Thursday, December 17, 2015

Gotta have love!

"But what's so wrong about love being the need? Love is the oldest emotion out there.  As soon as God created Adam, He then creative Eve.  Gotta have love!"

This was my response recently to a friend of mine {and future super famous author!}. We were discussing our novels, which while aren't straight romances, do focus on love stories. When writing a book, one thing you need to focus on is the character's motivation, their need. And while many critiques will downgrade the need of love as not quite enough to move a plot along, sometimes that's all there is.  So many things in life are driven by love, so why not books? So I happily focus on a good love story in my novels.  Because sometimes a little love is all you need and want. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Alone, but not..

This is the first year both my little ones are in school, giving me significant hours during the day alone.  A friend of mine recently asked me how I was enjoying the time.  I said I was.  I've been busy working, shopping alone, running, and cleaning and organizing the house.

But the strange thing is the hours I spend in silence.  With no one else in the house, I go hours without talking.  My friend got sad for me, saying she forgot about that aspect of it.

But I interrupted her, and said the strange thing was that I was far from lonely.  The hours I spend with the characters in my books feel like I'm spending time with friends.  I know everything about them now, and love to see the ways their lives are turning out.

So even though I'm alone, I'm really not.

Also, I do know this might sound a little crazy to other people, but I'm sure other writers would agree with me.  Or at least I hope so!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thank you...


It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.
 by Charles M. Province

Today....every day...we are honored and blessed that brave men and women still stand up and volunteer to keep us safe and free.  Thank you will never be enough.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Night with Nicholas Sparks

It's not every day you get to meet one of your idols.  But a few weeks ago, I got to do just that.

I have been a fan of Nicholas Sparks for years.  I have every single one of his books and have read them all at least twice.  At least. I've sobbed through every movie that's been made from his books.  And he is part of what inspired me to try and be an author myself.

So when the local bookstore was holding a meet and greet to promote his new book See Me, I had to be there.  Thankfully I had gotten my ticket to the event early, because when I got there, there were well over 600 people! 

The copies of our books had been pre-signed, and we were able to pick them up as soon as we got there.  Of course I dove right in while waiting for them to call my number.  Once I was called inside, I waited on a long line to have a professional picture taken. 

I only had a few moments with him, so I didn't tell him he inspired me to be a writer, or that I've read all his books numerous times {I get very nervous around people I admire}. But he did tell me he liked my scarf, so the whole night was a win in my book.

Of course I've finished See Me already.  It's one of his longest books, but the story makes it fly.  The character development is some of the best I think...though fair warning, it is scary!

I absolutely love events like this, and feel so lucky to have gotten to meet my idol!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Make it Perfect

I have been lost in a sea of edits and synopsis writing the past few weeks, and so have neglected this poor blog.  Though it's time to stop neglecting it and dust it off a bit.  I want this to be a place to record this whole writing process.  For myself, for others in the same spot, for my children one day if they're so interested. 

I've read you're supposed to take time away from your book once you finish the first draft, so you can look at it with fresh eyes once you begin.  I have trouble with this, because I'm so anxious to dive in to make it perfect.  But I always force myself to take just a few days off.

Once I've done that, I go through three edits.  The first is a general overview of things, big and small, that stick out at me.  The second edit is for big story concepts that need work.  Scenes that need to be developed, characters that need more work, making sure each scene fits into my story and message.  The third edit is for small things, phrases I overuse and spelling and grammar mistakes.

Once I've done three edits, I give the book to a few beta readers.  They look it over for feedback.  I make each of their edits, then read it through one more time myself. This time I read it backwards, starting from the last chapter, to really focus on the words.  Then I'm done.  The process for me takes a few weeks, maybe a few months.  But once I get a story in my head, I can't stop till it's done, so I forgo a lot of things in life to get it just right.

Also, personally, I cannot read it on the computer, I have to print it out and read it from paper.  It just helps me concentrate better.  Once I've marked it up, I'll go back and make the changes on the computer.

And that's my editing process.  What's yours?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

To Outline, or Not to Outline

A few months ago, I wrote this post about outlining a novel vs just free writing.  My first novel I did not plan out much before I started writing.  I just let the story develop by itself.  But after researching some more, I learned that most people outline the whole story of a novel before writing it.  So I decided to take that approach with novel #2.

My second book is in two parts, with a time jump in the middle.  I was anxious to just begin writing, so I outline the first part, knowing I'd do the second half later.  However, once I got through the first, I let the second half develop on its own.  While I was doing that, I got to know my characters better, and ended up going back to the first part and adding in chapters, more description, and better transition.

All in all, the outline didn't work for me.  I was conforming my charters into the story, instead of letting them take the lead.  Once I abandoned my outline, the writing came much smoother.

