Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Survival Tips for Writers

A lot of you are smack in the middle of NaNoWriMo right there {writing an entire 50,000 word novel first draft in a month for all you nonwriters}.  I've never participated before, but it seems like fun! Depending on what I've got going on, I may jump in next year.

Anyways, as you power through your word counts every day, I thought I'd give you a list of survival tips for writers!



- coffee, lots and lots of coffee {or whatever caffeine beverage your prefer} Writing takes a lot of early mornings or late nights, and that jolt is a must.

- good chair. You don't want to be sitting in something too uncomfortable because you're going to be spending a lot of time in it. {something I need to take my own advice on because my chair is not comfortable} You also need to make sure it's not too comfortable that you'll start to fall asleep!

- chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate. Or whatever your vice of choice is. Always helps fuel those tough scenes!

- music. Or at least that's what works for me. I can't write with the TV on, I also can't write in silence. I need a good playlist, which varies depending on what novel I'm working on, as well as which scene. Find what works for you!

- support system. This is SO important. You need a group of people surrounding you to encourage you, and help make sure you have time to write. I've also found that you need people you trust that you can bounce ideas off of. I'm lucky that my husband will sit for hours discussing character development and plot points. Getting ideas from others often opens my mind a bit on scenes I'm struggling with.

So that's my list of survival tips. Leave yours in the comments!

Monday, November 7, 2016

What I'm Reading

It's been a while since I did a post about what I'm reading. Sadly, I haven't been reading quite as much as I normally do, and am behind on my goal of 75 books this year. But here are some of the favorites I've finished in the past few months.

I just finished Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks yesterday. I read the whole thing in only two days, though that's not uncommon for me with Sparks books. I've read them all. This was another great book of his, and left my sobbing at the end. Again, not unusual. Definitely one to pick up!


I fell in love with Jane Green books years ago, but somehow fell out of the practice. So I was so excited to jump into her newest book, Falling. And I am happy to report that it didn't disappoint. I loved the characters and the twist towards the end definitely shocked me. Another heart-tugger.





Another author I used to love, but put down somehow, was Sophia Kinsella. So when my best friend mentioned she was reading one of her books, my interest was rekindled. So I picked up Wedding Night and flew through it. It was the same witty, entertaining writing as before. A great, fun read!




My library has an e-reader app to borrow books, and from there, I found the current series I'm reading. The first book is Matched by Ally Condie. It is a Young Adult, Dystopian series, similar to The Hunger Games or Divergent. It's different than the usual romance, or women's fiction I read, but I'm really enjoying it. I'm halfway through the second in the series, and I believe there is at least a third as well.


Click on any of the links to buy {I am an Amazon affiliate}

So those are just a few of the books I've been reading recently. What are you reading? Leave some suggestions in the comments!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Cut It Down

Like many of you, I struggle with cutting words, paragraphs, and sections from my books during the editing process. Which is really funny to me, because I was the girl in college who could barely meet the minimum page count. And as an English major, I had a LOT of papers to write. I hardly ever had too much to say.

But apparently, once I dive into fiction, I can't shut up. When I first set out to write my first novel, I was so afraid it wouldn't be long enough. But I just powered on, one word at a time, and hoped for the best. Well that manuscript currently stands at 107,000 words. So yeah, brevity is no longer a fear.

While I still don't censor myself when writing the first draft of a novel, I know as I slosh through the edits, I need to tighten things up. It helps with pacing and makes the whole thing better to read. But it's still hard to cut. These are my words. Ones I slaved over, stringing together in just the right way. It's hard to cut them out, knowing no one will get to read them.

I struggled with one such paragraph this weekend. It wasn't needed in the story, and I desperately had to find places to cut. The scene read cleaner without it. But I liked the writing. After hemming and hawing a bit, I cut it. It's easier when I tried to think of the manuscript as its own entity, not a part of me. I need to look at it critically and do what's best for the story, no matter how much I love the words.

This is the paragraph {along with 1000 words}:

            "I fumbled around for my keys, hyper-aware of everything around us. The whizz of the cars on the distant highway that could only be heard late at night when the noise of daytime life had long since drifted away. The breeze that hit my face, growing a few degrees cooler each night as summer slowly faded into fall. The florescent light above my door that cast shadows across Drew’s face, making his green eyes pop. Everything about this moment seared itself deep into my memory."

Ultimately the story is better without it. So while it's tough to figure out what to take out, it all works much better in the end. What about you? Do you struggle with cutting?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Straddling the Line

When I wrote my first novel, I worked on it completely until it was finished. The same happened with my second. I had started a third, but put that aside completely when I started book four, which we are hoping will be my debut novel.

