Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mea Culpa

Okay, I have officially failed miserably in my writing attempts. Mostly because this blog is supposed to be about me and my writing and I haven't really done any serious writing in quite some time. My apologies.

So what have I been doing? Well, playing far, far too much solitaire, baking lots of bread, trying to talk Aaron into letting me make him an apple pie (what guy DOESN'T want a homemade apple pie??? Weirdo.), watching Star Trek: The Next Generation.

First off, something that gave me a good laugh today. I was watching the news and they were reporting on a young man who nearly drowned in Hood Canal (no, that's not what made me laugh. That is very tragic.) They showed a live video of the victim being unloaded from a helicopter on a stretcher on top of Harborview Medical Center. Then it cut back to the reporter who said, "That victim, who we just showed being unloaded from the helicopter, is now inside the hospital. Now back to the studio." It was just rediculous. Of course they took him inside the hospital. I could have figured that out by myself.

Anyway, I'm making chili, which I'm sure will be delicious. That's about it for me. I'll try to be more regular in my updates.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A short story

First off, apologies for the long silence. I promise I'll try to do better. I've written a little story which I've entitled "Seventeen" and it may or may not be based on true events. I hope it brings you back to a time when you were seventeen. I hope you enjoy it.

The text message said, “Hey I’m headed up your way. Can I stop in and see you?” ;-)”

She had been crushing on him since she was only thirteen but they had never taken their friendship past the flirting stage. He was a couple years older. Worldly. Hot. The sexual tension was almost tangible as she tapped back: “You can’t. My parents are home.”

“Aren’t they asleep?”

She bit back another smile. “Yeah. They are.” She paused. Then in a desire to live boldly, she wrote, “I think I could sneak outside for a few minutes and see you if you wanted.”

“Be there in about five minutes.”

She urgently wrote, “Pull in across the street, not in our driveway. My parents will hear. And shut off your lights.”

Heart pounding, she popped a stick of gum in her mouth, chewed hard and swirled it across her teeth. Then she spit it out and checked her hair in the mirror. Not that he would be able to see in the darkness anyway. Then she turned off the light in her room and slowly opened the door and peered out. Nothing but silent darkness. 

Like a SWAT team member clearing a building, she crept down the hall and through the living room to the front door. She slowly opened the dead bolt. Still only silence. She turned the knob slowly, ears perked for any sound from her parents’ room. Suddenly her phone buzzed in her pocket. The sound seemed to echo off the walls. She jumped and pulled it out quickly. The screen lit up the dark room.

“I can’t wait to see you.”

Her grin nearly split her face in half. She turned the knob on the door again, more determined this time. Her heart seemed caught in her throat and her hands were trembling, but it was a good kind of nervous, she thought.

When the latch clicked open, she slowly pulled on the door. She was sure it had never creaked this loudly before. When it was open just enough that she thought she could go through, she turned sideways and slipped outside. A cricket chirped somewhere and she thought she heard the hoot of an owl.

She was finally outside. She dashed across the driveway. Suddenly a light came on in the living room. He stomach nearly ended up in her mouth as she stepped behind a tree, praying that no one had seen her. After a moment she peered out. Her mom was in the living room, looking out the window. She looked across the street. His truck was there and she saw his shadowy figure headed up the driveway towards her. In a moment, her mother would catch sight of him. She wondered if she could get to him before her dad got his shotgun. She suddenly had visions of throwing herself in front of the bullet to save him from her father’s wrath. Of her funeral, when everyone would appreciate her sacrifice. When the boy that came down the driveway now would plant a kiss on her cold, pale lips as she lay in the coffin.

But luckily, no sacrifice was needed. Her mother turned off the light and went back into the bedroom. She flew out from behind the tree and then nonchalantly approached him with a smile.

“Hey,” he said.

“Hey.” He put his arms out and she gave him a hug as she had done hundreds of times before. The sharp smell of men’s deodorant and vaguely behind it, the slight musty smell of beer.

“Let’s go back across the street. I don’t want my parents to hear us.”

They hurried across the darkened road. A light rain began to fall.

“How you doing?” he asked.

“Better now.” Somehow that line sounded more seductive in the movies.

He held her close, and bend his head to her neck. She felt lips against the side of the cheek and her heart swelled against her chest. She stood on tiptoe and kissed his cheek. Then, all at once, his mouth was on hers. She kissed him back, hard and passionately and the feeling of his lips made her knees feel like jelly.

They kissed for a few minutes and then she said,

“I have to go.” She was afraid that her parents would notice she was gone and spoil this beautiful night.

He stroked her cheek. “Alright. But you’ll text me, right?”

“Of course.” She smiled up at him and then turned to leave. He grabbed at her hand and pulled her back towards him. She spun around and, like two magnets that do not have to be aligned, their lips found each other again in a hard kiss. For a moment she worried she cut her lip on her teeth but she didn’t really care. Then she turned and waved goodbye and hurried back towards her house.

As she slowly crept back inside, repeating the motions she had done only a few minutes ago, her phone buzzed again.

“Damn you’re a good kisser.” was all it said.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


As you probably know, I currently have two tattoos ("Freedom is not Free" on my wrist and a tree on my ankle). I have long promised myself that when I published my first book, I would get a tattoo to represent my love of writing, which has been one of the only real constants in my life. So although I have not been published, I have been mulling over what design I wanted to get.