So for me, outlining is NOT the way to go.  I need to start with an idea and just go from there.  I don't know if that's right or wrong, but if it works for me, then I think it's the best way to go.

What do you do when you start your novel.  Is it more helpful to free right, or outline first?  I'd love to hear your stories in the comments below!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Done With Two

I once heard a quote somewhere that anyone can write one book.  But not everyone can write two.

Well when I first embarked on this writing career, that quote made me nervous.  What if I was a one-book wonder?  What if I couldn't come up with other stories to tell?

That's why I'm so happy to come here and say on Friday night I finished the first draft of my second book!  It took me about three and a half months to finish, which I'm not sure if that's a good sign or not, but apparently once my ideas start flowing, I can't stop them.  I also sleep very little.

I felt like it was Christmas Eve on Friday morning, when I knew I only had one more chapter to go.  There is such an overwhelming sense of peace and accomplishment once that last word is written.  There really is nothing else like it.

I used a different process for writing this one versus the first book.  I'll compare and expand on those in another post later this week.

There are hours upon hours upon hours of editing I have in front of me, so I'm taking some time off it this week.  I'll start looking it over next week, with fresh eyes.

So now for now I'll enjoy that 86,653 words later, I have finished my second novel!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Writing Conference Recap

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Unicorn Writers' Conference in Purchase, NY.  It was the first conference I'd ever attended.  My husband bought me a ticket for Christmas.  He also bought me one of the 1-1 manuscript sessions with an agent.

To say I was nervous was an understatement.  Networking and meeting new people is not my strong suit.  I also prefer to attend events with at least one other person I know.  But I put on my big girl pants and plunged ahead.  If I'm serious about becoming a published author, I knew I needed to learn as much as possible.

It was a full, one-day conference.  The day began with breakfast and a keynote speaker.  Then there were two workshop sessions {you had a choice of five workshops during each hour-long session}.  We broke for lunch and then had four more workshop session.  There was an optional networking dinner at the end.  Peppered throughout the day were 1-1 sessions ranging from manuscript overview to query letters to jacket flap, etc.  Those sessions had to be purchased additionally ahead of time.  You could schedule up to four, but I had done just one.

The workshops I chose to go to were 50 Shades of Publishing, Editor Panel {a question and answer with a group of editors}, The Craft of Editing for Writers, Agent Panel {Q&A with agents}, Social Media for Writers, The Do's and Don'ts of Writing Romance.  I found all the speakers to be professional, engaging, and I learned a ton of information.  The only thing that disappointed me was not being able to go to every session!

The 1-1 agent session was my favorite though.  The agent had received my synopsis and the first forty pages of my manuscripts a few weeks ago.  She went over them with me and gave me some great insight and feedback into not only my book, but my future writing career as a whole. I left the session renewed and invigorated.

Overall, the conference was fantastic.  Everything was laid out well, there were plenty of refreshments, the food was delicious, and everyone I met was nice and welcoming.  It was empowering to be in the company of three hundred other writers, all working hard to achieve the same goal.  It made me feel like a real writer.

So despite my initial apprehension, I had a wonderful day.  I learned a lot of new information and made some great contacts.  I would absolutely love to attend again and encourage all writers in the area to look into it!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Pitch It

In ten days, I'll be attending my very first writing conference.  To say I'm nervous is a huge understatement.  Networking and approaching new people have never been strong traits of mine.  But if I'm serious about being a writer, then I need to push myself beyond my comfort zone.

The conference lasts all day, and includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  During this time, we are free to approach agents and editors to pitch our stories to them.  A pitch is a quick overview of my book, a way to entice them to want to read it.  I've read that there are two kinds of pitches, both extremely short.  You want to capture a person's attention almost immediately. 

My first pitch  is from my query letter, and is three sentences.  The second pitch is a one-line pitch.  I'm working on trying to memorize them now, so I can confidently use them when necessary. 

For reference, I'm including them below.

One-line pitch:
It's the story of two wounded souls who find love and healing on a cross-country road trip.

Longer pitch:
Sometimes taking that one chance will change everything. The Days, The Road, Our Forever tells the story of two wounded souls who embark on a cross-country road trip, though they only just met. Despite the fears, distance, and emotional scars they need to overcome, the young couple proves nothing is more beautiful than falling in love.

Have you ever pitched an idea or book to an agent before?  Any tips? 

Would these pitches entice you to want to read my book?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Writing while....

The biggest question I get from people recently is how I fit in time to write while raising two little girls.  I'll be honest, it takes a little, well a lot, of planning.  Every day I have to commit to using every available minute I have.

One of the things that helps this, is that I hand-write all my books in notebooks first.  Once the girls go to bed, I type up what I've written for the day.  But it's so easy to just toss a notebook in my purse and go!

I guess it's worked, because in the past year I have written and edited one book, and am over half-way through my second manuscript.  It may not always be easy, but if one of these books gets published one day, it will all be worth it!