The process of that book has been very different than the rest. I finished the first draft in nine weeks and then it took me three more to polish it up before I sent it to my agent. For the past few months, she and I have been passing it back and forth, making tweaks and changes.

But with all these stories in my head fighting to get out, I can't just sit back and not do anything. So the times my agent is reading/editing, I've been working on what I guess is book five. {I would give you all the titles of these books to make it a little easier to follow, but I change them at least three times on each book, so how knows what they'll eventually be called.}

Anyway, the difference with the process of number five is that just as I get into the groove of writing it, I get changes back form my agent for number four. So I put down one, and pick up the other. Same happens again when I send the changes back again. A little confusing? Absolutely. It is a struggle to jump back and forth between the two very different worlds in each of the books. I have to remember which characters and story plots are in each one. It's a struggle to balance two projects at once.

So my question for you. Do you work on one project exclusively at a time? Or do you bounce back and forth when you have the time? And how do you make that switch without constantly messing up your hero's name?

Now if you'll excuse me, I put down five this morning and am {hopefully} doing the last edits on four before it goes out for submission!!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Back Again

Tap, tap, tap. Is this thing on? I know, I know, I've become one of those bloggers that completely forgets to actually post anything. I knew I was behind, but couldn't believe when I signed on this week and noticed I hadn't blogged since March. Whoops.

I could tell you that my absence is because I've been busying with my wife and mom duties, and all my free time is spend either running or working on my novels. And all those things are true. But honestly, I completely forgot about this space for a while. But I will be rectifying that now.

I've had a lot of people reach out to me about my writing career and how it is progressing, and this is the best way to update everyone at once. Plus, I'd love to have a record of this experience, because it is an experience unlike anything else. And I am loving every moment. Even the tough ones.

My last post was about finally finding an agent. Working with Sarah has been amazing and exceeded my expectations. Now, where are we now? Currently editing my manuscript back and forth. It is the third full novel I have written. The other two are not forgotten, but this one is the one we believe will be the best for me as a debut author. Sarah and I have been working on polishing it to as close to perfect as it can get. I love how all the edits she sends me challenges me to be a better writer and look at my story in a new way. These characters are like my friends, and I really want to honor their story and tell it the best way I can.

Once that is all done, is when we will try and sell it to publishers. I'm not quite sure how that will all go, but I'm excited to see what happens! Every step is one step closer to being a published author.

In the meantime, I'm working on another women's fiction novel. I'm only about 30,000 words in, but have fallen in love with the characters and their story. It's funny, because when I finished my first book, I wasn't sure if it was a one-time thing, or something I could make a career out of. And now I can't stop writing! haha. Apparently I have lots of stories in my head, fighting to get out. It's something I hope never stops.

So that's where I'm at right now. Hoping to pop in here once a week to keep you all updated. Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments!

And always remember. Write boldly and out in the open! Share the stories in your head. There is someone out there that wants to read them.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Call

There are a few phone calls in my life that I'll remember forever. The most significant was when my husband called me from Germany, having safely left Iraq, to tell me he was on his way home to me.

A phone call I received last Friday afternoon ranks high on that list now too.

When I started this writing journey in August of 2014, I had no idea what path it would take. I didn't even know if I could complete a whole novel. But in the process of finishing not one, but two novels, I fell in love with being a writer. And I made it my goal to make that dream come true.

One of those steps was finding an agent to represent me. I spent a lot of time querying and being rejected. But I refused to give up.

A year after I wrote the first line of my first book, I met Sarah at the Unicorn Writer's Conference and immediately felt a connection. She was as excited about my story as I was. For the next few months, she has gone above and beyond, helping me come up with a plan for my career. Part of that plan is putting my other novels aside for now, needing a new story to give me the strongest start as a debut author as possible.

The other part of the plan came Friday. When she called and offered me representation!!! Without hesitation, I said yes immediately. I could not be happier to partner with Sarah Younger and the Nancy Yost Literary Agency!!! I cannot wait to see where this journey takes us!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Truth Revealed

A few weeks ago, I got inspired to write a short story. I'd gotten an email about a contest to write a 1,500 word max story. I'd never finished a short story before, so I thought I'd give it a try! While I didn't the contest {I honestly never thought I would} it was such a fun experience. And today I thought I'd share it all with you! Enjoy!

