know about you but I just HAVE to have my characters named before I can start to get to know them. Of course, occasionally I have to change names in mid story but not often.

One way I like to come up with characters is to browse name lists. Not only is this a good way to discover characters but names often lead to ideas.

It's time to start coming up with names for our characters.

Here's a couple good names sites to spend time at.

Behind the Name

Mystic Names

Magical Names

20,000 Names

Seventh Sanctum

If you have any others, please share them in the comment thread.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Benefits of Reading

"If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write." Stephen King

When I was growing up I read all the time. During the hour ride on the school bus to school, when I should have been doing math and all the other stuff, again on the bus ride home, at night under the covers with a flashlight when I should have been sleeping and any other time I could sneak in a few minutes.

One of my favorite things about going to my grand mother's house as a teen was she had a huge amount of paperback books and didn't restrict my reading. In fact, I read things I probably shouldn't have, and that I'd not want my kids reading at the same age. But the great thing was we'd both get a book, settle in bed and read until at least midnight or so, have a midnight snack and then read some more. I read horror, fantasy, gothic, romance, thrillers, mysteries,westerns and even some erotica.

Not only was I exposed to many different genres, I was exposed to both good and bad writing. And because of that, (I think) good writing is easier to spot. It's not easier to do...unfortunately.

Saturday I had the chance to spend a couple hours at Books a Million. I studied some books in the genre I'm writing to see how my writing compares along with finding a new author I like.

Another benefit of being well read, especially in the genre you are writing is that you become aware of the things to avoid.

So...even though we're about to start writing like mad, take time to read a good book. Not only will you learn something, you might come up with an idea or two and besides, it's a great way to relax.

I'll be reading Green by Ted Dekker. I've promised to review it for the publisher. How cool!!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Just a reminder...

I've spent the last hour searching in vain for a website I had in my favorites on the old computer. But, I just can't find it. I don't know the addy, and can't come up with the keywords to locate it. I'm totally at a loss.

And I'm really annoyed. It was one of my favorite sites to pick fantasy names. I'm hoping to be able to put my hard drive into another computer and get the addy but that's not going to happen for a while.


If you have a favorite link...write it down somewhere. Don't rely on your memory or your computer. Something will happen and you could lose it.

Same thing with your writing. Please back it up on a regular more than one place and manner. If nothing else, at least email it to yourself.

I'm off to sulk and self-medicate with chocolate.

Write well!!!

Word Counts - Calendars - Schedules apology. I totally spaced on getting a post up last night so it'd be here this morning. We had a LONG Saturday and I'm still a bit sleep deprived. I didn't think about blogging until about an hour ago.

Now... During November, the goal is to write 50k in 30 days. That equals 1,667 words a day.

However, many of us don't get to write every day of the month. So, it's time to get your calendars out, count just how many days you'll be able to write and then figure out how many words you'll need to write each day to get your 50k.

Next, check your schedule. Make an appointment with yourself on each of those days. That's your writing time. No one can take it from you, no one is more important.

Me, I figure I'll have 21 days in Nov. since I generally don't write on weekends. I may on a Sat. or two but Sundays are just out of it for me. That means I'll need to get right around 2,400 words a day. And that's not out of reach. Several times the past month or so I've gotten that many down without working at it.

Don't let the number scare you. That's why we plan our novels in advance. We'll have a roadmap so we won't be wandering along not knowing where were going.

Have you come up with a general idea yet? Got a character or situation in mind? Start pondering cause it won't be long and we'll start the serious planning.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Avoid negative sources, people. places, things, and habits.
Believe in yourself.
Consider things from every angle.
Don't give up and don't give in.
Enjoy life today, yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never come.
Family and friends are hidden treasures. Seek them and enjoy their riches.
Give more than you planned to.
Hang on to your dreams.
Ignore those who try to discourage you.
Just do it.
Keep trying no matter how hard it seems , it will get easier.
Love yourself first and most.
Make it happen.
Never lie, cheat or stea, always strike a fair deal.
Open your eyes and see things how they really are.
Practice makes perfect.
Quitters never win, winners never quit.
Read, study and learn about everything important in your life.
Stop procrastinating.
Take control of your own destiny.
Understand yourself in order to understand others.
Visualize it.
Want it more than anything.
Xcellerate your efforts.
You are unique of all God's creation, nothing can replace you.
Zero in on your target and go for it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's all about attitude...