I'm leaning towards an old fashioned typewriter with a sheet of paper coming out of it. I want to get something written on the paper and I can't decide between "Once upon a time..." and "Nothing that happens to a writer, however happy, however tragic, is ever lost." The last one is probably too long though.

I also like tattoos that don't just stand alone but have some flowers around them or something like this picture. But I want to get some meaningful flowers, and I can't decide...I also like the placement of this one.

Any thoughts? Anyone have a writing tattoo already?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Short Stories and Organizing

So I'm still about halfway through "The Language of the Unheard" and while I'm wrapping that up, I've decided to try my hand at some short stories. I haven't written many short stories since high school, where I used to write them almost exclusively. I've heard they're a good way to get your foot in the door and if you get them published in a magazine, they might even make you a little cash!

So my first one is entitled "The Banks of Belronan" and it is a classic tragic romance about selkies, the mythical seal women of Ireland. I'm writing as a frame story with an old woman telling a tale she was told as a child. We'll see how it turns out.

I also finally organized all my little scribblings of story ideas and tidbits into Microsoft OneNote and I feel so much better now. I had to go through two notebooks, the notes section of my phone and countless random pieces of paper to find them all, but they're all sorted by type into the one program now. There's places for me to add more notes to them later on and pictures of things that inspired me etc. I am including an amazing picture of the Aurora Borialis that just keeps me in awe. Anyway, now I don't have to worry about losing things and when I want to find an idea for a story, I just have one place to look. In fact, the selkie story was one that I had thought of a while back and forgotten about until I did this.

Aaron is going camping with his brothers for a few days next week so I'll have to house to myself. I plan on eating lots of cheese-filled foods (he's lactose intolerant but I love cheese), doing a lot of writing, staying up ridiculously late, sleeping in, and watching plenty of chick flicks.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A question...

I've been thinking a lot about a particular question lately. If you were the only person left alive in the world, and there was no chance that anyone would ever read your writing, would it change how or how much you write?

Of course the pressure is on as writers to answer no. To say that we only write for the love of it, the we do it all for ourselves. But I think that if I am being entirely honest with myself, I would have to say that it would change in someways. I do write for myself, and I would never stop writing entirely. But a big reason of why I write is to share my thoughts and stories with other people. If I knew I would never be published or never make any money from it, it wouldn't change the way I wrote at all. I could still share my writing free over the Internet, or give it to family and friends. But if no one would ever read it, I don't know if I would really write novels the way I do now. I think I would keep a journal still, because that helps me sort through my thoughts and I might write a novel occasionally, but part of the fun of writing for me is figuring out what other people like to read in addition to what I like to write. It's honing my craft in a way that make others enjoy it more. If I was writing only for myself, I think I would lose so much of that it might not even be very much fun.

What about you? If no one would EVER read your writing, and you could know this for sure, would you still write the same way you do now?

Friday, June 10, 2011

School and Writing Update

Well, I got some bad news regarding school. Summer classes at SCCC are completely full so there is not chance of me taking classes until fall. But I'm all registered for classes for fall so I have another three months of just looking for work each week and other than that, just sitting on my hands unless I get a job. I think I might try to do some volunteering work at one of the hospitals since I live on Capitol Hill, a mere blocks from all the major hospitals in Seattle. While the school thing is bad news for my nursing career, it's good news for my writing career. I decided to set some writing goals for myself.

So assuming I don't get a job, which is possible, my goal is to:

  1. Find a reading club online, one where I can read other people's comments about various books, thus giving me the chance to understand what people are looking for in a book.
  2. Read at least three books that are currently on the NYT bestseller list, giving me an idea of what is selling right now.
  3. Finish writing "The Language of the Unheard"
  4. Go back and give my screenplay a read-through. I'm skeptical that there will really be even enough to salvage from it, but I want to at least read it.
  5. Figure out what I'm going to do with "Finding Innisburg." Currently I have stopped querying agents because I have become worried that the work is too short to be marketable. My grandma just finished reading it and she gave me a couple of places where she thought that I could add some in, so I might decide to do that. I don't want to query all the agents I can find if it is indeed too short in case I decide to change it.
As far as "The Language of the Unheard" goes, its coming along nicely. I've discovered something about myself in this process. If I have done a sufficient amount of planning and if the story is good and well-planned, I really enjoy the writing process. It's not a chore to crank out my word count every day. In fact, I'm enjoying this one so much that I haven't even had to make myself hit a required word count each day and I discovered with a shock last night that I have been averaging over 4000 words a day for the last five days. It currently stands at 20,445 and it's really flowing nicely. I haven't had any of those "I don't know what to say in this scene" scenes that I usually have; scenes that are integral to the story but no fun to write. Those scenes usually end up being the boring ones in the book when it's done and I am on scene seventeen without any of those sticky ones. I'm thinking of changing the title again, though, to "Zombie is a Bad Word." I think its more interesting and indicative of the subject matter. My only reservation about it, is it sounds like a comedy book, which it certainly is not supposed to be. It started out a little tongue-in-cheek but it's very serious now. I actually have forgotten at times that most of the time, zombies are bad. The zombies in my book are like children and only the people who hate them or are mean to them call them zombies. To everyone else, they are "residual humans" or RH's. So if you were browsing in a book store, would you be more likely to buy a book called "The Language of the Unheard" or "Zombie is a Bad Word"? The latter is more fun, but the former is more serious and the book is more serious. Tell me what you think.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Language of the Unheard

