Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The first update in a month...

I  threw myself into my writing on November 17th to help me cope with the third anniversary of my dad's death.  I haven't felt so accomplished in a long time.  My word count went from 4,400 to 6,414 in a span of nine hours.  I have more to come, of course, rattling around in my brain that I have yet to commit to paper.  I finally stopped writing in my notebook when my hand started to cramp up really bad, and I still wanted to write more in spite of the pain.  Is that crazy, or what?

It wasn't even close to the 50,000 word count I was hoping for, but I'm not too disappointed because I was writing almost daily for most of the month at my own pace.  The novel has been giving me one heck of a ride creatively.  I've had the beginning of the story for a while, and a couple weekends ago I was focused on writing the ending of it.  Now that I have all that out of the way, maybe I can finally focus on the middle part for a change.  :)  It's also been interesting having one of the characters based on an ex-boyfriend because I find myself at times sprinkling in tidbits here and there in the novel of why our relationship never worked out.  That's a new experience for me as the story progresses.  I also feel like I've been on an emotional rollercoaster writing some of those parts as well, but I've safely got off the ride since then and try not to dwell too long on more emotions if they come along again.

I've been thinking about providing my blog readers with a teaser of "Magic In Their Blood," but I have yet to choose what it will be. The scenes I've written so far that I've thought about sharing seem to be giving too much away, so it may be awhile before I deem anything in the novel share-worthy!

I guess I have to continue writing "The Shepherdess Princess" soon.  I was informed by my brother that one of my loyal blog readers is wanting to know when it is going to be completed, so they could get a copy.  The teaser I shared a while ago left them wanting more!  I was heading towards the Final Conflict in the story when I worked on "The Shepherdess Princess" last.  I stopped because NaNoWriMo was starting up this year, and I couldn't use the same novel I worked on in a previous year.  I've liked having the time away from it because I was starting to get blocked the last time I tried to produce anything for it.  It wasn't a normal case of writer's block for me because I knew where I wanted the story to go, but I felt like I was starting to beat my head against the wall trying to figure out how to get there from my stopping point.  Prince Philippe and Jazelle had stopped "talking" to me for a bit, and letting me know where they want to go from there.

I had three or four books listed that I was currently reading on Goodreads.com that I can now report that I've completed reading them all.  I read a couple library books: one of which was "The Racketeer" by John Grisham.  I've been in a Vampire-mode with Anne Rice's book "The Vampire Lestat", and then I finished reading "Sense & Sensibility" by Jane Austen which I have been reading off and on for almost a year and a half now.  It took me so long to read "Sense & Sensibility" because the print was smaller than most of the books I read faster, and I would get really bad migraines when reading it too long.

I started reading "Emma" by Jane Austen when I remembered another book I was planning to read, so I'm only seven chapters into the Austen.  The other book I'm reading is "Labyrinth: A Greywalker Novel" by Kat Richardson.  Taken from the back cover of "Labyrinth:" "Harper Blaine was your average small-time PI  until she died--for two minutes.  Now Harper is a Greywalker, treading the thin line between the living world and the paranormal realm.  And she's discovering that her new abilities are landing her all sorts of 'strange' cases."

"Just back from London, Harper's convinced that the two-bit perp who killed her is a valuable cluein the puzzle of her past andte mystery of her missing father, as well as a key to figuring out who's trying to manipulate her powers and why.  There's just one problem: The man who killed her was murdered himself while she was away.  Luckily, Harper has an airtight alibi, but now to find the ghost of her killer--and rescue her father--she'll have to enter into the Grey.  And with her growing powers pulling her more deeply into that paranormal world, Harper's afraid she may not be able to come back out."

What got me wanting to read "Labyrinth" finally after reading the first four books in the series was Chaos.  Chaos is Harper Blaine's pet ferret in the series, and I was actually starting to miss her.  :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy Veteran's Day...

Happy Veteran's Day to all!  Thank you to all the service men and women trying to keep the rest of us safe, both past and present.  I've been spending the day thinking about military families and what they have to go through.  Someone might be deemed a "single parent" while their loved one is serving overseas.  The adjustment the families have to make when their loved ones return home.

I'm actually starting to miss working on poetry, and especially getting inspiration at 21st Century Poets.  However, I just visited the site once again and it still has glitches they are trying to take care of, and one of my groups is still missing from the list because they are having problems getting in touch with the group moderator.

NaNoWriMo is going slower than I expected it to.  I haven't had many days that I haven't written anything in "Magic in their Blood," but the new scenes don't amount to the daily word count for the challenge.  I'm doing better this year than I have starting out with NaNoWriMo the past three years.  Strangely, reading Anne Rice has been helping me some in my novel.  It's weird because my novel doesn't encompass anything to do with mummies and vampires.  Although, there is a fantasy element to it that also shines through the Anne Rice  books that seems to be keeping me going in my story.

I do remember hearing recently that a reader can tell who an author's influences are by the way they write a novel.  If the author is into reading more than one genre, it shows in their work.  If the author only reads science fiction, for example, that also shows in their writing.  I would be one of those author's that is all over the board because I read sci-fi, mystery, courtroom thrillers, young adult, children's books, and fiction.  Basically, there hasn't been a section in my local library that I haven't found something interesting to read in which is probably why I feel like I haven't found a genre I want to stick with when it comes to my writing.

I've been thinking about hitting the library sometime during the week with my laptop to find a silent corner to write in.  There has been too many distractions at home.  The big one being one of my neighbors moved out last week and left the apartment next door to me in shambles.  So much so that my landlord had to hire someone to put new drywall in the apartment and my landlord and his brother have been banging away getting more stuff done, so the apartment can be rented out.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Daylight Savings Time Reminder...

I just wanted to post a friendly reminder for those that Daylight Savings Time affects to set your clocks back one hour tonight before you go to bed.  Yay!  An extra hour of sleep ahead of me.

NaNoWriMo is going better than I expected now that I'm three days into it.  The scenes that pop into my brain before I write them down are still all over the place, but I'm also starting to get glimpses of continuity that I didn't have before.  I've even been able to link a scene from my splice file into my manuscript and continue the story from there.

The way the scenes in my manuscript are going though startles me a bit.  The story seems to be progressing at a faster pace than I'm comfortable with, and I'm afraid I'll get to the major event in the novel way too soon.  I'll just have to wait and see as the month goes along.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaNoWriMo is here...

It's that time of the year again!  No, I'm not talking about Halloween, but it's just as scary.  I'm talking about NaNoWriMo.  That time of the year when all participants stress levels soar through the roof as they attempt to complete a 50,000 word novel in 30 days!  I have been taking part in this insane ritual for the past three years, and have yet to make the 50,000 word mark.

The bummer is I found out that the rules state I can't already use a novel I've done before.  I have to start from scratch with a new novel each time.  OOPS!  I've been slaving away on the same novel for the past three years of WriMo's, and that rule was never brought to my attention before now.