I found this quote the other day and liked it so much I just had to share it.

You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair--the sense that you can never completely put on the page what's in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page. Stephen King in "On Writing"

So, how do you approach the act of writing?

I've decided to take the "fits clenched, eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take names" approach.

Watch out shoulder vultures. Writer at work!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Writer's Block

I don't believe in writer's block.

However, I do believe there are things that interfere with our writing if we let them. And sometimes, even if we don't.

For example, life tends to throw the enexpected at us when we least expect it, or when we least can afford to be distracted.

Pressures at work or with relationships can also interfere. Or, the fact that we've taken on too much.

And what about health stuff? Allergies, hormones (for us females) and even the amount of sleep we get can take a toll on our writing.

Sometimes our friends and family can be hinderances. Even our own attitudes can de detrimental.

As we begin to plan for NaNoWriMo, take a few minutes to think about things you can deal with now that will make the month of November easier.

Can you prepare some meals in advance and freeze them or perhaps bargain with your spouse or kids to take on some extra chores. And really, if things get a little dusty during November, who cares.:-)

Planning your novel in advance will help also. The first time I took part in NaNoWriMo, I did no planning and had to take a couple days about halfway in to do that planning.

Also, check your schedule now and see what things you can either move to Oct. or Dec.

Thanksgiving is the biggest distraction during November as we write. Is there another family member who would just love to have everyone over this year? Or, if everyone does gather at your place, how about having them bring parts of the meal That way you won't have to do everything.

Anyone else have any tips to make things easier?

Monday, September 21, 2009

POV - Which one?

The mystery novel I've been working on has really worked me over on POV. When I originally started the thing, I started out in third person. At the time, I'd never done anything in first person so didn't feel comfy with it. I was happy with the third person version of it but after playing with first person a time or two started wondering if I had the right POV.

So, I rewrote the start of the novel in first person and while I really liked it, I sent it to a friend who has more practice with first person to get her take on it. And, she loved it. To be sure, I gave it to my oldest daughter (18 and quite a reader)for her opinion. She loved the MC's voice and another writer who read it also commented on her voice and how fun it was. That was all I needed to start over in first person.

I got about 15k on the puter and started wondering if I'd chosen the right POV afterall. I told myself to suck it up, just finish the rough draft and that I could go back and change it back to third later during revisions if I thought I needed to.

But, I'm at right at 45k and still being nagged by the shoulder vultures on whether I picked the right POV. So, last night I chatted with my mentor about it and after much pondering decided that I was using the wrong POV.

This morning I started by adding a scene from a second character whose POV I hadn't been able to use since he wasn't the MC. This scene made up ch. 2 so I revised ch. 1 and started a new novel doc with it in third person. But as I worked on it, I realized he'd have ch. 2, maybe ch. 5 or 6 and then 10.

I also realized I was losing a lot of the MC's voice that I loved and didn't want to lose. So, I scraped all the third person stuff, (well, I saved it in a seperate file, I hate to delete stuff) and now I'm happy with my first person choice.

Not only does it feel right with me, it's the best POV for the story. And, when you get right down to's the story that matters.

I know y'all probably aren't terribly interested in my POV problems but I felt I needed to share this with y'all because it could happen to you.

Settling on a POV for your novel isn't a "decide once and that's it" thing. If the one you start in doesn't work, you can change it. You aren't limited to your original choice.

So, if you decide mid-novel that the POV you're working in isn't working, just change and continue on. You can go back during the revision stage and fix things.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Point of View - Whose

Point of View or POV as we shorten it to, is a complicated matter at times.

First...let's take about POV as it relates to character. The best way to figure out whose POV the story should be told in is to decide who has the biggest stake in the story.

Whether it's the most to lose, most to gain or most interesting story, who will be telling the story is an important decision.

This is something you really can't decide until you get some plotting done. You need to know at least a basic idea of the story and what's going to happen. It doesn't have to be a complete outline, but if you don't know the stakes, you can't know who should be telling the story.