Here are a few places I've found myself writing:

Waiting to pick up my daughter after school

While watching my girls play outside

At the pool

Waiting up till midnight for the husband to get home

Pre-workout, while watching a movie with the girls
GASP!  Actually working at my desk!
Where do you find time to write?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Quotable Monday

"It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default."
-J.K. Rowling

Friday, July 24, 2015

Writers Groups

When I first embarked on this novel-writing journey, one of the big things I read about was joining a writing group.  They are very supportive and a great opportunity to learn more about the craft.

But part of the reason I love writing so much is I get to do it in the privacy of my own home {mostly in pajamas}.  Networking and meeting new people are not always my strong suit. So the thought of joining a group filled me with anxiety.

I was invited to a few, but still couldn't quite get over myself enough to go.  But thankfully, I've found a way around that.  I found out a friend of mine I 'met' in the blog world a few years ago was also writing the book.  I practically jumped up and down with excitement.  I finally had someone who was going through this process as well.

She and I have since formed our own little writing group. We email back and forth, sharing information, books, and websites.  She's been integral in helping me re-write my query and we edit each other's work.  Plus, neither of us has to leave the house to do it!

For me, for my current situation, this has been perfect.  I have a fresh set of eyes to look at my things, and I'm learning more about my own writing by reading hers.  I still believe strongly in others joining physical writing groups, but this has been good for me right now.

So if you're struggling with writing, or want to expand your craft, join a group, or find a friend you can work with.  It truly is a great experience!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Quotable Monday

Why I Write #123
Because I deeply love the fictional characters I created over the years.  They are my best friends and closest family.

How true this is!  I talked about the characters in my books as if they are real people who still exist.  I wonder what they would be doing after my book ended.  As writers we can only hope to give justice to their stories.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Muddy Query Waters

One of the things I'm struggling with in regards to this whole publishing situation, is all the contradictory information out there.  Most of it seems to relate to querying agents:

Query lots and lots of agents at once - Only query a few at a time
Include your blog in your query if you have one - don't include your blog until you have millions of followers
Be dry and professional - show a little personality
Don't ever follow up once you've sent the query, silence means no - always email to check the status of your query
Tell every agent if you're querying more than one - Telling them is unneeded because everyone does it now
Send emails - send snail mail

It's enough to make your head spin.  Eventually I just put all the research aside and dove right in.  I hoped for the best, knowing it all would be a learning process.  Maybe people who have had pieces published in some form are a little more in-tune with the processes, but I am flying blind.

I've been going through this process since April, and still feel like I have no idea what I'm doing most of the time.  But I have learned a few things along the way.  I've queried enough agents and had enough rejections to know that my first query letter obviously isn't working for me.  If no one is asking to read your manuscript, then you want to take another shot at your query letter.

One of the things I did differently this time, was mention the blogs I have.  My following is mediocre and so I didn't think it would be much of a draw.  But then I remembered that I have partnered with several large companies on sponsored posts, and that could be a draw.

I also came at my hook from another angle, and added some more details about the characters into my paragraph synopsis.  I had a few people look it over and help me work through it.  Now I'm ready to send this one out and see how it does.

Yes, I feel like I've queried too many agents with my first letter, and cannot now query them with my second.  But like I said, it's a learning process, and one that is fluid.  All I can do is keep trying.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Quotable Monday

It is both a blessing
And a curse
To feel everything
So very deeply.

I feel this this way every day....anyone else?

Happy Monday! Get some writing in today!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Quotable Mondays


It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

Seems appropriate after this weekend.  Hope you all had a happy, healthy Fourth!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Quotable Mondays

In college I could, and would, spend hours searching online and in books for the perfect quote to put up in my AIM profile.  Oh how I wished we had Pinterest back then!  It would have freed up some of my time for studying, ha.

So this week I took to my 'Lovely Words' boards for inspiration and chose this for the week:

"If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try" - Seth Godin

For about a year, this is something I've been trying to live my life by!

Make sure to come follow me on Pinterest to see more of my favorite quotes!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

What I'm Reading and Goodreads

Back in January I signed up with Goodreads after hearing fabulous things about it.  And the first thing I did was put together a reading challenge for myself.  As I learned from running, I push myself further when I'm in a challenge.  I have a lot on my plate these days though, so aimed low with 50 books.  I'm proud to say that I have already finished 26 books this year!!  I mentioned a few of them in my last 'What I'm Reading' post.  Here are some of the other books I've finished:

all 11 books by J. Sterling {you can tell she's one of my new favorite authors}

Fearless: The Heroic Story of One Navy SEAL's Sacrifice in the Hunt for Osama Bin Laden and the Unwavering Devotion of the Woman Who Loved Him by Eric Blehm

American Wife: Love, War, Faith, and Renewal by Taya Kyle

The entire Selection series by Kiera Cass

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Love Letters by Debbie Macomber 

We headed to the library tonight and I happily added the Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty and return to me by Kelly Moran

What are you reading this summer?  And make sure to add me on Goodreads!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What is a query?