Anyway, after having a friend on Facebook pick a number between 1 and 10, I picked "Magic In Their Blood" to be my NaNoWriMo novel this year, and set about spending last week gathering the few research notes I already had on it.  Suffice it to say, I don't know how much sleep I'll be getting this month.  My characters are already waking me up in the middle of the night to write scenes, and it's only been officially started for almost 8 hours now.  Ugh!  Coffee pot, here I come! :)

I ended up having to create a splice file separate from my "Magic In Their Blood" manuscript because I can't seem to think of one continuous scene clearly at the moment, but only get snippets of the story here and there.  It makes me feel scatter-brained all of a sudden.  I'm thinking my splice file will be my best friend this go around because I've barely got the second page of the novel started in the manuscript, and have about the same amount of pages in my splice file with scenes that come later in the story.  I'm surprised I've been able to transition pretty easily to MITB when at times I still have "The Shepherdess Princess" on the brain.

I don't like having to put "The Shepherdess Princess" on the back-burner for now, but rules are rules!  I have been kind of stuck with my progress in TSP anyway, so this may end up being the boost I need to get out of my writing rut long enough to finish that novel some time after Dec. 1st comes around.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Writing Update, and Free Webinar Info...

I didn't get my Oregon Arts Commission application submitted in time, so I'll have to wait until 2014 to try for it again because they alternate yearly the areas they are accepting applications for.

Free Webinar for Authors:

I took the time to register for a free webinar on October 30th that gives authors advice on how to turn their book into a movie.  I jumped at it when I saw the words "Self-published welcome!" in the Facebook Ad because self-publishing has been the only way so far that I have been able to get my books out into the world.  Here's the link in case anyone else wants to register also: http://booktoscreenaccess.com/webinarregistrationvoyage.  The times to choose from are 10 AM, Noon, and 6 PM your time.  I chose noon because that is when my brain functions the best.


I just re-submitted my registration for the later time at 6 PM because I realized after registering for the Noon slot that it's on Tuesday which means I won't be home at that time.

On Writing:

I finally buckled down long enough last weekend to get my final short story edited, but it still feels incomplete in a way.  I have an idea to expand it a little bit more, but I'm trying to decide right now if what I want to elaborate on might be another story in itself.  It would kind of be Part Two on the edited story if I separated them because they are both interrelated.

I also got to work a little bit more on "The Shepherdess Princess," but didn't get as far as I planned added to it because I came across a couple more items to research in order to make the story historically accurate.  When I couldn't find anything specific on the subject I was researching, I turned to the movie "Braveheart" because it's set around the same time frame as my story.  I didn't watch the whole movie all the way through, but fast forwarded through anything that wasn't relevant to what I wanted.  I did take notes on four scenes that had some relevance, though.

I also found another topic to research before I could move along in my story, so I've been mulling that over since I noted the information.  I even bookmarked the page I found the information on to look back on it later.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Story Idea is Calling to me...

Written October 10th

In the next few days, I'll finish editing my short stories for my autobiographical novel.  I've been thinking about what I might want to work on next.  Do I want to go back to work on "The Shepherdess Princess," or work on something else?  Do I want to continue the start I have with "Magic In Their Blood"?  Do I want to go back to focusing on my poetry?  After giving it some thought over the last few days, I find myself being drawn to a story idea I had for a romance novel that stems from a dream I had ages ago.  I wrote the story idea down as soon as I woke up from the dream, so I wouldn't lose it.  The last time I gave it any thought at all was when I was inputting the title and synopsis into my story idea file on my computer over a year ago.

I feel a kind of fear even thinking about starting this new endeavor because some childhood memories were mixed into the dream as well.  Memories that I have tried to repress.  Even now, just thinking about the details of the dream again seems surreal.  Do I face my fears and give in to the Siren call, or do I ignore it and work on something else for a distraction?  Would I upset my Muse if I don't do as I'm being led to do?  I'll have to think about it a little bit longer before I make my decision.

Updated October 13th

It feels like my Muse, or the Fates are wanting to play with me.  Now I feel like I want to go back to working on "The Shepherdess Princess."  After talking to a writer friend of Facebook yesterday, I came to the conclusion that it's just fair that "The Shepherdess Princess" be the next book I publish.  I have invested three years of my life already getting to this point.  I can finish it by the end of the year if I concentrate on doing so, and I have several fans already eagerly anticipating its release.  :)  I can't let them down!  My brother, Ray, told me this week that he thinks it should be made into a movie!  He's helped me a lot with research along the way and other writing advice pertaining to some scenes, so of course I had to share some of the story with him.

What got me contemplating my next writing project was the thought that NaNoWriMo's coming up again next month.  I've been thinking about participating again this year, and wasn't feeling like working on the same novel for it that I have over the last three years.  If I choose to start a new project from scratch, I would only have two more weeks to flesh out the idea and start doing whatever research may need to be done for it.  I haven't fully committed to the idea yet of participating in National Novel Writing Month this year either.  50,000 words in 30 days!  I haven't been able to accomplish that yet.

Updated October 14th

I'm down to my last short story to edit before I'm all caught up with that project.  I was also thinking of trying to face my fears once "The Shepherdess Princess" is done, and start work on the story idea I brought up earlier in this post.  I'll have to cross that bridge when I come to it, though.  I may feel differently about it when the time actually comes to start working on it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Writing progress, and birthday stuff...

I finished editing my second short story on Friday night, and went to work on the third one I had printed out to edit.  It turns out, the third story didn't need editing at all after the re-read.  I printed out the fifth and final story to reread and edit on Saturday, but I haven't got around to reading the last two stories for editing purposes yet.  The novel I'm working on still has a long way to go before it's ready for publication because I have a lot of short story ideas left to add to the manuscript later on.

On Saturday, my partner-in-crime came over bearing early birthday presents for me: a funny b-day card, a purple sun hat, a stainless steel water bottle, a pair of shoes, and a Grande Soy Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks!  The coffee was yummy, and helped dull the pain from women's problems.  I wore the shoes for the first time yesterday, and they are really comfy.  They're a size too big for me, but I didn't notice the difference after I walked around in them for a bit.

My mom gave me a card with $5.00 in it; one of my brother's supplied the cake, ice cream, and birthday pizza; and another brother gave me $8.00.

I also got to watch a couple movies we got from the library:  "Becoming Jane" which is the story of Jane Austen's life up until she published Pride & Prejudice (Anne Hathaway did a good job playing Jane Austen), and "War Horse" which is about a boy being separated from a horse he raised and trained from a colt during WWI, and they spent the whole movie looking for each other.  Some of my family members and I definitely needed tissues at the end of it.  Ugh, happy endings! :)

I've had a song stuck in my head throughout the day with my own little revision tagged onto the end of it:

It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to,
Cry if I want to, cry if I want to.
You would cry to
If you just turned thirty-two!


Aside from being my birthday, it was Thanksgiving Day in Canada and Columbus Day here in America.  One of my brothers and I spent some time the last couple days discussing why Columbus was credited for the discovery of the Americas when so many other explorers found it before him.  I joked that when the Native Americans saw the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria there reaction would be like "Not white men again!"

I also brought up the debauchery that would take place among the sailors because they were men with needs spending months or years together stuck on a floating pile of wood.  Some ships would smuggle on women, but there wouldn't be enough to go around.  Also, having women on board was considered bad luck at one time and some sailors were extremely superstitious.  I blame the topic of discussion on the crazy hormones running through me at the time.  :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A New Writing Project, and Other Stuff...