I more or less finished "North to the Klondike." It needs a bunch more work but the main story frame is out on paper. I started the 'zombie' story, "The Language of the Unheard" on Sunday and right now I am eight scenes and 10,000 words in. The extensive outlining that I did on notecards has really been helping me. I just went through and made one notecard for each scene and on that card I listed the plot points and details that needed to make it into each scene. Then as I go along, I'm still creating a lot of the story but I'm not missing anything important to the story. It's really helped me reveal my character's backstory (which is one of her main motivations for this story) a little at a time. And as I go into the five digit word counts, where I start to second guess myself, I know that I have a good plan ahead of me and if I just follow what I've laid out, the story will come together in the end. So far I feel really good about the story and if I can keep my words per scene up at this same level, I'll have the longest book I've ever written. I'm striving for at least 80,000 words but we'll see how that plays out. I have twenty more days until I start school for summer quarter so we'll see how far I can get by then. But even after school starts, I won't be working so I should still have some time to work on it.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Inspiration strikes again!

OK, so when I was in school we were taught that all good essays had a theme sentence which summed up the rest of the essay. So here goes. In this blog post I will tell you about the new title I came up with for my book, one of my favorite websites for writers, and for a new contest I really want to enter.

First off, the title I came up with for my "zombie" novel is "The Language of the Unheard." It's a little long since studies show that most bestsellers are three words or less, but some of those words in the middle are nice and short so they almost don't count. Its perfect in so many ways, some of which I didn't even realize until after I picked it. It's from a Martin Luther King Jr. quote which says "A riot is the language of the unheard," and since my novel is partially about civil rights for zombies and about taking a stand for those who can't take a stand for themselves and about not judging someone until you've gotten to know them, it's perfect for that; not preachy, but it makes sense. But on the other level, which I didn't realize until later, its prefect because the "zombies" in my book are deaf-mutes so they are literally the unheard as well. So tell me, what do you think?

Now for one of my favorite websites. It is the Lulu Titlescorer. It is basically a computer program which determines if any title is going to be a bestseller. Of course, that is not an exact science and has a lot more to do with you writing abilities, but it was put together by a team of statisticians who based it off of fifty years worth of bestsellers and and is proven to be about 40 percent more accurate than just randomly guessing. I have found it very helpful when I have several titles that I can't decide between and if you play around with it long enough, you can kind of figure out what types of things make for good titles. And, if you're curious, my title above has a 26 percent chance of being a bestseller if I consider the title figuratively and a 10 percent chance if I take it literally. But for both Finding Innisburg and North to the Klondike, I used it to select which title I wanted to use. I'm going to ignore the results for this one, however, because it's too perfect.

Now for the contest. I had heard of the Three Day Novel Contest before but I ran across it again and I got to thinking how fun it would be. Usually I'm not a fan of entering contests with a fifty dollar entry fee, but I'm seriously considering this. A novel in three days. Sounds like a seriously crazy challenge and I love seriously crazy challenges. Especially when they involve writing! Also on a side note, I am a firm NaNoWriMo believer. I would never, ever be where I am today without that. I would still be three chapters into a daunting unfinished novel and instead, I have written four over the last three years. So anyway, I was on a writing website and this guy, whoever he was, went off on this tangent about how it takes at least two years to write a novel and "those write-a-novel-in-thirty-days programs are just scams and they are the equivalent of get-rich-quick schemes. No one ever wrote a novel in thirty days, at least one that got published anyway." I was soooo mad. I looked for a way to contact the guy but there wasn't an option on his site and I almost wanted to smash my computer. If it had been a book I had bought I would have burned it. He was sooo wrong and it pissed me off. Just to point out that several novels have been published out of NaNoWriMo including Sara Gruen's "Water for Elephants" which was a New York Times Bestseller and is being made into a movie as we speak. But I was very angry that he would run NaNoWriMo into the dirt like that.

Anyway, in retaliation, here is my defence for NaNoWriMo (yes, I realize this was not in my theme sentence but I'm just annoyed again at that website so I need to vent). Many, many people in the world want to write a novel, or have started to write a novel. In fact, if you took a random poll, I am willing to bet that over half of people would agree that they have a good idea for a novel that they just haven't gotten around to writing. Part of the problem for this is that they think that writing a novel A. takes years and years to write even a rough draft of B. is something you can't do while you are working, raising kids, in school or just generally normal. They think that you have to take several bottles of scotch, rent an attic room somewhere, and not come out for twenty years while you pound out your masterpiece. But in reality, with only a one or two hours a day you can pound out a rough draft of a novel in a month or so. Is it going to be good right then? No. It's going to suck. But your rough draft is always going to suck even if you spend thirty years on it. In fact, I'm willing to bet that if you spent thirty years on it its going to suck even more because the flow and the pacing will be totally off since you are now thirty years distant from the first part of your story by the time you're done.