Most of the time, once you get some idea of the story this is fairly obvious. But sometimes, another character may be more interesting or more fun to write.

Another thing to think about is how many characters you want telling the story and what each of them bring to the table.

I once read a novel by a best selling writer that had about ten different POV characters. By the time I got connected with one and into their story, he switched POVs and started with another character. It was seriously annoying.

So, how many POV characters do you like to work with? How many do you think is too many?

Be sure to scroll back to the post on Reliability Buddies and if you'd like to take part, leave a note in the comments. I'll give everyone at least a week or so before doing anything with those interested.

And last of all, be sure to set your daily word count goals but make sure they aren't out of reach. You want to be challenged, but not overwhelmed.

Have a great week and write well!:-)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Reliability Buddies this great post from Procrastinating Writers.

Then, if you'd like to have or be a reliability buddy leave your name in the comments. If we have enough folks interested, we'll form either a team or group of some sort. And don't be put off by the word group. I know y'all have more than enough on your platter and I don't want to add something that's going to tip the platter.:-)

When you have time, spend it over at Procrasting Writer and read the archives. They have some great posts.

Remember, if you don't get it on paper, you can't revise it or sell it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Link Salad

Here's a couple great links...

StoryFix - A new series of posts on characters has just started. And be sure to check out the series on story structure.

KillZone - This is a post by James Scott Bell on writing action scenes.

Lawrence Block on Writing This is such a good post. Even if you don't write mysteries, there is a great message for every writer.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Writers - How many do you have?

Steps to Plotting a Thriller

When a Scene Isn't Working


Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I read a lot of different writing blogs, agents, editors, and authors. Each one has different information. Some I use, some I ignore. Tonight, while reading an agent blog, someone in the comments mentioned the need for a mentor.

Mentors are great! I have a "part time" mentor of sorts. She's a very good friend, a published author with a major house, several times over and very knowledgeable in the craft. And while she doesn't mind helping me out when I ask, I seriously hate asking because she is asked so often and has to turn down many of those requests. Therefore, I save my requests for help until I really, really, really need it.

I don't know about you, but I'd love to have a group of mentors. Mentors who know all the things I don't such as grammar and punctuation.

This is where critique groups come in. A good critique group is priceless. And, they come in all different shapes and sizes. Many are specific to genre and consist of more advanced writers. Many are general, with all craft levels involved.

You can become involved in online critique groups or groups that meet in person.

A couple things to think about in an online group...

Are the submissions protected from the public? Many forum boards have critique areas and while many times it's not a problem, some publishers consider anything posted online and available to the public as published and you've lost your first rights.

If possible, read some critiques to get the feel of those doing them. Are they helpful or more of the ego-stroking kind? Or, even worse, are the critquers just showing off how much they know?

Remember, critiques are just opinions though. So, be sure to take them with a grain of salt. Consider the critiquer's knowledge and publishing history. any recommendations for good critique groups?

What do you look for in a critique group?

What would you hate to find in a critique group?

And, how do y'all feel about mentors? Would you like to have one? Would you like to be one?

I look forward to your comments!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The eyes have it...

Boy, do they ever!

Friday night, our local (well, not so local for me) writing group met. We had a nice meeting and then several people wanted to read things for critique.

Now, I'll admit, this is one of the things that may not bother others, but it drives me nuts.

Check these sentences out.

She rolled her eyes at him.

She caught his eye.

Here's what I think when I see these sentences.

She rolled her eyes. Across the floor, like dice? Hope no one steps on them.

She caught his eye. Good thing she caught it...I'd hate for her to miss and it get lost in the grass.

Yeah, I know, these are common in our writing but really, can't we say it better somehow?

One of the readers read "The lake stood..." Really? It stood? How'd it do that?

A friend told me she once wrote, "She pulled the throw up over her shoulder." Ewwwww!!!

All this ranting to say, be careful what you write. Think about what you mean to say and then say it.

Now, go write something!!!

Oh...Monday I managed almost 1,200 words. I'm officially over halfway at a little over 42k.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Getting Started...

