Friday, January 29, 2016

This I know for sure...

I truly believe putting good thoughts out into the universe brings good things back to you. A friend puts it more simply - Good energy brings good things. That being said, I hate it when someone says, "there's good in every situation, it's up to you to find the positive in the situation."

I would love to say to them, "Really, what's the positive of the sudden death of my family member who was only 8 years old? She wasn't ill, wasn't suffering so explain the positive in that situation." I'd be interested in hearing the response to that question.

I really wish people who think they're being well meaning would think before they speak. You may not be aware of what someone around you has gone through or is going through.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress):  I revised two chapters last week. I had hoped to get more done, but am pleased with what I accomplished.

Quote of the week: "You are the sole deciding factor between procrastination and progress." ~ Josh Duhamel

What I'm reading:  I'm not currently reading anything. I just finished Julie Ann Walker's book from last week. I'll probably start a new book this evening.

Random things:  I've been decorating my planner each week. I find by decorating it, I'm using it more and it's a fun creative outlet.

Random Photo of the Week:

                            Here's what last week's planner pages looked like.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Creative Outlet

There's a wonderful book called The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. (I believe it was first published in 2002) that talks about filling your creative well. I often find that if my writing is not going well, I need to step back and take a couple of hours to do something outside of writing.

Two of the things I like to do are crocheting and building puzzles. Both allow me a creative outlet that allows my brain to work on whatever plot problem I'm struggling with while I'm working with yarn or trying to find a piece of blue sky that fits in just the right spot.

I've come up with entire scenes while working on a puzzle. I've learned to keep a pad of paper and pen nearby so I can jot down ideas and notes so when I go back to the laptop all those wonderful things my brain came up with aren't lost into the ether.

Someone recently told me best selling author Susan Mallery also builds puzzles. I don't know if she uses them as a creative outlet while plotting out her writing, but it's nice to know I'm in good company.

Friday, January 22, 2016

This I know for sure...

I love finding a great new series of books to read. I really like finding it when the series has been out for a bit so there a lot of books that I can read before I catch up to the most current release. What I don't like about it is when I'm caught up and have to wait six months or a year for the next book to come out like everyone who has read the series from the beginning.

I'm in that situation now. I stumbled across the Fatal Series by Marie Force this past summer, read the seven books that had been published in quick succession and have been impatiently waiting for the eighth book to come out. The good news is I read on a website that it's supposed to be released some time this month.

Are you reading a series where you're impatiently waiting for the next book to be published?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress): The first chapter is done, polished, and sitting like a shiny beacon on my desk. I'm going to send it to a beta reader this weekend. I want to ensure the book starts off strong enough to make the reader want to keep reading.

Quote of the week: “There’s no excuse to wait a day to do what you want to do and to change the way you want to change.” ~ Sophie Bush

What I'm reading: Hell or High Water by Julie Ann Walker. This is the first book in her new series.

Random things: I'm trying to do a better job of keeping track of the books I've read and want to read on Goodreads.  It's nice to have all the books I've read in one organized place instead of trying to remember if I've read a book or not.

Random Photo of the Week:

     It's been wicked cold here lately. Even the cat has started snuggling in the blankets.

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Lesson Learned

Have you ever read a book where something about a character's appearance changed mid-story with no explanation? The character is first described as having blue eyes and then they're later described as brown? The hair color changes or in some cases, even the person's name suddenly becomes something completely different? Writers work hard to catch these type of things but occasionally they slip through the editing process even at the final publication end by major publishers.

It's even harder to keep characters and their appearances straight when you're writing a series with multiple characters. Main characters in one story usually become secondary characters in other stories in the series. And then there are the secondary characters who will always stay that way but are needed to move the series forward.

I'm currently working on my first series. The first and second books are written. They still need to be revised before being sent out on submission though. I didn't have a problem remembering someone's name or what they looked like because I went right from finishing book one into writing book two. I took a few weeks off from writing to let those sit a bit and loosely plotted out the story lines for the rest of the series.

Deciding I would write the third book during the week and revise book one on the weekends, I jumped back into the writing fray. And suddenly had problems remembering the appearances of some of the characters from book one, some of their mannerisms, and the like.

I've read multiple times in multiple places in the past that one should always keep a "Bible" when working on a series and include character sketches, character backgrounds, setting details, world building details, etc. in a format that's all neatly indexed and tabbed. Did I do that? No. I had to wade through the first manuscript looking for the details I couldn't remember.

My writing time is at a premium and using that precious time to build a notebook full of information I wasn't sure I'd even need didn't seem important. I also didn't see how I could forget anything about my characters or where the stories were taking place. I quickly learned how wrong I was.

Boy, is that series bible important. I still haven't put a physical notebook together with all the pertinent information I think I'll need, but I am building a spreadsheet in Excel. My spreadsheet includes character names, hair and eye color, distinguishing things about them such as tattoos, scars, accents, their family members, and a bit about their background that makes them they way they are. Setting details such as street names, parks, coffee houses and the time of year are also included. I've started keeping research details on a separate tab in the spreadsheet as well.

