Do the Unexpected!

Today I’m talking about some awesome writerly advice from Orson Scott Card – Never Do What They Want.

I’m happy to say that Mystic Storm is really done. Whew! I’m going to take a mental break for a day or two, then I’m off to plot another story or two.

Have wonderful weekend! And enjoy the adorable photo of my cat.


Daydreams and First Drafts

Today, I’m over at the 7 Scribes where I make the case that daydreaming is required – Do Not Disturb – Daydreaming in Progress.

On the Mystic Storm front – I’ve read through the printed first draft and yikes! I still have some work to do to smooth it out. So I will be diving back into the writer’s cave to clean it up.



I did it. Last Sunday I finished the draft of Mystic Storm. But the work isn’t over yet. Before I can share Zephyr’s story with my trusted first readers, I have to read through it and make sure there aren’t any gaping plot holes.

In the meantime, I’m at the 7 Scribes today  – We Are Family.

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!

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.

Write What You See

Before I discovered writing, I was an artist. I loved to draw and paint (still do, but writing is my love now). I spent most of my childhood and early adult life in artistic pursuits. People who don’t draw (or write) often marvel at it. Like its magic and only those gifted with “talent” can create pictures or write stories. I feel sad when I hear that.

Here’s the secret to drawing/painting:

  • Draw what you see.
  • Practice. A lot.

Really look at the object or world as it exists in front of you. Not what you think it looks like. Maybe some of you have heard of drawing from the right side of your brain? It’s a process that can be learned with practice.

Writing is the same way. It’s a craft like any other. Some have a natural inclination towards writing and others have to work harder at it. Just like anything, really. Natural ability will only take you so far. You have to want to do it and have faith that you can succeed.

No matter your skill level, there’s still plenty to learn. I think once you’ve made the decision that you don’t have to learn anymore – you’re doomed to stagnation. Creativity needs to be fueled with new experiences and other ways of seeing the world.

I’ve read interviews by published authors who say that they write what they see. The story unfolds in their minds like a movie and they record the events as they happen.

That’s often how it works for me too. I actually see scenes and hear dialogue. It’s very exciting when the story comes that easily. And when it does, I just hope that I’m near my laptop so I can get it all down. Even more exhilarating is when my characters stop being theoretical and come to life.

I’ve had writers tell me that they don’t like to let their characters go off on their own. When I don’t listen to my characters or follow along, the story suddenly stops working for me. Just like drawing what’s really there, I say – let your characters have some freedom. Who knows where they might lead you and the story?

You can probably guess what I’m going to say about writing. Write what you see and practice. A lot!

How do stories reveal themselves to you? Post a comment and share. I’d love to hear from you.

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!!