I've been studying story structure for a while now and it's really very interesting. When you get right down to it, it's sorta like a jigsaw puzzle that just has to be put together properly.

I'm not going to even try to do a post on structure. I don't know enough about it myself and others have done such great jobs explaining it that anything I'd add would only take away.'s a great series on structure. StoryFix It's an eleven part series and he really breaks it down into easy to understand bites.

There is a LOT of great information on the StoryFix site. Next week, he's doing a seven part series on the art and craft of characterization.

Also...Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. I LOVE this book. It's one of my favorite writing books and has a special place on my keeper shelf. Though it does spend quite a bit of time in my stack of books I'm reading. This on is really nice because it has lots of examples along with exercises at the end of each chapter to put into practice the things you learn.

Remember to set your daily writing goals and make the writing a priority. If you don't take your writing serious, no one else will either.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


First the backstory...

I'm working on a mystery novel for a workshop in May of next year. I need a ready to pitch manuscript so I've been working like mad. It takes place from Halloween to Thanksgiving so I don't have that long of a time frame to keep up with.

To keep things sorta straight, I printed out a calendar of Nov. '95 (year novel is set in) and then added the major events to the day they happened. It worked out pretty good. Until I lost my calendar page and decided I really didn't need it anyway.

Today I realized I'd managed to screw up the timeline of events and spent most of the morning cutting and pasting scenes into the correct order and then having to tweak things to get back on the right track.

I've got a hole in the middle now that I have to go back and fix though.

So, the lesson I've learned is...keep the timeline handy and check it ever so often.:-)

There are several ways you can do timelines. I did the calendar page but if your novel spans a longer period of time, you might want to consider using a roll of butcher paper and making a scroll type timeline.

Some writing programs have timelines too. At one time, I had Liquid Story Binder which I really liked but lost it in the puter crash. I'm not sure about the others so if you use a writing software, how about letting us know.

Remember, this doesn't have to be a formal timeline. And it can change and grow as needed. It isn't a rigid guideline you'll be held to at all costs.

It's a tool to help keep the story on the right track.

For practice, timeline your favorite novel or movie.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Inspiration Tips

Ever feel totally uninspired? Like your brain has taken an unscheduled vacation without letting you know?

I'm feeling that way tonight. It could be the fact I wrote over 2,300 words today on novel. And not easy words either. My two main characters are at odds with each other and it wasn't the easiest scene to write. Or, it could be I'm just tired. Heck if I know.:-)

So, tonight I'm taking the evening off. I'm going to take a long hot bath, have some chocolate and relax a bit. Along with a good night's sleep, that should recharge the batteries.

But I realized that as we progress through the coming months together, and especially during November when we're writing like mad, we're going to have days when we aren't inspired.

What are your favorite ways to recharge your batteries? Me, I like chocolate, some time away from the computer and driving as if I was on the NASCAR circuit. It's also helpful for me to change from computer to pen and paper.

Share your favorite ways to recharge? did your writing day go? Did you reach your word count goal? Have you decided your writing goals?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I am responsible...

I read a LOT of books on writing.  From basic craft issues to revising to promoting and while I may not use every suggestion, I do take a little from this book, a bit from this other book and some from that one over there and a smidge from this one here.  I then add it all together and get what works for me.  And that's what you should do too.

One of the books I've read lately is Get Known Before the Book Deal by Christina Katz.  I really like this book.  It discusses how to use your personal strengths to grow an author platform.  And it's actually something that we can start thinking about now so I highly recommend the book if you are serious about a career as a writer.

One thing I that really struck a chord with me is the fact that I am 100% responsible for the success of my writing career, 100% of the time.  There are so many things that I can control in my quest to become the best writer possible.  Yes, there are things I can't control such as the market and what's selling and what's not but my job is to write the best book possible, then find the right agent or publisher for it. 

If I've done the writing part correct, selling will take care of itself.

James Scott Bell wrote a post on The Kill Zone about this very thing not long ago.  Check it out when it get the chance...and if you write mystery or thrillers, then add this to your favorites list.  They have a LOT of great info.