I feel like I've jumped ahead a little bit with this blog.  Part of why I started it, is to share information.  When I first embarked on this journey of writing a book and trying to get published, I knew very little.  Through my research I found very few blogs that explain a lot of the ins and outs of the process.  I'm hoping to share my continuing journey and hopefully give some instruction to others that follow in this path.

So I should probably backtrack a little, and discuss some of the basics.  First off, when I am discussing publishing, I'm talking about the traditional route for a fiction novel.  Self-publishing and non-fiction have very different processes.

Okay, so your book is done.  You've written it, edited it about a million times, had friends and family give you critiques, edited a little more, cried and bled over it.  And no it's done.  You're ready to send it out into the world to an agent.

Wait one second.

Before you do that, you need a query letter.  So what is a query letter?  According to the 2015 Writer's Market, "A query letter is a brief, one-page letter used as a tool to hook an editor and get him interested in your idea."  It is a way to entice interest in your book.  When constructing your query, you want to keep it to one page, and divide it into specific paragraphs.

{paragraph one} The first is the 'hook' of your story.  Think of it as the tag line you would give it, if your book was made into a movie.  This should be around three sentences.

{paragraph two} This is where you give the synopsis of the story.  You want to garner interest, but not ruin the ending.  Try to keep it to one paragraph.

{paragraph three} This is where you list your credentials, any awards or previously published work you have, or if you have something in your life that adds to the book.  The male lead in my first book is in the Marines, so here I wrote that due to my experience as the wife of a combat veteran, I was able to give deeply personal insight into what it means to love a man in uniform.  However, this is not the place to highlight your inexperience.  If you don't have any, just don't put it.

{paragraph four} Say why you have chosen this specific agent to query.  Do some research for this section.  Does she have clients you love?  Did you both go to the same college?  Try to add something in there that will show her that you've really down your research.

Bonus advice:
- Always, always, always, make sure to spell the agents name right.
- Make sure to look up what they want sent to them.  Is it just a query?  Do they want a query, synopsis, and the first three chapters?  Look on their website and ONLY send them what they want.
- Have some people read the query to give you some feedback and make sure it reads well.
- Spellcheck!  Make sure every I is dotted and every T crossed {so to speak}.

Good luck!  And feel free to share your querying tips below!

Now obviously I haven't gotten an agent yet, so feel free to take my advice with a grain of salt.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Things not to do when you get rejected...

Writers get rejected, it's just a fact.  {unless you self-publish of course.  It would be a little sad if you rejected yourself.}  It is hard, don't get me wrong, but all part of the process.  I mean, even Harry Potter was passed over a few times.

Now, I don't claim to be a writing expert, but I am beginning to get a firm grasp on rejection.  So I thought I'd share with you a few of my tips of what NOT to do when you get rejected.

{one} Drown your sorrows in chocolate.  Eating a handful of M&Ms or a brownie may seem like a good idea at the time.  But then you'll gain 5 lbs in a month....not that I know anything about that.

{two} Fire off a nasty email to the person that rejected you.  From what I hear, the publishing world is a lot smaller than you think and that will probably come back to bite you.  Also, they definitely won't want to publish your work then.  Instead, I send off a nice thank you to them for taking the time to read my work.  I'm hoping that pays off somewhere down the line.

{three} Buy something for yourself to ease the pain.  Unless you're one of the lucky few who can skate by with one rejection before landing an agent {and if you are, give me tips} you're going to face a decent amount of rejection.  No reason to go into debt because of it.  Take a deep breath, and move on.

{four} Blast the person on social media.  This goes back to #2.  You want to deal with the whole process as professional as possible.

{five} Burn your book.  This would probably make a big mess {and light your house on fire if you're not careful} Plus, you'll probably regret it in the morning.

{six} Cry, scream, wallow.  Okay, it's fine if you want to do these things at first, but eventually you need to move forward and on to the next agent.

{seven} Give up.  There are thousands of agents out there.  It will only take one to fall in love with your just might take some time to find that person.  This is definitely something I struggle with, but I love my book so much I refuse to give up on it!

What are your tips for how not to deal with rejection?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Quotable Monday

"This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and put one word after another until its done, it's that easy, and that hard." 
- Neil Gaiman

I absolutely love this quote....though for me it's more, putting pen to paper and writing one word after another.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Quotable Monday

I have a mild obsession with quotes.  I would literally spend hours in college looking up quotes and lyrics that fit whatever mood I was in. {and of course posting them on Instant Messenger for my away message because I'm just that old}  Well, I'd like to start a new blog tradition here of sharing some of my favorite quotes with you each Monday.  It'll be a nice way to start off the week.  Enjoy!