So NaNoWriMo liberates people to write, to get their ideas down without worrying about making them perfect the first time. Of course if you want to edit it until its ready to sell, then that will probably take you a year or more, but so many people never get past the first page and NaNoWriMo does something about that. I think one of the problems people have is they think, and rightly so, that becoming a good writer takes some practice. If you've never written anything in your life, you're probably not going to be much of a writer. But you're never going to be much of a writer if you don't start somewhere. And NaNoWriMo is often that somewhere. I love it, I wrote my first novel for NaNo and it was utterly terrible but it got me on the path that I am today. Writing a novel is no longer an intimidating idea for me, something I'm going to do when I retire or when I win the lottery and can move to a cabin in Alaska. It's something I can do here, now, in a month or two. So while it may not work for everyone, it certainly works for some people so don't knock it. It is not a scam by any stretch of the imagination.

Alright, I'm done ranting.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Antagonist love...

I am rather falling in love with my antagonist. Yes, I realize this is a bad thing as she is a murderer and therefore supposed to be unlikable. But it all started when I found an AWESOME picture of her, looking just like I pictured her and then from here, she blossomed. At first, she was all bad...if she were a man she would have had a long black twirly sort of mustache, but then she started explaining her reasons for the murder to me. She was going to get fired for something that was only sort of her fault and if she got fired, she'd be evicted, and if she was evicted she'd lose custody of her son.

And the poor girl was abused as a child and she's a little bold and outspoken which can get her into trouble and I kind of just feel sorry for her. I almost like her better than my protagonist, who is sweet and is going to get herself some gumption by the end of the book (finally!) but in the mean time she's kind of boring. Alright, what's a girl to do? How do I make my protagonist more likable than my antagonist. I'm worried if I feel this way, everyone else will too.

Anyway, I'm including my picture of her. Her name is Veronica "Ronnie" Bennett. Gotta love it.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


So I am having a contest to name my newest novel! The name I choose will simply be a working name  and may not be the ultimate title, but right now all I have is "zombie book" which, as I mentioned in my earlier post, is annoying the beejeesus out of Aaron so I need another name. Without the word zombie in it.

Anyway, this is the premise:

Rachel Oxford is a young FBI agent in the year 2018. She is given an assignment which, if she can solve it before the new director of the FBI is appointed, will result in her getting a coveted promotion. The case involves the director of a Residual Human Research Facility in Washington State, who was killed, apparently by the RH's (residual humans or "zombies" for the layperson who doesn't want to be PC). However, upon closer examination, it appears that a human did the killing, and simply framed the RH. Now this apparently cut and dry case is much bigger and Rachel must sort through eight possible suspects, and face her own violent childhood, to get to the bottom of this murder.

Please place comments with your suggestions. I will be making the final decision one week from today (the 7th of June) and the winner will get many accolades from me as well as a special blog post announcing the winning name. BRAINSTORM AWAY!!!!!

Character Surveys or questionnaires

So many writers do "character surveys" of their main characters to get to know them better and really make them come to live. These surveys for those of you who are not familiar, ask a variety of question such as "What is their favorite color?" or "Do they have a birth mark?" or "What do they consider their greatest weakness to be?"

I have always hated these. I have tried to do them on a number of occasions, but I hated the experience and I never felt like knowing my character's favorite color really made them come to life. Some of the questions I could answer based on what I have planned out of my plot, for example, if my character just wants to make a lot of money so she won't turn out like her white trash mother who she is embarrassed by, then a question like "What is their greatest fear?" could make sense. I could answer that based on relevant information from the book. Someone who simply read my book could figure out that answer.

But the majority of the questions are completely irrelevant to the story I am writing and what my character had for breakfast doesn't seem to "round them out" at all. I am simply making up something, probably the first cereal that comes to mind, since what they had for breakfast simply doesn't tell me much about their character, at least for most people it doesn't. Of course, if someone has a butler preparing him eggs Benedict at six AM then that is relevant, but for your Average Joe, it is probably more indicative of what was in the cupboard or fridge when they got hungry.

HOWEVER, I am going to qualify this by saying that I have never been great at character development. Plots have always been my strong point and I take a plot and run with it. My characters go through harrowing adventures but their actual character seems a little soft or flat. Maybe this is because I am totally an introvert, and would spend my life in a cabin in the mountains by myself if I could. But whatever the reason, I am well aware that this is something I need to improve on in my writing. Twice now I have gotten rejections from agents regarding Finding Innisburg that said "Your premise is intriguing, but I didn't connect with the narrative as strongly as I had hoped." In my interpretation, this is agent-speak for "You have a good plot idea but your characters kind of suck."

So as I go into my yet-unnamed "zombie" novel (I put "zombie" in quotes because Aaron has informed me that I do not understand the concept of zombies, having not watched enough zombie movies, and thus my zombies are not TRUE zombies and I will piss off zombie lovers such as himself if I call them this. However, for lack of a better term, they shall remain "zombies" until further notice.), I want to develop my characters better and thus I have issued myself a challenge:


This will be like pulling teeth for me, but many, many writers who are much more experienced than I am swear by this method and I cannot discredit it without giving it a real, fair try. So I will answer every question no matter how unrelated to the story it is, and see if I "get to know" my characters any more. Wish me luck. I'll need it.

Also, I am interested in knowing if you writers out there use these, and if so, how effective they are for you. FEEDBACK TIME! :-)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Collecting things

I cannot for the life of me find the article now, but a few days back I was puttering around online and I found an article which was a step by step process of writing a novel. The writer of the article said that the first step was collecting ideas. She (I'm pretty sure it was a woman!) said that many writers were collectors as kids, never throwing things away and always wondering when something that they had might come in handy. She said that as adults, this translated into collecting ideas and inspiration for out books.