I haven't had a lot happening on the writing front lately, but I crashed through my writer's block last weekend with an ongoing project of mine.  I have an autobiography type book full of short stories about events in my life that I've been working on from time to time, and I cut and pasted some new stories into the manuscript on Thursday from a separate file I had them in.  I started editing the four stories I added on Friday and part of Saturday because I know they can be expanded on a little bit.  I had previously submitted the four short stories to "Chicken Soup for the Soul," and had a certain word count to adhere to which made it difficult to get onto paper everything I wanted to say.  Now that I don't have that constraint, I could edit it to whatever length it needs to be to tell the rest of the story.   It's helped me get rid of writer's block in the past when I decided to take time out to focus on another book I want to write, and eventually publish.  I have over ten story ideas to choose from if I want!

I got done editing the first story I worked on, and started editing a second short story right after the first story was fine-tuned.  I have a total of five short stories I want edit when I have some time again.  I think the second story I'm still working on doesn't need much more added to it, and have been thinking about sitting down to continue editing in the next couple days.  It may have to wait for the weekend to come again, though.

On Another Note...

My birthday is next Monday, and I have no clue how I want to celebrate it.  I'm going to be ordering the cake from a local store's bakery after volunteering at the library today.  I know I want to have Rocky Road ice cream for sure, too.

I still can't fathom how time seems to fly by when birthdays come around.  It's like the last year has gone by in a blur, and I still can't believe I'm going to be a year older than I am now in a few short days.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Another Fellowship Opportunity...

After some consideration, I've decided to try for the Oregon Arts Commission's Individual Artist Fellowship that's due on October 15th, 2012.  The Fellowship award amount is $3,000.

Here are some of the guidelines for any other fellow starving artists/Oregonians interested in it:

Eligible artist applicants must:
• be a current Oregon resident; and be a current resident when an award is made;
• have been an Oregon resident for one full year prior to the application deadline date;
• have not received an Oregon Arts Commission Fellowship in the five (5) years prior to submission of an application.
Full‐time students and non‐professionals who produce art as a hobby are not eligible. While the Commission acknowledges that many artists work collaboratively, each Fellowship will be awarded to only one individual artist. Individuals may submit one application per year.

Eligible Artistic Disciplines
The Oregon Arts Commission offers Fellowships in various artistic disciplines in alternating years:
• October 15, 2012 : Literature (creative non‐fiction, fiction, play writing and poetry) and Performing Arts (choreography, dance, music composition, music performance, theater and performance art)
• October 15, 2013: Visual Arts (crafts, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, mixed media and new media) and Design Arts are eligible to apply.

Completed applications must be submitted online by 5:00 pm, October 15, 2012. Applications that are late for any reason will not be reviewed. All applications will be completed and submitted at http://oregon.culturegrants.org/.

I almost didn't go for this one because I haven't had much luck with other fellowship applications this year, but I figured I won't know until I try.  I could be surprised, and finally be awarded something.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I've spent all week going over my new poem's title in my head.  Every day, it repeated itself at least once.  This afternoon as I finally took the time to work on it, I got through writing two verses and stopped.  I just couldn't go on anymore because there was so many directions to take it rattling through my head as I envisioned pages upon pages of emotions pouring out of me.

The subject matter of death and destruction still hard to deal with eleven years later as I thought of the people who went to work on a typical September day, and never returned home to their anxious loved ones.  Some families stuck in limbo, and still hoping for that front door to open and their mom, dad, sister, brother, wife, or husband to walk in like nothing even happened.  Safe and sound!

Then I thought of the Firefighters and men and women of Law Enforcement who rushed to the scene of the crime, and selflessly gave their lives to try to save someone they might not even know.  Thinking of the firefighters and other first responders I heard about contracting cancer and either passed away, or still waging a battle against the disease who got it by inhaling particles of asbestos and other chemicals through their breathing apparatuses and by other means at Ground Zero that I learned about on the season finale of  "The Secret Millionaire."  The Ladder Companies, and their families are still suffering the ramifications to this day!

Finally, I thought about the Servicemen and Women fighting a war in a foreign land, a million miles from home and their loved ones not knowing if they are going to return home in one piece, or in a casket.  All because some terrorists hijacked a few planes, destroyed buildings, and killed hundreds of innocent people.

I remember my own dad's memorial as my sister was presented with the American flag after he died from cancer almost three years ago.  Yes he made it safely home from Vietnam, but not a day goes by that I wouldn't rather hear his voice, and feel his warmth when I hugged him more than anything in the world.

I have to end this now.  The tears are starting to flow...

Friday, September 7, 2012

Lots to be Updated About...

The Authors Fair went as expected in the fact that my friend and I didn't sale any of our books.  We had several looky-loos that complimented us about our book titles and cover designs.  A few even went so far as to read the synopsis of our fiction novels.  We left the apartment later than expected, and started setting up our table as the event was officially beginning.

I knew one of our old classmates joined the event nearer to the date of the Fair, but I was surprised to see him at the table directly across from me.  He inks a comic strip for a free local magazine called Oregon Coast Today, and click here for a direct route to the comic strip itself.  Anyway, he stopped by our table and we got caught up on part of each others lives after High School.

I also ran into a few more friendly faces I knew that stopped at our table to say hi to me.  One was a local librarian from where I volunteer weekly, and another was a fellow author/former boss of mine that had a table somewhere in the row behind us.  I saw another local librarian there, but she was in a hurry and didn't stop at my table to talk.  My friend finally had a familiar face near the end of the event stop by to say hi and see how everything was going: her mom!  I counted her as my fifth friendly face because I know her mom too.

The best part for me about being stuck in traffic was the white  limousine that got ahead of S's car as we were halfway through Newport, and lost it somewhere around Lincoln City.  I referred to it as "Stretch" and I kept wondering who the chauffeur was because they were booking it.   We would see it rounding the next bend once in a while, but for the most part we kept losing then regaining visual of it.  S wondered who was riding in it, and where they were going.  I wanted to find out who the chauffeur was, so I could hire them when I became a millionaire someday.

My First Video?

I was thinking today about the anniversary that's coming up next Tuesday, September 11th, and might make the poem I wrote on the first year anniversary of the attacks my first video since finding my microphone for my computer.  I haven't made any videos before now because I've been trying to figure out what I want to read, which book to choose from, and so on.  I'm feeling hesitant to make this video because I get hit pretty hard emotionally every year by the commemoration of it.  I have to think more about it over the weekend before I decide if it's a for sure thing I'm going to do.

I'm also thinking about writing a new poem to commemorate the day, and to vent the last ten years of emotions I've been feeling.  It's been eleven years since the attacks on the World Trade Centers, but ten years since I wrote my last poem about it.  I just thought up a title for the poem, so I'll probably work on that  sometime today.

Other Writing Projects

After having a couple weeks of no writing, September started with an idea to further my novel.  The problem was in stopping to do some research on a topic to make what I planned historically accurate, I now have to do a rewrite.  I've been spending time this past week rethinking where I want the story to go and how to get there from where I'm at in the process.  Don't worry, I have a firm grasp of where the story is going to lead, but I'm just trying to think of a new way to bridge the gap right now.  I have an inkling of an idea in the back of my head, but I'm still trying to get a clear visual of it before I write anymore in the novel.