"I want to do something splendid...something heroic or wonderful, that won't be forgotten after I'm dead...I think I shall write books."
 ~Louisa May Alcott

Appropriate for this time in my life and this blog, huh?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Writing and Publishing Resources

Once I had finished my novel, I knew the real work was just beginning.  Not only did I have to start editing, I also knew I had a lot of research to do on the process of getting published.  I decided early on that I wanted to go the traditional route of obtaining and agent and hopefully being picked up by a publishing house.  I just didn't know the first thing of how to go about that.

I took to the library first, taking out every book I could find.  I researched on the Internet, and even took a class that was offered at a local high school on getting published.  I read and took notes.  Obviously I still have a lot to learn, and am still constantly reading, but I feel like I know so much more than I did a year ago.  I'm here to share some of the books and websites that have helped me the most.

Getting Your Book Published for Dummies by Sarah Parsons Zackheim and Adrian Zackheim.  This is a great first book to read to give a general overview of the whole process.

The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It....Successfully! by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry.  I first got this book from the library, but loved it so much I had to buy it for myself.  It gives details on each step of the process and truly has been invaluable to me. 

2015 Writer's Market Deluxe Edition.  This is the book if you're trying to get published.  It gives a few tips and tricks, but mainly lists and organizes literary agents, book publishers, consumer magazines, and trade journals.  It even has a section on contests and awards.  I could have done all this research separately online {and have a bit as well} but this made it so much easier for me. 

Writer's Digest.  I subscribed to the magazine and am on the website constantly.  It has everything you could ever need as a writer.

Nicholas Sparks.  I am a huge fan of his, having read every single one of his books.  But he also gives some great tips and experiences on his website.  He even includes the query letter he used for The Notebook.  Such a huge help!

Romance Writers of America.  This is obviously genre specific to me.  But if you are writing romance, this is an extremely helpful website

Pinterest has been a wonderful resource for me.  I have a separate board just for all my writing pins.  Come check it out!

I will also be attending my first writing conference in August.  I have never been to something like this before, but am excited to learn as much as possible while I'm there.  I'll be attending the Unicorn Writer's Conference and have heard some really wonderful things about it.

What are your favorite resources for learning about the publishing process?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Out with the Old

In order to make sure I don't drive myself crazy while waiting to hear back from all the agents I queried, I'm knee-deep in novel #2.  It's probably not the best idea, because unless an agent wants to take me on, my writing career might be over before it even begins.  But at least it's keeping me busy.

I have a special cabinet in my office dining room where I keep all my writing supplies and whatnot.  I work much better when I have actual pen and paper in my hands.  I handwrite my novels first in notebooks, before typing them up later on the computer.  Then when I'm doing my edits, I need to print out each chapter and mark up all the changes I want to make.  Needless to say, my novel writing process comes with a lot of paper. 

Thankfully my husband is understanding, and I managed to contain it all well enough.  But since I'm 'done' with my first novel until I hear back from an agent, I felt it was time to store everything away and make room for the mountains of paper I'll accumulate with novel #2. 

Out with the old, and in with the new!  Are you more of a computer writer, or do you need to hold it in your hands like me?  Do you throw out all drafts, or do you hold onto them tightly like the garbage man is going to steal all your ideas?

Monday, May 18, 2015

A New Title

My six-year-old has taken an interest in my writing recently.  She's amazed at the amount of work I have been putting into it, but disappointed in the lack of pictures in my book.  She's also not happy that I'm able to work from home and don't have to put her in aftercare.  Apparently that's the place to be after school in kindergarten.  But overall she's very proud of me.

Yesterday I was working on book #2 as she worked on her drawings.  She asked what the title of my newest book was.  When I told her I didn't have one yet, she volunteered to help me out. 

So without further ado, here is the title of my next novel.

Now to tailor my book to fit this fantastic title!

Friday, May 15, 2015

To Outline or Not to Outline

When I started my book last summer, I had a spark of an idea and just started writing.  I didn't plan anything out or outline it.  I just wrote and wrote and let the idea develop as I went along.  Other than the fact that I decided to change the direction halfway through, which resulted in chopping out 30,000 words, the process worked well for me.  I liked being surprised by my characters and the direction the book took. 

However, in my post-novel writing research, I learned that this method is not very common.  Most people outline their novel first.  They know who all the characters are and the twists and turns the book will take before diving into the writing.  Huh.  Interesting concept.  The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced to try writing my next book this way.  It would be nice to already know the basic plot, and just let the details fill in along the way.

So a week into writing book #2, I already have a basic outline and most of my synopsis done.  I'm still getting used to such a different process, but I'm enjoying it.  I'm also hoping that it helps speed up the actual writing process. 