This really struck me as a brilliant thought. I was absolutely a collector as a kid and in some ways I still am. Much to the chagrin of my mother, I never wanted to throw anything away, be it a scrap of paper I scribbled in in second grade, or a little bolt that I might need some day. I have improved on that, but I still collect ideas, just as she said.

I have a space in the coffee table in our living room where I am constantly stashing things, mostly papers, that I don't want to throw away. Well, Aaron finally got fed up with it and made me clean it out and organize it yesterday. As I sorted through all sorts of stuff (which by the way were in layers like an archaeological dig, it was kind of a slice of my life over the past few months) I came across dozens of little scraps of paper, receipts, pieces torn off of larger paper pieces, note cards, anything that you can write on. These had ideas for future stories, quotes that caught my eye, thoughts about my current story, phrases of speech that I found especially exquisite. I always just jot them down on whatever is handy, during movies, while at work (I have probably hundreds written on Blockbuster receipt paper while I worked there). Anyway, the experience reminded me of the article about collecting and showed me that, yes, I am absolutely still a collector. Just a collector of thoughts and experiences.

I would like to end with a couple of quotes about writing that have been an inspiration to me since I was a young girl. I saw both of these quotes in book about writing and had them written in Sharpie on the inside of my "writing notebook" which I kept while I was in middle school and early high school before I had a computer.

"Inspiration only knocks. Some writers expect it to knock down the door and drag them out of bed."

This second one I'm not sure if I have the details write so you can correct me if I'm wrong:

"No experience, good or bad, is lost on a writer who can put it to use." That one especially has gotten me through some hard times in my life as it is very true. A writer who experiences only pleasant experiences will not be able to write as effectively about the difficult ones.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Shiny New Idea

I don't know who said it first, but it's the idea that while you're working on one book, suddenly you get a "shiny new idea" for another one and it consumes your mind while you try to put it off. Well, I'm 22,000 words into North to the Klondike and it just happened last night.

A couple of days ago I had kind of a thought and I jotted down the words "sci-fi mystery" in my idea book. I've never written a sci-fi book before and I love a good mystery story so I thought they could be combined effectively. And then last night, just as I was on the brink of sleep, it hit me. A zombie murder mystery. But these are not your regular, run of the mill zombies. In fact, they don't like being called zombie because of all the negative conotations that the word has. They prefer "residual humans," or RH's for short. After the great virus outbreak in 2048, the RH's were quarantined in Residual Human Relocation Enclosures around the United States where they are put to work during their short, one year second life spans.

But after a scientist studying the RH's is murdered, it is up to FBI agent Rachel Whiteford to come to the Residual Human Relocation Enclosure in southeast Washington State to find out what is going on.

So now I'm doing a little research on the science of zombies just to quench my thirst for a little while and then I'll get back to work on North to the Klondike. What do you think of the idea? Would you read the book?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What, are you an actress?

So I spent a couple of hours yesterday dissecting my outline for North to the Klondike, with most of my focus on what I call the "internal story," i.e. the part of the story that deals with character development and what the character's motivations are. I laid out index cards for each scene and made sure that there were both internal and external things happening and now I feel much better about the book. Today I've been rewriting some of the scenes that I had written earlier and I think I have a better chance of seeing this book through to completion.

At the same time that I was reworking my book, I was making notes on some universal elements of story writing, at least my story writing, mostly with regard to the internal elements as related to the external. And the end result is that I really want to write a book on writing, or at least on my take with writing. Of course having never been published, I don't exactly posses the qualifications to write such a book, but I'm thinking of writing it anyway and then when it's finished, putting it on here in pieces. What do you think?

In addition, (see how many good things can come from taking a step back and planning instead of just foraging ahead?) I think I can use the notes I made yesterday to rework my old novel "Runaway Train" which I sort of gave up on after I realized the story has absolutely no backbone. But I think I can use my new method, which I am hereby dubbing "The Anna Method" to fill in the blanks in my story.

In a less writing related topic, it looks like I'm going to get into school this summer to begin my prerequisites for nursing school (assuming that I don't get an agent, find a publisher and get a million dollar advance between now and then) so I have exactly 33 days more of leisurely unemployment. I'm still hoping to finish North to the Klondike and maybe have a reworked outline for Runaway Train by then.

I also sent off my first snail mail queries today. Up until now, I've just been querying via email to the agents that accept email queries, but 94 queries later and I'm beginning to run out. So I mailed off four queries today to agents that do not accept email queries. I was at the post office sending them and the man behind the counter looked at what I was mailing and said, "What, are you an actress?" I'll admit, it felt good to say, "No, I'm a writer." But at the same time, I wanted to point at the addresses and say "LITERARY AGENT. Not TALENT AGENT." But oh well. I sent out nine more email queries last night and still no replies at all today. So far I've had responses from about 25% of my total queries so I still have a ways to go. Of course for many agents, no response just means no, so I might never hear from some of them.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Partial and update on new novel

So I have been getting a little discouraged lately since I've been sending out 3 to 5 queries a day and have had nothing but rejections for a couple of weeks. But today I got another request for a partial. So now I have partials out with two agents.

