Monday, March 24, 2014

What Would You Re-read for the First Time?

I've been thinking recently about all the books I love. I re-read book a lot. A LOT. And there's something different I get out of each re-read. Some books never get old to me.

But at the same time, there are certain books I wish I could go back in time an re-read for the first time. If that makes sense.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to get sucked in to the world of Harry Potter all over again.

And what I wouldn't give to be able to experience The Road again for the first time.

To discover Jane Austen or Charlotte Brontë for the first time.

If you could go back in time, what books would you want to read again for the first time?

Monday, January 27, 2014

What Is the Inciting Incident?

As I've been doing various research for presentations on how to write a first chapter, I'm finding a lot of confusion about the term Inciting Incident.

So, because I want to, let's discuss terminology. I'm not saying that I'm the final source of truth in this--we've all heard it different ways--I'm just going to say what I've found in my research to be the most common use of the term.

Inciting Incident: This is the event that makes this day (where your story begins) different than any other day. The event that changes your MC's life, even though they may not know it yet.

Quick movie reference: Tangled, inciting incident is when Flynn Ryder shows up in Rapunzel's tower.

Key Event: This is when the MC begins to actively participate by making a choice that thrusts him/her into the action. When the MC becomes engaged in the story, usually because of the inciting incident.

The key event is often called the inciting incident, along with various other names. This is why there is so much confusion.

Quick movie reference: Tangled, key event is when Rapunzel decides to leave the tower and forces Flynn to help her.

Can the inciting incident and key event be the same? Yes, occasionally they can.

Does it really matter what term I use for them? No, but it's important to understand that both are an important part of story telling.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

UNRAVELED Cover Reveal!

Hooray for a new year and a new book!

Here is the awesome cover for UNRAVELED coming in February. I'm so excited.


When sickness swept through Bronwen’s family, it took the life of her father, brother, and sister, and left her permanently crippled. On the stormy eve of her sixteenth birthday, a faerie-witch gifts her a pair of enchanted shoes. Bronwen slips them on and is healed--but only when the shoes are on her feet. Her grace and beauty catches the eye of the king’s son--Urien, a handsome young man who prides himself on having everything perfect. 

When Rhys, an old acquaintance and Captain of the Guard, recognizes Bronwen, he threatens to tell Urien her secret. Desperate to keep her deformity hidden and not to lose the love of handsome Urien, Bronwen quickly finds herself tangled in a web of lies and deceit. But there's even a bigger problem--she can't wear the shoes forever.

Head on over to Goodreads and mark it to read. Thanks!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Effects of NaNoWriMo on the Brain

This is your brain:


This is your brain during NaNoWriMo:


These middle weeks of NaNo are the hardest. You've gotten off to a great start, but now you're bogged down in the middle, not sure what should happen next. Or maybe you've got it all outlined but suddenly the outline isn't working and you have to rethink the plot. Or maybe your fingers are just itching to go back and start revising that first chapter, but you must be strong and resist.

If you're behind, don't give up, there's plenty of time to catch up. If you're like my crazy friend Taffy and you've already written the full 50,000 words, just keep it to yourself. We don't want to hear about it. 

I've been reading some of the pep talks, and the one thing that really hit me--because I identified with it--was a something that James Patterson said.
 Think it’s hard to write every day during NaNo? Most professional writers keep this kind of pace all year round. Holidays, birthdays, vacations—you name it, we’re writing. The trick is making writing into a daily habit. Same time. Same place. Same hot beverage of choice. Every. Single. Day. Again. And. Again.
NaNo can seem like an impossible task, but the reality is, if you want to get published and succeed in the business, writing like this must become routine. And if it's not writing, it's editing, or revising, or plotting, or filling out forms for your publisher. It is like a full time job that you have to squeeze into the non-existent cracks of spare time between all your other responsibilities that you actually get paid for.

Now get off the web and get back to your novel. 

Go!

Monday, October 28, 2013

NoNoWriMo Success Tip for the Desperate



We are in the final countdown to NaNoWriMo. If you don't have your story mapped out in a 25,000 word detailed outline--it's probably too late now. Never fear! I'm going to give you a trick on how to succeed at NaNo anyway.