How do you approach writing a novel?  Are you a fly by the seat of your pants kind of person, or do you outline it all at the beginning?  I'll let you know which I prefer once I'm done with book #2!

Monday, May 11, 2015

In Honor of Mother

In honor of yesterday's celebration of Mother's Day, I'd like to share with all of you a speech I wrote back in college for my mother.  I hope you all enjoyed your day as moms or with your moms!

Washington Irving once said, “A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” 
My mother has been an inspiration to many through her roles as mother, daughter, wife, teacher, sister, aunt, godmother, stepmother, and grandmother.  But the most significant of these has been that of mother.  This is the job my mom has put the most energy into.  After two years of teaching, she quit her job in order to stay at home with her children.  Many may say that she was then no longer a working mother, but this is quite the contrary.  She worked harder at this job than any other profession.  It is a 24 hour, 365 day a year occupation without any time off.  And yet I never once heard my mother complain.  She loved us, her children, and everything that went along with raising us.  She brought us up in a safe, happy home filled with love and care.  I never once wanted for anything.  She always put our needs and desires before her own.  She loved us unconditionally, selflessly, and whole-heartedly.  She is there for me as more than just a mother.  She is the one I share my hopes, my dreams, my fears, my laughter and my tears with.  She is my very own guardian angel here on earth, and I love her with more love than I ever thought possible. 

           In conclusion, I would like to share with you a poem, written anonymously, which perfectly describes the role my mother plays in my life.  It is entitled, “You Were There”

You were there when we took our first steps,
And went unsteadily across the floor.
You pushed and prodded: encouraged and guided,
Until our steps took us out the door...

You worry now "Are they ok?"
Is there more you could have done?
As we walk the paths of our unknown
You wonder"Where have my children gone?"

Where we are is where you have led us,
With your special love you showed us a way,
To believe in ourselves and the decisions we make.
Taking on the challenge of life day-to-day.

And where we go you can be sure,
In spirit you shall never be alone.
For where you are is what matters most to us,
Because to us that will always be home...


         Thank you mommy for everything you have done and continue to do.  You are my mother, my best friend, and you mean more to me than simple words can ever say. 


Thursday, April 30, 2015

After The End

I did it.  I'm finally done with my book.  It's been edited, polished and shined, and read more times than I can count.  My query letter and synopsis have been written and edited.  I've done a lot of professional research.  And now I'm done.  Its future is currently out of my hands.  I won't lie, it's both scary and exciting at the same time.  It's strange too.  Since August, I have either been actively working on it, or at the very least, brainstorming ideas, every single day.  And now, just like that, it's over.  I miss my characters.  They became like friends and now it's as if they've moved away, and I'm a little lost without them.

I miss writing {creative writing, obviously I'm writing right now}.  I miss getting lost in a scene, or even powering through a really tough edit.  My days seem less full and I keep thinking I've missed doing something I'm supposed to.  I'm trying to give my mind a break {and tackle some house-care I've sorely neglected} before I dive into my next book.  But I've got all sorts of stories running around my brain and I'm itching to put pen to paper. 

I'm desperately trying not to think about what will happen to my little book from here.  I'm leaving that in someone else's hands and attempting to keep busy.  But trust me, that's much harder than it looks.

When I much younger, my dream was to write a book.  Just one, just to say I did it.  Well I have.  So no matter what happens in the future, I'm going to enjoy the fact that I wrote an entire book.  And even if no one else ever loves it, I do.  And that can be enough.

So I'm off to do some spring cleaning, maybe go for a long run, and try to put this all out of my mind.  It's strange, I spent so much time focusing on the now of writing, that I forgot to think about what comes after The End. 

What do other novelists do?  Do you jump right in to your next book? Or wait a few days, weeks, months, etc to decompress?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

End of the tunnel

I really had grand intentions of writing in this space regularly.  I wanted to chronicle the process of writing and editing my first novel.  Well who knew it would take up so much of my time and energy?!  I'm sure I would have had a tiny bit of time to squeeze in a post at the end of the day, but my brain was so creatively drained that we're lucky I still remembered my own name.

But now I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I finally came up with a new title {because of course I needed a new one}, I'm on my final rewrite looking for typos only, my query letter is done, and I've got the first draft of my synopsis finished. I'm starting to research agents I want to query.  It's all very exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.  I have loved this whole process and am really hoping to make novelist my new career.  I already have several ideas for future books.  But it doesn't matter how hard I work, that all hinges on whether someone else likes it and wants to read it.  And that's really scary.  But I am not one to give up, and I really believe in this story.  So I will learn to be patient and persistent, and never give up on the characters that have become friends to me.