I have thought about taking some time this weekend to add a scene to my splice file to be inputted into the novel later because even though I haven't been able to think of a way leading up to a scene, I have thought of something that will happen later on in the book.  This scene keeps popping up in my head begging to be written, so I must obey the voices in my head!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Author's Fair this Weekend!

I'm always excited and nervous leading up to the Authors Fair at Bob's Beach Books because I'm afraid I'll get there and won't have anybody interested in purchasing any of my books.  I've been spreading the word for a while now, and have some friends that I know are for sure going, and others that said they'll try to make it or tell their loved one about it who is now a fan of my work.  I've been trying to promote it all month long at least.  I just hope the weather turns out to be really nice, and nothing like the reports leading up to Saturday are expecting it to be.

Of course I'll be spending the night once again at my co-author's place since we have to leave pretty early in the morning to make it to the event.  That will save her some on gas not having to swing by my place to get me.  I'll be getting my stuff around for that as well.  I'll be charging my camera battery tonight, pack my notebook and a pen ahead of time, and what not.

I haven't had anything new on the writing front this week, but maybe I'll be inspired while peddling my wares.  I've written new poems at the event before, so it could happen again.

Updated 8/24 at 1 PM

I just got my books packed up for tomorrow to take with me to my friend's house.  I still have some essential sleepover items to pack, but I'll do that after I have some lunch.  I did print out the last chapter I wrote in "The Shepherdess Princess" to take with me, and I'm bringing along my poetry notebook in case I feel led to write a poem any time tonight or tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I created another author's page!

I've had my books available on Amazon.com for a while now because the books are added by my publisher usually a month after they are published to their site on Amazon.  I just noticed within the last couple days that I didn't have a separate Amazon page just for my books, so I decided to create one to help others find me better.  Here's the link for you to check it out: http://amazon.com/author/mandy97365.  I also added the link to my "Honorable Mentions" to the right of this blog post.  You may have to scroll up or down a bit to see my list of links depending on where this post is on my page.

I also wanted to share that I was able to outline the entire second half of "The Shepherdess Princess" after taking a nap in the afternoon.  I can't believe I dreamt the entire second half of the novel and wrote everything pertaining to the dream down as soon as I woke up, so I wouldn't lose it.  I've been sleeping a lot the past couple days because I haven't been feeling well, but it also means I tend to stay up while the rest of the world is sleeping which sucks for me.

I now know what I'm going to be doing in my spare time, and the rest of the weekend: Trying to finish up my novel.  I have a goal to finish it by the end of August, but I will go into the first week or so of September if the need arises.  I would really like to get this book published by the end of the year.  I now have 81 pages total in "The Shepherdess Princess."

Friday, August 10, 2012

A New Poem, and A Book Read...

I finally got in the writing mode a little bit this week, and just finished a poem I started writing on Wednesday night.  I've felt lost on the inspiration front where poetry is concerned because the 21st Century Poets site has been having issues, and all the bugs aren't fixed yet!  I've mainly continued going there the past couple of weeks to get my points for the day, and leave again.

Anyway, here's my newest creation:

Behind These Eyes

Behind these eyes
Is an intelligence that lies
Hidden from the world's view
Until a question is asked anew.

People look at my outward appearance and assume
The stupidest things, and leave no room
For the surprise
They feel when they get to know me from inside.

I use my poetry to vent,
But sometimes I feel like I can't
Go on being prejudged
For being a unique individual at all.

When will the stupidity end?
Take a chance, and gain a new friend.
The world would be a better place
If people stopped judging the rest of the human race.

I'll be adding my new poem to "The Trifecta" soon, and may continue writing some more in "The Shepherdess Princess" before going to bed tonight.

After 11 months of reading "The Amber Spyglass" by Philip Pullman, I finally finished it today.  I kept dragging my feet and finding other books to read because I was enjoying the His Dark Materials trilogy, and didn't want it to end.  I keep wondering if the studio is going to pay for the rights to make a movie out of "The Subtle Knife" and "The Amber Spyglass" like they did for "The Golden Compass."  I think if they ended up making movies of the rest of the books, they would have to get a new child actress to play Lyra because Dakota is getting too old to play the part now.  I would like to see Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman back as her parents if that happened, though.

The only book I'm reading now is "Sense and Sensibility" by Jane Austen.  At least until a new library book shows up for me to read.  I have a couple I'm waiting on now.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Work-In-Progress (WIP) Challenge

A friend of mine shared her answers to this challenge in a blog post, and tagged some friends to do it as well.  Even though I wasn't a tagged friend, she also offered anybody else who had a work-in-progress novel to accept the challenge as well if they wanted to, so here I am.

Work In Progress Challenge

1.  What is the title of your book/WIP?

The working title is "The Shepherdess Princess," but I might think of a different title around the time it's ready to be released.

2.  Where did the idea for the WIP come from?

I was a big fan of fairy tales as a child, and always liked the story of "Cinderella" especially.  However, I always had problems liking the kind of fairy tales where the Prince swoops in to save the Damsel in distress. In my novel, the Prince IS the Damsel in distress!

3.  What genre would your WIP fall under?

My novel would be considered a historical romance due to the time it's set in, and a couple of the characters are based on people that lived during that time.

4.  Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I'm not altogether sure who I would get to play my characters in a movie version.  Whoever it is would have to be able to do a Scottish, English, and French accent depending on the part they are picked for.

5.  What is the one-sentence synopsis of your WIP?

A young Prince of France flees for his life with his mother's most trusted Lady-in-Waiting from his uncle who killed his father, the King, in battle during a Crusade and made others think the enemy did it, before heading to England where the Queen and Prince were hiding out until the fight was over only to murder the Queen, and attempts to murder the Prince to tie up all loose ends.

You'll have to read the book to find out the rest of the story.

6.  Is your WIP published or represented?

It is neither published or represented at this time because I'm still in the first-draft stage of writing it.

7.  How long did it take you to write?

In November 2012, it will be three years since I first brainstormed my story idea, and began fleshing out the characters.  I've also been doing research as the novel progressed to make sure some of the scenes would be historically accurate.

8.  What other WIPs within your genre would you compare it to?

I looked up other historical romance titles on Amazon, and have come to the conclusion that none of the books titles I found are like mine.  There were a few titles I came across that had some aspects of my novel in their synopsis, but none that had everything I have in mine.

As for the other personal writing projects I have on hold, "The Shepherdess Princess" is unique in and of itself.  I have other romance-type novels on the back-burner at the moment, but none of them have a historical aspect to them.

9.  Which authors inspired you to write this WIP?

Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm, Dr. Seuss, Mother Goose, and Mark Twain all influenced my childhood imagination.  Michael Buckley's Sisters Grimm Fairy-Tale Detective series has influenced me as an adult because they weren't around when I was younger.