I learned an important lesson. All those writers who stated that a series bible is an absolute necessity knew exactly what they were talking about. I can't help wondering how many of them learned this the same way I did, by trial and error so to speak.

Friday, January 15, 2016

This I know for sure...

Like everyone else at this time of the year I'm trying to eat healthier. My doctor would like me to lose between 20 to 25 pounds so that I'm in the middle of the weight range for someone of my height (5'10").

I've always eaten fruit every day and sometimes twice a day. I eat whole wheat or multi-grain bread. I eat a lot of vegetables and only eat meat once or twice a week. I also have Greek yogurt three to four times a week.

Given how I eat on a regular basis, you must be asking how can I be overweight. Well, I love bread. Not sandwich bread, but good crusty loaves of bread from a bakery. Oh my give me a loaf of sourdough bread and I'm in heaven. I don't even need anything on it.

My other downfall? Cookies, not store bought cookies though. I have no problem leaving them on the shelf, but homemade cookies...I can't leave them alone. Did I mention I love to bake? I usually make some type of cookie a couple of times a month and I'm also usually the only one who eats them. The rest of my family will have one or two when I first make them, but that's about it. They'd rather have pretzels, popcorn, or Cheez-Its.

How about you? Do you have a certain type of food that you'd rather eat than anything else? Yes, mine is bread, though cookies run a darn close second. :o)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress):  I've started the second round of revisions of my manuscript tentatively titled Honor Bound.

Quote of the week: “Do what feeds your soul, what you’re meant to do now. There is never an ideal time.” ~ Ana Suarez

What I'm reading: This Heart of Mine by Brenda Novak. I believe this is the eighth book in the Whiskey Creek series. I am loving this book. I hate having to put it down and I'm staying up way too late at night reading it.

Random things:  I finished crocheting the blanket I've been working on since over the summer. I used it on my bed for the first time last night. I guess it was a good night for it, we woke up to snow this morning.

 Random Photo of the Week:

 Somebody enjoys playing in an empty box almost as much as he enjoys playing with toys.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Revisions Round Two

With the start of a new year, I'm back to revising my manuscript in earnest. I wasted a lot of time the last part of 2015 playing at revising this book. I've already done one complete revision but it needs at least one more and then I'll send it out to a couple of people who read manuscript and let me know what they think.

My first quarterly goal is to have this book completely revised, sent out to readers, and ready for submission by the end of March. I plan on having all of the revisions done by the end of February.

During this second round of revisions I'll be looking for continuity, plot holes, secondary characters that appear and then disappear just as quickly, that the timeline of events makes sense, cliches, and character stereotypes. I'll also keep an eye out for any misspellings, incorrect grammar, missing words, and overuse of certain words. Two of my favorite words that I use way too often are "just" and "that." I've gotten better with "that" but "just" still sneaks into my work way too often.

I bought some colored ink pens yesterday while I was out shopping. I revise on paper so each color will stand out against the black ink. One color will be for dialogue changes/additions, another color will be for timeline issues, etc.

Friday, January 8, 2016

This I know for sure...

Powerball fever is sweeping my area. The last I heard the jackpot was over $600 million dollars.

Am I going to buy a ticket? Yes, at least one, maybe two but no more than that. We talked about it at work yesterday, saying what we would do if we won. Some of us would travel the world, some of us would start our own businesses, all of us said we would help out family members. One of us said she'd start her own church ministry.

It's fun to dream about what we'd do if money was no longer an option or a daily worry. I'm even willing to share the jackpot with other winners. I don't need that much money, but it's sure nice to think about what I'd do if I had it. :o)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress):  I didn't do any writing or revising last week. I spent time with family. I'm spending time this week doing the same thing before the last of my relatives head back to their sunny homes. (Yes, I am jealous of my Southern relatives.)

Quote of the week: "...What you can do or think you can do, begin it." ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

What I'm reading: Thrill Me by Susan Mallery. This book is part of the Fool's Gold series. While I've enjoyed all of the other books in this series, I'm having a hard time with this one.

Random things:  I took the plunge and stepped on the scale this morning, the first time since the week of Thanksgiving. I ate a lot of Christmas cookies and enjoyed every bite so I was expecting to see a 5 pound weight gain. Imagine my surprise, when the scale showed only a 1 pound gain. I don't know how that happened, but I'll take it.  :o)

Random Photo of the Week:

Petey doesn't usually like to be covered up, but he was all cuddled in his blanket this past Monday when the high for the day was 10 degrees before the wind chill was factored in.

Monday, January 4, 2016

A New Beginning

I'm starting this post by wishing everyone a safe, healthy, happy, and prosperous 2016.

While I always feel that September is the start of a new year instead of January, I'm looking forward to the beginning of 2016. I have high hopes and strong goals for this year, both personally and in my writing career.

It feels like I have a fresh start. A way to put the past year, which wasn't horrible by any means and in fact from June onward was pretty great day job wise, in perspective. Yes, I didn't meet all of my 2015 goals, but I learned from those I didn't and I learned why I didn't. I kept that in mind when I set my goals for 2016.

I feel incredibly optimistic for 2016 and I haven't felt that way in quite a while. Here's to a fantastic year for all of us.