My thought for the day is...decide what you want from your writing.  Do you want that brass ring, best selling novel or will you be happy with a small press or even self-publishing?  Set some goals.  Then, make your writing a priority.

Set a daily word count quota as mentioned in the last post.  Then stick to it.  Figure out when your best time to write is and set an appointment with your computer and write.  Tell those who would distract you that you have to write.  Don't let the day to day things rob you of your writing dream.

Monday, September 7, 2009


One of the most important things any writer can do is to commit to their writing, to make it a priority. It's also a hard thing to do since there's so many things demanding our time and attention.
So…now's the time to make that commitment.

When we tackle a 50k novel during the month of November, the daily word count needed to accomplish this task is around 1,700. But, instead of starting with such a mountain of words, let's start with something easier to swallow.

Here's the challenge.

Pick a number of words you believe you can write each day. If that number happens to be 50, then write 50 words each day. Heck, if it happens to be 1, 10 or 100, write them. Make the commitment to write each day.

This isn't a race to see who can write the most each day, but a way to get into the habit of taking that time each day to make writing a priority.

When I put myself on an internet diet, I decided 500 was a reasonable number to work toward. I call it my "First 500" and once I get them done, anything else is a bonus. But if I happen to get distracted and only get those 500, then I'm done for the day and don't have to feel guilty about not writing.

So, pick your number. Let us know your goal and then check in each day and let us know how you are doing in the comment section so we can cheer for and encourage each other.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Happy Holiday Weekend

Yesterday we talked about discipline and writing on a regular basis.  Today I say...take a regular break from your writing.  By taking a break from writing, when you get back, you're ready and eager to get started.

I take the weekends off.  Sunday is spent in church so there's no time for writing then and Saturday between hubby, kids, errands and such, I'm not in the right frame of mind.  Normally I don't even blog on the weekends but everyone's still asleep  and the house is quite for a bit.

Weekends off also gives me time to do some reading.  And reading is so important for writers.  It gives us a chance to see how other writers are crafting their stories.  The more we read and write, the better our own craft becomes.

So, take the weekend off, enjoy your family or friends.  Read a good book, relax and get ready to write next week.:-)

Tell us what you're reading...

I'll be reading Red by Ted Dekker.  I found him last month while at Mom's and love, love, love his work.  He writes Christian suspense that leaves me speechless.  The first of his I read was Thr3e.  You can read my review of it here.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


I have to admit, I don't do discipline well. I think it has something to do with the time I spent in the military. I'm not very organized either, though I've gotten better in the last several years.
What's discipline got to do with writing you ask?

Just this…if you want to write a novel within a reasonable amount of time, you have to be disciplined. This means writing on a regular basis. It's one of the things that serious writers have in common. They write on a schedule. They make their writing a priority.

I had problems with this. Call it procrastination or call it lazy but it isn't a good thing. So, followed the advice of many writers and decided to make writing a priority for me. To make it something important in my daily routine.

About this time, James Scott Bell tweeted about completing his Nifty 350. Meaning, his goal for the day is 350 words, written in the mornings. I took this idea and ran with it, so to speak.

I decided on a "First 500" and put my self on an internet diet. Harsh yes, but it's really working. I take my laptop into the bedroom so first thing in the morning, I can fire it up and get to writing.

The first couple days, it took about 4 hours to get those First 500 words. Now, I'm one of those writers who tend to write, edit, rewrite and then revise each sentence as I go along so that's not a long time for me.

After the first week, I found myself looking forward to writing first thing in the morning and the word counts rising and not taking as long to get on the page. I've only been doing this for a little over a month now but for several days I've managed to get between 1,000 to 1,500 words in the same 4 hours.

I also learned that the internet won't wither up and blow away if I'm not there. I discovered that many of the things I did online, once thought of as necessities, really weren't.

And I've discovered I like writing more than reading many other writing blogs. Sure, I still have a favorite few I read on a regular basis but now I've gotten my priorities in the right order and when I spend some time online, I don't feel guilty because I haven't written.

I don't have any books to recommend to you however, if you have a problem with procrastination, check out Procrastinating Writer.

Then, take a look at your schedule and make writing a priority.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I'm so mad right now I could bite nails in half. And while I won't go into the cause, it gave me the topic for this post.