Daily Five Minute Plotting
As you sit down to begin your daily writing session, take a minimum of five minutes to jot down the basics of whatever needs to come next. Maybe it's a new scene, or some dialogue, or some character development, whatever. Just brain storm and let your creative juices flow.

Use at least five minutes, but you can keep going longer if you're on a roll. This exercise gives you enough direction to make decent progress until your next writing session. It doesn't matter if you end up using what you brainstormed or if your story veers in another direction. Either way, it will help you get going and make better use of your time in the long run.

I'm a pantser. I mean yes, I have a very basic outline (in my head) with the beginning and end and a few pivotal scenes. I know my characters and their objects of desire and their character arc, but that's about it.

Taking the time at the beginning of each writing session to analyze where I am in the story and what needs to come next really helps me get going.

Good luck NaNoers!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

NaNoWriMo--An Exercise in Demon Fighting


NaNoWriMo may not be for everyone, but personally, I love it. All my published novels are the result of NaNoWriMo disasters.

It's one long month of painful, obsessive, and horrific writing. But in the end, I've got more than just the backbone of a story, I've got a whole manuscript. Then I spend the next year revising and sending it through my crit croup.

Writing a manuscript so quickly allows me to keep the characters consistent and the story more cohesive. It's like total story immersion.

It's an exercise in creativity. You sit. You write. You don't go back and delete. You wear a silver cross and garlic strands to keep that editing demon at bay. Revision comes later--after you've vomited your story onto the page in such a jumbled mess that it looks like this:

or this:
or even this:

Just keep that pinky off the delete key. If you write something you KNOW you won't keep, use strikethrough. You never know. I've changed my mind later, in January or even June, and kept whole paragraphs that I'd blocked out with strikethrough.

NaNo is about word count. So keep all the words because they count. No one else will see the disaster that is unfolding on your computer screen, so don't worry about perfection. Just get the words out however you can. 

If you don't know what to write next, keep extending the scene you're in. Eventually your mind will catch up with your fingers and transition to the next scene. Sure you've got a page of extremely boring conversation at a restaurant where they debate the merits of Mary Ann versus Ginger. That's what the delete key is for, AFTER you finish NaNo. 

Then, after lots of tender loving care and nursing your story back to health, you get something that looks like this:

or this:
or best of all, this!:

If you haven't tried it--or if you tried but failed for whatever reason--try again. It's oh so hard, but in the end worth it. 

If you do NaNo this year, find me there and we can be buddys!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Five Diseases All Writers Should Be Aware Of

Writing is generally considered a low risk profession. But there are several serious--and even terminal--diseases to be on the lookout for. Here are a few that affect me.

1. Obsessive Compulsive Editing Disorder (OCED). I edit everything from the back of cereal boxes to notes from my kids to whatever novel I'm reading. I wish I could turn it off, but there doesn't seem to be a switch. It's almost impossible for me to read a book without a pencil in hand to add a comma here or delete a word there. I hate it. I just want to enjoy the story.

2. Unintentional Analytical Plot Predicting Syndrome. (Also known as Beat Beating.)  I can't watch a movie or TV show without analyzing the plot and trying to predict the ending. My husband asks me why I even bother watching any more because I always know what's going to happen.

3. Author Attention Distraction Disorder (AADD, also frequently referred to as "crazy"). I'm constantly distracted. Not by shiny toys and squirrels, but by everything inside my head. "Mom, this is really important. I have to have one hundred..." One hundred. Yes! That's it! What if my main character lives a hundred miles away? That would put enough strain on the relationship to make the scene work better and lead right into the climax. But then the villain... "Mom? Did you hear me?" "What? Is someone talking to me?"

4. Blood Shot Twitchy Eye Syndrome. Some call it insomnia, when you wake up in the middle of the night because you just had this great idea and you can't go back to sleep because scenes and dialogue keep playing out over and over in your mind. Please just make it stop!

5. Acute Hyper-Friendlessness Complex (AKA: Loner's Disease). I've always been an introvert, but since I started writing, it's blossomed into an epidemic. A single person epidemic. How can I have time for friends when I have scenes to write, edits to make, and research to do. I've already got hoards of voices in my mind, why do I need more? Come on people! What's more important here? Real life or the fictional world I've created in my head?

What diseases do you suffer for the sake of your art?