10.  Tell us anything else that might pique our interest in this project.

It starts out in England in the year 1339, and jumps to Scotland five years later.  The story takes place ten years after Robert the Bruce died.  Robert the Bruce died in 1329.  The Prince and King of France are based on the ruler of France at the time, and one of his son's that never succeeded him to the throne.  The shepherdess the Prince falls in love with is a descendant of English nobility.  Her mother traveled to Scotland to take care of an ailing aunt, and her father was there to meet her carriage when she arrived.  It was love at first sight for her parents.  You'll have to read the book to find out how the shepherdess's father came to be in Scotland.  Just like the Prince has to hide his identity from his new friends, the shepherdess isn't told of her nobility until she's sixteen years old because her parents didn't want to raise her thinking she was better than everybody else.

Tag your it:

If you have a work in process that I don’t know about, please do join in – post a blog like this, telling me what you’re doing and what your WIP is all about, and leave a link to your blog in the comments so that I can read all about it.  Happy Writing!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A New Poem...

I was able to gain inspiration from this week's picture prompt finally, and write my first new poem in two weeks on Wednesday night.

The Lake

A boat moored on the lake
Is kept there for my sake.
The tranquility of water
Calms my nerves when I am bothered.

Sometimes I sit on the dock entranced
By God’s creation and glance
Around in awe
Of my surrounding why I pour out the raw
Emotions flowing through my pen
As a new poem is wrote once again.

I especially like making my escape in the fall
To the lake whose colorful trees stand tall,
And welcoming local visitors that recall
Basking in the presence of it all.

This is the ideal spot to get away
From the fast pace of the world day after day.
When I want to take things slow,
I return to the hidden lake that I know
Which is located off the beaten path
With my notebook, my pen, and just relax.

I've just got done adding this poem to my manuscript after putting it off for a few days.  I'm thinking about getting some more writing done in "The Shepherdess Princess" in a little bit.  Inspiration hasn't struck since Wednesday, so I may put off adding more to the manuscript if my characters don't start yelling at me again.

I picked up a couple books from the library based on pretty good reviews I've been finding of them.  One is "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins which I basically was intrigued about reading because they just came out with a movie adaptation for it.  Upon making it to chapter four, I have decided to quit reading it because the story moves too slow to my liking and has put me to sleep several times since I cracked it open a couple days ago.  I went so far as to skip to the end to see if it would get any better.  It didn't in my opinion.  I mainly wanted to read it to see why Hollywood thought it would be good enough to buy the rights to make the movie, but maybe the decision makers at the studio had an aneurysm, or saw their children devouring the trilogy.  Who's to know?  Needless to say, I'll be returning it unread to the library soon.

The second book I got from the library is called "Vampire Academy" by Richelle Mead, and already it's better than "The Hunger Games" to me.  I've barely put it down since I started reading it today.  I was hooked from the first sentence, and can't wait to read more when I have more time.  This is the first book in  a series also, and there are five total books out so far.  What caught my eye with this book is the word Vampire.  I love anything to do with vampires ever since "Nosferatu" came out in the silent film days, and Bela Lugosi dawned the fangs as the very first "Dracula."  There are three different types of vampires in this book, and none of them sparkle:  Dhampir (one human/one vampire parent), Moroi (born vampires, and have royal blood), and Strigoi (the typical bloodsucking demons we know and love).  Dhampir's and Moroi are mortal, and can stand some sunlight whereas Strigoi are the immortal vampires that feed on human blood and can't stand the sunlight.  Moroi can become Strigoi if they feed off of one, or they attack a human.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Sense of Accomplishment...

I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders today, and am rather content right now.  After three weeks of not being able to write a single word in my novel, Monday night I once again heard a familiar urging in my head from my characters telling me to "Get on with it if I want any sleep."  I was more than happy to oblige them this time because I was leaving teeth marks on my pencil, and about ready to chomp down on my computer if I hadn't started hearing them in my head soon.  I only got four hours sleep because of it, but I was about ready to start crawling up the wall if inspiration didn't hit soon.  It was getting to the point where I was starting to think I might need a visit from the nice men in the white lab coats.  They don't need to be called to haul me away now.  :)  Yay!

Two hours after the urging, I completed the fight scene that has left me in a state of apprehension for the month of July.  Once I was able to start writing it out in a spiral notebook, the words started to flow through me into my pen and bled out onto the pages once more.  As I took the time yesterday afternoon to add what I had handwritten into my manuscript on my computer, I found myself revising a few bits here and there as I went along and expanding the scene just a tad in other spots.  I now have 80 pages total typed up in my novel, and I feel like I can finally move on into the second half of "The Shepherdess Princess" fairly easily from here.  I'm excited to see what lies ahead for them as well.

Today I hope to take some more time to write some more in the novel, and possibly try to write a new poem for the weekly picture prompt at 21st Century Poets before this week's competition ends on Thursday.  I'll share any new developments here along with the new poem.  I may just be feeling a little ambitious right now.

Happy writing to one and all!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How to Write a Synopsis for Your Novel, and Other Stuff...

Not too long ago I 'liked' a page on Facebook from a Writer's Magazine.  Not long after I did that, they shared an article that was written last year on "How to Write A Synopsis of Your Book or Novel."  For those of you who may not know what a synopsis is here's the definition.

A synopsis is a condensed statement or outline of a book.

It's usually is found on the back cover of a novel your reading, and may share room with the information about the author/author's picture.  I jumped at the chance to read this article because writing a summary of my books has never been one of my strengths, and I'm worried my next attempt at it won't give my readers enough information to want to pick up the book.  I'm also afraid I'll go overboard and give too much of the story away.

Fiction Synopsis Checklist

• What is the story about?
• Who is/are the main character(s) and brief summary of the issue(s) they are facing
• What are they feeling?
• What’s driving them?
• Why are they acting in a certain way?
• What’s standing in their way?
• What is the setting, if appropriate, and include a taste of it

The article also states, "Your synopsis should be written in the third person."

Reading this line in the article made me feel a little better because I know I'm not alone, "If you find it difficult to compile your synopsis, remember that even seasoned authors find it hard."

I felt compelled to add the non-fiction list as well for my poet friends out there who might want to see what a publishing company asks for in a proposal:

Non-Fiction Book Proposal Checklist

For those who are submitting non-fiction manuscripts, the synopsis is replaced with a book proposal, as it includes many different sections of information.

Your non-fiction book proposal should include:
• title page (just title, subtitle and contact details)
• summary of content
• chapter outlines
• author details
• sales, marketing and promotional information
• length, specifications and delivery date (ie how long the finished manuscript will be, if there are any illustrations and when it will be delivered)

What A Weekend!

I was all set to have a relaxing weekend at home when I got informed of some friends getting together for a bonfire on Friday night.  I jumped at the chance to go because some of the friends I haven't seen since last Summer.  A bunch of us carpooled together, and got to the bonfire site a little after 6:30 PM, and we hung out, laughed, ate hot dogs, and made smores.  Before I knew it, I was being dropped off at home around 1 AM.  I came online for a bit after I got home because I was still a little amped up to go to bed right away.  I finally crash landed on my pillow around 2:30 AM.


9 AM Saturday morning, I got woke up by someone pounding on my door.  It was my sister-in-law, and she was all set to go to the County Fair with me.  She waited for me to get around and we made it to the Fairgrounds around 11 AM and we didn't get home until 10 PM Saturday night.