We must have passion in our writing…and for our writing. Our characters must be passionate. Without passion in our writing, it's meaningless.

I'm not talking about passion of a romantic nature though sometimes that can be good too but more of the kind of passion that moves a story, that connects the reader with the story and causes them to remember it long after the last page is turned.

I'm not sure exactly how to get that passion in the story though. Maybe be finding something the characters are passionate about and channeling (so to speak) our passion into them as we write? Or do we somehow fuse our passion to that of our character?

A while back, I'd lost the passion for the writing process and for writing in general. I'd begun to think of writing as work for the most part. It was something I had to do instead of something I wanted to do. And honestly, I wasn't having any fun.

I took some time off from writing, did some serious pondering and found my joy again. I'm having fun, the writing process is exciting again and I look forward to each day's writing time. In fact, it's gotten to the point I get cranky when I have to miss a day. Thankfully for the family, that doesn't happen often.

I think the thing I want y'all to take away from this post is what is your passion and how can you use it in your writing? Why are you writing in the first place? Heaven knows it's darn hard work, the pay is practically nil unless you manage to grab the brass ring and even if you do "make it" there will always be someone out there to put you down. You must find satisfaction in your writing, not for someone else, but for yourself. In fact, if you are writing for someone else, I sorta think you are doing it for the wrong reason.

Now that's not to say you don't have to keep your potential reader in mind as you write and revise, you must. But it's also important to take your own happiness in mind.

So…how do you impart passion into your story? And how do you keep that passion for writing and the process involved? How do you keep the passion you have for the idea throughout the writing process that may take months and months?

Share your thoughts in the comments for all of us. I'd love to hear from you.

I do have one book on passion in writing. I love really, really love this one. I'd say this one is on my keeper shelf but it's usually on the table by my bed where I can grab it often.:-)

The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Got Plot???

Plot is the "what happens" in your book and for most readers, the reason they continue reading. They want to see "what happens" to the characters they've connected with. They want to experience those events through the character.

When readers connect, they can become secret agents on a mission to save the world, or the hero who rescues the princess or, closer to home, the person who finds true love when all seems lost.

The thing about plots though, they have to go somewhere. They have to take the reader on a ride. Plots can't just lay around and do nothing. Plots have to challenge our characters, make them grow, cause them to doubt and usually, in the end to overcome an obstacle that seems unconquerable.

One of my favorite movies that shows a great plot is Dante's Peak. If you haven't seen it, you really should. The main idea is that the volcano is about to errupt and the town needs saving. Harry (our hero) and Rachel (the mayor) have to get her kids from home so they can leave town. Simple right?

But it seems the kids have gone up the mountain to get the stubborn grandma. (Personally, I'd have left her but I really didn't like her.) Okay, again no big deal. But the bridge is blocked with traffic so Harry drives through the river. (His vehicle has snorkle so it's cool.) But he gets stuck and water is coming in the truck. A car follows him, floats into his truck, bumping him enough to get unstuck. They drive out of the river, get back on the road, a helicopter crashes ahead of them, ash is falling like a grey blizzard, rocks and trees roll down the mountain in front of them and then the whole road behind them is wiped out in a landslide.

Eventually they get to the grandma's house but the volcano is spitting lava by now, which has flowed down the mountain and wiped out the log cabin and all the vehicles. Their only option is to take to the lake in a metal boat. However, all the volcanic activity has turned the lake to acid and the boat is leaking. Soon the propeller on the motor is eaten away.

I won't give away the end but you can see how each plot point builds on the previous one. The viewer is kept on the edge of their seat to see how
Harry is going to save them all.

We need to craft our plots in a similar fashion. We need to keep the reader engaged and caring about what happens to our characters. If Harry and Rachel had gotten home, picked up the kids and driven out of town...big deal. BORING!!! And not much of a movie either.

Plot is tied with structure in a big way and we'll get to that soon but this month, when you watch television or read a book, think about the plot and how it moves forward in the story.

I once heard someone say that plot is getting your character up a tree and then throwing stones at them. I kinda like that. Of course, it's often hard to throw those stones at characters we love but in doing so, we make them stronger, along with our plot and give the reader another reason to keep on reading.