I did get one personalized rejection today too which is both good and bad. He said that he thought the book was too short. I know that it's short but a lot of thrillers are kind of short or at least I thought so (It's currently at 51,000 words) so I don't know. But no one else has mentioned it so maybe it'll be ok.

North to the Klondike is having problems. I'm on 15,000 words into it and just not motivated to work on it. Also I'm almost halfway through the story already which is a big issue. I'm not good at adding things into books later so I'm not sure what to do. I'm going to try reoutlining with index cards before I get any further to make sure I'm not missing some scenes that should be added in.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Just some random stuff...

Aaron and I got a couch. From IKEA. Prior to this, we just had a big oversized arm chair and an office chair. We never got to sit next to each other so finally we caved and bought a cheap couch. It's not the most comfortable thing in the world but it works and it's not bad.

My book is coming along ok. I'm at about 13,000 words I think but I'm slowly plugging along. My main worry is that I'm going to finish the story way too soon. I need to hit at least 50,000 words.

I sent out a bunch more queries for Finding Innisburg yesterday and today and promptly got a bunch more rejection letters. Still haven't heard back from the agent that has my patial yet so I guess that's good. There is hope yet.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


So I've fallen a little behind on my goal to write 75,000 words by the end of the month. Turns out 3750 words a day is a lot. But the book is plugging along ok. I currently have 10,517 words. The story got off to a little bit of a slow start, which hopefully I can fix in revision but now its kind of picking up steam.

I'm also musing about another idea, probably for a short story or novella. I've been wanting to write a humerous piece and I had a sliver of an idea for a total comedy spoof. I've been watching a lot of the Mythbusters (holla!) and I thought, "What if aliens kidnapped all the mythbusters and made them solve the ultimate myth to save the alien's planet?" It's random, I know, but it was just a thought. And from the research I've done, its legal as long as I make it clear that it's not a true story.

My little sister won the lead female role in Twelfth Night at her college, despite no acting experience, so I'm headed to see her perform tomorrow which is exciting!

Well, thats all for me!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I do everything fast

There is a moment of my childhood that sticks with me vividly. I was probably about eight and my mom and sisters and I were visiting some friends. They had a trampoline and one of the requirements was that you had to take your shoes off to play on it. So my shoes were off and I was jumping and then I needed to go back in the house for some reason. I got off the trampoline and I was tying my shoes back on and I overheard the friends' mom say to my mom, "Wow, she ties her shoes so fast!" I laughed to myself because it really wasn't that fast but then my mom replied, "Yeah, she does everything fast. She talks fast, she walks fast."

Over the years since then I've realized that this has really defined my life. I do everything fast. I still walk at twice the rate of normal people, I talk so fast most people have trouble keeping up. I think faster than most people so I have to back track a lot to explain my train of thought. I can read a standard novel in about four hours. I type fast. If you tell me that something should take about two hours to complete, my first thought is, "I bet I can do it in half that time."

This is both beneficial and harmful. On one hand, school is a breeze for me because homework literally takes me half as long as everyone else. But on the flip side, if something does take as long for me to complete as it does most people, I lose interest and get frustrated. I guess you could say that my attention span is very short as a result of how fast I operate.

Case in point. On Saturday I was sitting on my bed chatting with my boyfriend when I decided that I wanted to come up with an idea for another novel. I spent that day brainstorming, Sunday researching and Monday and Tuesday outlining. Now it's Wednesday and I have a full outline, several character sketches, a complete idea of my plot and subplots, three paragraph summaries of the plot and one full-page summery. Five days after coming up with the initial idea for my novel, I'm ready to start writing.

Do I realize that planning and outlining a novel is supposed to take months or years to do? Yes. Do I realize that my plan to have the first draft of this novel done by the end of the month is ridiculous? Absolutely. Do I honestly think I'm going to pull it off? Definitely. I have to, because by the middle of next month, I will have lost all interest in this idea.

So I am going to go take a shower, maybe do some dishes and then I'm going to start writing my novel which I am currently calling, "North to the Klondike." I'm aiming for a final word count of 75,000.

Yay for being unemployed!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Request for a partial

So after I got the rejection on my full manuscript, I was a little disappointed and I decided to send out some more queries and maybe went a little overboard. I sent out 17 queries last night but the good news is, this morning I got a request for the first 100 pages. That seems like a rather long partial so I guess that's good. Now I just have to keep my fingers crossed!

And of course, I'm going to distract myself by working on "The New Novel" of which I have once again changed the title. My three possible working titles until yesterday were "Klondike Killer," "Killer on the Klondike," and "Murder in the Midnight Sun," all of which just sounded like bad 'B' horror movies. So now I'm thinking of "North to the Klondike" which is slightly better but doesn't identify it as a mystery. So we'll see. I won't make the final decision probably until I'm done writing it and I can get a feel for how the book actual turns out, not how I'm thinking it will turn out.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Back to square one...

Just a quick update. I heard back from the agent that requested my full manuscript and she said "thanks but no thanks" basically. She said she read about a quarter of it and thought my voice was not masculine enough for a male character. Its a little disappointing but I'm sending out some more queries and keeping my fingers crossed for another chance.

New project!

So I wanted to start work on another book because several sites that I was looking at about getting an agent etc. said that often agents like to hear that you're working on another project so that they know that you are not just going to be a one-time client probably.