We spent the day looking at the exhibits, visiting the animal barns, watching ATV races (Someone even raced a snow mobile!), and listening to different musicians throughout the day.  We listened to a Mariachi band, a group called Cascade Rye, a group called The Hanson Family Singers (They yodeled a lot), and the main attraction for the night was country singer Mark Chesnutt:

Some of his hits include: Bubba Shot the Jukebox, Going Through the Big D, It's a Little too Late, and Too Cold at Home.  

For the first time ever that I've seen in the 30 years I've been attending this fair, they had a wild safari animal exhibit.  They were all babies, but they was a tiger, lion, leopard, porcupine, wallaby, bobcat, skunk, and a couple other animals I can't remember the name of right now.

My sister-in-law also took a couple pictures for me.  One was of me standing next to a monster truck:

And the other was a picture of a wedding cake that I told her looked like a design I would want for my cake if I ever got married someday:

I also like the double heart topper on it.

I've spent the last few days recuperating from these two days.  I woke up Sunday morning feeling like death warmed over, so I've been sleeping a lot the past few days and barely eating anything.  Yesterday, I ate more food than I have all week, so I think I'm starting to feel better.  I'm at least starting to get my appetite back anyway.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A New Deal From Lulu...

Go ahead. Take the bait. Save 18% on any order. Code: CAUGHT. Hurry, offer ends July 13, 2012.

Take advantage of this great offer at my Lulu Bookstore until July 13th, 2012 on these great titles:

Fateful Firsts: A Collection of Poetry

Fateful Firsts is a collection of poetry with subjects ranging from life, love, relationships, pets, animals, and places. Some of the poems included were written in the later 1990s, but I didn't begin writing poems on a regular basis until 2006. It is my honor and privilege to present to you... Fateful Firsts!

Second Thoughts: A Collection of Poetry

You hold in your hands my second collection of poetry. I found after writing Fateful Firsts: A Collection of Poetry, I was having Second Thoughts about relationships, emotions, and other life-altering events happening. What you see within these pages is the authentic me. Enjoy!

 Before you place your order, use the code at my friend's bookstore to get a chance to buy my co-authored fiction novel:

A Candlelit World

In 1899, a group of outsiders uncover a plot to raise an evil entity from the local cemetery. By bearing witness to the ritual that accomplishes this, it effectively signs their death warrant and in order to save themselves they must find out the key to return this Stranger to its grave. Though the evil is eventually banished and everyone is killed as a result, the story does not end there. One hundred years later, an unusual and powerful candle is found in an antique store by a pair of college students doing research for an assignment. Upon lighting it, the same evil is brought back along with the spirits of those who'd died to stop it before, who have much unfinished business among themselves as well.

Event Reminder

If any fellow Oregonians take advantage of this offer and want it autographed, my friend and I will be at Bob's Beach Books in Lincoln City from 11 AM-2 PM on Saturday, August 25th, 2012.  Click here for directions to the location.  I hope to see you there!

An Incomplete Goal, and Other Stuff...

I haven't completed my goal I set last week of getting the fight scene written down in "The Shepherdess Princess," but both sides are preparing for battle!  I also was able to add everything I had in a "splice file" (scenes written for the story to incorporate later) into the last few pages I've been working on.  Some of the additions need to be edited still, but two-thirds of what I added already flows with the rest of the novel.  I am now starting on the tenth chapter, and have 78 pages.  I ended up with a total of 67 pages from a starting point of 76 pages at one point during the editing process, so I hope that gives my readers some grasp of how much I added to the manuscript and I'm far from being done.  The fight scene kicks off the second half of the novel from my point of view.  I hope to have 20 chapters before it's final edit, and sent in for publication.

I've been antsy a little today too because I find out sometime before August 1st if I'm a finalist for the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship.  I was talking to a friend the other day about what we would both do if we both got chosen for $15,000.

  • We both said we'd take a trip to NOLA (New Orleans) for inspiration.  We decided she could have the cemetery, and I'd take the French Quarter.
  • I'd buy several copies of my published books to distribute to the local bookstores.
  • Buy a new laptop, stock up on printer ink, and upgrade my Microsoft Word program.
  • Have a book signing/poetry reading somewhere in the community, and
  • Rent a cabin in the woods for a week for a writer's retreat with any author friends that might want to tag along.  :)
I just got a letter in the mail today from World Poetry Movement telling me they want to publish one of my poems in a new volume of "Stars in Our Hearts."  I made it to the semi-finalist round again, and should be automatically added as a finalist.  The last time they told me that the semi-finals was as far as I got, so I'm not getting my hopes up this time.

I can't believe within a week my blog has gone up 100 more views.  On July 2nd, I was marking the blog having 1500 views on my Facebook page and I come online this morning to see that I am now at 1600 and still going!  Do people really enjoy reading my ramblings, or do I have a captive audience out there?  :)  Either way, keep on reading and enjoy your day!

Who Do You Write Like?

A friend I'm following on Wordpress came across this page at a friend of her's blog where someone can find out Who I Write Like by analyzing any text they've written in a novel of their choice.  I chose to go poem by poem through "The Trifecta: A Collection of Poetry" to see how I stack up.

Here are my results:

Dan Brown-5
H. P. Lovecraft-4
James Joyce & Stephen King-3
Charles Dickens-2
Raymond Chandler, Vladimir Nabokov, Cory Doctorow, Margaret Atwood, David Foster Wallace, Neil Gaiman, Mary Shelley, L. Frank Baum, & Anne Rice-1

According to the number of poems for each author, Dan Brown is who I write like the most.  I got a kick out of that result, and chuckled when the last poem I pasted into the analyzer came out Anne Rice.  The Anne Rice result poem is titled "An Angel's Promise."  It had nothing to do with vampires at all.  (Yes, I know she wrote more than just The Vampire Chronicles.)  I was also a little surprised I would be paired up with Stephen King and Neil Gaiman at all because I think they write better than I do.

Anyway, click here if you want to take the same "test."  Feel free to post your results in the comments if you'd like.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Tips for Writers on Naming Characters...

I started JulNoWriMo yesterday to see if I could finish "The Shepherdess Princess" this month by finally reaching the 50,000 word goal by July 31st.  Anyway, I came across a link in the webpage's Writers Resources section that directed me to a baby name site with a page dedicated to tips for writers on naming characters.

I haven't had many problems naming my characters, but bookmarked the link for future reference.  I also thought I would share the tips from the baby name webpage here in case any of my fellow writers that visit this blog might need help naming their characters.

Tips for Writers on Naming Characters

Tip 1: Make the name age-appropriate

The biggest mistake we see writers make is choosing a character name that is not age-appropriate. Many authors make the mistake of choosing a name that is popular now for an adult character--a name that would have rarely been used around the time of that character's birth. Decide the age of your character and then calculate the year your character was born. If your character was born in the U.S., browse the Social Security Name Popularity List for that year. You will also want to take into account the character's ethnic background and the ethnic background of his/her parents.

Tip 2: Choose a name by meaning

Many writers give their characters names that have significance in the story. It could reflect major personality traits, or the character's role in the story. You may want to use ouradvanced search to search by literal meaning, or think of ways to incorporate other meanings into your character's name. For example, if your character is a botanist, you may not want to name her Flower (too literal), but you may want to consider the names Linneaor Sage. Even if you choose not to name a character by meaning, you should look up the meaning of all your characters' names—there may be something that inspires you or, on the other hand, conflicts with your message.

