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!!!