I only have one book on plot and it's probably one of my most favorite books on writing. It's called Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. I think this should be a must read for every writer.

A special welcome to those who just joined us. So glad you are here. Take a moment, say hi in the comment thread and let us know a bit about you and what you like to write.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Thinking about Characters...

One of the most important aspects of any novel is the main character. And this is true for both the reader and the writer.

As a reader, if we don't connect with that character in some way, many times we won't continue reading. And as a writer, if we don't like the character, we won't continue writing him or her.

There have been numerous books written on how to create the perfect character and each writer has their favorite way to bring those characters to life. Many writers fill out in-depth character sheets and profiles, conduct interviews with their characters or even write the whole back story for that person.

Others, get to know their characters as they write the story. They choose to be surprised as their character

And, honestly…there's not wrong or way to create characters. It's whatever works best for you and your writing style. I've got some character profile sheets along with interview questions I'll share later on.

But for now, I want to focus on what makes a great character. What it is that draws us to that character.

Instead of pulling characters from books, I'm going with a couple from television since our reading tastes probably vary widely. Two of my favorite characters right now are Temperance Brennan from Bones and Brenda Lee Johnson from The Closer. I love these two ladies and while they are both very different people on the outside, on the inside they have some very similar qualities.

For example, both are very strong women in male dominated careers. They are both determined, almost to the point of being stubborn but they are both honorable and have a strong sense of duty.

Both women also have a complex back story and as the series progresses, we get to see glimpses that history along with how it shaped their personalities.

So…for the next couple days, think about your favorite characters and some of the things you like about them. Maybe make a list of character traits you'd like to incorporate into your characters.

If you enjoy writing books, here's a couple I have on characters. Well, more than a couple but I have this fetish for writing books.:-)

Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress

Dynamic Characters also by Nancy Kress

Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card

Breathing Life Into Your Characters by Rachel Ballon

Bullies, Bastards & Bitches by Jessica Page Morrell

The Writer's Guide to Character Traits by Linda Edelstein

Careers for Your Characters by Raymond Obstfeld & Franz Neumann

What Would Your Character Do? by Eric & Ann Maisel

Got any you'd like to share?

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Only two more days until we start this great novel planning/writing journey. I want to welcome each of you here and hope you not only learn something useful but find new friends and get your novel written. (We'll deal with revisions and getting it published later.)

Let your friends know about us...the more the merrier.

In the comments, introduce yourself and let us get to know you. You don't have to know what you're going to write yet so don't stress over it. Just say hi.

Also...if you'd sign up as followers, that'd be cool. Not required but it'd be nice to see how many of us there are.

And...I got us a chatroom!!! You'll find it on the right side, down a bit under the Writer's Lounge heading. Later on, we'll schedule some chats for brainstorming ideas. Also, If you'd like to just chat, let us know that too.

I'm so looking forward to getting to know each of you better, hearing about your novels and writing together.

So, in the spirit of starting things off...

Hello!!! I'm Jean, I write mostly mystery and fantasy. I'm about 1/3 through with the first draft of a mystery novel and will probably go with fantasy for NaNo since I want to switch off to something lighter.

Now, it's your turn..:-)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Let's Write a Novel...Together!

Writing a novel tends to be lonely work, except for the month of November when NaNoWriMo is in full swing.  So, in the spirit of NaNo, let's write a novel...together.

Starting Sept. 1st, I'll be posting about creating characters, writing dialogue, setting scenes, hooking the reader, tension, conflict, pacing, taming the inner editor and so much more. 

In Oct., we'll start an intensive month long novel planning session.  It'll include more indepth posts on topics such as story arc, structure and scene development along with some brainstorming and possibly real time chats.

Then, starting Nov. 1st, we'll make daily progress posts, along with weekly encouragement and who know what else.  Plus, you'll be able to have a progress meter just like mine on the right.  I'll explain more about that later.

If you've always wanted to write a novel or if this is your second or third or even sixth novel, join us on this wonderful journey.  I can't promise you it'll all be fun but it'll be worth it.