Tip 3: Exotic romance names are out

Thirty, forty years ago, you would pick up a romance novel and the characters would have ridiculously exotic names like "Crystal Remington" or "Rod Delaware." Same with daytime soap operas. However we're seeing a shift in the past decade or so: romance and soap writers have modernized their character names so readers can relate to them. Naming a romance character should be no different than naming any other fictional character. If you use all the other good character naming tips, you'll create a genuine player to whom your readers can relate.

Tip 4: Science fiction names don't have to sound alien

It's difficult to predict what names will be popular in the year 3000, however you don't have to make your science fiction characters sound like they are from Mars (unless they are). When a person reads (or watches) your story, you don't want them to stumble over a name. The name Zyxnrid, for example, would be difficult to read or listen to every time the character is referenced—and may detract from your overall story. If you do choose to create your sci-fi name, you may want to:
  • Combine two common names to make a less common, but pronounceable name. Example: Donica (Donna and Veronica).
  • Use ancient mythological names, or combine two of them. Example: Ceres or Evadne.
  • Make it easy to pronounce and spell. Example: Bilbo Baggins from Lord of the Rings.

Tip 5: Terms of Endearment

When writing your story, be aware that people who are close rarely use each other's full names. Couples will use nicknames, terms of endearment (honey, dear, boo). What nickname have your characters come up with for each other? Also, parents rarely call their children by their full names--unless they are admonishing them for bad behavior or testifying in court. If you have loving parent characters that are addressing their kids, use a nick name or term of endearment (sweetie, baby, D.J.). An exception to this would be if you want to show the parent character being cold and distant to their child.

Tip 6: Overused Names

For some reason, every writer loves to name his hero JACK. I know it's a tough-sounding, honest-working name, but naming your hero Jack is like naming your son AIDAN. It's overdone. Be a little more creative, so your reader will remember your particular protagonist as opposed to the umpteen-million other books they've read about Jack. Also, do not give your protagonist the initials J.C. as an allusion to Jesus Christ. That tactic was overused in 60's/70's fiction and is almost laughable by today's standards.

Tip 7: Loaded Names

Watch out for what we call "loaded" names--names that have a popular association. These could be names associated with celebrities, historical or infamous people like Adolf, Oprah, or Kobe. They could also be names of famous literary, tv, or movie characters: Hannibal, Scarlett, Romeo, Bart. If you do choose to use "loaded" names, then you really should make it part of the story, part of the character. Your character's mother was obsessed with Gone With the Wind, so she was named Scarlett--how has it affected her throughout her life? How does it affect her in the story?

Tip 8: Have Fun With Names

Have fun with naming your characters and take time to see what "fits." What was your character's childhood nickname? Is that an embarrassment when his parents address him in front of his friends? Did your character change his name at any point in his/her life? If so, why? Does your female character want to change her surname when she gets married? Why or why not? Names are such an important part of one's identity, don't take it lightly with your story!

Here's the link to the baby names part of the site itself if there's a specific name you want to look up.

For my book "Magic In Their Blood", I found a Native American name website I used to find my characters names because the characters themselves are of Native American descent.  I didn't have much trouble finding my way around this website because I already had an idea of what specific words I wanted their names to mean, and an idea of which Tribe they were apart of.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Surprise for my Readers, and a New Poem...

I want the suspense to build a little bit, so I'll add my new poem first.  I wrote the poem to go with the picture prompt for the monthly competition I was added to at 21st Century Poets.  Here's the picture:

Here's the poem:

Don’t worry, little Bambi,
Being alone in the woods can be
Really scary of an experience,
But I’ll protect you while you smell the flowers scents.

When you are done here,
I’ll stay with you so you’ll have nothing to fear
As you make your way back home.
Only then will I leave you alone.

If on the way we meet a hunter,
I’ll distract him as you run for
Cover into the nearby trees.
When it’s safe again, we’ll continue on as you please.

When you’re reunited with your family,
I will leave you happily.
I will watch over you in your time of need,
And be your silent companion when you feed.

I already added "An Angel's Promise" to my poetry book making the page count 37 now.  It's growing slowly, but surely.


Usually when I'm writing a novel, I'm pretty private about it's contents until it's ready for publication with the exception of my poetry, and the short stories I write to submit to "Chicken Soup for the Soul."  Anyway, this past weekend I wrote a scene that I read aloud to my brother tonight that left him wanting to read the rest of the story.  After giving it some thought, I decided to add a little teaser from "The Shepherdess Princess" for my readers to see.  The setting of this scene is in a palace in France in 1340:

            The entire nation was mourning the loss of the Royal family when learning about the deaths of Queen Patrice and Prince Philippe upon Prince Edward’s return from England.  The flag of France remained at half-staff for an entire year upon the request of King Edward, who was crowned a couple months after his return with the bodies.
            The coronation was a melancholy event for all in attendance, but behind the palace walls was another story.  Prince Edward was seen by the staff as being rather happy despite the fact he’s supposed to be in mourning.  Everyone tried to ignore his odd behavior for fear of reprimand, but it became difficult to do so for the maids that he would grab as he was walking down the hallway and waltz around with for a few feet before releasing them.  Every now and then throughout the day, he’d be caught whistling a happy tune as he adored himself in the mirror, or just stood there straightening his already impeccable uniform.  The ceremony went off without a hitch, and the people of France embraced their new King.  Little did they know what King Edward was really like, the lengths he had gone to obtain his throne, or that the rightful heir was still alive and well. 

Everyone has my permission to salivate now!  :)  This was one of the scenes I mentioned in my previous blog post about wanting to add something near the beginning of the story to give it more "meat."  I want to make it a goal to get one of the fight scenes written sometime this week.  Once this small battle happens, the second half of the novel should go fairly quickly.  I have 71 total pages so far, but that doesn't include the 20 more pages I have written up to add back into the story at some point.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lots to Talk About...

What a week it's been already.  I got a call from my mom on Tuesday letting me know that my sister, and her kids were coming down for a surprise visit and were an hour away from where I live.  After visiting with my mom, my sister was too tired to drive an hour back to where she was supposed to be staying the night, so I let her and the kids crash at my place.  The kids enjoyed running around on the beach, and seeing the dock that washed up on it from Japan as a result of the tsunami.

I did get more of the scenes written leading up to the first fight scene in "The Shepherdess Princess" last weekend.  I still have a little more to add leading up to it, but I feel I'm well-informed from my research to do a decent job at the bloodshed part.  I also thought up of another couple scenes to add earlier into the story to give it more "meat."

I submitted my story to "Chicken Soup for the Soul" over the weekend as well.  Here's the story for your viewing pleasure:

“What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?”