So anyway, I was starting to think about what I wanted to work on and I decided that "St. Dorothy's School for Girls" was no where near ready to work on so I decided to come up with another project. I skimmed through my little book of story ideas and thoughts that I keep and long story short, put together a rough outline for a mystery novel, which right now I'm calling "Klondike Killer" although that title is horribly cliche and meledramatic so I might change it. Anyhow, its the story of a woman who has to find the men who framed her husband for murder during the Klondike Gold Rush. Seattle has a rich gold rush history so part of it is going to be set in Seattle which will be cool.

Anyway, I'm just working on fleshing out my outline for the story and trying not to think about my manuscript being read by the agent. Its only been three days since I sent it and I already am checking my emails twenty times a day waiting for a response that will probably be a few more weeks away.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


I just got an email from an agent that I queried a couple of days ago requesting my full manuscript! I'm so excited and I'm just hoping and praying that she likes it. Just wanted to let you all know and I'll keep you posted with any new updates.

Also a question. Now that I have sent my full manuscript to an agent, do I have to let the other agents that I've queried know?  Can I still query other agents as well? I don't know what the etiquette is in this situation.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Country music and "A Town like Alice"

Alright, well I got two more rejection letters. Three so far have been form letters and a fourth agent wrote, "This has an intriguing premise, but I'm afraid I didn't connect with the narrative strongly enough to feel I'd be the advocate the book deserves." I am not discouraged and I'm still keeping my fingers crossed! Thank you all for the nice comments and encouragement.

So I have a confession to make. I am a country music junkie. I grew up in the boondocks of Lewis County on a little farm and country music was the only thing around and now, even though I live in the "big city" of Seattle, I still can't get enough of country music. I still enjoy some other music but country is and always will be my first love. I love the realism of it and the fact that I can identify with the lyrics. Contrary to common belief, country music is not all about losing your truck or being a hillbilly. Its about life and love and situations that everyday people face. Its about having pride in what you do, about respecting people around you and appreciating the little things in life. A lot of country songs are stories about people and many of them have heartwarming or funny endings. I think a lot more people would enjoy country music if they took the time to listen to it and didn't just go into it with a negative attitude.

So anyway, on that premise, I had to tell you all about my new favorite country song that I just can't get enough of. It's called "Colder Weather" by the Zac Brown Band. Now the Zac Brown Band is one of my favorite country groups. They never come out with a bad song. They've only been around a couple of years but in that time they have had at least three songs that would be on my top 100 country songs of all time. And this new one just about tops them all. I encourage you all to check it out. It has a pretty good music video too, which is on YouTube

On a more writing related note, I've been pondering my next writing project. I was planning to write another novel, "St. Dorothy's School for Girls" but I feel like the idea hasn't fleshed itself out in my head enough to be properly written. So I was thinking of doing another screenplay before I go back and edit "Rilla, my Rilla." Originally for Script Frenzy I wanted to do an adaptation of my all-time favorite novel, "A Town Like Alice" by Nevil Shute. But my dad told me that he thought the copyright had been renewed which would mean that it wasn't in public domain and I would have to obtain rights for it. But a couple of days ago I was doing some Internet searches about it and I couldn't find anything about the copyright being renewed so I wrote a letter to the publisher, who had initially copyrighted it in 1950 and asked them if they could tell me what the deal was. I'm just waiting on a reply from them but I'm really hoping it is in the public domain so that I can write that screenplay.

"A Town Like Alice" is a fabulous novel that tells the story of a young British lady, Jean Paget, just following World War II (I love historical romances, in case you didn't notice!). During the war, she was involved in a Japanese prisoner march through Burma with a number of other women. While they were marching, low on food and medicine, they meet a young Australian soldier named Joe Harmon. He helps them out by stealing food for them but Jean is caught by the Japanese with the stolen food. They demand to know where she got it and are torturing her for the information when Joe steps in and admits to it and demands that they leave her alone. He is then nailed to a tree and beaten to death.

In the years following the war, Jean comes into a large inheritance from a wealthy uncle of hers. She returns to Burma to build a well for the local people and there she finds out that Joe was not killed but actually survived his injuries at the hands of the Japanese. During the same time, Joe, who thought that she was married at the time, finds out that she was not, and on a whim, decides to go to England to find her. She goes to Australia to see him and eventually they end up meeting after a bit of a run around. Joe is a cattle rancher in central Australia and Jean is a proper English girl and they fall in love. They want to get married but Joe doesnt' feel like he can ask her to move to the middle of nowhere with him and she can't ask him to leave his cattle station so they have a bit of a dilemma. Finally they come up with a plan to transform the little town that he lives in, into "a town like Alice" referring to the larger town of Alice Springs.  They open a number of businesses, many catering to women in an effort to keep all the women from moving away. Then they get married and live happily ever after. :P

Anyway, its a fabulous book and I would love to make it into a movie so hopefully the publisher gets back to me soon.

Well, this is a mile long so I'm going to sign off!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Hey guys just a quick update. I have sent out fifteen query letters to agents, mostly via email, and received two rejection letters so far. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Royal Wedding...again...

Well I got up on Friday morning and watched some bits of the royal wedding on YouTube. It was pretty awesome. Kate was so pretty and the dress was perfect. They looked fabulous and the whole thing went off without a hitch...except theirs of course...they got hitched! Now we just have to wait for them to make some beautiful babies!!!!

