Knit One, Write One

When I’m not writing or reading, my other favorite hobbies are knitting and crocheting. I like them so much that I have to be careful not to use them as an excuse to avoid writing. Earlier this year, I created a series of food themed scarves from Twinkie Chan’s Crochet Goodies for Fashion Foodies.

I’m now the proud owner of the following scarves: buttered toast, rocket pop, bacon & eggs, and a much admired candy dot scarf (which a few folks have offered to buy from me!).  I also have bags full of knitted socks, gloves, mittens, hats, scarves, crocheted amigurumi (little animals), and even crocheted food (my favorite is my hamburger).

With each cluster of projects, there’s  often a corresponding novel, query or synopsis that was being created at the same time. Not thinking about writing all the time, frees my mind so new ideas can float in.

One thing that I’ve noticed is that knitting/crocheting and writing are more alike than they seem. They both weave a thread into a cohesive whole. From out of nothing recognizable, you create something that didn’t exist previously.

With knitting or crocheting, if you don’t have a good, solid cast on (or chain) as a foundation, the end result won’t meet your expectations. Writing is similar. If the beginning of your story isn’t solid, then ending won’t be that satisfying either.

The other thing I like about yarn craft is that with patience and perseverance, you will be rewarded with an item that you created. One that you can wear, give away or display. And if you’re brave, you can branch out and experiment with new patterns and techniques to create something all your own. If your project goes awry, you can “frog it” (rip it, rip it – get it?) and start again.

Computers are a wonderful thing. They let you easily delete, copy or save your work. If there are bits I need to remove, I create a scene graveyard. I often go back to the graveyard and harvest ideas, wording or scenes as needed. And like my favorite needle crafts, I can either share my work or keep it in a bag hidden from sight.

What other hobbies do you enjoy? Leave me a note. I’d love to hear from you.

Also, please visit me at Writing Secrets of 7 Scibes. I post there every Friday! This week’s topic – Contest Feedback!

Blank Page Euphoria

I have finally started writing my next book. After about a month of planning and plotting (see here for my post on plotting), I finally hit the blank page.

I love a blank page.

A blank page is a fresh start. A world of possiblities where anything can happen.

But, the blank page can also be a little scary. Intimidating. Like walking into a room full of people naked.

The beautiful thing about using a PC is that anything you write now, can always be changed, deleted or saved in a scene graveyard for later re-purposing. Edits will come later, after the first draft is completed. So no doubts allowed!

For now, I’m savoring the early days of my book, just breathing in blank page euphoria!

I’m the Author Goddess…

I am the Author Goddess, therefore, I rule the universes that I’ve created. The characters are my minions. They exist to do my bidding.

I tell myself this all the time. And it’s true.  Sort of. I am the creator of their world. Sometimes benevolent, sometimes a dictator.

Writers all do this. We fabricate new worlds with new rules. Even if it’s the “here and now” world, we still add our own spin to it. We make the facts fit the story as we need to tell it.  We ask our characters to do things normal people often can’t or won’t do. And most of the time, the characters go along for the happy (or miserable) journey.

Occasionally, they resist or flat-out refuse. They stamp their feet and demand to go in a different direction.

A rebellion in my carefully crafted plans. How dare they? I’m the Author Goddess. They must do my bidding.


Not really.

Sure, you can ignore your characters and force them to follow your “master plan”. But, just like in real life, it’s not right to make someone do something they don’t want to (making the kids clean up after themselves doesn’t count). When in this situation, instead of indignation, try going along for the ride.

Let the character take you on the journey they want to go on.  Travel their path and see it to the end. They could surprise you and even open the story up in ways you never imagined.

Pitching. . . and I don’t mean Baseball

Tomorrow is the big day . . . CT Fiction Fest. Tomorrow, I will be pitching my book Mystic Ink  and maybe Ascension to four editors. Editors from brand name publishing houses.

Am I biting my nails? No.

Am I starting to panic? Not really.

I have my pitches all written and mostly memorized.

Don’t get me wrong. I will do my best to entice and impress, but not at the cost of my sanity.

I will not lay in bed tonight obsessing about what might happen. Like I’ll open my mouth, but no words will come out because all rationale thought has abandoned me.

I will not imagine myself babbling like an idiot at the poor editor seated across from me. Or that I’ll rattle off my pitch at warp speed like an auctioneer.

I will not entertain the panicky thought that I’ll lose track of time and forget an appointment.

Nope. Not doing it. Not going there.

After saying good-bye to my precious Ollie, I had a bit of an epiphany. On the scale of cosmic importance, pitching my book and how well I do, will not affect the fate of the known universe. If I fail to impress, I will still submit my books to editors safely hidden behind my query’s printed words (no babbling going on there).

I will still work on my next two books.

I will still write.

A Writer’s Life

When you’re a writer, the desire to write never goes away. At least not for me. I spend a lot of time thinking about writing when I can’t write.