The Truth Revealed 
            Being a physical representation of a fork in the road, the airport was one of Sienna’s favorite places. People coming and going, for a variety of reasons, all making choices of destination. Not travelling often, she was excited to be leaving for a more tropical locale. Long overdue, she could practically taste the Pina Colada.
            But the red wine she was sipping at the bar would have to do for now. Of course she hadn’t learned about the two hour delay until after she’d arrived at the airport.
            A male figure clad in jeans and a leather jacket, distressed by years of use, sat down on the empty stool next to her. His scent tickled her nose, invoking a familiarity. Unable to place it without a visual, she turned just as the stranger raised his hand to catch the attention of the bartender.
            Sienna gasped as realization poured over her.
            “I’ll have a beer. Whatever’s on tap,” he said, oblivious to his seatmate.
            “Aidan?” she squeaked out.
            He turned towards the voice. She saw the moment he made the connection of who she was. “Sienna. Wow. Is it really you?”
            She nodded, overcome with the inability to speak. How long had it been since she’d seen those blue eyes?
            “Wow,” he said again. “It’s so good to see you. You look…” he paused, searching for just the right words. He didn’t want to mess this up. “The same, but more mature. More beautiful, if that’s even possible.”
            He always did have a way with words. She blushed as her hair fell in her face, feeling eighteen again. On instinct, Aidan reached out and tucked the obstinate strands behind her ear. It was an intimate gesture reserved only for current or past lovers.
            “You look really good, too,” Sienna said. “I like this a lot.” Reaching out she ran the tip of her finger across his jawline, her nail scratching the stubble. Both testing the waters, they needed physical touch to remind them the other really was there.
            “It’s normally not like this,” he began. “But I was home on leave and didn’t feel like subjecting my face to the daily shaving routine usually required.”
            “Leave?” she asked, curiosity piquing her interest. She was afraid of what revealing facts about their present would do, but she couldn’t resist asking. Her heart would surely deal with the repercussions later.
            “Yes ma’am. I’m a Marine now. Stationed at Twentynine Palms, California. Had a few days off, so I flew back here to Jersey to visit my parents.”
            His whole demeanor shifted when he spoke about his job, his way of life. His posture straightened, and the formal use of ma’am was not lost on her.
            “Well, thank you for your service,” she tipped her glass to salute his. She was happy knowing he had made something of himself, so noble at that. Though this new information only solidified a decision she made years ago in the outdated bathroom of her parent’s house.
            “So what about you?” he took a long swallow of beer. “Are you coming or going today?”
            “Going. I’m off to Jamaica for a few days’ vacation. Needed a break from this dismal grey snow,” she gestured towards the window. “And I’m on break from school.”
            “Teaching or student?”
            “Teaching. Middle school literature and English.”
            “You got your dream then? Congratulations.”
            His smile stretched as wide as his face and hers mirrored back in turn. His looks of approval were softening her resolve, reminding her of only the good and eliminating the bad. She was going to have to steel herself before disaster struck and revealed more than she should.
            “Are you travelling with you boyfriend?” His question wasn’t subtle. Her presence had thrown him. Normally he was smoother than that.
            Sienna laughed and the sound caused Aidan’s heart to take an extra beat. “Could you be more obvious? No, I’m alone.”
            “What?” he couldn’t hide his surprise. “You’re going alone?”
            “People do it all the time.” Her back went up, both physically and figuratively, the need to defend her actions was strong. “It’s by choice, if that’s your next question.”
            “I’m sorry if I offended you. I’m just surprised. But in a good way. Not everyone can travel alone. Though you were always so independent.”
            If only he knew the depths of how much. But she kept that to herself.
            “It’s okay. I found myself with the opportunity and took it immediately. Didn’t even attempt to find someone to go with me.”
            “That sounds nice. So no boyfriend then or he’s just not going with you?”
            She laughed again at his persistence and the sound was so beautiful, he wanted to always summon it from her. “No, no boyfriend. And you?”
            “No boyfriend either,” he winked. “Or girlfriend for that matter.”
            Draining the drinks in front of them, they took a moment to process the fact they were both single. It opened up so many possibilities. Ones Aidan wanted to explore, while Sienna knew could never happen. Not after the lie she’d told. The fact that it was one of omission would matter very little.
            Aidan stood, putting his wallet into his back pocket. “You got some time before your flight?”
            Looking at her watch, Sienna nodded. “A little bit. It’s been delayed.” The words almost caught in her throat before she could speak them. How different her day would have been if that flight had been on time.
            “Great. Come with me?” Securing her hand in his, Aidan led Sienna out of the bar and thrust them into the bustle of the airport hallways. Too stunned by everything, she followed along willingly. Which wasn’t hard since there had been a time she would have followed him anywhere.
            They brushed past other passengers a few more feet before Aidan ducked into a darkened hallway, half-hidden by a sunglasses kiosk.
            He pushed her up against the concrete wall, both gently but with urgency. “I still can’t believe you’re really here. I know I’m the one who messed up and ruined us. But I have thought about you constantly over the years. You were my one that got away and I’ve never forgiven myself for that. And now, as if out of a dream, you’re back in my arms again.”
            Aidan’s words touched a place in Sienna she’d closed and locked up. She wanted to pour her heart back out to him, but knew this encounter was only going to end in her hurt and his anger. She could have only this one moment.
            Grabbing his jacket, she pulled his mouth down to hers. He was surprised, but recovered quickly, deepening the kiss. They were hungry, desperate, trying to erase the time spent apart with just one kiss. But it was impossible.
            As suddenly as she pulled him forward, Sienna pushed Aidan back again. With the memory of his lips, now even more confident and experienced, seared into her mind, it was time to let go.
            “I have to go,” the words were difficult to get out.
            “Can’t you stay just a little longer?” his eyes begged her to stay.
            “I can’t. I’m sorry. It really was good to see you though, Aidan.” She smiled, choosing her words carefully. One wrong slip and this would all blow up in her face.
            “Can I at least get your number? I’d love to stay in touch.”
            “No, that’s not a good idea.” She started to back away, putting distance between them.
            “Sienna, please?”
            What happened next could only be described as a perfect storm. Sienna turned away as Aidan reached out to grab her. Being just out of reach, he snagged the strap of her purse instead of her arm. The contents scattered around them and Sienna dropped to her knees. Frantic, she gathered up items in blind panic. Which is why she didn’t notice when Aidan picked up the pictures before she did. She watched in horror as he flipped through each one. He didn’t know right away, but something was off.
            “Is this your….?” His voice trailed off as he held up one of the pictures of Sienna and Rose.
            Defeated and knowing she would have to deal with whatever was thrown at her, Sienna slumped down on the floor. “My daughter,” her voice came off flat.
            Studying the photo a little longer, Aidan then asked. “How old is she?”
            A sigh escaped Sienna’s chest. This would be the moment that changed everything.
            “Eight.” She gave no more information, knowing he would put it all together.
            With the picture clutched in his hand, Aidan kneeled in front of Sienna. He cupped her chin, forcing her to look at him and confront the past she’d left there for a reason. “And is she…”
            Even he couldn’t say the words. Sienna, as had been the case when the stick turned pink after Aidan had broken up with her, would have to be the strong one. “Yes, Aidan. This is your daughter.”