Other than that, nothing very eventful has happened. I didn't do much all weekend but now I'm going to try to send out some more query letters to agents today.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Screenplay update and looking for an agent!

So I finished the screenplay! Yes, it officially took me 7 days to write and is 121 pages long. I already know that I have some serious editing (rewriting in the screenwriting world) to do but its good to have the gist of it all on paper...or on computer as the case may be.

So now I'm on to project number two which is to try to find an agent for Finding Innisburg, my NaNo novel for last year. So I have written up a query letter for it and so far today I have found four agents which take email submissions (I'm waiting on the snail mail ones until I have a printer!) and sent them my query letter plus a couple of them requested sample pages of the manuscript. I'm planning on querying a bunch of agents over the next couple of weeks and then starting in on outlining my new book.

Project number three is a novel currently entitled "St. Dorothy's School for Girls" which will be about a private school that is actually a sort of cult/club to train girls to become suitable princess candidates.  The goal of the "school" is to marry their girls off to the eligible princes and other royalty of the world. Right now I'm kind of thinking about it like you know those "pageant mothers" who just go nuts and are super hardcore about their daughters participating in beauty pageants? Well this is the same kind of thing except that the parents want their daughters to marry a prince. The parents and the school are really hardcore and as our heroine gets older she realizes that this is not what she wants but she's so ingrained in this brainwashing/cult that she can't get out. Sort of a dark novel about what happens when parents try to control their kids.

So wish me luck in getting an agent! I've never gone this far in the process before with a book so its kind of exciting! Also, I've decided that I can probably watch the whole royal wedding online tomorrow morning at a more reasonable hour so there is no need to stay up all night!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Royal Wedding and Screeplay Progress

Ok, so the Royal wedding is on Friday. That would be two AM on Friday if you're on the west coast of the US like I am. And I am in a dilemma. The wedding will be broadcast live here starting at 2 AM and part of me wants to stay up all night to watch it. I am unemployed with nothing to do the next day so I could sleep all day. This will likely be the biggest wedding in my lifetime except my own of course :P and I LOVE weddings so I would love to be able to say that I watched it live. But on the flip side, I know that Aaron would think it was absolutely ridiculous to stay up just to watch someone else's wedding and in a way he is right. The wedding doesn't concern me at all, I just think it's kind of cool. So I would like to do it but I also feel kind of stupid staying up to watch it. So, I can't decide what to do...

The screenplay is coming along well.  I had a couple of issues which I have more or less worked out.  The book, Rilla of Ingleside, is full of both letters between Rilla and her brothers that are serving overseas, and diary entries by Rilla. In an effort to maintain the feel of the book as well as convey the innermost feelings of Rilla which would be difficult to put in a movie without some voice over, I have put pieces of Rilla's diary entries into the screenplay. The form that they took were visually just Rilla writing in the diary, with her voice reading the entry in a voice over. But I was unsatisfied with this. It seemed boring and lazy but I couldn't think of a way around them. So then a couple of nights ago, I was watching the French film "A Very Long Engagement" which also takes place during and after World War I and in there, she reads letters aloud with voice over but the visuals show clips of what the voice over is talking about. So there is something for the audience to watch as well as listen to. So I've decided to do something similar with Rilla's diary entries and her letters from her brothers.  The voice over is necessary both for the feel of the book and to convey emotions and explanations but this makes it less lazy and boring than without any visuals. The only issue I'm having is that I'm not sure how to format it, whether the descriptions should come before all the voice over, or after or interspersed in where it is relevant. I think that I'm leaning towards interspersed it in. 

The second issue I had was that screenplays are supposed to be written in Courier font. However, Microsoft Word 2010 doesn't have Courier as a font, only Courier New. I did some reading online and found that although it is acceptable, Courier New takes up more space on the page than Courier and since I need all the space I can get out of my 120 page allotment, I downloaded Courier and switched the document over. It saved me about six pages so I'm still at just 100 pages now. But it is nice to have the extra leeway.

Other than that, I'm just enjoying not having to work and just puttering away at the screenplay. I'm also brainstorming for another novel since I want to write one after I finish Rilla, My Rilla (the screenplay) before I go back to work and/or school. I fill you in on some of my thoughts for that later.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Many apologies

So I owe everyone my sincerest apologies for the huge space of time between posts. And now, an update. I finished editing Finding Innisburg and sent it off to a few friends and family for critique. Mostly the feedback has been positive. I was planning for a while to do Script Frenzy (which, for those of you who don't know, is NaNoWriMo's sister program in April for screenwriters) but then a lot of stuff went down at the beginning of the month and I didn't think I'd have time to do it, so I dropped out. But then on the 16th I got laid off from my job so I have loads of free time now. So I decided to join up at the last minute and I just hit 100 pages (the goal for Script Frenzy) yesterday! It took me five days. I pretty much worked on it about eight hours a day. But it's still not done so I need to wrap that up, hopefully by the end of the month.  I'm adapting the L.M. Montgomery novel, Rilla of Ingleside and I think its coming along pretty good, although it will almost undoubtadly be over my maximum page count of 120 pages so I'll need to go back and cut some stuff at the end. But thats pretty what I've been up to! I hope to keep you all posted on a much more regular  basis from now on!