There are a few things that have surprised me about this project, and the first is the amount of research I've had to do.  Part of my book involves different places around the country, so I knew I would have to explore and read about those.  But other than that, I figured you just write...and that's it.  Oh how wrong I was.  Maybe there are authors who are more well-versed in queries, synopsizes, and proper manuscript format than I am.  But I needed to do *a lot* of research.  Books, websites, I've read it all.  I'm hoping to share some of what I've learned on here later this week.

It's been hard trying to fit in time for mothering, house duties, running, writing, and even a little free time to relax occasionally, but so so worth it.  I haven't been this excited about something in a long time.  And no matter if this book ever gets published or not, I'm still proud of it and all the work I've put into it. 

So hopefully I have a little more time to devote to this space as I share this journey with all of you.  Until then, have a great Tuesday!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Where am I?

I know I have been away for far too long, but I promise to pop into this little space more frequently!  I just want to do a little housekeeping today and let you know all the places you can 'follow' me! 

Twitter: Mindless dribble I hardly ever proofread.

Facebook: Mainly blog post shares.  Will try and do more question and answer on there as well.

Bloglovin': Add me to your roll so you never miss a post!

Pinterest: Mainly running tips and Gilmore Girls quotes.

Leave your links in the comments below.  I'd love to come check them out!

Monday, February 23, 2015

I Write Poetry

I've been spending some time looking through old college papers and essays recently.  It's amazing to see how far I've come since then, and how different some of my opinions are now.  It's also a little sad that I barely remember writing most of these papers! 

I'm especially interested in the pieces I wrote for my creative writing class.  Apparently I wrote a lot of poetry back then, something I don't think I've done since.  Some of it isn't too bad, and some reminds me why I don't write poetry much anymore. 

Here's a piece that actually isn't too bad.  It was based on a writing prompt we were given:

I write poetry because it is one of the only safe addicting vices.

I write poetry because I don’t have the patience to write a whole novel.

I write poetry because I am free of societal constraints.

I write poetry because emotions are condensed and easily categorized.

I write poetry because I have been forever changed by Louisa May Alcott’s “My Beth” in Little Women.

I write poetry because no one understands the real me.

I write poetry because one day my little words will help another express her emotions.

I write poetry to help others feel and remember.

I write poetry because I always want to remember.

I write poetry because the hurt will eat me up inside if not set free.

I write poetry because it is more permanent than a single tear.

I write poetry because words can span the miles and hearts.

I write poetry because it gives my soldiers something to take their minds off the desert.

I write poetry because I am too shy to speak how much I love you.

I write poetry…just because.

Do you ever go back and look at writings from your younger years? What have been your reactions to them?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Reading my Heart

After weeks and weeks of editing, and spending more money on printer ink than I'd care to admit, I've finally gotten to a place where I'm ready to share my book with people for some feedback. 

I won't lie, it's scary.  Really, really scary.  This story has been floating around in my head for years.  And now I'm going to let people read it, to let them into my head, into my heart.  It's intimidating and makes me want to run away and hide under my blankets.  I simultaneously want pages and pages of feedback, and nothing but praise.  It's going to be a learning experience for sure, sharing my heart with the rest of the world.

For now I'm only sharing it with my family, mainly so they can see what I've been working on these past few months.  Thanks to some advice from a friend, I'm taking a little time to really research and think about who else I'll share this with it its beginning stages.

My book is far from perfect, but I think feedback at this stage is important.  I also think I needed to step away from it for a few weeks.  I've been either writing or editing it every day for months now.  A little space will help me bring a fresh perspective when I get back to it.

It's strange, having all this extra time.  Well, that's laughable as I still have a husband, two little girls, and plenty of housework to fill my time.  But at least I'm going to bed before 3:00 am now.  I feel anxious, being away from my story, the characters I've come to think of as friends.  It's a struggle for me to stay away from the computer and not open up my book.  I don't want to fall into the trap of reading just a few lines, making just a few edits.  This break is important, but it doesn't make it any less hard.

So for now I'll just sit here and wait.  Wait for the first bits of feedback, wondering if I really do have what it takes to be a novelist.  Wait to see if other people fall in love with my characters the way I did.  Wait to see if my story conveys the messages and intentions I hope it does.  And I'll spend this time waiting trying to figure out exactly what genre my book belongs in...cause trust me, that's harder than it looks.

When do you share your writing with other people?  Who are the best people to edit it?  Let me know!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Our Boys

They are our fathers and sons,

our lovers and brothers.

They are nameless faces

marching in camouflage,

defending our freedom.

They come from the north and south,

east and west;

all walks of life coming together for one single goal


They leave their wives and families,

jobs and friends

and ship out

to unknown destinations

devoid of take-out pizza and late-night TV.

They carry out missions of honor,

of death and destruction,

hoping only

to come home safe

to the homeland they are defending.

They are our military,

Our soldiers,

Our boys.