            When you’re growing up, adults in your life are constantly asking the age-old question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  My answer to that question never really changed, “I want to be a writer!”  Usually the follow-up question was “What if writing doesn’t work out for you?”  Stubborn child that I was, I answered “I’m going to be a writer anyway.”
I have a couple early memories that stand out which influenced the path I’ve chosen as a writer.  One of the reports cards that were sent home with me in 3rd grade, my teacher wrote in the comments area “Amanda loves to write unless it’s an assignment.”  That is one of the few report cards from my academia days that I have treasured into my adulthood.  I still take it out of its hiding place once in a while, and reread it.  The words make me chuckle every time because they are still true about me to this day.
The second memory I have is from 9th grade.  I had three classes that were part of a freshman block group: English, Health, and Science back-to-back.  One day I was given back a writing assignment that I had written about the beach located a couple blocks away from my home.  I was perplexed because the story came back ungraded with a post-it attached asking to see the teacher after class.  I instantly thought I was in trouble.  I sat at my desk dreading the bell to signal the end of the period.  I went up to the teacher’s desk after the other students file out of the classroom, and asked why he wanted to see me.  It turned out that he wanted to ask my permission to keep a copy of my story in a notebook he made up of past student’s assignments that moved him in some way.  I was in shock and awe for several minutes, but I agreed to his request.  The teacher died a couple years later from a blood clot, but I’ve never forgotten this moment in time.  Last I heard, his wife still had the previously-mentioned notebook in her possession.
My stubbornness prevailed as an adult because I now have three self-published books to my credit.  One is a fiction novel entitled “A Candlelit World” that I co-authored with a friend, and two are my own personal volumes of poetry.  Self-publishing works well for me because it’s affordable and I don’t have to worry about a hard deadline.  If I set my own deadline to have a book finished by and am not quite finished with the manuscript when that date arrives, I strive for another date.  It’s no biggie to me because I don’t have a traditional publisher breathing down my neck for the finished product.  Deadlines tend to make me nervous, and bring on a lot of unwanted stress when I’m working on a project and get hit with writer’s block.  It is difficult for me to market my poetry book in local venues because I’ve come across several anti-poetry readers at a local book signing I attend annually.  I know there are some poetry lover’s in my community, but they are few and far between.
Overcoming writer’s block can be quite a chore.  At the moment, I’m not suffering from it.  Thank God!  When I do, there are several different ways I try to overcome it.  If I’ve been writing poetry non-stop and suddenly have the inspiration dry up, I try to take a walk, read a book, take a shower, or take a nap.  Anything to distract me really until inspiration hits, but if doing any of that still doesn’t work I try to move onto another writing project for a while.
I have ten story ideas at the moment that I could decide to work on at any given time.  Lately when I’m not writing poetry, I’m working on a romantic-type fairy tale/Historical fiction book.  My other story ideas consist of fantasy, regular fiction, romance, an autobiography, and a compilation of letters I wrote to Jesus thanking him for his love in the good times and in the bad.  A lot of my story ideas have came to me as a results of dreams that I didn’t automatically forget upon waking up.
I do like to challenge myself once in a while by participating in WriMo’s (months during the year where a person’s goal is to try to write a 50,000 word novel in the span of thirty days).  NaNoWriMo in November has the biggest turnout of aspiring writers because November is officially deemed National Novel Writing Month in the United States.  They have JulNoWriMo coming up in July, and a Camp NaNoWriMo that starts in June, and resumes in August.  For the Camp NaNoWriMo, a person can decide to try to write a book in both months, or just pick one month to participate in.  Every April, the WriMo world takes a break for what’s called ScriptFrenzy where a writer can choose to write a screenplay based on one of the novels they’ve written in WriMo events should the book ever be turned into a movie.  The possibilities are endless.  I usually just participate once a year, but I did try to work on my novel some more in July last year just to see how much further I could get in it.
It’s not too hard for me to tell when a book is done, and ready to be published.  There is a feeling I get of things “winding down” as the book progresses.  My friend and I wrote “A Candlelit World” in nine-and-a-half years mainly because we couldn’t get together everyday to write.  We had a lot of slumber parties on the weekends, though.  When we both felt that we contributed what we could to the story, we discussed how we wanted to end it.  Then we had my friend’s mother proofread it, and did some editing as per her suggestions, and found a way to self-publish it once we had her mother’s approval.  Neither of us really wanted the story to end because our characters became like our children, and we were both saddened a little bit when it was time to “send them out into the world” on their own.  When it came to writing my two volumes of poetry, I set a certain amount of page numbers I wanted to strive for before they were ready for publication.  My first attempt lacked the amount of pages I wanted, but I published it anyway because I was having a hard time with writer’s block and finding inspiration for anything new.  Once I published it and began working on a separate writing project, the inspiration for new poems came back to me.  That’s when I began my second volume of poetry.  I reached my page goal for the second volume of poetry, but it was difficult near the end because my writer’s block was rearing its ugly head again.  I struggled for a couple months to get the page count I wanted.
Writing is hard work, but can be very rewarding.

I'm not sure if it's good enough to add to the book coming up titled "Inspiration for Writers," but I covered all the questions they had for a person to answer.  I'm not certain it's inspiring in any way, but I'll find out when the book is finally published.

I got word from the Literary Arts people that my application for the Oregon Literary Fellowship was received.  They don't send notice of receipt unless the applicant encloses a self-addressed stamped enveloped with the application itself which I did.  I learned working as a grant writer in the past to always get verification of some form when applying for anything because things can get lost in the mail, or disappear from someone's desk.  It was just a precaution I decided to take because it was optional to do so.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Where did the week go?

This week has seemed to fly by for me.  I can't believe Friday is already here, and I'm glad to welcome it.  I get the apartment to myself for a few days, and I can write to my heart's content.  I have about 200 more words to write in my submission for "Chicken Soup for the Soul" before I'm ready to send it into the ether.  If my story is chosen to be published in the "Inspiration for Writers" book, I'll be receiving a check for $200, and some advanced copies of the book.  It would be nice to finally be chosen after making several attempts.

I have been looking repeatedly at the picture prompt for this week's competition at 21st Century Poets with an idea percolating in my head as to the direction I wanted to go with writing a poem about it.

Here's the picture:

Here's the poem I wrote:


It was a dark and stormy night,
But I didn't notice as I swam with delight
Beneath the waters foam
As I made my way to my underwater home.

Something magical started taking place,
And a shocked look came upon my face
As my fin was replaced with legs.
I began swimming my fastest to avoid a watery grave.

I was deposited on a foreign shore.
It was definitely not something I've experienced before.
I scared a boy away that was playing with a paper boat.
It lays beside me keeping afloat.

The sand overtook me
As I surveyed as far as my eyes could see.
The opening in the clouds formed
A spotlight all around.

The majestic mountains
Reminded me of the Fountain
of Youth I just left,
And in my nakedness I lay bereft.

I was beginning to think with today's deadline for entries looming that I would end up writing "Transformation" when it was too late to have it count.  I'm also thinking about adding the poem to the beginning of a novel I'm wanting to work on because of it's related subject matter.  I'm still including it into "The Trifecta: A Collection of Poetry" as well.

I got my Literary Fellowship application mailed off on Tuesday.  All of the applicants will be notified of the final results no later than February 15th, 2013.  That's quite a while to wait, but it will be here before I know it.

As for the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship I applied for in March, the finalists will be notified via e-mail by August 1st, and the winners will be announced on September 1st, 2012.  When I first turned in my application for it, I felt like the announcement of winners was a long way off.  Now it's only a little over a month to wait to see if I'm a finalist, or not.  Where did the time go?