Friday, February 19, 2016

Writing Means...

Writing means...
staying up until 3 am just to finish a scene...

characters becoming friends...

Googling the most random things...

every person you meet and situation you're in becoming possible fodder for a book...

feeling like you have no idea what you're doing most of the time....

editing, editing, editing, and more editing....

talking to your characters more than your friends...

never feeling quite alone because of all the characters in your head....

always stressing which plot twist is the right one to chose...

spending HOURS coming up with titles and character names...

being half-way done with a novel and putting it away because working on a new one is a smarter career move.  Hang on book #3, we'll be back. Time to work on #4!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

One Line Wednesday

"And I don’t want to scare you away, but you make me want to make plans, and rules, and definitions. I want there to be an us."

Monday, January 18, 2016

Patience

If there's one thing I've learned from this whole "trying to get my book published" thing, it's patience. The publishing world moves veerrry slow. Not that it's a bad thing. As a reader, I appreciate that only the best work is chosen to be sent out into the world for consumption. As a writer, I appreciate the time and dedication spent making each of us the best writers we can be.

But sometimes it's hard to wait. Especially when you feel like your book, your baby, is flying around in some sort of weird limbo. When you're waiting for other people to decide its fate. There are some who would encourage me to self-publish, which depending on how you do it, can be relatively easy. I have two novels that I believe are finished, and could have them up on Amazon in a week.

But that's not what I want. I'm drawn to the traditional publishing route. The experiences I've had so far have been eye-opening, and have pushed my writing to be better.  So the waiting will be worth it in the end.

So for now, I spend my time reading and writing.  I tried my hand at a short story last week and am really happy with the way it turned out. I've started working on my third novel. There are a lot more characters than I'm used to using, and I've been playing around with POV. It's been a fun process and as always, I love "meeting" all my new characters.

I've never been very good at waiting, so maybe this process will make me learn some patience. But until then I'll keep writing and taking it all one day at a time.