Today is a great example. It’s a holiday and I’ll dutifully spend time with my family. Here’s what will really being going on in my head– the entire time I’ll be thinking about writing. People will speak around me and I’ll probably be hashing out a plot point or learning my latest character’s motivation. I just can’t help it!

Later, when I return, I will sit at my computer and work on something.  Like the synopsis for Ascension that needs polishing. I can no longer put off submitting Ascension to editors with the excuse that “the synopsis needs work” because I have been taking a synopsis class.

And speaking of class, writers must never stop learning the craft of writing. I know I still have a lot to learn (especially about grammar rules – my least favorite thing). I pick and choose classes carefully because they can easily become a time sucking excuse not to write!

Of course, I will enjoy myself today. Life can’t be all work and no play (even though writing sometimes seems like play!).

Enjoy the day!

Don’t Go It Alone

One of the best decisions I ever made was to be brave and attend a writer’s group meeting at my local library. That one small act of courage (okay, maybe big act of courage) led to an even more important, life changing decision – joining my local chapter of the RWA.

Up until that time, my writer’s journey had been riddled with fits and starts. I even stopped writing at one point, largely because I couldn’t seem to finish anything (see my post – Finish What You Start ). Sad to say, it was several years before I completed what eventually became Ascension. My characters weren’t about to let me go so easily. They lurked in the back of my mind, affecting my sleep and making me feel guilty!

Tormented about what to do, I began surfing around the web and found Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld Forums and the writer’s board. There, I found the outline methodology that finally broke me out of my funk. I plotted, wrote and finished my book. I was so excited. For the first time in years, I actually slept better.

Then, came the hard part. I knew that if I wanted to pursue publication, I had to let someone read my book. Gasp!

Doubt, fear, panic all ran through me. And a boat load of what ifs: What if it’s awful? What if my chosen reader doesn’t tell me the truth? Will I end up like all those poor deluded American Idol wannabes (“but my Mom says I’m awesome”).

I asked one of my good friends, someone I knew who would be honest with me, to read my baby (and I’m forever grateful to her!). Once I got over that initial hurdle, I took a flying leap off the cliff and went to a meeting where I didn’t know anyone. After that, I was doling out my book like cards at a poker table. The other great benefit- I met my fabulous critique partners there.

And by fabulous, they tell me the hard truth, they encourage me to challenge myself, they praise when deserved and we all keep each other going. And when you join an organization like the RWA and it’s local chapter (did I mention mine is awesome), you aren’t on your own anymore. Everyone understands what you’re going through and you can benefit from the wisdom of both published and unpublished authors alike.

Let’s face it, when we write, it’s a lone act. But you don’t have to be alone on your writing journey. Join a group, find trusted readers and get yourself out there. You never know who you will meet!

Finish What You Start

It sounds so simple – finish what you write. But as most writers know – easy to say, harder to do. I have my share of early books that are a hot mess. Some are finished, but not very well. Others, I got halfway through them and then got stuck, never to return again.

That doesn’t happen to me anymore. The reason – I plan out my stories ahead of time. As a reformed pantser, I can only say that having a plan has made a big difference. I finish what I start.  As a result, I have a completed manuscript to sell. And for most of us, that’s the whole point, right?

Think of it this way, the plot outline is like GPS or a roadmap. As with any journey, you know where your end destination is supposed to be. What you don’t know is what you’ll encounter along the way. Maybe you’ll get slightly lost and discover a nice restaurant or scenic view you would have never encountered otherwise. Using a map or GPS doesn’t mean you can’t deviate from your path. It means you don’t have to be afraid of getting totally lost.

I have writer friends who believe that plotting will destroy their creativity. Or that an outline means they’ve already written the story and there’s nothing new to discover.  I think that not knowing where you’re headed is a bigger problem. It can freeze you in your tracks and cause indecisiveness. Something you don’t want to have happen while you are in the middle of writing. An outline can tell you what is going to happen next, but now how or why. Those are questions that are still there to be discovered and explored while writing.

Of course, an outline is just a guide. I often discard or rearrange as the story or characters demand.  And, boy, can your characters have other plans! But that’s a whole other topic for another day.

Whether you write by the seat of your pants or plot the whole thing out, the important message here is – finish what you start!!

Dare to Daydream

Yes, you read that correctly. On the heels of my post “Writing Avoidance Behavior”, I’m advocating daydreaming.

Us writers, we make stuff up. And in order to do that, we need to spend time imagining things. I like to let my mind wander and try out new possibilities (like playing the game “what if”).

So I say, daydream away.

And not always about your latest storyline or characters. I usually get my best ideas or work out plot holes by thinking about nothing in particular. And, like magic, my mind conjures up a solution or story I didn’t know existed until that moment.

It took me a while to recognize this gift when presented. I have since learned to write it down – no negativity allowed. Shut down that critical voice, otherwise it will kill your precious daydreams before they have a chance to form into ideas.

Happy writing!