And to them we owe our lives.

Friday, January 23, 2015

What I'm Reading

We all know that all good writers love to read.  It would be strange I think if this were not true.  How would you expect others to want to read what you wrote, if you in fact don't read yourself?  I also believe the more you read, the better you will write.

It is often hard to find the time to curl up with a good book in between mothering, working on my own book, and all the other little bits that creep into my days.  But it is one thing I refuse to let fall by the wayside.  Nothing helps me de-stress more than escaping into a good story.

For the first time this year I set a goal for myself: to read 50 books in 2015.  The third week into the year I'm doing pretty well...I have finished three books.  They are:
 Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed
American Sniper by Chris Kyle
The Life and Legend of Chris Kyle: American Sniper, Navy Seal by Michael J. Mooney

I also have this problem where I don't just start one book and read it all the way through in a single shot.  I have at least four books I'm in the middle of at any give time.  These are the ones I'm working on now:
41: A Portrait of My Father by George W. Bush
Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich
Decision Points by George W. Bush
Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War by Dakota Meyer

Not exactly quick beach reads, but I'm really enjoying all of them!

So what are you reading right now?  Do you set goals for the year?  What is your favorite book of all time?  I'm always looking for suggestions!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Where do you write?

Many years ago, my mom took my sisters and I to see Louisa May Alcott's house.  I was amazed when the tour guide pointed out the exact spot where she wrote Little Women.  I couldn't believe I got to see the place where my favorite book in the world was written. 

I'm not sure if this is true for everyone, but I've never been able to just write anywhere.  I do my best work when I'm set up in the places I'm most comfortable.  For me, that is one of two places.

The more comfortable of the two places I like to write is on my couch. 

I like getting to stretch out on the couch and have full access to the TV for background noise.  In fact, this is the spot where I finished my novel. 

But I'll be honest, I don't get as much writing done when I'm sitting there.  I get too distracted by the TV or start to doze off.  I need a little bit of a straighter chair to stay focus.

So most of my writing is done at the desk in our dining room.  This is the desk I had in my bedroom growing up, and now it is the desk that houses our family computer. 

While I'm working, I'll either set up the I Pad to watch old episodes of Gilmore Girls or listen to Pandora. 

Even though I hand write everything first, it's also nice to be right in front of the computer so I don't have to move to transcribe.  Ideally, I'd love to have my own office space to write, but that's not an option right now.  So until then I'll claim this spot whenever someone else in my house isn't using it.

What about you?  Is there a special place you get your best writing done, or can you write anywhere?

Monday, January 5, 2015

What's in a name?

Deciding on a blog name is often a pretty nerve wracking decision.  It will be how you are defined out on the Internet.  It should encompass everything about you in just a few words.  And at the same time you want to make sure it's unique and no one else already has it.

It took me a while to come up with the title of this blog, Write in the Open.  I tried several other variations first.  But what kept coming back to me was the quote I wrote for myself in my 8th grade year book, "Inside each of us there is a story...only a few have the courage to tell it."

I honestly believe that's true.  I think everyone in the world can write something....a blog, a book, a poem, a song, etc.  But what sets some people apart from others is the courage to put their words out in the world for others to read, judge, scrutinize.  They have the courage to write out in the open, sharing it with others instead of keeping it locked away for only their own eyes.  That decision to put it all out there, is hard.  But like they said, if it was easy then everyone would do it.

This space is to share my journey as I prepare to send my book out into the open.  So come with me, and share your stories with everyone else.  Have the courage to Write in the Open.  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

And so we begin...

Welcome!  I'm very excited to have this new space on the Internet to share with you.  I've started this blog as I embark on what will hopefully be my new career path.  I majored in English and education in college.  For three years I taught middle school before staying home to raise my girls.  Now I am hoping to add published author to my resume.

When I was ten and read Little Women for the first of many times, I was inspired to become a writer myself.  I dabbled in it haphazardly for years, always saying that one day I wanted to write a novel.  I'd have ideas, and even begin working on a few of them, before inevitably putting it down for one reason or another. 

But this past August, I decided enough was enough and I was just going to do it.  I sat down with a small idea and began writing.  I'd carry around notebooks and tried to fit in writing as much as possible, late at night into the early morning or when I had a free minute if the girls were playing quietly.  My story quickly took on a life of its own and developed into something I was really proud of.

Then, at 10:00pm on December 30th, I finished.  Just the first draft of course, so I will have many weeks left of editing, but I did it.  I wrote an entire book.  96,000 words and 199 pages typed.  And boy did it feel good. 

I'm excited, though a bit nervous, to be embarking on this new journey.  I'm hoping this space becomes a place to share my successes, failures, and a few tips I pick up along the way.  And I'd love to have you come along with me!

Make sure to also follow me on Facebook and Twitter!